Category: Christian Living

God’s Generosity and Man’s Jealousy

God’s Generosity and Man’s Jealousy

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard found in Matthew 20:1-16 deals with a very common human problem – jealousy. Contrast it with God’s generosity and the true meaning of pure grace.

The parable emphasizes a right attitude in service. Note that two kinds of workers were hired that day: those who wanted a contract and agreed to work for a normal wage for a day (Matthew 20:2) and those who had no contract and agreed to take whatever the landowner thought was right.

Man’s Jealousy

Technically, the main lesson of this passage is not about government-set minimum wage, but the application still exists. I think it is interesting that Jesus even mentions how the workers grumbled about their wage because other people did less work for the same money. Does that not sound like today?

When we receive grace, of course, we are very happy and thankful. But why is it that when others receive grace our reaction is the complete opposite? We are unhappy and jealous (envious) because we think they do not deserve it.

Note: Grace is something we receive which we do not deserve.

Often times we tend to compare ourselves with other people in terms of our struggles, trials, difficulties, etc. or in terms of the work we do. But who should be our standard and to whom are we accountable?

Learning to be Content

In the parable, the owner was not obligated to pay those who came in late a full day’s wage but he did it anyway. He gave all the workers the same amount. Of course, those who worked the longest complained! The truth is that they had no argument because they had agreed to work for the normal daily wage. They received what they asked for.

There are a lot of discontent workers that want more money but won’t work harder for it. I think it is funny that Jesus gave employers that choice. That is the employer’s prerogative.

God's Generosity and Man's Jealousy

So the next time Socialists say that God wants equal pay for everyone that is not true. Employers have the right to pay what is agreed upon. God would never condone governments requiring certain wages for anyone as socialists say.

Need more money, work more or get a better job. The God of the universe said that employers have the right to determine an employee’s wage. If you don’t like it, get a new job.

God’s Generosity

The main point of the parable is God’s generosity. God is infinitely generous and gracious and will always give us better than we deserve. Had the early workers trusted the goodness of the owner, they would have received far more.

As God’s children, we should not serve Him because we want to receive and expected a reward. We should not also insist on knowing what we will get. Our loving Father is loving and generous. All that we are and have are gifts from Him, which we do not deserve.

What kind of workers are we in God’s vineyard?

Salvation is for Everyone Who Believes

Jesus was also illustrating in this parable that new believers get saved from the beginning up to the end of time. Some will have less time than others yet the reward is still living with Jesus for all eternity even if you have been saved a long or short time.

Heaven is only heaven because it is Jesus’ home. God is welcoming us into His home. That is an amazing thought. If you have been born again, are you glad you are on your way to heaven? Our thankful spirit should show so that the world will know we are glad to be saved.

God did not save us to be an Eeyore. Do you have that joy in your heart? If not, are you truly saved? Why not turn from your sins and accept Jesus as your personal Savior?

Serving Others First

This passage also continued by Jesus exposing a “Me first” attitude in the disciples (Matthew 20:20-28). Jesus is anything but proud.

All twelve wanted the best two spots in heaven, but Jesus turned it into a teaching moment. I think it is interesting that Jesus did not harshly rebuke them. He lovingly used it as a way to teach them about humility.

Jesus highlighted being a “servant.” The word here means “slave,” and our English word “deacon” comes from it. Not every servant was a slave, but every slave was a servant.

*Read here: Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

Sadly in the church today we have many celebrities but very few servants. There are many who want to “flaunt their authority” (Matthew 20:25), but few who want to take the towel and basin and wash feet.

Many people wrong us, but are we humble enough to try to encourage them in spite of their actions?

God's Generosity and Man's Jealousy

Jesus as the ruler of the universe has every right to be proud but is not. There is no reason for us to be proud toward any other person and yet we are. How humble are you? That humility will lead to showing more and more love and sacrifice for others. How well do you honestly love and serve others?

What We Believe in Life Matters

What We Believe in Life Matters

Do you notice how relativistic our society has become today? Society says that all religions lead to God. Actually, they lead to gods. They say it does not matter that we believe; it does not also matter that we believe different things.

Know what? Jesus came to earth to tell mankind that what we believe in life does matter.

Bible Verse: John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Reflection

The idea that all religious views are equally valid and all that matters is that we’re sincere in what we believe is so absurd. Sincerely believing in something does not make you right. No matter how sincere you are in your belief that the answer to the mathematical equation two plus two is four does not make you right.

In the same way, sincerely believing that you will go to heaven without Jesus Christ in your life because you and your good deeds are enough does not make your claim true.

Good Enough

It is human nature to think that “I am good enough.” They say it does not matter that the Bible says, “You must be born again” (John 3:3). It does not matter to them that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. They think they are good enough.

Guess what, we aren’t. If we were, there would be no need for the Son to come down to the earth He created, live a life of perfect obedience to the Father and suffer and die on the cross to purchase man’s redemption.

The world needs to hear that they’re dead in their sin and they need a Savior. But many won’t listen. They say it does not matter what the Bible says. But it matters!

God will lead a handful to Himself but have you done your part? Have you told someone the truth recently?

The Challenge

The real problem is that the relativistic mindset has gotten into the minds of Christians. It is true that we have been born again, but since we are still sinners, we still have sin issues. Where is our humility to admit we all have our issues?

We would not be able to criticize other believers if we were humble. Each denomination has its members and pastors that brag about being more right than anyone else. That is just pride.

What You and I Believe Matters

Not to mention, it is beside the point. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 says it is pointless to be more right than other Christians if you do not have love. Love translates into humility.

If our walk does not match our talk, we are just as bad as the unbelieving Pharisees, who Jesus called hypocrites in the gospels.

It is not the business of any other church or individual to criticize other peoples’ personal standards. I will be honest. I did that for years till God showed me that they are responsible for themselves.

Closing Words

What we believe in life does matter. More importantly, what we believe about the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit matters. Jesus made a strong statement in John 8:24: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Jesus claimed to be God and unless you believe He is, you are not going to heaven. Jesus is the only way to heaven and no one comes to the Father but by Him as John 14:6 says.

The next time you hear other people say that it does not matter what they believe, tell them that it does!

Real Joy of the Heart

Real Joy of the Heart

The issue I have seen in the lives of many believers is that they don’t live like they have real joy in their hearts. They have Christ in their lives but they do not seem to be experiencing real joy that is found in Christ alone.

Bible Verse: John 16:22 (NKJV)

“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”

Reflection and Challenge

In context, this verse is a part of a conversation between Jesus and His twelve disciples. Jesus was trying to prepare them for His crucifixion, but they were not getting it. They wanted more clarity and Jesus understood this very well.

But Jesus also knew that they needed more than just information; they needed their hearts and mind to be prepared to endure the crisis that was coming. They would be very sorrowful but only to have a sudden change of heart. Because God, by His grace and power, will turn their sorrow into joy.

While the crucifixion and all that went with it seemed like a bump in the road or some kind of obstacle to overcome on the way to fulfilling God’s plan, it was exactly how the plan would be fulfilled.

God Transforms our Sorrows into Joy

There’s a principle laid out in John 16:16-22 and that is this: God brings joy to our lives, not by substitution, but by transformation. Jesus’ illustration of the woman giving birth makes this pretty clear. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy.

In birth, God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother’s pain. Instead, He uses what is there already but transforms it. And so it is in the Christian life: God takes seemingly impossible situations, adds the miracle of His grace, and transforms trials into triumphs and sorrows into joy.

God transforms our sorrows into joy

As Spurgeon put it, “It is most remarkable and instructive that in their sermons or epistles the apostles do not appear to have spoken of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ with any kind of regret. Although the Gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, we hear of no such grief after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost.”

Their extreme sorrow of heart was changed to joy of heart after they realized Jesus rose from the grave. When a person gets saved, he receives a completely changed heart and he can actually experience real joy.

Unlike just happiness, joy is a heart attitude. It cannot be artificially manufactured by great circumstances. Read the middle phrase again. “Your heart will rejoice.” Do you see the root word joy in rejoice?

When Christians Lose Their Joy

The last phrase of John 16:22 says, “True born again Christians cannot lose their joy” (paraphrase). But why are there so many Christians who are like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh? No enthusiasm, gloomy, depressed, or just going through the motions.

I realized that I am talking about people’s heart since I can’t see their hearts. Actually, it’s possible. We can tell what’s in peoples’ hearts by the way they live their lives. Because what’s in their hearts is how they live.

Throughout the Bible, it says that what you actually believe in your heart will show. So if we don’t act like we have found real joy in Christ, perhaps God hasn’t changed our hearts in salvation yet.

Going Through the Motions

Don’t just go through the motions because your denomination says to do so. I have been called “happy go lucky” and “carefree,” because I have a joyous song in my heart.

Unbelievers can’t understand because they don’t have that joy. If you have joy in your heart, it will show in worship, praise, lifestyle, attitudes … EVERYTHING.

Please inspect yourself and find out if real joy is in your heart. If it is, praise God. If not, find out why. You won’t regret it.

Waiting for the Coming of Our Lord

The world today does not want Jesus Christ or His church. The world is rejoicing while we are suffering, longing for our Lord to return. In fact, all of creation is suffering “the pains of childbirth” because of sin, awaiting His return (Romans 8:22)

While the immediate application may have been to the sorrowing hearts of the disciples, the ultimate application is to all of God’s people as they await the second coming of Jesus Christ.

To us, it seems like a long wait, but God does not measure time as we do (2 Peter 3:8). And while we are waiting, we must deal with our trials and hurts on the basis of transformation and not substitution, if we expect to mature as Christians.

Bless Israel and Be Blessed

Bless Israel and Be Blessed

There is a divine principle that begins in Genesis and runs through the Scripture: God blesses those that bless Israel. Simply put, if you bless Israel God will bless you.

When God asked Abraham to leave his country and go to a land that He will show him, God did not only promise to bless him exceedingly; He also promised blessings to those who will bless him and a curse to those who will curse him.

God’s Promise of Blessing and Curse

We are very certain that when God makes a promise, He will not change.

Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV)

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Do you notice how God’s policy of anti-Semitism is established beyond all doubt in these verses? God has promised to pour out His blessings on those who bless Abraham, and He has promised to curse those who curse him (anti-Semitic).

This promise to Abraham which is inherited by his descendants, the Jewish people, remains true today.

If you bless Israel God will bless you

Blessings to a Gentile Nation

A great Bible illustration of this principle is Joseph, a Jewish boy who was sold into Egypt by his own brothers, but who became the prime minister of Egypt.

Joseph foresaw seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. In the seven years of plenty, he built massive storehouses for grain for the seven years of famine. When the seven years of famine began, it affected all other lands but Egypt.

When the famine had spread over the whole land of Egypt and its neighboring countries, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to them. The Gentile world was saved from starvation because of one Jewish slave who became prime minister.

*Related Article: God’s Divine Providence in the Life of Joseph

We also read in the New Testament how Jesus supported the principle that God blesses the Gentiles through the Jewish people when He said, “… salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

The Gentiles received the Word of God through the Jews, the patriarchs, the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles. If you remove the Jewish contribution from Christianity, there would be no Christianity.

Why do you think America has been so blessed? Although America has committed many sins for which they deserve judgment, America has been a consistent friend of the Jews and the nation of Israel, as well as a benefactor.

Not only did the United States of America under President Harry Truman helped persuade the United Nations to recognize Israel as a nation in 1948, but America has also contributed billions of dollars in aid to Israel since then.

Under the Trump administration, America became the first country to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel. And just last month, the United States of America also recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

No other nation in the history of the world has a better record of treating individual Jews with respect than does America.

Blessings to a Gentile Employer

This principle is demonstrated in the story of Jacob and Laban (Genesis 29 – 31). In exchange for beautiful Rachel’s hand in marriage, Jacob agreed to work seven years for her father Laban.

After the seven years were over, Laban deceived Jacob and gave to him his older daughter Leah instead. Jacob was forced to work another seven years for Rachel. Laban also changed Jacob’s wages ten times and started treating him unfairly (Genesis 31:41).

So Jacob took off with Leah and Rachel and all their possessions. When Laban heard of this, he went after Jacob and convinced him to stay. Laban, the Gentile employer, acknowledged firsthand that God has blessed him because of Jacob, a Jew (Genesis 30:27).

Blessings for Blessing Israel

Blessings to a Gentile Benefactor

Ever asked yourself why God the Father chose the house of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion who lived in Caesarea, to be the first Gentile house in Israel to receive the Gospel? The answer is given repeatedly in Acts 10.

Three times in the book of Acts chapter 10 the Bible declares Cornelius, a man who gave alms to the people and prayed to God always (Acts 10:2, 4 & 31). Who were the people to whom Cornelius gave these alms? They were the Jews.

Cornelius was a man of good reputation among the Jews (Acts 10:22). As a result, Cornelius benefited from the principle of “I will bless those who bless you” (Genesis 12:3). What was his blessing?

As a god-fearing Gentile who expressed his unconditional love for the Jewish people in a practical manner, Cornelius was divinely selected by God to be the first Gentile household to receive the Gospel and the first to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Peter was given a vision from God in which the religious barrier forbidding Jews from associating with Gentiles in spiritual matters was torn down. Peter went to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile, preached the Gospel, and all those in his house were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44).

God opened the windows of heaven and poured upon a Gentile and his house blessings he could not contain. And that’s because he blessed the Jewish people and the nation of Israel unconditionally.

Conclusion

If God did not cast off His original covenant people, neither should we. If we claim to sincerely love Yeshua, the Jewish Lord, we must love the Jewish people whom He loves.

Biblically speaking, the Jews are the chosen people of God. Christian believers should support the Jews because God loves them and cares so much about them as His chosen people.

While we do not have to support everything Israel does as a nation, we must support their right to exist as a sovereign nation. Some might think that God has forgotten Israel, abandoned them and that they have been replaced by the Church. That’s the biggest lie that’s circulating even among Christians today.

God will surely fulfill His promises and covenants with Israel. God still has a plan for them.

As Amir Tsarfati of Behold Israel always says, “The nation of Israel is our insurance policy. If God has abandoned the Jewish people and His covenant with them, what makes us think He would not abandon the church and His promises to us?”

Always keep this in mind: God promised, “I will bless those that bless Israel.”

How to let Your Light so Shine

How to let Your Light so Shine

Being a dedicated Christian is not easy. Even more so because our society is not a friend to God nor to God’s people. But as a Christian and believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are exhorted by the Word of God to let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

In Conflict with the World

Whether we like it or not, conflict exists between us and the world. Why? Because we are different and have different attitudes from the world. As we read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), we find that they represent an outlook that’s radically different from that of the world.

And here are just some of those differences:

  • The world praises pride, not humility.
  • The world endorses sin, especially if a person gets away with it.
  • The world is at war with God, while God is seeking to reconcile with his enemies and make them his children.

Letting Your Light Shine

The Bible tells us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), which gives us not only a great compliment because Jesus claimed that title to Himself when He walked this earth (John 8:12; John 9:5) but also a great responsibility to be light-givers.

Our concern should no longer be ourselves and we should stop living only to ourselves. Rather, we must focus on having someone to shine to and do it sincerely and lovingly. It’s high time we live up to what God has called us to do when we received His light.

The purpose of light is to illuminate and expose what is there. To properly put it to use, light must be exposed and allowed to reveal everything that’s hidden in the dark. Therefore, a light hidden under a basket is no longer useful.

Sure, there will always be the strong temptation for Christians to hide their light in order to avoid drawing the world’s attention to them which in effect would “expose them to the ill will of such as hate the light” (Bruce).

Be a Light to Everyone

The idea of a lampstand in Matthew 5:15 gives the sense that Christians are to be intentional about letting their light shine and let them so shine among all men. Jesus was inferring that the light that will shine from us is “good works.”

During Jesus’ ministry, He went about “doing good and healing everyone who was oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). Jesus simply did good everywhere He went, no questions about that.

What about us? What kind of good works are expected from us? The fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Having these character traits manifested in our life is a great indicator of the intensity of the light that we received from Christ.

How to let Your Light so ShineHave you heard the story of a young boy who refused to go home even after the Sunday church service has long been over? His mother took him with her one Sunday to church because no one was at home to be with him. After the service is over, he didn’t want to go home.

The mother spent hours convincing him but he refused and held on tightly to his chair. This caught the attention of the minister who approached them and asked what was going on. The mother was quick to reply that her son is having his usual tantrums and does not want to go home.

The minister smiled and asked the boy why. The boy replied, “I do not want to go home because at home my mother is treating me badly. Since she is much nicer to me here, I’d rather stay here for good.”

A sad story indeed! Christians are supposed to be light-givers first and foremost to their immediate family. A lamp is put on a lampstand in order to give light to all who are in the house (Matthew 5:15b). Here’s a quote from Spurgeon:

Bible Verse: Let your light shine

We are to be looking for ways to let our light shine in greater and broader ways which should start in our homes. Jesus wants us to live visible lives not for men to see how good we are, nor even see us at all, but in order to draw attention to the beauty of God’s work in us.

The object of our shining before all men is for them to see God and His grace in us and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16b).

Our Story, Our Purpose

Every born again Christian has a story. Every born again Christian has a purpose. Both your story and your purpose are given to you by God. And let me tell you, “No two Christians are the same.”

Many times I have been impressed by how God uses others. In turn becoming jealous and envious of them, rather than praising God. Many times I got critical of other Christians not doing enough for God. I realized, however, that both of these responses are wrong, so wrong.

How to let Your Light so Shine

We have to understand that God has blessed all of us, His children, with a specific story and purpose. That is the light or message God has given to each one of us and we must USE IT.

The demoniac had the opportunity to learn directly from Jesus but Jesus told him to go back to the Gadarene people and tell them what God had done in his life.

The Bottom Line

We can praise God for whatever story and purpose God has given to us individually. There is no purpose to be envious, jealous or critical of other Christians because we are not them. God has a purpose for you to do.

Don’t concern yourself with the purpose of others because that is not your business. Go live your life as a testimony to what God has done in your life. At the same time, expect some oppositions and persecutions as a result of living as God wants you to live – to let your light so shine before all men.


*Acknowledgment:

My sincerest thanks to Michael Heilman, one of the authors/contributors of this website, for helping me come up with this article topic and also with the last 2 parts of the article.

Life is War

Life is War

Watching the movie “Indivisible” made me realize even more how life is like war. The harsh realities of war can really take a toll on the mind, on family and friends. War is difficult and there is nothing easy about it.

Bible Verse: 1 Timothy 1:18-19a (NKJV)

“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience.”

Reflection and Challenge

Timothy was a young man who responded to Christ’s call to help build His church. Along with Titus, he was one of the apostle Paul’s special assistants in the churches that Paul had founded.

Timothy was brought up in a religious home (2 Timothy 1:5) and had been led to faith in Christ by Paul himself. This explains why Paul called Timothy “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2).

But in spite of his close association with Paul, Timothy was easily discouraged. So Paul wrote the letter we call 1 Timothy to encourage Timothy to stay on at Ephesus, to explain how a local church should be managed and to enforce his own authority as a servant of God.

The Soldier’s Task

It was not easy to serve God in pagan Ephesus. The city was devoted to the worship of Artemis, the patroness of the sexual instinct. Her lascivious images helped promote sexual immorality of all kinds.

Paul had done a great work in Ephesus during his three-year ministry, and so the “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). It was not easy for Timothy to follow a man like Paul! Not to forget, Satan has his workers in the city, for wherever there are spiritual opportunities there are also satanic obstacles (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

Life is War

But Timothy was a man under orders, and he had to obey. The soldier’s task is to “please the officer who enlisted him as soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4), and not to please himself. Furthermore, Timothy was there by divine appointment: God had chosen him and sent him. It was this fact that could give him assurance in difficult days.

Engaging in Spiritual Warfare

As children of God, we are currently in a spiritual warfare. We all live in a war. We all have our own trials and struggles. I remember saying just a few days ago that life is difficult. Between money and bills, relationships and breakups, addiction and peer pressures; they are all difficult. Some might have a depressed attitude or “Woe is me” kind of attitude because they feel alone in their war.

That is the wrong way to look at it. Everyone has problems. Each individual might have a different set of problems but we all have them. Even Jesus had trials. Jesus suffered and died. You cannot be more human than that.

Hebrews 4:15

But Jesus has always responded to those trials with the right attitude and did not sin. Jesus loves you and can relate very well with what you’re going through more than you can imagine. Have you accepted His free gift of forgiveness?

Interestingly, I just finished the series on the Christian Armor (which will be published here very soon), but I missed including “why” we need the armor. Let me just say that this armor is not just for spiritual battles but it also affects how we respond to everyday life.

In the Face of Trials and Struggles

Knowing that everyone has their trials and struggles should affect how we respond to others. At the beginning of the movie “Indivisible,” the spiritual leader came alongside those individuals that were hurting and encouraged them because he loved them and cared for them as God loves us.

Jesus is the perfect example of love and encouragement. It does not matter what you have done; Jesus will take you back. After becoming a Christian, we are supposed to be like Christ. Are you that encouraging?

As the movie continued, God used that spiritual leader to see spiritual fruit in others. You never know how you could affect the spiritual life of another individual. Don’t waste the opportunity to bring someone closer to God.

Everybody Needs Encouragement

As the movie was ending, I was also reminded that spiritual leaders are not immune either. The spiritual leader in the movie had to be encouraged by those he had encouraged. We are all responsible for those around us. Nobody is too high up that we can’t encourage them.

Like Timothy, nobody is immune and so we all need encouragement. Timothy was so devoted to Christ that his local church leaders recommended him to Paul, and Paul added him to his “missionary staff” (Acts 16:1-5).

Yet Timothy was easily discouraged and needed encouragement which Paul gave him in this letters.

One way to think about the sequence of development that we experience in the Christian life is that we begin as “Timothys,” with the goal of growing toward “Paul-like” maturity. Even Paul started out as a “Timothy,” stunned by God’s interruption of his life on the road to Damascus. He suddenly needed an older, wiser believer to walk him through the first steps in his new life, and God assigned that task to Ananias.

Concluding Words

Just for the fact that Jesus is also human, you cannot tell me He does not appreciate hearing us say, “Thank you” or praising God for all He has done and is doing.

If you are God’s servant, called by the Spirit, obeying His will, then you can “stay with it” and finish the work. Having the assurance like Timothy had that you are here by divine appointment, chosen and sent by God, will enable you to “fight well in the Lord’s battles” and finish the work.

How well are you encouraging your team members in this war of life?


*Recommended Resource: 

Indivisible: One Marriage Under God, 50 Devotions
By Robert Noland

Indivisible: One Marriage Under God is a devotional that offers hope and encouragement to anyone in a challenging season of marriage. Based on the movie Indivisible – the true story of an Army chaplain and his wife who rebuild their marriage – this devotional offers 50 entries that include an inspirational message, a Scripture passage, a prayer, guided journaling, and a “Take Action” challenge.

An ideal gift for military couples, newlyweds, and those who want to strengthen their commitment.

Jesus, the Rock of My Salvation

Jesus, the Rock of My Salvation

The Bible tells us that God is the Rock and He is the only rock on which we must build our lives (1 Samuel 2:2). Did you know that the title “Rock” is a Messianic and a divine title?

In Psalm 18:2, David called God “my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my strength in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Jesus claimed to be the Rock, and thereby claimed to be both Messiah and God.

This is also clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” When we recognize Jesus as Messiah and Savior we place our lives on Jesus, the Rock of our salvation.

Building on a Solid Foundation

All buildings must be placed upon a strong, solid foundation if they are to endure. The same is true with our lives; if we are to build an enduring life, we must place it on a sure foundation.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus gives an illustration of the two builders, the wise and the foolish, who both undertook to build houses. Both of them persevered in building, both finished their houses, and to a considerable extent achieved the same design. (See also Luke 6:46-49.)

Indeed, each house looked the same from the outside. But the real foundation was hidden and was only proven when the storm came and the floods arose. The house that was built on the rock stood firm while that which was built on the sand fell with a great crash.

The Wise and the Foolish Builder

A man’s character can be likened to a house. Every thought is like a piece of timber in that house, every imagination a window that could be well or badly placed and every habit a beam. All these are gathered together and decide how that house is constructed.

Unless one builds his character on the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word, he will surely be swept away by any storm or flood that will come.

How Strong is Your Foundation?

The storm and the flood represent the trials of life. Often times, the trials of life descend upon us either through our own lack of character or because of events in the world. Is the foundation of your house strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the horrendous events of the end times or even your own weaknesses?

Time and the storms of life will prove how strong one’s foundation is, even when it is hidden. It’s pretty easy to assume that this or that person’s foundation is strong based only on what we see on the outside. But we may be surprised when we see who has truly built upon the good foundation.

We are warned that the foundations of our lives will be shaken at some time or another, both now during difficult times and in the ultimate judgment before God. That is why we must test the foundation of our life now rather than later when it is too late to change our destiny.

Where did the foolish builder fail? Definitely not in deliberately seeking a bad foundation, but in taking no time to consider what kind of foundation he was to build upon. He wanted to avoid the hard work of digging deep to ensure a strong foundation and also took a short-range view.

In the end, his fault was not an error of judgment, but thoughtlessness and inconsiderateness.

Staying on Jesus the Rock

For years my grandfather used to say, “Stay on the Rock.” That saying had a literal meaning but I believe he meant it to have a spiritual meaning as well.

Jesus is the Rock; the only true Rock. He is our firm foundation. A rock does not move or change and the truth is that Rock. Jesus is the Truth as John 14:6 says, but are we staying on the Truth?

There are two conditions to stay on the Truth. One, listen to God and His word. Many unbelievers and Christians refuse to listen to wise counsel. They could not care less about what others say, because they are good enough. Their hearts are full of pride.

Jesus is the Rock of My Salvation

Jesus uses the adjectives wise and foolish. A wise man is a listening man. Not filled with pride. The Jews had disdain for the Samaritans but in spite of that the good Samaritan in Luke 10: 30-37 had compassion on a Jew that was robbed and beaten.

Everyone is our neighbor. How much love do we have for people? Everyone has been robbed and beaten by sin. Everyone needs a friend. Why can’t we be friendly?

The second condition to stand on the Truth is to live your life according to the Truth. Doesn’t that imply applying Scripture to our lives? Doesn’t that imply reaching out to those steeped in sin? Or praying for those that are hurting?

It does not matter where people have been, they are still people that need God’s love. Are you a wise or foolish person as Jesus described in Matthew 7?

Obedience to the Word

Our Lord’s emphasis in His illustration of the wise and the foolish builders is on obedience. It is not enough to simply hear God’s Word and call Him “Lord.” It is necessary that we also obey what He commands us to do.

Our profession of faith in Christ will ultimately be tested, and obedience to the Father’s will is the test of true faith in Christ. True faith does not say, “Lord! Lord!” as if believing but then disobey the Lord’s commands (Matthew 7:21).

*Related Article: Blessing Through Obedience

It’s easy to learn a religious vocabulary and even memorize Bible verses and religious songs and yet not obey God’s will. Those who are truly born again have God’s Spirit living within them and will enable them to know and do the Father’s will.

Those who have trusted Christ and have proven their faith by their obedience will have nothing to fear. Founded on the Rock, their house will stand. But those who have professed to trust Christ but have not obeyed God will be condemned.

Closing Thoughts

Many times, seemingly good people seem to build their lives well and wisely in terms of money, friends, material possessions, etc. And while all these things seem good to the human mind, their end can be disastrous without a Rock foundation.

Some people build on their religion or on their church; others build on an organization, on themselves or on another person. But if we are to build a lasting life we will have to build on something more solid than mere humans or ourselves.

We are to build on a firm foundation, Jesus Christ, the solid rock of our salvation!

The Power of Waiting On the Lord

The Power of Waiting On the Lord

Ever find yourself standing in front of the microwave oven saying, “Hurry up?” Or pushing the elevator call button every five seconds while waiting for the elevator to arrive? Waiting is said to be one of the most difficult things to do. I know, it’s a tough assignment.

We get impatient waiting; we hate to have to wait for our ride to arrive or our food to be served, and even for our prayers to be answered. But let us not forget that the Bible promises power to those who patiently wait upon the Lord (Isaiah 40:31). More importantly, we do not survive spiritually if we do not learn to wait.

We Renew Our Strength by Waiting on the Lord

It’s important to note that the strength we have right now that needs to be renewed from time to time is not our own strength. It is strength that we received when we first came to the Lord in weakness.

Unless we first acknowledge that we are weak, we will never admit that we need the Lord’s strength. For “God’s strength is reserved only for those who know they are weak and know they have no might” (David Guzik).

The Power of Waiting on the Lord

So how do we receive this “new” strength from the Lord? We receive it by waiting. We need to understand that waiting on the Lord does not mean sitting around until the Lord does something.

Indeed, God gives us strength but we should not expect it to come as if He were just pouring it into us while we sit passively. We receive God’s strength as we continually seek Him and rely on Him, instead of our own strength.

How to Wait on the Lord

A. Wait with Patience

We should wait on the Lord with patience.

When we do not know what to do about something, we should wait. Often times we get caught up in just doing something that we neglect to hold still, listen and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

The Power of Waiting on the Lord

So many of us are waiting for something and as we wait, we can become discouraged and start asking when the waiting will ever end. Will God ever answer my prayer?

When the pieces of our lives are not fitting together the way we want, we get busy and start trying to force things to work, as Abraham and Sarah did.

B. Wait in Prayer

We should wait on the Lord with prayer.

The first step in getting answers to our prayers is to pray. When we face trials, prayer should be the first we head. Psalm 130:1-2 is a prayer for God to listen. The psalmist is so consumed with despair, asking God to listen to his requests.

Do you know that failure to pray is a sin? 1 Samuel 12:23-24 says, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”

The Power of Waiting on the Lord

Twice the psalmist says in Psalm 130:5-6 that his soul waits for God’s response. Consider also the repeated phrase, “more than those who watch for the morning. The psalmist is so eager for the Lord’s presence that he says it twice for emphasis.

Are you praying while waiting on the Lord?

C. Wait on Purpose

We should wait on the Lord on purpose and make God the focus of our lives.

Divorce, addiction, emotional disorders, and criminal records are evidence of lives torn apart because someone decided on pursue to follow some voice other than God’s, some counsel other than God’s, some plan other than God’s.

In Psalm 62:5-6 David wrote, “My soul, wait silently for God alone. For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.”

The Power of Waiting on the Lord

We also read in Psalm 1:1-3 that there is a blessing for those who do not seek the counsel of the wicked. Clearly, the righteous man and the ungodly (wicked) man are different in the way they think and behave.

The Christian knows that God’s word is always the best counselor, and godly counselors will always bring the truth of God’s word to help someone who needs counseling.

My Personal Testimony

Seven months ago, I submitted my resignation letter because I truly believed that I am not properly compensated for the work that I do and have been doing for 8 long years. I have been praying and asking God for a raise for more than 2 years but it seemed like God was silent.

So I took that as a go signal from God for me to resign and apply in another company that is willing to pay me more than what I was currently making. Upon handing my resignation letter, the HR called me to his office and asked if I would consider staying. In return, they will give me a pay raise.

What he offered was much lower than what I was expecting. But because I have not heard from the companies I applied to and my resident visa is expiring in a few days, I took the deal.

Today, I still feel like my salary isn’t worth the workload that I do. Was I impatient for doing things my way instead of waiting on the Lord? Maybe! Today, I take delight in the great and mighty things that God is doing n my life and church ministry. God is still good and He is good all the time.

And through all that, I have learned that if we take the time to pursue God’s direction and wait for His response, we will get much better results.

Are we weak? It is because we are not waiting on the Lord.

Closing Words

God loves us and He wants us to live with joy, hope, and victory. But at the same time, God desires for us to wait with patience, in prayer, and on purpose and He will answer.

There is power in waiting on the Lord. It gives us the benefit of getting our strength renewed. The basic meaning of the word renew is to change; it means to keep putting on fresh strength.

But we also have to remember that the Lord gives us strength not to show off but to move forward and progress for Him and in our walk with Him.


*Reference:

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition  {Diamonds for Living}
By John Hagee, ed.

The prophecies of the Bible assure us that God will prevail. The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition has hundreds of pages of special features that offer a broad understanding of prophetic themes, salvation, covenants, and other important doctrines of the Christian faith.

Like Faith and Practice

Like Faith and Practice

Recently I heard the phrase, “Like faith and practice.” The context was one church would not associate with another church because they did not practice their faith in the same way. I can guarantee you that is the complete opposite of brotherly love. That borders on hate for your fellow brothers and sisters. Not to mention it is anything but humility.

Bible Verse: Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

Reflection & Challenge

I believe that loyalty is a key ingredient in any friendship. We all want and need someone to count on, especially in difficult times. But we should also beware of acquaintances that always often praise us and tell us what a good friend we are.

True friendships do not depend on such antics – especially if this person wakes us up to do it! Yes, love is always sensitive to other people’s feelings and needs but at the same time, true friends will always say the right thing at the right time in the right way.

Sharpening iron with another iron involves striking, friction and sparks. In the same way, a man can be used to improve and develop his friend, but it may happen through a bit of friction and sparks. And when this happens to us, we must not shy away from critical and constructive criticism.

*Related Article: Why Not Just Friends

We need Christian friends to not only pray for and with us but also to listen, counsel or rebuke us when needed. But sometimes a friend’s counsel may not be perfume but acid. Sparks may fly, but God will give us the light that we need.

Let us not forget that wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:6). We usually learn more by disagreeing than by giving in and refusing to say what we really think.  Ephesians 4:15 says that we must always “speak the truth in love.”


Taking Independence Way Too Far

The problem with “disagreeing” is that some people tend to go too far. Do you know that independent Baptists pride themselves for being independent of any church hierarchy? Each individual church makes their own decisions without influence from other congregations. I believe that is biblical but can this independence be taken too far?

At what point do we sacrifice our pride so that we are able to rub shoulders with Christians that have different views? Or does our independence help us build echo chambers because we don’t allow differences of opinion or practices to challenge our beliefs?

Then I thought about it. Jesus told us to love even our enemies in Luke 10:25-37. But many Christians today tend to look down with their pointed noses on other believers because they live differently. The same is true of churches. They have their own list of church rules or standards and try to force them on other people or churches.

Like Faith and Practice

Why do some Christians and churches feel superior over others who do not hold to the same standards as theirs? Should we only consider brethren those who live their lives exactly the way we do? Someone once asked Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias why there are so many sects or denominations of Christianity.

And this is what he said, “Unity of belief does not always mean uniformity of expression. What ultimately determines whether one is a Christian is if they know Jesus in their heart.”

In this video, Dr. Ravi Zacharias explains how unity in beliefs does not always mean uniformity of expression using Roman Catholicism as an example.

Closing Thoughts

Romans 14:12 says we are accountable to God. This we are only responsible to Him as well. We have no right to tell others how to live their lives or to think we are better than a different body of believers. Personal standards of individual believers are just that personal. They are only between the individual and God. Isn’t it time we stop hating our brethren and living out the love of Jesus?

As the Jews hated the Samaritans, we are doing the same thing over petty practice differences. Are we not playing for the same team? This individual I know even admitted “like faith” between the two churches.

At what point are we going to love our brethren and local bodies to the point of trying to encourage and sharpen believers that are different from us? Isn’t it time to lay down our differences and actually work together? What a novel idea?

Man’s Opinions vs. God’s

Man’s Opinions vs. God’s

It is human nature to seek approval from those people around us; especially those people we value the most. Why? Why do you care about what other people think? Why do we base our value on what others’ opinions are?

Bible Verse: John 1:11-12 (NKJV)

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Reflection and Challenge

When Jesus came into the world, why did the world reject Him? Because they didn’t recognize Him. It sounds strange that when God came to the world He created and to the creatures made in His image, the world did not know Him.

That is because they were spiritually ignorant. Jesus is the “true light” (John 1:9) – the original of which every other light is a copy – but the Jews were content with the copies. They were taught that because they had Moses and the Law, the Temple, and the sacrifices, they had all they need.

They did not comprehend that all these were just shadows of the coming fulfillment and completion of the Old Testament religion. Sadly, their ignorance arose from their refusal to value and listen to God’s revelation of Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

Man’s Opinion vs. God’s

Some might say, “I don’t need to prove anything to you.” But the fact remains that people generally value man’s opinions over God’s. We care more about what other people think and say.

There are different terms for this definition, but what does God call it? God calls it the “fear of man.” It is human nature that we are far more interested in what other people think that what God thinks about a matter.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” Trusting Jesus is also the same as fearing God. When you seek God by trusting Him and valuing what He has to say through His revealed word, that is Godly fear.

Man's opinions vs. God's

Ecclesiastes 12:13 implies that it does not matter what anyone says about you if you are doing God’s will. If those people around you cannot value you based on God’s criteria, you don’t need them.

Some “spiritual-sounding” Christians might say that we have no value because we are dirty, rotten sinners that don’t deserve anything good. Well, that’s true. But that is not the whole picture. It does not take into account that every person was created by God and Jesus came to earth to save them.

If God did not value you, He would not have done that.

Always base your Value on the Truth    

After watching the new movie, “Captain Marvel,” I was reminded that every person bases their life on lies. But if we ever base our value on the truth, we will be set free and nobody can take that away from us.

This is what John 1:11-12 is all about. Since the Jews wanted to believe the lies rather than Jesus, those that believe and live according to the truth found in Jesus, God gave the Holy Spirit and they become heirs of God.

It does not matter what anyone says about you if you are right with God. If you are born again, your Dad owns it all. You are an heir to all the wealth, power, health, a perfect body, etc. Maybe we don’t have those things now, but the Holy Spirit is the down payment of all the blessings to come in the future.

Man's opinions vs. God's

I must admit that life is not at all easy. We all face trials and when that happens, it gets easy for us to get distended off of Jesus and our eternal home with God. When we get distracted by the shallow opinions of others, we are selling ourselves short for a temporary friend.

Jesus should be our best friend. He will always be there for us, to encourage or challenge us depending on the circumstances.

Closing Words

Let me just say that you and you alone are responsible to Jesus for your actions. So live up to your full potential by living according to His words.

Instead of caring more about what other people think, tell them about God’s wonderful gift of salvation. Are you loving people in general? Are you being patient with others? Are you encouraging other believers to use their spiritual gifts? Are you learning more from God’s word?

If we are living according to God’s word, we won’t have time to concern ourselves with the opinion of others.

God bless!