Today’s reading: Acts 24-28. As I read Apostle Paul’s extraordinary experience of being hauled as a prisoner in chains before the Roman governor, Felix, to give his defense of his conduct at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Yerushayalim)- I was … Continue reading
Have you thought about Eternity?
Have you thought about what might happen after you die?
Are you ready? If not, please take time to read and think.
God has much to say to us about these topics from the Scriptures. He inspired men by the Holy Spirit to write down what was important to relay to us and we have, for the most part, ready access to a Bible anywhere in the United States. Let’s start at the beginning.
In the Beginning (Genesis), the first three chapters deals with the Creation and the Eventual Fall of Man. God set down two trees in the garden of Eden. One tree was forbidden to Adam and Eve (who were created by God). Eve was deceived by the snake who was possessed by Satan (the accuser) who was the angel who led the rebellion against God in Heaven. God created the earth and created Adam, the first human, out of the dirt and set Adam as the ruler over the earth. Sort of the CEO. Eve was created to be a helpmate and a blessing to Adam. When the snake slithered up to Eve and started talking to her in order to trick her into eating the forbidden fruit. she did eat but Adam arrived and Eve persuaded him to eat the fruit also. At this point, Adam’s spirit died and the relationship with God was severed. From Adam, the consquences of sin infected humanity to the degree that no one in God’s sight would ever be righteous or “good”. We are tainted by disobedience, rebellion, and self-interest. by doing what we want and doing the things we should not do.
Romans 3 lays out the scenario before us. We are not merely good people. We are people born with sin nature within us. We may think we have done some good deeds, said some good words, lived in a proper neighborhood, born into an exalted family, go to the correct church, and people may be inclined to agree that in a sense- you may be a good person because of “….” . We may have the admiration we crave by others or we may not be aware of how much people like or admire us or the lack of. But in the end, it all is worthless.
Truth is… Goodness alone does not guarantee that you will enter Heaven. This is not a relative truth as in the sense of.. “if it is true to you then it must be true for you but not for me”. This is not that kind of truth. That is self-deception that people fall in when they compromise truth.
God judges people differently. The basis of his judgment is on the heart condition of the person. We can be fooled by others but God cannot be fooled by people.
Paul is a Jewish pharisee who has been converted in belief in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus (Yeshua). He refers to the Old Testament Scriptures as he writes in Romans 3: 10-12 that is part of the New Testament:
as it is written,
“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
Wow. That seems so harsh. So difficult to accept in this time and age but it is true that no one is intrinsically good. It is a prevalent view a good person will do deeds and be an upstanding member of the society but that is not how God defines ‘ good’ in His view. It seems that sin has lost its meaning in society. But, the truth of it is that God does not change his view on sin regardless what some people may say.
In this particular passage, Paul the Apostle is explaning the heart condition of humanity. We are all on an equal footing- all equally sinners because our “righteousness” is worthless due to our fallen nature.
23for all (AK)have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
All have sinned. Yes, even you and I. There is no excuse nor exemption for anyone. We have missed the mark of His standard. Where does Paul get this idea from? From the Old Testament in the book of Genesis chapter 1-3 which recounts the story of Adam and Eve’s disobedience and their eventual explusion from the Garden of Eden. The tragic result of the disobedience is that all of their descendants who have ever lived are tainted with this fallen nature. No matter what we have done, little white lies to big whopping lies or little crafty deeds that people say would not hurt others as long as “they” do not know or huge, tragic life-changing actions- all are sins.
And God views them all the same: sin.
That sounds so hopeless but is it? Is there even a way to deal with this issue head-on?
I encourage you to think about all of this. Are you sure still? Are you on the fence? If so, I encourage you to go and find a Bible that contains the Old and the New Testaments. Start reading Romans and then The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). They often cite back to the Old Testament, read Genesis 1-3, and also there are footnotes or references to other corresponding passages. I encourage you to check them out and read so keep those in mind as we go along.
Reading a bible is a good way to start thinking and searching what you really do believe. If you do not believe, I encourage you to read, to be sure the foundation of your unbelief is correct or not. And also, you can always pray and ask God to help you.
The next installment: Part II “Who do you say Jesus is?” will be dealing with the subject of the “hope” that God provides through the Messiah and what the Old and the New Testaments have to say concerning the Messiah.
Romans 5:1-5 (New American Standard Bible) 1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; … Continue reading
Luke 6: 12 (NIV) One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God Mark 1:35 (NIV) Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left … Continue reading
Psalm 97:11 (NLT)
Light shines on the godly,
and joy on those whose hearts are right
There are mornings when I alight from my bed and raise my hands in thanksgiving to the Father, who in His goodness, have blessed me through Jesus Christ. Imagine such that my breath belongs to Him and in His mercy, I am able to draw breath through my nostrils and be able to walk around on this earth going through my day full of activity.
The sunlight reveals what we see on the earth. We see trees growing, flowers blooming, critters scurrying around looking for food to eat, and we can see our footprints in the sand at the beach. I have to admit I do sometimes take it for granted as something I see everyday. When darkness comes in the quiet of night; we cannot see what is out there. We need artificial light like a flashlight, a torch, or a candle to see into the darkness. So it is the same with the light of the Lord shining in our hearts such that the darkness cannot inhabit the same space without being pushed out.
My heart can be full of His joy when my heart is right before Him because light of His presence is there within. If the darkness of sin and deception remains then there is no place for His light to stay. How can I rejoice while I walk throughout the day if I have not His presence with me? Therefore, like the Sun in the sky that wakes me from my bed, His presence wakes me from the sleep of the night in my soul and makes me aware of Him.
Sometimes, when I see the sunlight filtered through the curtains… it is similiar to how God filters His truth and reveals through the Spirit indwelling my heart. The soft radiance of His truth shining in my heart is like a sunrise growing from the horizon into the sky. It is amazing how God does that.
Next time when I see the light streaming in my house, I will remember His presence and His truth streaming in the room of my heart and be aware of that godly joy of knowing Him.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (New American Standard Bible)
9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for (A)power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather (B)boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
What is grace? Grace in the Greek is this word, charis, and it can be understood as 1: which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm loveliness and 2: goodwill, loving-kindness, favor according to Strong’s lexical definition from the KJV/NASB.
Have you felt like an ant on a pile of rubbish? Perhaps you felt low and experienced frustration to a magnitude it becomes overwhelming. Life became a drudgery and the future seemed bleak. Hidden under the bed, hoping no one will find you, hoping to be left alone. Whispers of “just a moment of peace” runs like ribbons in your mind. The things you said you were tired of repeating you find yourself doing it one more time this day. How can you get out of this cycle? How can you reach the point you become Super man or woman?
“When will it ever stop?” A familiar question we have all asked at one time or another.
The Apostle Paul certainly felt that way. He was frustrated. Tired. Aggravated. Emotionally battered. He just… wanted… it… to … stop. Begged God to stop whatever was going in his life- take it to a standstill. The enemy was just poking, poking, poking at him. Whatever it was that bothered Paul, God answered him gently and compassionately.
My grace is sufficient for you. My power is perfected in weakness.
So, what does that mean His power is sufficient? How is His power effective in our weaknesses? He is saying to us in our desperation amidst our frustration and helplessness that it is his ability to provide us with favor, good-will, loving-kindness, joy. We then realize the truth we are unable to “fix” our situations. We are not Superman whizzing about cloaked in our own strength and self-sufficiency. We need God. The enemy is seeking every opporunity to find chinks in our spiritual armor and exploit them in order to frustrate our faith and draw us away from God and His call on our lives. Paul then understood that whatever tribulation or difficulty that God would sustain him through any situation. God has all the resources at His disposal. The enemy is powerless before Him.
Nehemiah said to the frustrated Jews who were trying to survive in Judah after returning from the exile and the restoration of the sacrifices at the rebuilding of the Temple that the joy of the Lord was their strength, Nehemiah 8:10. They were not to be depressed or mournful but allow that today was a new day and to be joyful that God was good toward them in spite of their problems around them.
God’s grace is abundant, in fact, it is overflowing. We have a dim understanding of how truly powerful His grace is. It is strong enough to push us forward to continue walking in faith when all else seem dark in the valley until we reach the sun-lit peaks of the mountain and see the vast beauty of His provision and care in front of us. His favor is like a prized gem of rare price; when the enemy’s plans are defeated and He moves obstacles out of our way and cause people who were against us to be peaceful towards us. His loving-kindness is all-encompassing. A warm blanket of comfort over us. God has everything under his control, he knows the end from the beginning, nothing fazes Him. So, we should not beat ourselves up but run to Him and let Him know how we feel so He can take over and walk with us in the valley until we reach His mountain top.
Sufficient Grace. It truly is.
Psalm 40:3 (Amplified Bible)
3And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord.
Sometimes when I sing to the Lord in private I find I have new lyrics that come in my mind after I sing some familiar songs then I go off… Some of my original lines have certain themes. This song I have seems to reflect when we all come to face with our Savior and the anticipation we may experience and the wonder, joy, awe that may pass over us.
I found myself singing this song over and over. I decided to pen a song from few lines I remember during my worship and share it here.
I’m looking forward to that day
When I am face to face with my precious Savior
And I look into His eyes of Purity
I fall in love all over again
In Eternity, I shall be with Him
I’m looking forward to that day
When I kneel at His feet in worship
Washing them with my tears
Arms of mercy pull me up
His grace chases away all my fears
Never to be the same
Oh, I’m looking forward
To…. That…. Day!