Proof: Week 2 – Titus 2:11-14

In Week 1, we talked about John 1:14, 16 with emphasis on the following

  1. Grace came in the person of Jesus Christ
  2. He came full of grace and truth, not a balance between
  3. In His fullness, we have received the saving grace in place of grace already given

This week in the Victory Group resource, we are going to study verses from Titus 2

Titus 2:11-14

New International Version (NIV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Lord thank you for your word. Thank you for bestowing us an instruction manual we can live by. I pray for guidance in understanding and that only your intention will be heard. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

To continue where we have left off from last week, Jesus, (the fulfillment of the
promise – Gen 3:15) “came”, Titus 2:11 put it as “appeared”.
It’s says here, “For the grace of God has appeared“. Also, because this verse starts with “For“, it also means that this verse is meant as a concluding statement of its preceding verses. (You can read that in your own time).

We had a lot of emphasis on the coming of grace already from last week, so we continue to the later parts of verse 12, “that offers salvation to all people“. Now, think about this – “For the grace of God” (Jesus, the embodiment of grace), “that offers“, examine the word that was used is “offers”; when you experience that word today, to some people, when you offer something, the common mindset is that “you offer because you probably expect something in return” doesn’t it. It seems sad but it’s a reality we live today.

The world made in itself a way to make the “performance driven” culture more evident than “love driven”. I’m not saying that performing is bad, in fact, that is good in a sense. But what is not good is people are more concerned what the world will see in us than what God is supposed to see in us.

Know this, the Bible talks about “salvation” (going back to the word), that is offered free. But listen – because it is offered, it is not automatically yours until you respond. Who should respond? Is says here “to all people”. There was no exception there. Not to a chosen few. Not to a specific denomination. Not to people who outperforms the other. Not just the rich. Not just the good. It will be to anyone who “responded”, to the one who “acted”, to the one who “received” it. Again, salvation is offered to all people, and those who responded, acted on receiving it, get it. Otherwise, to those who do not, it remains to be just an offer doesn’t it?

Unlike any other stuff offered though, like food, or drinks, or anything you can touch, these offer is one that is not something felt, or smelled, or ingest, this is something beyond. Receiving it is not the same as receiving all the other stuff, but this offer; you receive “by faith“. Galatians 3:14 …through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

What is more interesting is that, even though it was not something you get physically when you receive it, it manifests itself in the inside, which comes as a proof that you have it. Titus continued, 1st part of verse 12 “It teaches us“, who is being taught? Those who acted, received, and responded through faith. Believers are influenced by that of which they received… grace; it says here, it teaches – “to say ‘No’ to ungodliness“. What are these? Just taking a cue from the law handed down to Moses, those that although it says “thou shalt not” and we still do 🙂 .

Unloving (or hate), idolatry, dishonor, murder, adultery, robbing, lies, coveting – you name it, but my point is… “Rather than being a person who knows the law and trying to abide by it to stay out of trouble“… by being in the saving knowledge of grace, you are taught to say ‘No’… “‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions”. You are induced to the concept of eternal rather than temporal. It teaches you to be immune to worldly desires. It teaches you “to live self-controlled, upright and godly“. Our country is in crisis today because some officials are allegedly involved in corruption; it is demoralizing from a sense where the government is failing from watching over itself… what more to other people who it is supposed to be watching. The difference with grace is that it teaches self governance, to be under the authority of the Lord, and its fruit is righteous men and women.

Last part of verse 12, “in this present age,” well, if the Bible says present age, does it then described before? Is it in the timeline where the book of Titus was written? Let me ask you, in the world we live today, does hate exists? Does idolatry exists? In the world today, do we see dishonor, murder, adultery? Is there no more theft and is the world free of lies? In fact, come to think of it “in this present age,” is truer now than it’s ever been doesn’t it…

Verse 13 “while we wait for the blessed hope“. Let me circle back to the idea on verse 12 and back to verse 13 again to build on the point…

Grace teaches us self governance, influences us to live righteously, in this present age, WHILE we wait for the blessed hope.

Blessed hope by which John described in John 14:1-3 referring to Jesus promise:

John 14:1-3

New International Version (NIV)

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Blessed hope, which is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

To close, verse 14 “Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

As we have concluded from the previous meeting, His presence from the beginning (John 1:1-3; Genesis 1:1,26), will give “14 who gave himself for us” a twofold story – (1) give up heaven for a time ‘and make his dwelling among us’ (John 1:14). Jesus, who is blameless, to live among us – Isaiah 64:6 put it this way “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;” Can you just imagine if I ask you to go and live with beggars who are unable to change their clothes for a long time because of poverty? That doesn’t sound very appealing but that’s the picture here. And that is not all – (2) he came to us, live with us, so that he can die for us. How many times does he need to ‘give himself for us’? He gave himself, so that he can give himself for us, redundant enough? Here is more 🙂 : He gave himself to us, so that he can give himself for us, because he has not given up on us. Going back to the word, it says here “to redeem us”. Redeem us “from all wickedness”, you see, when Jesus gave himself for us, it was to redeem us from ALL wickedness. So if you are FREE from wickedness, you who are sinful; was made sinless before God; spotless; blameless. It adds here “and to purify“. It was a necessary sacrifice because he was establishing the church; the body of Christ – “to purify for himself a people that are his very own”.

Lastly, it concluded “eager to do what is good.” and I especially like this part. This last part here is also what made me say:

“What is more interesting is that, even though it was not something you get physically when you receive it, it manifests itself in the inside, which comes as a proof that you have it.”

back from the top.

This is a result of grace. Grace gives us, strengthens us, sustains us, transforms us, and makes us “eager to do what is good.” This is a proof of grace. “Eager (or wanting, longing, yearning) to do what is good.”

And I end with this verse:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

New International Version (NIV)

Praise be to God!

Advertisements

Proof: Week 1 – John 1:14,16

The Church is now moving to a series called Proof. You can read about that here: Victory Fort

This weeks study verse for the Victory Group is:

John 1:14, 16

New International Version (NIV)

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.

To begin, let me start by a word of prayer…

Lord thank you for this opportunity to study your word. Please guide me as I prepare for the sharing tonight. Guide me that what I am able to write and share will be your truth. I pray for open mind and a receptive heart. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

1st part of verse 14 “The Word became flesh” and I’ll stop here for a moment. Let us go back to our Bible and read starting from verse 1 through 18 of Chapter 1 real quick to build on the reference on what was referred to as “The Word” here.

John 1:1-18 (NIV)

If you observed the same, John 1:1-3 seemed to be parallel to Genesis 1:1,26 in a sense of both “repetition” (both begins with In the beginning”) and “context” (God created the heavens and the earth … Let us make mankind in our image || He was with God in the beginning  … Through him all things were made). The words “us” seemed to have complemented to “with” and at the same time, a pattern was building up.

But since our study verse is on 14 and 16, we may have to talk through that observation in another meeting, but the point here as I build on the discussion is that, “The Word“, John referring to was either ‘the promise of fulfillment into the person of Jesusor ‘the God being present in the creation account and transformed into human’, however I may want to look at it fits Jesus especially when John concluded the sentence. Says here “and made his dwelling among us.”

So if I am to build from the statement above, its ‘the promise getting fulfilled’ to the person of Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15 – offspring; or the seed) and made his living among us. What is also important in this verse is that we’d realize that being with us means that having to endure what mankind endure; in a world where the fallen man is living in. More than that, we are favored; we are favored to know that God have continued on His plan of redemption. We are favored that “dwelling among us” or living with us is Gods’ plan of salvation, Jesus. And John didn’t stop there…

John continued “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father,” and here, he testifies that what he witness from Jesus is glory like no other, glory that you can only see from the Son of God. At this point, it should not be an argument that ‘we are all sons and daughters of God’ as that is in the spirit, after we have been “made” sons and daughters of God through Jesus, because the sentence continue to say “who came from the Father,”.

Now, as popular as the story is, we know that Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary. Conceived through the Holy Spirit; and this is what John was building on to as he said “the glory we witness from Gods’ only begotten Son“. Let us examine that for a moment, in Genesis 1:26, we reference this earlier, it say’s “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”, so it was referring to Adam before he had sinned, then we jump to Genesis 5:3 (already after the fall) it wrote here “he (Adam) had a son in his own likeness, in his own image” and all sons and daughters were born with sinful nature. For this reason, mankind was in need of a savior, He who is not born of natural descent, nor in human decision, but the one who is born of God conceived through the Holy Spirit, back to God’s likeness and image, He who do not carry the sinful nature of man, He who is God. Jesus… who chose to be among us at His fathers will.

Last part of verse 14, listen to this, “full of grace and truth”. Again, “FULL of grace AND truth”; and there’s a tension there… I mentioned about it ‘a little bit’ when we were in the ‘Hotspot series’. But to some of us, we are torn between one or the other don’t we. We know what the difference is… Grace says you’re forgiven, while truth says “yeah, but you’re accountable”. Truth will show you’re broken, and grace chimes in and say “you’re fine”. And here, grace will keep saying “I love you, just the way you are” and truth just keeps creeping in saying you’re responsible doesn’t it. That is why some of us are torn – some of us are inclined to favor one over the other. We try to push Jesus into one direction. We like the verse that talks about truth when we lecture people what to do, and then we like the verses that talks about grace when its about us 🙂

But that is not what John is saying… he says he has seen Him live, he has seen his glory, they (the disciples) walked with Jesus, and he described Him full of grace and truth. There is the emphasis. Not a balance of grace and truth, but full.

Then we skipped over verse 16: “16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” Out of his fullness – there’s the key, he continued – we have received grace in place of grace already given… And I paused as I think about this for a second as this can only mean we either ‘received grace after grace, after grace’ or this can also talked about a ‘new grace’ in place of ‘grace given’ because if I ponder upon the latter, I would be able to reference “the promise” as God’s mercy when the first of mankind fell is the “grace already given”, and Jesus coming as the embodiment of grace is the “grace we all received” in place of “grace already given”.

To close, this is why “no one can boast”, and “no good works” can ever match what came through Jesus. We are reminded that grace and truth came in the person of Jesus Christ. And it is only through Him we will be save as God’s greatest gift and expression of love to us. That we received it in full, not a balance between grace and truth (by faith).

God bless you!

NIV & Other Versions NOW available Offline in YouVersion

I received this exciting news in my inbox today. I was trying to see if there is an article or blog I can refer you to so I could paste a link here BUT I can’t find it.

But I found another interesting link which might inspire you: http://now.youversion.com/

 

Today in the Jesus Community

Today in the Jesus Community

I just love the animations that shows how busy God works J

More than a Song: Week 4 – Psalm 51:10-12

To conclude the series, the text we will be looking into is Psalm 51:10-12

Psalm 51:10-12

New International Version (NIV)

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

In our past meetings for the series, we bring into the discussion a few facets to Worship. I built on a pattern of expressions that began with “Our love for God” to put emphasis on the point that Worship begins with our genuine love for the Lord. As a result, Worship comes out naturally as our feeling of response.

The church covered the series with the following ideas “Worship — “:

  1. In Times of Battle
  2. Source of our Strength
  3. In Times of Injustice, and
  4. In Times of Failure

And as usual, since most of you have already attended the services, will look at this from another perspective.

1st part of verse 10:

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

One of the most amazing things about God’s mercy; Grace, is that even with our unrighteousness by sin, we are granted favor, forgiven, and justified. What’s interesting about the words used by David is that, he put in there “pure heart”, another place in the scripture where the same words are found is when Jesus was teaching “to the mayattitudes”, the beatitudes J in Matthew 5:28 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”.

In our week two sharing, I have already made reference to David as someone who can see the unseen (Psalm 63:2) as a result of his intimacy with God. As a disciple, the goal is that we may live our life in a way that we see God.

Question is, can we have a pure heart?

Genesis 6:5 say’s “The Lord saw … that every inclination of the thought of man’s heart was evil all the time”, also in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure”. That is what the bible is telling us so we can accept that we, in and of ourselves cannot attain a heart that is “pure”, or morally pure and devoted fully to God.

But even though that is seemingly impossible by ourselves, the good news is, we can have pure heart. Fulfilled through Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, a new creation of new heart. I especially like the part in verse 19 “not counting people’s sins against them“. You see, the difference between us and God when it comes to forgiveness if I may is that

If a person committed the same sin and seeks forgiveness to someone, i.e. “Patawarin mo na ako, di bat’ ako’y tao lang at nadadarang at natutukso rin, promise, hindi ko na uulitin“, would probably be responded with “paulit-ulit nalang”; when God would probably say “ang alin?” – That is what repentance means, you are made blameless before him. Not that God is forgetful, but that’s just how it works.

Now that we have been given the gift, we should keep it as the psalmist said, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9), and, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

2nd part of verse 10:

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Another thing that needs renewal is our conscience… difficult thing about ‘our ability to discern right from wrong’ is that we can develop false sense of morals and values depending on how your standards are founded.

What did I mean by this, the world that is corrupt can change once view on things… I didn’t want to touch on sensitive things but I think you know the other issues the world is facing which are direct attacks even to the 10 commandments. But let me just give you a lighter example: ‘Clothing’ – now, fashion can set up a new trend that because of popularity, some women, even Christians would go to wearing beyond what they can be accountable to NOT aware that they have already been drawn to a worldly standard.

There was an article that writes “Sending sexual signals by the way you dress” and it wrote like this:

“The female legs have also been the subject of considerable male interest as sexual signaling devices. The mere exposure of leg flesh has been sufficient to transmit sexual signals. Needless to say, the higher the exposure goes the more stimulating it becomes for the simple reason that it then approaches the primary genital zone.”

McCall

Paul writes this in I Corinthians 1:20 “20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?“, and this is where some fail, some Christians would justify the things they do through experts BUT there is difference between spiritual and worldly counsel.

I mentioned about “wearing beyond what they can be accountable to“, this is simply what I mean:

21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

Romans 14:21

Going back to David when he wrote this, not to his defense, he should have been in the war as 2nd Samuel 11 started, but taking a bath out where there is an opening – you can be equally as guilty of the lusting experience.

One more point in the verse was David’s use of the word “steadfast”, not only he came to God to be cleansed and reformed, he also prayed for firm and unwavering conviction. The good news is, God provided us with a blue print of what the standards should be, it’s the bestselling book of all time (I didn’t have to research on that, I don’t think that’s arguable). That was the good news, the best news is, God sent His son to model it.

Moving into verse 11

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

I did not break this two lines apart just with the thought that Holy Spirit is God’s presence within us, thus the translators use of the coordinating conjunction “or“. This is also what David asks of God after he had been rebuked by Nathan. At times, when some people fall short, or experience failure, they just elect not to be with the presence of God. David knew better. Actually, if we look at verses 1 and 2 of the same song, he used the terms transgressions and iniquity to describe his sin.

Friends, to be casted away from his presence mean to tolerate what is known to be immoral. It’s dangerous because it chooses God to be out of the picture. It means taking things at your own hands and we can’t. Well you can, but sooner or later, it will just all fall into God’s wrath.

Even with the little things we do. In fact, let this little things go and you’d be surprise it’ll come back and swallow you in whole. I heard a pastor talked about “sin begets sin“. In this particular story, can see it as – he was lazy, he should have been fighting the war, there was lust, seeing a beautiful naked woman, and he didn’t turn away, called for Bathsheba, which led to adultery, conspired and then murder.

Lastly, verse 12

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

There is a saying (translated to English): You won’t know the value of something until you lose it. David has probably missed the joy when he turned away from the will of God. Otherwise, he would not have use the word “Restore“.

I would also emphasize on the use of “joy” over “happiness”, this link makes a very good comparison that fits the message I wanted to get across: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Happiness_vs_Joy

Happiness Joy
Meaning: Happiness is an emotion in which one experiences feelings ranging from contentment and satisfaction to bliss and intense pleasure. Joy is the emotion of great or calm delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
Causes: External sources: Events, Feelings Inward sources: God’s abiding presence
Emotion: outward expression of elation inward peace and contentment
Time frame: Momentary Always
Example: Winning a lottery will make one happy In the midst of trials and temptations joy is still present.

I cannot yet answer to the question “Do we lose salvation?” as of the use of “Restore” here… as much as I have blogged subjects on spirituality, I’d rather not take on a question I have not resolved myself into, at least not for now.

To close, let us think about what all these say’s about us and Jesus. Beginning with the verse I already reference earlier:

2 Corinthians 5:17-18

New International Version (NIV)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation

The Lords truth and love are foundations of our salvation. Truly, we cannot do it amongst ourselves, so as God promised the seed in Genesis 3 out of love, then the truth he revealed in Genesis 5, children born of man (Adam) is his own likeness, in his own image, is born of the fallen nature of man. Therefore, it is only He, conceived through the Holy Spirit (Born of God) – Jesus, in his blood that we are made pure.

Then comes our belief system. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life – no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14). Once you have been reconciled, what follows is Lordship, by which, we become followers of Jesus.

David stumbled and so do we, what is comforting is that failures are not the end of the story and the most amazing thing about grace.

And I will leave you with this verse to end –

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

New International Version (NIV)

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.

More than a Song: Week 2

Last week, our small group took on reading of Psalm 144 verses 9-10 to begin the More than a Song study series.

A brief look at the main points I shared:

v. 9 – “new song”: Our love for God must be in a level that we ought to offer “new things” for Him in our worship.
v. 9 – “on the ten-stringed lyre” or best melody: Our love for God must be in a level that we ought to offer “our best” for Him in our worship.
v. 10 – “the One … who delivers”: Our love for God must be in the level that we ought to “worship” Him amidst trials.

I encourage you to read the post here: More than a Song (Week 1)
or listen to the pastors preach in their podcast archive: Podcast Archived

This week, the church continued with Psalm 63 verse 1 to 8 – and that is what we’ll be covering this Thursday meeting:

Psalm 63

A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

You, God, are my God,     earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you,     my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land     where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary     and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life,     my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live,     and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;     with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;     I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help,     I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you;     your right hand upholds me.

As I read through this week’s passage, what hit me is that while last week’s emphasis was David’s “love” for God, which is how we should… is that this week’s reading compliments it in the sense that this talks about “intimacy”.

In my personal experience between love and intimacy, intimacy does not start until I had a relationship. By intimacy – I am not just talking about Sex, sadly, society today managed to intertwine those two words as synonymous. What I am referring to was probably express in a portion of this song:

“Di makatulog sa gabi sa kaiisip
Sa diwa ko’y ikaw ang aking panaginip.
O bakit ba ikaw ang siyang laging laman ng isip ko
Sa bawat sandali ay nais kang makita
Kapag tumitig na sa akin ay ligaya
Anong hiwaga ang nadarama…”

Going back, look at what David say’s in verse 1, “earnestly, I seek you” – often times, there is a tendency that we just wait on God to reveal Himself to us, unaware that He is always there, we fail to see Him because we are more caught up with things we see in the surface.

That if I am to continue with the pattern I started last week, I would go with: Our love for God must be intimate that we ought to seek Him in every circumstance of our life.

You see one group of bible scholars viewed that David wrote this when He was running from Saul, yet another group thinks that since he referred to himself as “the king” in verse 11, this was when he was running away from his son Absalom. But the point is, with depth and sincerity (that is what earnest means) he is seeking God.

Then he added “I thirst for you“, and I thought about what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman from the well, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst” (John 4:14). David was talking in the spiritual sense; He has intimate relationship with God that He knows better than that woman. “My whole being longs for you” he says, when we talk about ones whole being, it speaks about ones existence – mind, body and spirit. Now, look at the irony, “in a dry and parched land where there is no water“. I believe what he’s saying is this, “I am in a place of defeat, in a place where no hope can be felt, in a place where there is no way to live, a place of emptiness” yet David longs for God, as his only fulfillment.

Look at verse 2, “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” David’s intimacy enabled him to ‘see’ the One who is unseen. Going back with my example, God has always been there, and we’ll see He is working in our life: for work, in school, at home, in the streets – and that once we earnestly seek Him and understand His nature, we will see promises after promises has already been fulfilled, and will continue to be fulfilled in our life.

With that, “Our love for God must be intimate that we see grace and goodness showers us, not by our own“.

What happens after? See verse 3-4: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” that is why we need to change the lyrics of this song:

“All you people can’t you see, can’t you see
How your love’s affecting our reality
Every time we’re down
You can make it right
And that makes you larger than life”

Into this

“All you God’s people can’t you see, can’t you see
How your Gods’ love’s affecting our reality
Every time we’re down You God can make it right
And that makes you God larger than life”

And know that, listen to this, and know, that anything in life – power, fame, and fortune, all that you thought was valuable, once you experience the extent of knowing the Lord, amounts to nothing. And you would not have anything left in you but to praise God.

Therefore, our love for God must be intimate that we see it take precedence than everything else.

You will be fulfilled, and satisfied… verse 5-6: “I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.” Let me ask you, what do you say after eating the food that you exactly wanted “SOLVED!” right? What do you say when the lady you are pursuing give you the “matamis na OO“, you shout “YES!” right? But did anyone tell you that it’s what you’re supposed to feel? None.The feeling will come to you, and that is what David had having the intimate relationship with God.

Like I said, our love for God must be in intimate that it will be our source of satisfaction and fulfillment.

To close,

I want us to remember what Jesus did for us in the Calvary…

v.7 “Because you are my help” – He is our savior.
v.7 “I sing in the shadow of your wings.” – We put ourselves under His authority.
v.8 “I cling to you” – That we cannot do it on our own, that we are dependent on Him.
v.8 “your right hand upholds me.“– That we should trust Him, He will never let us down.

as a result, our love for God must be intimate that we honor Him with our trust and complete dependence.

Question is how? I mentioned earlier how my relationship with my wife grew to intimacy, and it’s by this:

  1. Time Spent Together – I go on a date with my wife when I was courting her, and I still do so today. Make sure to set up time with yourself and God, and by that, I mean, setup a quite time with His word.
  2. Two-Way Communication – Intimacy does not grow if you don’t listen to your partner as much as you share your thoughts. Likewise, as much as you do not pray, offer all your requests, and witness it happen to your life not understanding how God operates. Your quiet time must include a time to be still and listen to his voice. And by that, I mean, what does he say about it in His written word.
  3. Vulnerability – if there is a person who knows me inside and out, it would be my wife. Although we already know that God already know us from within, our confession motivates us more to expose our life to Him.
  4. Shared Interest – …

to be continued…

More than a Song: Week 1

Over the next 4 weeks, the Church (VCF) is covering a series called More than a Song, you can listen to the archives here as soon as it’s been delivered: Resources.

To our Victory Group, I share my personal reflection and may not be completely identical to how it was delivered. This weeks verses are extracted from Psalm 144,

Psalm 144:9-10

 

I will sing a new song to you, my God;     on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, 10 to the One who gives victory to kings,     who delivers his servant David.

From the deadly sword

Prayer: Lord, thank you. Thank you for the opportunity that we can reach other people with your word through technology. I pray for open minds and receptive heart. In Jesus name, Amen.

While it has been a challenge for me to wrapped my head around those two verses, I praised God that when I prayed for revelation, the idea popped in my head and was amazed of how much it has offered me personally. I hope it can minister to you as much as it did to me.

 

Before I go deeply into the two verses, allow me to put a summary of the entire Psalm 144 just so it will not get too much out of context:

 

Psalm 144(NIV)

Of David.

 

Praise be to the Lord my Rock,     who trains my hands for war,     my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress,     my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge,     who subdues peoples under me.

 

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,     mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath;     their days are like a fleeting shadow.

 

Part your heavens, Lord, and come down;     touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy;     shoot your arrows and rout them. Reach down your hand from on high;     deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters,     from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies,     whose right hands are deceitful.

 

I will sing a new song to you, my God;     on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, 10 to the One who gives victory to kings,     who delivers his servant David.

From the deadly sword11 deliver me;     rescue me from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies,     whose right hands are deceitful.

 

12 Then our sons in their youth     will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars     carved to adorn a palace. 13 Our barns will be filled     with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands,     by tens of thousands in our fields; 14     our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls,     no going into captivity,     no cry of distress in our streets. 15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;     blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.

Verse 1-2: David praises God for giving him ability, protection, and for the Love, and delivering him from enemies.

Verse 3-4: David humbles humans as lowly beings but has been cared for even with its limited life.

Verse 5-8: David prays for deliverance from the enemy with God’s overwhelming power.

Verse 9-11: David offered worship to God who grants victory, and because of that, He pleaded for his payer in Verse 8 to come to past.

Verse 12-15: and finally, to God’s people, will be a blessing of protection and multitudes of provision.

Now, to open the discussion on the featured verse, I’d open with a question — At any point in your life, have you sang a song to someone? (well, you might have if you are a singer by profession, and I was not referring to the Praise and Worship Services we have here on Thursdays too, or the one in the Sunday services for that regard). Or how about this, let’s jump to some hardcore traditional Filipino culture, do you remember ‘Harana’?
As I was going through this, I remember I was not a great singer then, well, still not am today. But I’ve competed in some on-the-spot poem making contest during my school days. And about 10 years ago, I wrote again, and it was because I met a beautiful, kind, gentle lady. I offered her the poem, I was not a musician; so even if I wanted it to be a song, I couldn’t… good for David, he’s probably one, being a king, probably had the best music teachers in the kingdom.
But going back, have you offered a song to someone? If I am to describe ‘Harana’, it’s going to be like this: “a public expression of love to a lady you adore so dearly, so much that you’ve enough confidence to express it with a love song and the sweet melody of a guitar”.

 

David, so loved God… It says here – beginning of verse 9 – “I will sing a new song to you, my God;”. Not only that he loves Him, he is deeply into his worship with Him. Why did I say so? Not only that he’ll sing for Him, says here “a new song”.  David was probably saying, God you are so special, I want to be original for you. Or, God, I greatly adore you, and I am not going to worship same as before. Or, Lord, I will honor you with new things, “a new song” if you may.
Now, what does that mean for you and me? Listen, our Love for God, must be in a level that we ought to offer new things for Him every time we worship. What do I mean by that? Take this for instance: Lord, I will not only attend the Thursday Praise and Worship, but I’d bring an acquaintance with me. Or how about this: Lord, I will not only attend the Sunday Service, but I’ll bring a new friend who doesn’t already know you. Or: Lord, I will not only give to Church today, I will also set out and volunteer my time to help in building homes for the homeless. “a new song” he said.

10 String, Lyre Harp

10 String, Lyre Harp

And then, David continued on – later part of verse 9 – “on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,” and here, I couldn’t even play a six-stringed guitar… what do I mean by that, not only that David offers a new song to God, he probably meant, Lord, this new song, I want it to have the ‘best melody’, I want it to be ‘pleasing’. AND I remember writing that poem that ‘it took several revisions so it would rhyme’, ‘good amount of effort to make it lovely’, ‘handful of erasures to make syllables match’. I’d do all sorts of things because it was a chance to please her.

Often times, we are so caught up at work, or school, or just by all kinds of things in our life that we’ve become stagnant in our worship with God. We become a routine, just getting by to go to church every Sunday, just getting by meeting new friends and not sharing the gospel, and I am not only talking about the things you do inside the church, remember, worship is everything we do for God, so it maybe ‘just getting by your daily work’, or ‘just getting by school with a passing grade’, I’m talking about ‘being excellent at work by which it will honor God, or ‘striving for best in school so it will bring glory to God’. Not only that we’ll worship God differently, but we’ll honor Him with our best.

 

Listen, you are not going to a ‘Harana’ without practice, not without the guitar tuned properly, not without your singing synchronize with the melody, and certainly not without giving your heart into it. Not only that, as I have mentioned earlier, ‘Harana’ is public declaration of love. Are you declaring your love for God in public? Are you not ashamed to face the crowd and show them your adoration for God?
Verse 10 – David says there to the One who gives victory to kings, who delivers his servant David. From the deadly sword,, he didn’t say “one of“, he said “the one“, he was certain that the Lord, our God, is in control, and the only one who will make things happen. Let me ask you, in times of trials, do you stand firm in God? Do you put your rest to Him? Are you in Faith that God is in control of what is happening in your life?
To close, David faced Goliath who was the champion of the Philistines. He faced him not on his own, but in believing that it is the Lord our God who grants victory and will deliver His people. And in spite of the trial He was going through, listen, if we read this through until some parts of verse 11, here’s what he says who delivers his servant David. From the deadly sword, deliver me, he was praying for deliverance, but look, in spite of that, as much as prayer, David was worshipping God. So here is my question: Are you, in times of trials, worship God as much as you pray for deliverance? and that is my prayer for us.
read it, love it, live it! God bless…
(and yes, for over 7 years now, I am married to the wonderful woman I referred to ;))

Hotspot 3: Share

You may notice how I unusually had Hotspot 4: Unlimited written prior to this and that Hotspot 1 and 2 have not existed (yet). To address that thought, the point of these ‘related’ postings is to have our Small Group members who were unable to attend previous meetings get a glimpse of the message that transpired (and I feel worth sharing :)).

If you have not read Part 4, here is how I opened which gives a slight idea where it’s going:

Hotspot 4: Unlimited

Before I proceed further, just to give readers a background, the Church I go to (Victory) do topical services and in the previous series, it was coined Hotspot – 3 topics were discussed: Source, Sync, and Share and this series was aimed to cover principles about discipleship.

The study verse for this topic is:

Matthew 9:9-13

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Approximately 3 months ago, a Pastor who is also a father of 3 of the Members of the same Small Group (who meets us monthly) mentioned in his lecture that ‘repetition of words and phrases’ in the Bible is a symbol of emphasis.

What quickly got into me reading the first part of these set of verses was the phrase “Follow me,” which also appeared when we did Hotspot 2: Sync (if time permits, I hope to cover this in the blog sooner).

Very literally, the words itself imply “come after me”, sounds easy enough? But take into context how the same message was used in several other passages on the same book:

Mat 4:19 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Also the study verse from Hotspot 2: Sync).

Mat 8:22 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Mat 16:24 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Mat 19:21 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

With enough reference, following Jesus meant more than simply walking after Him, to quote its accompanying phrases He say’s

“and I will send you out”, you have to be prepared to be sent, to receive-and-act on a command; “and let the dead bury their own dead”, may require to give your old self up; “must deny themselves and take up their cross”, may not be easy – be willing for a renewed commitment; “sell your possessions and give to the poor”, and give up whatever hinders you from truly following Him.

Going back to verse 9, its say’s there: he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. — At this point in Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees already have their eyes on Him and had actually accused Him of Blasphemy as He uttered forgiveness to a paralyzed man in the previous verses. And here, Jesus looked at Matthew (a Tax Collector), from where, in their culture was branded worst than sinners to be called His disciple.

Let us look at how John put it in his Gospel:

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Examine the last part: “full of grace and truth”. It is not one or the other. There was no trick there why in spite of how Society (or the Pharisees and the people at that time) seemed to condemn sinners, see, Jesus came as embodiment of full on grace and truth. And while we get the point, sometimes ourselves, we want grace when it speaks of us and pushing truth when we speak of other people don’t we?

You see, while truth will say you’re accountable, grace come in and say you’re forgiven. Here truth say’s your responsible, grace comes in and say I love you anyway. Listen: there is nothing else you can do to make God love you less. I’ll say it again; there is nothing – absolutely nothing – you can do to make Jesus love you, any less.

Then later in verse 9, Jesus invited Matthew “Follow me”, and what was his response? What will be your response? It says “Matthew got up and followed him”. NO ifs, NO buts, NO I’m not ready Lord, NO let me think about it first, NO what if – see, what comes after the invitation is ACTION, he got up, in other words, get on your feet – cause what’s about to happen is a journey. When God call to you, what will you do? You need to, just get up, and follow him.

Verse 10: “While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.” – Counter culture; imagine if you were one of the first disciples before Matthew, you might have even reacted – say “Lord, I know I am sinner when you called me, but this guy, this guy Matthew, he is a Tax Collector. Get it, Lord? Tax Collector… we’re only sinners!” – Well, this is a made up, but how would you have reacted yourself?

But wait, there is more (I delivered this like I was selling in Home TV Shopping) – “we are going to party with the entire gang tonight!” 🙂

John said “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.”

Verse 11: When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” – look who refused to join the party 🙂

And as you read through this, you have probably heard/read the story of the prodigal son at least more than once in your lifetime, but this could remind you of the older brother… I will not get through it here, but every time you read it, reveals you something new doesn’t it? You could even say with Jesus, being God, an all knowing being, have intended to tell the story right when all of them where gathered in that place (Luke 15).

Point is, don’t come clean and say: You’ve been obedient all your life. Jesus should have reserved His precious time for you. Don’t be jealous and angry when you feel Jesus was showing love and compassion to others when you feel you deserved more. And I will say it again, differently this time: “There is nothing more you can do to make God love you more”. You know why? Open up to one of your favorite verses 🙂 : Romans 5:8 – isn’t that proof that He already loves you the most?

Verse 12 and 13: On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

It’s interesting that Jesus commanded them to find out what I desire mercy, not sacrifice” meant. And if you try the Old Testament, the text in Hosea 6:6 with the same words reveals the entire verse as “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Surely, the Pharisees have kept traditions and their obsession to keeping the law that they forget what it was about. That sacrifices are worthless without the sacrificial heart. Like the older brother who failed to share compassion for the lost son and didn’t want to participate in embracing him back.

To close: Jesus said in John 13:34-35

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“A new command”, He said. Forget about the commandments – in fact, forget about all of 630+ truths… but by this “Love one another”, how easy-or-hard could it be? What about those who wronged you, or those who fights you still, what about that guy who stole your girlfriend, or what about that guy who never pays his debt to you… well, guess what, He even added “As I have loved you.”

Well, how did Jesus showed it to his disciples? Peter, as he recognized Jesus after they had so much catch in their boat said “Lord, get away from me for I am a sinner”, Jesus took him as a follower. Take Nathaniel when Philip called to Him informing about Jesus, he said “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”, he insulted the Lord yet Jesus took him as a disciple, and of course, we come back to Matthew who were branded traitor of the nation for collecting taxes, how did Jesus respond to him?

My prayer for all of us, is that whatever our circumstances are, whatever we’ve done in the past, what matters now is how we’d respond to Jesus’ call “Follow me”.