VIDEO What Doesn’t Mix – Children of God

For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 1 Corinthians 3:3

Some things in life don’t go together: oil and water, nuts and chewing gum, love and hate, and criticism and unity. Constructive criticism can lead to greater unity. But when the criticism is motivated by selfishness, envy, or anger, it can never lead to unity.

What can lead to unity? Service. Take the church at Corinth for example. The apostle Paul wrote stern rebukes to the church about their lack of unity. Men like Paul and Apollos came among them as servants (1 Corinthians 3:5) to build up a church characterized by unity. But the immature Corinthian believers ignored the model of servant leadership and created cliques in the church based on “envy, strife, and divisions.” The other model of service they could have followed was that of Christ who came into the world to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:7). Servants look first to the interests of others rather than their own interests (Philippians 2:4), and unity results.

Unity comes when individual Christians submit their will and agenda to the Lordship of Jesus Christ—it’s the best way to begin every day.

In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.  Richard Baxter


1 Corinthians 3 – Part One – Children of God

Love God and Love Others

 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  Micah 7:18

How long should a person have to suffer the consequences of his actions?

For some ex-offenders in Singapore, it seems, the Internet has decided that the answer is: forever.

According to a recent report in local media, some of these people are still suffering shame and a loss of reputation after they had paid their dues—in jail time or in fines—because their misdeeds had gone viral when they were first committed. Unlike many other crimes that don’t make it big in the news, these incidents had drawn a lot of attention because they were captured on video or widely reported. Reports and discussion of their rash acts or crimes can still be found online, many years on.

Ironically, the same technology that has contributed to a culture of quick-moving (and quickly-forgotten) news also records deeds (and misdeeds) down for posterity. As a result, some of these ex-offenders have difficulty getting a job or find themselves still being criticised online.

Is this fair? Should they be allowed to move on? Those who say no may argue that these ex-offenders should have considered the consequences of their actions. Besides, how would their victims feel? Can a leopard change its spots?

I wonder, though, how God would see these people. To be sure, they had committed crimes that deserved punishment. But should these misdeeds be remembered?

The Bible is full of stories of sinful, flawed people who were given a second chance—and sometimes a third and fourth, too. Jonah, Samson, David, Peter—all these people and others had messed up badly. Not just any rash act, but disobedience, murder, adultery, betrayal, and more. Some were repeat offenders. Yet when they confessed and repented of their sin, they were not only completely forgiven, but also redeemed to fulfil God’s great purposes.

Micah 7:18–19 offers great comfort to those who have messed up in life. It tells us that God is forgiving as well as holy:

Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin
and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry for ever
but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities
into the depths of the sea.

 

The world and Google may remember what we have done, but how comforting it is to know that God does not. He does not hold our past against us if we confess and repent, but sees only what we can be for Him in the future. When Jesus forgave Peter, He was not interested in recounting Peter’s betrayal of his Lord, but in charging him with the task of looking after His people.

If you’ve come to the Lord repentant and seeking to move on, know that God has forgiven you and can use you for His great purposes. Our God is a God of second chances. —Leslie Koh

 

Lord, even though the world may
remember what I’ve done wrong,
I have Your assurance that in Your eyes,
I am forgiven because I have repented.
Give me the strength and courage
to move on and to serve You.

God sees our future, not our past.

Conquering All Jealousy

Psalm 37:1-4

Envy can damage the life of a Christian. A feeling of displeasure about someone else’s good fortune can also harm a believer’s witness, since it often causes people to act out of hostility and bitterness. And the jealous person suffers far more than his or her target.

Before we can rid ourselves of envious feelings, we must be willing to confess we have them in our heart. Like greed, jealousy is an emotion we don’t like to admit we feel, but the Lord already knows. We also must realize that harboring envy is the same as objecting to God’s blessing upon someone else’s life. Regardless of how we try to rationalize such feelings, we are in conflict with the Lord—a person cannot be simultaneously jealous and right with Him.

The surest way to strip away resentment is through prayer. After we’ve confessed to the Lord that we have jealous feelings, we must begin to pray for the other person. Our petition should contain two elements: first, an offering of thanksgiving for the blessings in his or her life, and second, a request that God will place love for the individual in our heart. Initially, praying in this way will no doubt be difficult, but as love grows—and it will—you’ll find the words come more easily and joyfully.

Envy is inappropriate for followers of Christ since it distracts us from the Lord. We have the promise that if we delight in our heavenly Father, He will give us the desires of our heart. So we need to refocus our attention upon Him and what He is doing in our own life.

Be At The Throne of Grace

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

The Lord Jesus Christ is able to help in every time of need for two reasons. First, as the Creator, He is fully able to do anything. Secondly, He has solved, once and for all, the dilemma of the sin that had separated us from God’s holiness, by paying the price Himself for our salvation.

To do that, He had to become man so that He could first overcome temptations such as those to which we succumb. He could not pay the price for man’s sin if He were not a man, nor could He pay it if He were a sinner. He must be a man, but a sinless man—a criterion no other man could satisfy.

Therefore, He was tempted in all points as we are. This does not mean, however, that He felt a real inward temptation to sin. He was “tested” under the most extreme circumstances to which humans could be subjected, and He always passed the test. He could never have failed, because He is also God, but now all men, and angels, and devils know that He cannot fail.

Thus, He fully understands every one of our needs, and He is indeed able and willing to help. As we come boldly to receive His amazing grace, we must first “obtain mercy” (v. 16), confessing and receiving forgiveness for our sins (John 1:9). Then, we are ready to boldly request grace to help in every other need. Our faithful High Priest has been there before us. He knows (not just “knows about”) our problems, and is always there to help, waiting for us to come. Since “he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted,” and can “save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Hebrews 2:18; 7:25). HMM

Too Much Church Organization

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.

—Titus 1:5

I am and have been for years much distressed about the tendency to over-organize the Christian community, and I have for that reason had it charged against me that I do not believe in organization. The truth is quite otherwise.

The man who would oppose all organization in the church must needs be ignorant of the facts of life. Art is organized beauty; music is organized sound; philosophy is organized thought; science is organized knowledge; government is merely society organized. And what is the true church of Christ but organized mystery?…

Many church groups have perished from too much organization, even as others from too little. Wise church leaders will watch out for both extremes. A man may die as a result of having too low blood pressure as certainly as from having too high, and it matters little which takes him off He is equally dead either way. The important thing in church organization is to discover the scriptural balance between two extremes and avoid both.   GTM029, cm

Give us wisdom, Lord, to operate with good organization and wise business practices. But keep us from being so organized that the Holy Spirt has no room to work. Amen.

 

Without murmurings and disputing

Do all things without murmurings and disputing.—Philippians 2:14.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.—Proverbs 25:28.

 

Behold., the paths of life are ours,—we see

Our blest inheritance where’er we tread,

Sorrow and danger our security,

And disappointment lifting up our head.

Anna L. Waring.

 

One valuable way of practicing self-control is in checking grumbling, and an unnecessary display of vexation at petty inconveniences. A workman has fulfilled his task imperfectly, some order is wrongly executed, some one keeps you waiting unreasonably; people are careless or forgetful, or do what they have in hand badly. Try not to be disturbed; be just, and show the persons to blame where they are wrong, even (if it be needful) make them do the thing over again properly; but refrain from diffuse or vehement expressions of displeasure. A naturally quick, impetuous person will find that to cultivate a calm external habit is a great help towards gaining the inward even spirit he needs.

H.L. Sidney Lear.

 

A repining life is a lingering death.

Benjamin Whichcote.

 

Never Ever Separated From God

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?.” John 11:26

Yes, Lord, we believe it; we shall never die. Our soul may be separated from our body, and this is death of a kind; but our soul shall never be separated from God, which is the true death — the death which was threatened to sin — the death penalty which is the worst that can happen. We believe this most assuredly, for who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord? We are members of the Body of Christ; will Christ lose parts of His body? We are married to Jesus; will He be bereaved and widowed? It is not possible. There is a life within us which is not capable of being divided from God: yea, and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and how then can we die? Jesus, Himself, is our life, and therefore there is no dying for us, for He cannot die again. In Him we died unto sin once, and the capital sentence cannot a second time be executed. Now we live, and live for ever. The reward of righteousness is life everlasting, and we have nothing less than the righteousness of God, and therefore can claim the very highest reward.

Living and believing, we believe that we shall live and enjoy. Wherefore we press forward with full assurance that our life is secure in our living Head.