Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What does God desire for the living man?

If you are NOT a believer or Christian, have you wondered what God wants men to be?  What is the foremost thing that God wants of men?  If you are a believer or Christian, are you already clear about these questions?

What is God’s perspective of the affairs of men?  Towards what He wants, what has God done? Is it possible for what God wants, to come about?

What does the Word of God or Scripture say about such issues or questions?

We read from the Book of Acts, in Acts 17, that in the early AD, the Apostle Paul was at one time engaging the Greek philosophers.  It started like this, Acts 17:22-23 –
22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

In other words, the Apostle Paul was going to give understanding to the then Greek philosophers about God.  Paul was going to tell them, to the tune of “What unknown? Unknown God?  Or God of whom we know nothing; no, NOT like that!  Let me tell you about God so that you no longer need to be blur about God and regard Him as unknown”. 

The first thing that Paul said was this (Acts 17:24-25):

24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

In other words, what we, men, have, including our life and breath, they all come from God in the first place; we cannot give anything which is not from Him in the first place.  It is God who made the world and everything in it.  God is the Lord of heaven and earth.

The Apostle Paul went on to explain that, from one man, Adam, God made every nation of men.  This is what he said (Acts 17:26-27):

26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Yes, in between, certain events and things happened, and we are NOT going to go into all of that in any great detail today, but from the above 2 verses, it is clear that God meant for us to have nations of men, inhabiting the whole earth, like it is today.  In fact, the text said that God determined the times and places various men were and are to live.  In other words, it is no coincidence that there is a nation called Singapore, for example, having such various inhabitants here, at this season and hour. 

In other words, what we are seeing in the world is NOT outside of what God is able to handle.  It may NOT be “neat and tidy”; it is NOT so, because men were given free-will, right from the beginning.  God is nevertheless in control, and the play out of God’s creation, over time, and yes, with free-will for men thrown in, all of it, is still within what God is able to handle; and God let it proceed so, with the intent that men would seek Him, and perhaps reach out for Him, and find Him.  Verse 27 above was clear that God was NOT left behind, but it was that it was and is always, God is NOT far from us.

From here, we know one thing that God desires of men is that men would seek Him, reach out for Him, and find Him.

Is it possible to seek God, reach out for Him and find Him?  Through the inspiration of the Spirit of God, the author of the Book of Hebrews tells us 2 truths, in Heb 11:6.

Heb 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

The 2 truths are (1) if we want to draw near to Him, if we want to seek Him, want to reach out for Him, and to find Him, we must believe He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (diligently or earnestly); and (2) if we want to please God, we must be having living faith.

Today, whether you are a believer or Christian, or you are NOT yet one, or one that has embraced some religion, like the ancient Greeks were, religious, it is possible for you to find Him and please Him.  Pleasing God is NOT simply by merely making an offering before an image or imagery.  Even for the Christians, the mere mouthing of “Hallelujah, praise God”, does NOT necessarily please God!  Faith is an essential element for pleasing God.

The above suggests to us that one thing that God desires of men is that men would seek Him, reach out for Him, and find Him.  If God desires that, how can God NOT be found at all!  No, He can be found.  He would allow Himself to be found by us when we, first of all, believe He exists, and that He would allow Himself to be found by us as a reward, when we diligently or earnestly seek Him.

Many translations of Scripture used “believe God exists” for Heb 11:6. It is a fair translation; however another phrase used in some translations is “believe He (God) is”.  This, to me, has the fuller meaning embodied in it, just like the declaration of God that He is the great “I AM”.  “ He is” or “I AM” means NOT just He exists, but it is that He has always existed.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  And so, the furthest we can go back, is “In the beginning, there was God…” God was NOT created.  He is the Creator (Acts 17:24 above said it, too).  And so, when it is said, as in Heb 11:6, that we are to believe He is … (KJV, NKJV), it calls for our belief that NOT only He exists, He has always existed.  So, He or God is NOT created but is the Creator, and everything was created by Him.

Scripture said that we are without excuse of NOT recognising Him as God, the all surpassing greatness.  Romans 1:20 said this:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

So, the call of Hebrew 11:6 is NOT just we believe He exists, but is that we believe He is Who He is (The I AM) who has always existed.  The Apostle Paul wanted to get this across to the Greek, and so, he said this (Acts 17:28-29):

28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'  29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill.

God was NOT created; He was the Creator, and everything, including us, is created by Him, in Him, and for Him.  Thus, the “..in Him we live and move and have our being.”  We are created by God, and so, in that sense, all of us are the offspring of God.  All created things, even images made from gold or silver or stone, fashioned by men, cannot be God.  And so, we must NOT worship any of these things.  All such worship is detestable to God.

What God wants is that we be reconciled back to Him, our Maker.  When do we seek someone out, reach out for him or find him?  When there has been a separation.  If there was NOT, separation, two are together, and when two are together, there is no seeking necessary, there is no reaching out, and there is no finding.  In other words, there has been a separation between God and men.

It was NOT a physical separation as such, for Acts 17:26- 27 said that even though men were distributed in many nations, and across time, God was nevertheless NOT far from each one of us! Yet, a seeking and a finding were still needed.  The separation between us, men and God, is more than just physical.  In simple terms, we have been corrupted, and the “corrupt” in us alienated us from God.  The image of God with which we have been created via the first Man, Adam, had been wrecked by Satan through The Fall in the Garden of Eden.  If we use the metaphor of a software for the image of God, it is like we have been corrupted, by Satan’s tempering with The Software; and the latter was infected with a “virus” called Iniquity.  The corrupted-ness was then replicated down to us, every one of us, born of men, after Adam and Eve (Jesus was born of the Spirit {conceived of the Holy Spirit}).

There is now a problem for us to patch back to the “mother system”, God.  Men have become a “runaway” sub-system.  Each one of us must believe we have come from the mother system, and wants to be patched back to the mother system, God.  God is desiring for all runaways to fall back in (1 Tim 2:4 – God desires all men be saved).  So, if we liken God as the mother-ship, He would come for you, when your sincere signals are sent repeatedly out to Him.  Not you will find Him, He will allow Himself to be found by you.

Is reconciliation possible or re-connection possible?  Scripture, in Mark 10:27 said this: “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

These words (Mark 10:27) were the words of Jesus, when a rich young man asked Jesus how he was to make it, to get to, return to be with God.  Amongst the things Jesus said, was the call for the rich young man to sell away all his possession and give money from the sale, away, and then to follow Jesus; and the saying that it is more difficult for the rich to get to, return to be with God, than the camel to go through the eye of the needle!  Now, this was despite the rich young man had been keeping God’s commandments since his youth.  The Disciples of Jesus were lamenting it would be too difficult – Who would be able to make it! Jesus was indeed saying, if men attempt it using their all, by themselves, it would still be impossible, but with God, it is different, all things are possible.

The moral of the story is NOT: it is hard-le, for me, a rich man to make it, for I cannot get myself to sell everything off, and give the money from the sale, away, and so, God got to cause me to want to do it-le; if NOT, don’t blame me-le, blame God-lah; NOT my fault-what!  The point is that we must believe it is worth it; in fact, worth everything, to be reconciled back to God, and then to return to be with God.

If we truly believe  “Who He is” (Heb 11:6), it is all worth it.  Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God this way (Matt 13:44-45):

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Jesus was saying the same thing over and over again.  Jesus told the rich young man to sell off everything and give the money from the sale, away, and follow Him.  Here, in the above text, again it was said by Jesus, to sell off everything and exchange the money from the sale with the Kingdom of Heaven.  In other words, the stumbling block to our return to God, is our reluctance to let go of the drawings of the world – the wealth, prestige, and things of the world.

Of course, at the end of the day, God is NOT a thing, but He is precious, and His Kingdom is precious.  But we cannot have God on our terms; that would make us God, but it is He who is God, and we have to be reconciled, on His terms and to continue on life pleasing Him.

Although we have been corrupted, destroyed of the image of God with which we have been created, that we have been “injected” with Iniquity, God still loves us.  John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, so that whosoever believe in Him, Jesus Christ, should NOT perish, but have eternal life.  God loved us when we were yet sinners. 

We all became sinners when the first Man, Adam, sinned in the Garden of Eden.  All of us has fallen short of the glory of God, since then; none truly righteous; yet God’s love for us, the pinnacle of His creation, continues on; and in order to ransom us from the destiny of Hell fire, on being counted with Satan who caused the Fall of men in the Garden of Eden, God gave His Son to be born a man and to die on the Cross for the sins of men.  To reconcile with God, we need to accept the way provided by God – to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; that Jesus died to be the propitiation for our sins.  Jesus was sinless, yet He was willing to die for us, sinners.  He has become the penalty for our sins.

However, entering into salvation through the saying of the typical Sinner’s Prayer is NOT the end of the story; it is just the beginning.  Upon entry, God gives that which we need to counter Iniquity, and that counter is the Holy Spirit, God give to indwell each one of us.  Now, the one thing that all believers must know and embrace, is that God is holy.  The holiness and wisdom of God makes it that God is always righteous, and there is only one yardstick for righteousness, His own righteousness. 

We cannot please God unless we embrace His holiness and subscribe to His righteousness.  What and who can reveal to us the righteousness of God? The Word or Holy Scripture prescribes for us, the righteousness of God; and the Holy Spirit guides us into God’s righteousness, if we allow Him (the Spirit) and yield to Him.  At the centre of this, is our belief and conviction in the Word and the Holy Spirit.  When our particular conviction has become strong enough, we will go into action consistent to the belief, and that is what we call an active faith or living faith (belief without action is incomplete faith or dead faith {or faith that is NOT yet alive or operative}).  So, when we talk about pleasing God, we cannot run away from His righteousness, and so, faith.  Without faith (belief and conviction, followed by action thereof) in what amounts to be the righteous desire of God, we cannot please God (Heb 11:6).

In order to please God, we have to continually live in faith; and this is what God would like to see us, believers, be doing – living in faith.  Living in faith is of course, NOT an easy thing, often times.  It calls for knowing the Word, and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and then obedience. 

When we do NOT know the Word or are NOT sensitive to the Holy Spirit, we may end up doing what God does NOT want, or NOT doing what God wants, or we could get the timing wrong. 

When we know we still have to believe what we hear, from our reading of the Word or from the Holy Spirit. If we believe it, with NOT strong enough conviction, we would end up NOT doing what the Word or Spirit directs.  We cannot obey what we do NOT know (but NOT what we do NOT understand, as far as God’s word or directive is concerned. There is a difference between “do NOT know – no knowledge, and do NOT understand the rationale), but it is equally possible that we disobey because we do NOT believe enough or have NOT, the faith. 

Disobeying God is NOT about NOT understanding what is commanded (the rationale), rather (1) it is you and I are without enough belief or faith (we doubt); or (2) it is we love NOT, God enough; we treat it as ok NOT to give topmost priority to what would please God. Now, when we know the Word or know from the Spirit, but we obey NOT, the end result is again NOT good, and it will NOT please God; whether it was from our doubting or our NOT loving God enough.

Is it possible to please God?  Who can please God all the time?  Hardly anyone could.  If there is anyone who came close to it, I venture to say Jesus, there again, Jesus was both fully man and fully divine; the other, I could say, for lack of anything ill-recorded for us, would be Enoch, who God translated to Heaven, bypassing death (Heb 11:5).  Even King David did NOT please God all the time; neither did His Son, King Solomon, who had been granted great wisdom (and wealth and fame thrown in).

While it may be impossible to please God all the time, it does NOT mean we should NOT endeavour to please God all the time.  Actually, if we displease God, that is a sin.  No one is without sin, but Scripture still exhorts us to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet 1:16), and that we are to resist sins to the point of shedding blood (Heb 12:4), at least!  We are also commanded to love God with our all, all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  Quite impossible, but still we must endeavour to do our best, to love God, and so, to please Him.  I frequently tell people, we do NOT just NOT do a thing, just because it is hard.  God knows, by our effort, it is impossible to have a perfect record; unless we are God or a member of the Triune God, it is impossible without the help of God to be pleasing God all the time.  But we are to be after God’s heart.  Do our best; and for all of us, it means we can improve further, and that is what God wants; and when we fall down, we get up, ask for His understanding and forgiveness (practise 1 John 1:9); and when we find it hard, ask for His help, and resume, and remain steadfast and faithful,  in our life of pleasing Him.

You are NOT necessarily engaging in, salvation by works.  Do NOT listen to overly grace preachers who heap guilt on you when you do your best to please God.  You are saved to please Him, and that includes doing all the good works God determines for you to do (Eph 2:10 – we are saved for good works).

Is there a key text or two, telling us how we are to live our life that we have become a believer or Christian?  I give below, two:

Matt 6:33 – Seek ye first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things would be added unto you.  

Romans 14:17-18 - For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Do NOT be deceived, Matt 6:33 are directed at believers. The Kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness - His righteousness.  We cannot but subscribe to God’s righteousness.  Romans 14:17-18 actually tell us that, of the same imperative of the Kingdom of God are His righteousness and the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. If you subscribe NOT to His righteousness, there can be no faith to talk about (for faith is anchored on His righteousness), and without faith it is impossible to please God.  There is only peace and joy with the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit does only that which is in agreement with the other members of the Godhead.  So, if you want the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, listen to the Spirit, and do likewise, be in agreement with God (and that is the base definition of righteousness – being right with God, right on, as to what God wants, and right on, as to when God wants done).

We do our best, with humility to be led by Spirit, and we let God be God - He judges.

As a summary, what God desires of men:

1.    seek Him, reach out for Him, and find Him

2.    be reconciled back to Him

3.    continue on life pleasing Him, and to please Him we need to:

      a.     love Him, and so, obey Him (John 14:21a)
      b.    be with operative faith (Heb 11:6),
      c.     serve Him (Eph 2:10), and
     d.    be led by His Spirit, and so, be with true peace & joy (Rom 14:17)

Anthony Chia, high.expressions Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: high.expressions@gmail.com

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Hard, but still must forgive & love one another

God loves us when we are yet sinners (Rom 5:8).  This obviously means that we have wronged God.  A sinner is one who has sinned – one who has sinned against God, wronged God.  Is he loveable?  When someone wronged us, and in the process hurt us, is he/she loveable?  No; we find it hard to love a person who has wronged us, and in the process, has hurt us; we do not find that person loveable. 

Naturally hard
We find it hard to forgive the person, and love the person.  It is naturally hard to do that, especially we have been conditioned increasingly by the ways of the world which was and is propagated by the Devil.  The Apostle John wrote of the world and its ways this way (1 John 2:15-17):

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Does God NOT know it, hard for us?  Yes, I believe He did and does.  But the Father God was able to do it – to forgive us when we are yet sinners; and to fulfill all righteousness or meet the demand of God’s own holiness, the Son of God was willing, as the Father was willing, to be the propitiation for our sins.  In other words, the Son of God, Jesus, was also willing to forgive men who are yet sinners.

God is able to do it
When someone wronged you, in the natural, the expectation is for that someone to provide that which would appease you; and NOT, you, the wronged party (to provide).  In the case of our offence against God, it was God who provided that which appeased Himself. Of the Triune God, Jesus, Himself, provided Himself as the propitiation for our sins, so that, it was and is possible for forgiveness to flow out to us, and the love of God be poured forth and received by us.  Are we naturally able to this - that which God did, to forgive others who wronged us, and who do NOT provide that which would appease us?

Image of God wreaked and Man got counted with the Devil
Perhaps, before the wreaking of the image of God, with which we were created (through the creation of the first Man, Adam), we were able to; at least to the extent that, image does come close to the actual.  Then, Adam was of God, NOT of the world.  After the wreaking of the image of God in us, through The Fall in the Garden of Eden by Satan, there was set into motion, the “of the world” and “of the Kingdom of God”.  Man became counted with the Devil, in the world. 

Though we read in Scripture, God did come, and has continued to come to men (scenes after The Fall pointed to that), after The Fall, over time, the separation was and is there. Immediately after The Fall, God still came looking for Man, spoke with Man, and made Man skin-covering.  Then, after Man was placed outside of the Garden of Eden, God still came to Man, and helped Adam and Eve; the first children of Man were given birth to, with the help of God (these, you can read from Scripture).  Increasingly, darkness closed in, after The Fall, with Satan propagating his ways, lies and deceptions and rebellion against God in the world, and with the involving of men, in his game-plan.

Things got so bad, and then came The Flood, and then the new beginning with Noah
There came a time, things got so very bad, with men being utterly corrupted by the ways of the world or Satan, that God had no choice but to bring forth The Flood.  Every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time (Gen 6:5).  After The Flood, with the God-counted righteous Noah, a new beginning was started, but because Satan was still in the world, soon enough, the world was again full of the ways of Satan.  Of course, meanwhile, God and His ways, the ways of the Kingdom (of God) did NOT and does NOT change, remain holy and righteous and just. 

Then The Law got introduced
God then introduced The Law to avoid men constantly incurring His wrath with their living out the ways of the world; and that went on, for a long, long time. Included in The Law was the call of God (to us, Man) to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (Deu 6:5), and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Lev 19:18) (although many careless preachers, today, teach as if this twin pillar of love commandments were non-existing in the OT time). 

Did all of these laws or The Law help us to incline towards the ways of God, so that, men did NOT constantly incur the wrath of God, through their sinning without regard?  Did all of these (laws), help men to forgive one another and love one another? It did; it must have (helped, though NOT the total solution), otherwise God would NOT have instituted them, yet wickedness and the moving away from God’s ways, continued to grow in the world.

One key function of The Law was to tell what was against the ways of God
The laws were instituted so as to tell what was against the ways of God; and when wicked corrupted-ness increased, more trespasses (of the laws) happened.  In Romans 5:20b, it was said, where sin increased, grace increased all the more.  It went on and on, till a time when The GRACE had to come, and that GRACE was Jesus Christ, and He came.  Yes, Jesus epitomized grace.

Sins still increased, The Grace had to come
This time God did NOT come with a wipe-out; after The Flood, God was greatly grieved, and He made a covenant that He would NOT do a wipe-out by flood ever again, and to remind Himself, He set the rainbow in the clouds.  This time, God tackled the increased wickedness and wide-spread sinfulness with the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the propitiation of our sins and the sins of the world (1 John 2:2, KJV). 

The time has come that God knew the efficacy of the Law ALONE was NOT and will NOT be sufficient to move men to embrace wholesomely the ways of God.  Jesus had to be sent, and the Holy Spirit to follow suit, after the death and resurrection of Jesus; this was so that, a “God factor” can be in us, to counter the “Iniquity factor” in us.  The God factor is none other than the Spirit of Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God (all the 3 are the same).

John 3:16 said that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but to have eternal life.  Preachers commonly use this verse, John 3:16, to emphasize God’s love for us.  It is true that God loves us very, very, very much, so very much that He let His Son to be born as a man and then to die for us, through a cruel death of crucifixion, when we were yet sinners, yet there was more to it.  All of this, was and is, so that, we can be UNcounted with Satan who was and is destined to the burning fire of Hell.  Through The Fall, all men were counted with Satan, and so, to go where Satan will go, destined to Hell.

We have to continue on life, NOT going along with Satan or concurring with him and his world
The first men, Adam and Eve, they went along with Satan, concurred with Satan, instead of sticking to God’s words to them, and that was what led them, and consequently us all, to be counted with Satan.  And so, we, Christians, even when we have been UNcounted with Satan when we acknowledged or appropriated the works of Jesus on the Cross, we must live a life NOT going along with Satan or concurring with him, and so, NOT going with any ways which are of Satan (the ways of the world being taken as denoting the ways of Satan, for Satan is still in the world, and is still deceiving and “polluting”). It is simply a lie to say that after born-again, one does NOT need to live right.

God factor given upon entry into salvation
By giving of His Son to die, God NOT just love us, He loves us in a way that the insufficiency of the Law is being made up for, so that we are NOT hopeless to embrace the ways of God wholesomely, to continue to be uncounted with Satan, and so, to be "NOT rebounded" to the journey leading to where Satan is bound – Hell.  What the Law ALONE can no longer help us (NOT that the Law serve no more purpose, which many preachers, especially the overly grace ones, are saying; it is just that the Law ALONE is NOT sufficient), the “God factor”, empowers us.  As have been said, the God factor is the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Spirit.  When we become a Christian, Scripture said that God puts in us the Spirit of Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

Coming back to the same, same questions, of love and forgiveness
Can the natural fallen man love like God first loved, with the wrongs unappeased for? Can the natural fallen man forgive like God forgave, with Himself providing that which appeased?  The answer is that it was once, hard (before Fall), and then, even harder; even NOT easy for the ones under salvation!

Love Commandments NOT new, but new in how it can be achieved
The twin pillar of love (commandments) already existed in the OT, but why is it that, in one of the Gospels, “to love one another” was said to be a new command.  What is the “new” in the command?  It was NOT new as in, it was NOT there or NOT in existence, and now it is (Don’t say it that way, please).  It is new in that, now we are to love our neighbours with the love of Christ Jesus.  This, John 13:34 has it as, “…you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (ESV), “Just as I have loved you” – this was referring to how Jesus loved (and still loves). [You will realise John 13:34 is about the second (love) commandment, when you studied how Jesus talked about “love one and another” in John 15:12-13].

In Christ Jesus, similarly
What is “in Christ Jesus” that we every now and then read, in Scripture?  It means, we allowing Jesus to work through us.  I cannot heal people, but in Christ Jesus, I can heal someone of unequal leg lengths; I can pray and the Spirit of Jesus comes “through” me and makes one leg to grow longer (to match the other)!   To love as Jesus loved or doing in Christ Jesus, both have the connotation that we have to be prepared to, and be willing to allow the Lord to work through us, in forgiving, in loving or in blessing.

Ye are already supernatural if ye live out the ways of the Kingdom
I find it very hard, naturally, to forgive a person who has hurt me a lot, and I find it very difficult, naturally, to love that person whom I have NOT forgiven.  The world agrees with me, naturally; or to go with the ways of the world, is natural.  The ways of the Kingdom (of God) or the ways of God is different, if NOT, opposing to the ways of the world, for holiness and evil are opposed; and we need to go with the ways of the Kingdom to continue our journey headed to eternity in Heaven, the holy place, where God dwells!  It is difficult-right, and so, I often tell people that they are already supernatural when they live out the ways of the Kingdom, even when there is no such miracle of leg growing in length!  Is it NOT supernatural, when you exceed the nature?! 

Coming back to love and forgiveness; to love the loveable is natural, and it is easy.   A long-distance pastor friend of mine, Ps Prentis, put it this way: Jesus said that it is no big deal to love those who love you.” Matthew 5:46 (ESV) - For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

Those who do NOT love you, instead wrong you, abuse you and hurt you, they are NOT loveable.  Is it NOT difficult for you to forgive them?  Yes, in the natural.  Be supernatural; you are being supernatural when you forgive them in Christ Jesus.  Col 3:13 said it this way: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Forgive as the God forgave
How did God forgive you? He forgave you when you were yet a sinner; and He forgave you NOT through your provision of that which appeased Him, but He Himself provided that which appeased - gave of His Son, Jesus, more than 2,000 years ago and Jesus died for you, to appease the demand of God's holiness. You got to (through yourself) welcome God to forgive those who have wronged you for the wrongs, hurts and pains they done to you.  It is NOT exactly you allow God to, but it is you want to and welcome God to forgive the person for wrong he has done to you.  That is the only way to forgive, as the "as God forgave you" – you got to take on the character of God; and you can only take on the character when you welcome Him to work through you.
At this juncture, I want to borrow a testimony from the wife of a missionary to Indonesia.  This husband and wife from England became missionaries to Indonesia soon after their marriage, and was there doing the work among the Indonesians for tens of years.  In the early days, this wife of the preacher, one day was almost raped by the locals.  While cycling, when the husband had gone ahead of her, she was confronted by the locals and forced to the ground and was nearly raped before the husband came back in a nick of time. 

She was traumatised and hurt badly, and was full of anger and resentment against the very people she and her husband were wanting to bring the Gospel to.  She shared she was NOT able to forgive, but she knew she had to, because the God factor (the Holy Spirit was prompting) and after days, she told God she wanted to do the right thing, and asked God to give her the grace to accept God’s forgiveness for the people for thing they had done to her.  And God honoured that, she recovered from her traumatisation, and God gave the missionary couple breakthroughs to reach out to the locals, and so, they continued to serve the Lord in missionary work in Indonesia for many years, and even adopted Indonesian children as their own. 

Yielded-ness and persistence, the key
We have to tap on and yield to the God factor given us, and in us – the Holy Spirit or Spirit of Christ.  Many things, including forgiving and loving the unloveables, we find it hard to do, but the Spirit of God can do all things, and we need to welcome Him to come and do it.  The only way things can get easier is through constant use, meaning, we persist in practising the ways of God (train ourselves) (Heb 5:14).  The “I can do all things, in Christ Jesus”, saying of the Apostle Paul in Phil 4:13, was said from a heart of true yielded-ness that would lead to actions in the right direction.

I also believe this
I believe this verse, John 20:23 – If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven., means this too: That when someone wronged us (NOT someone else), and we forgive them, God would honor that, and forgive them on the account that we have forgiven them (but if we do NOT forgive them, then their wrong against us, God does NOT just pretend they never happened; they are NOT forgiven, until the people, they ask God to forgive them). 

You see, you got to be willing to forgive, and willing let them have the forgiveness of God, otherwise you are behaving just like the unmerciful servant in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt 18:21-35) [I am aware that this is NOT the only view of John 20:23; in fact, I am aware possibly quite a number of people would NOT concur with my belief expressed here, but I believe it is possible, for if you already NOT hold it against the person who wronged you, why would God still hold it against the person, when He commands us to forgive others, regardless!]

Love … as yourself
The Father God first loved, to the extent that He Himself provided that which appeased.  He gave His one and only begotten Son to be that which appeased – to be born as a man and to die for us.  For this kind of love, you got to be supernatural – to take on the character of God; and to take on the character of God, is in fact letting God to live through us.  Jesus said there is no greater love one has than this, that he lay down his life for a friend (John 15:13).  Jesus did that – He laid down His life for us all.  Jesus loved to the extent that He Himself provided that which appeased.  He gave His own sinless life for our sinful lives.  For that kind of love, we got to be supernatural – to take on the character of Christ Jesus; and to take on the character of Christ Jesus, is in fact letting Jesus to live through us.

To love is to sacrifice
Jesus loved the Father God to the extent that He Himself willing to sacrifice His glory in Heaven and came down to earth to be born as man and to die for sinful men.  What manner of love was that? Such sacrificial love!  He embraced the true meaning of “to love”: to love is to sacrifice.  Jesus made great sacrifice to love the Father God.  In His sacrifice, He would do whatever the Father asked of Him; He obeyed absolutely (He kept saying He was only to do His Father’s will, and to finish His Father’s will) in His sacrifices. 

To love is also to obey God
From it too, we can see, “to love God” is also to be obey God.  It is hard to sacrifice; and it is hard to obey; they don’t come naturally.  You, as a Christian, has the God factor, the Spirit of Christ Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) in you; you can be supernatural, you can embrace the character of Jesus, and so, allowing Him to come through you, to love sacrificially or love with giving up of your rights.

We are NOT God but are BEING restored or redeemed
We are NOT God, but we, as Christians, are being restored (the works of Jesus is ……. redemptive or redemption!) back to the image of God, and we can make it because we have been given the counter, and that counter against the “Iniquity factor” is the indwelling Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Christ.  To be an overcomer, overcoming inability to forgive, and inability to love, there is no other way than to go “IN CHRIST JESUS”.  Indeed, Gal 2:20 is what we must embrace if we really mean Jesus is Lord.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20 NIV).

It is an on-going thing; it is a resolution and commitment on our part
It is an on-going thing or daily thing; don’t let any overly grace preacher fool you.  Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23). Matt 16:24 said this: Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” 

We have made the commitment and so, we need to be resolute, on-going to be supernatural – take on the character of God or the Lord; to be in Christ Jesus; to be allowing the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Spirit to work through us, including first of all, to forgive and love our neighbours. 

Oops! Who is our Father?
When we do not love one another, men we have seen, we are not loving God, and when we still insisted that we love God whom we have not seen, God said we are liars (1 John 4:20).  And when we are liars, our father is NOT God, but Satan.  All believers profess they love God.  Any believers NOT loving God; be careful, you are on the edge of cross back into the territory of Satan!  You say you love God; God says, you are a liar when He sees you NOT loving fellow men.

In a discourse with the Jews of His time, Jesus said this concerning the Devil and those who are the Devil’s: John 8:38 - I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you {referring to the Jews He was speaking to} do what you have heard from your father.” Verse 41b – The Jews protested: “The only Father we have is God himself.” Verse 44 – Jesus said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Resolve today to forgive and love one another as God has forgiven and loved you (and still does)
1 John 4:7-8 - 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Some people see there is contradiction in the 2 Love Commandments of God. To me, there is no oxymoron in the Love commandments, of firstly, to love God with our ALL, and secondly, to love one another or our neighbours, as ourselves, for we are to love God with our ALL; the love with which we love one another is to be the love coming from God.  In other words, when we love God with our all, we yieldingly be the instruments of God’s love to other men.  Therefore, if you love NOT, and the love here, is NOT referring to your love in the flesh, but God’s love coming through you, you know NOT God, said verse 8 above, for God is love, and can only be wanting to love (men unto righteousness).

Anthony Chia, high.expressions 
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