MESSING UP IS NOT THE END OF THE ROAD FOR YOU

Every person desires to get a fresh start, a new beginning when we mess up.

The Bible promises for a restart, a refresh and regeneration.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Vincent lived a life that brought severe consequences.
Yet by the mercy and grace of God, he experienced a new life when he met Christ.

Watch his story.

DO I NEED TO LIVE A PERFECT LIFE?

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Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)

What does it mean to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ?
Do I need to be perfect?
Should I strive to be sinless?
What if I sin again?

Here are a few thoughts on what it’s not followed by what it is according to Scriptures.

What “living a life worthy of the gospel” is not:

1. A way by which we can earn our salvation.

No one can ever receive God’s forgiveness and redemption by his own merit. As Isaiah puts it, “our righteousness is as filthy rags.” (Is. 64:6) Our personal righteousness doesn’t measure up to the standards of God’s holiness.

2. A way to perfection.

Perfection can never be achieved apart from the imputation or transfer of Christ’s perfect moral record upon our imperfect moral record. When a person comes to faith in Christ, a divine exchange happens – Christ’s righteousness upon us and our unrighteousness upon Him.

3. A way to gain more favor from God.

To a person who has been rescued by Jesus’ gospel redemption, there’s no additional favor to gain for he already has the full extent of God’s love and favor through Christ.

As a result, the saying is true –

There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less
nor make Him love you more.

In Christ, we have the full extent of His love.
For God demonstrates His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Man’s depravity forever excludes him from being “worthy of the gospel.
His salvation merits his uncompromising, unmitigated, undying commitment to live as those who are saved by the only One able to save and the only One who is worthy of praise. (Tony Miano)

What then, does it mean to live a life worthy of the gospel?

It is living a life consistent with God’s Word resulting from being justified by Christ alone through His work of redemption. In other words, as Paul puts it, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old is gone and the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Only he who has been changed on the inside will be able to demonstrate that on the outside by the power of the Holy Spirit. What comes after salvation is the sanctifying work of the Spirit to change us to become more like Christ. This too, is by His grace.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to be the atoning sacrifice for my sin. I understand that I am saved not by my good works but only through Christ’s work on the cross. Help to me to grasp that in a greater way and embrace it more and more as each day would pass. By Your grace, help me to live for You in the power of the Holy Spirit so I can live a life that brings glory to Your name. May my life be pleasing to You and You alone. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

CHOICES WE MAKE AS WE HELP OTHERS FOLLOW CHRIST

Blog Banners.001In my recent Japan bike trip with Ryan (click here to read about it), we were guided by Google maps on my phone. I would shout out directions to Ryan if we needed to turn left or right. When I would give an instruction, he would do it, not because it was a command but because it was a relationship based on trust.

Discipleship is following Jesus and helping others follow Christ. As we follow Christ, we listen to His instructions not because we have to but because we want to, knowing that He desires what’s best for us. This trust is based on the relationship we have with Him.

Discipleship is relationship.

It is a relationship on 3 levels:
Relationship with God.
Relationship with other believers.
Relationship with the lost.

If we are going to help others follow Christ, there are 3 choices we will need to make as we do so.

1. OPPORTUNITY OVER OUTCOME

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up… (Luke 19:5a)

Jesus had a mission. He was about to sacrifice His life so that mankind could be saved. It was important to get to Calvary but wasn’t so focused on the outcome that He missed the opportunity to stop and speak with Zacchaeus. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem but when He got to Jericho, He looked up and took some time to be with Zacchaeus.

Sometimes we are so busy that we miss out on divine appointments.

We miss out on divine appointments when we are quick to dismiss seemingly human distractions.

2. RELATIONSHIP OVER RULES

Jesus… said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5b)

During those days, there was an unwritten rule that they were not to eat with sinners and tax collectors. People hated tax collectors because though they were Jewish, they worked for their enemy at that time, the Romans. Moreover, when they would collect taxes, they would get more than required so they could pocket the extra. They were corrupt and abusive aside from working for the enemy.

Jesus stopped to speak with Zacchaeus. In fact, He didn’t just want to eat dinner with him, He wanted to stay in his house! People were wondering, “Jesus, what are you doing?!!!” This is not acceptable!”

But Jesus broke the ‘rule’ so that He could build a relationship with Zacchaeus.

To treat people the way Jesus treated them, we need to see them the way Jesus saw them.

I’m just grateful God valued me so much that He sacrificed His only Son so I can have redemption. I was insecure, lost and without purpose. Thank God for the gospel that saved me.

3. PEOPLE OVER PROCESS

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Jesus had a process He was going to go through – suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. But He wasn’t so caught up with that process that He missed out on the very people He was going to die for.

Why? Because lost people matter to God.

Sometimes, we can get so caught up with the process that we miss out on the simplicity of loving people. We are worried about the form, that we miss out on caring for people. We are wrapped up with the program that we miss out on the very reason why we even have a program.

I remember going through One2One discipleship with someone I met 2 and a half years ago. We initially started with One2One booklet. But because he had a lot of questions, we had to set the booklet aside to answer his questions. We tried to do the Purple book. We got to chapter 4 and it was helpful. But since he still had lots of questions, we actually went straight to the book of Romans. The process is important but sometimes, we have to ask God for wisdom what tool to use because people are more important than the process. Finally, after 2 years, we finished one2one and he was able to go through Victory Weekend this past March.

Jesus stopped to encounter Zacchaeus. He had a process to go through but He didn’t let that stop Him from spending time with the very people He was about to die for. Why? It’s because lost people matter to God.

I love how Joey Bonifacio put it:

God who is most valuable, so valued us that He gave us Jesus who is most valuable to Him.

As we continue to honor God and make disciples, may we do it with zeal coupled with sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the compassion of Jesus.

MY STORY: Aina Lim

When life has no meaning, we will try our very best to try to fill it with what we think would feel good – stuff, relationships, achievements.

But in the end, they will all fall short of our expectations.

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” – Blaise Pascal, French philosopher and physicist.

Watch the story of Aina on how God rescued her from a life of misplaced identity, meaninglessness and neglect.

HOW TO FEEL GOOD (FOR A MOMENT)

One of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to compare yourself with someone weaker or lesser. That’s one of the oldest tricks in the book.

When it comes to spirituality, we carry this over and feel good about our walk with God because “I’m not as bad as the other guy.”

But coming to Christ by His grace won’t work if we think that way.

We are saved BY GRACE … not by what we do (Ephesians 2:8-9). The standard is set by Him not by us. And because this is so, then it doesn’t matter if we are better than the other person because the Bible says that ALL have sinned and have fallen short (Romans 3:23)

I love how Max Lucado puts it in his book “In the Grip of Grace.”

Judging others is the quick and easy way to feel good about ourselves. A convenience-store-ego-boost. Standing next to all the Mussolinis and Hitlers and Dahmers of the world, we boast, “Look God, compared to them I’m not that bad.”

But that’s the problem. God doesn’t compare us to them. They aren’t the standard. God is. And compared to him, Paul will argue, “There is no one does anything good” (Rom. 3:12).

Suppose God simplified matters and reduced the Bible to one command: “Thou must jump so high in the air that you touch the moon.” No need to love your neighbor or pray or follow Jesus; just touch the moon by virtue of a jump, and you’ll be saved.

We’d never make it. There may be a few who jump three or four feet, even fewer who jump five or six; but compared to the distance we have to go, no one gets very far. Though you may jump six inches higher than I do, it’s scarcely reason to boast.

Now, God hasn’t called us to touch the moon, but he might as well have. He said, “You must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). None of us can meet God’s standard. As a result, none of us deserves to don the robe and stand behind the bench and judge others. Why? We aren’t good enough. Dahmer may jump six inches and you may jump six feet, but compared to the 230,000 miles that remain, who can boast?

The thought of it is almost comical. We who jump three feet look at the fellow who jumped one inch and say, “What a lousy jump.” Why do we engage in such accusations? It’s a ploy. As long as I am thinking of your weaknesses, then I don’t have to think about my own. As long as I am looking at your puny jump, then I don’t have to be honest about my own. I’m like the man who went to see the psychiatrist with a turtle on his head and a strip of bacon dangling from each ear and said, “I’m here to talk to you about my brother.”

A HUGE “BUT”

The word ‘but’ is such a powerful word.

It is a conjunction that is used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned.

“We were losing the game, BUT my teammate made a three point shot that won the game.”
“I was sad and lonely BUT then you came along.” (Boom!)
“My business was on a downturn BUT suddenly sales picked up because of the Christmas season.”
“I was this close to dying BUT God healed me supernaturally.”
“I was lost BUT now found.”

I remember the first time I tried to water ski on a lake.

After a few tries, I was able to successfully do it. One the 5th or 6th try, the speedboat driver told me to hold on. Before I was even able to prepare, I found myself being dragged underwater, swallowing gallons (so it seemed) of lake water.

He then told me to get onto the boat really quick.

Before I had the chance to wring his neck for almost drowning me, he explains that there was a poisonous snake crossing the lake and it was approaching the area where I was.

I was mad BUT when I understood why he did what he did, I turned thankful.

Concurrently, I was supposed to be dead due to a poison bite BUT I was rescued.

“BUT” is a powerful word.

Paul says in Ephesians 2:3-4, “we were by nature deserving of wrath. BUT because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ…”

Because we of our sins, we were enemies of God, deserving punishment, hell and life eternally separated from Him.

BUT BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE FOR US….

That was the ultimate game changer.

I pray that this truth will never be less than overwhelmed with His great love for me. I pray that same thing for you too.

GRACE THAT ISN’T GRACE

After an evening service one Sunday, a young man comes up to me to ask for prayer.

He relates to me his experience the past several months. He said that hearing, reading and studying the grace of God has caused him to go back to his old ways and live a life that is licentious.

In his mind, “because God is so gracious, then I know He will forgive because His grace can cover any of my mistakes.”

I can understand where he might be coming from. However, I told him that causing us to go back to our old ways and maybe worse is missing the point. That wouldn’t be the grace Paul talks about in Galatians.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You who are trying to be justified by the lawhave been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:1,4)

The operation of God’s grace on our behalf doesn’t imply any lessening of his demands. God has always and will always demand perfect obedience. But his grace is experienced when we realize that those demands for perfection for each of us have already been met by our Savior, Jesus. Jesus fulfilled all of God’s conditions on our behalf so that our relationship with God could be unconditional. Christianity is the only faith system where God both makes the demands and meets them. (Tullian, Jesus + Nothing = Everything)

DIFFERENT KIND OF HIGH

“I was introduced to the church but not to Jesus.”

This stuck with me when I was having a conversation with Toch. He grew up with wonderful Christian parents.  He was sheltered, protected and well taken cared of.

But when he moved to Manila to study, he was all on his own.  His family, friends, church mates were not there.  He was lost, became lost or got lost.

But whatever the case may be, one thing was missing – a relationship with Jesus.

He had been introduced to the church (the people, the organization, the ministry).  But sadly, he never got to meet Jesus.

Good thing, his college buddy, Crunchie introduced him to Christ.  While they were both getting high with drugs, Crunchie met Christ.

He then reached out to his buddy, Toch.  “Pare sama ka sa akin… eto, mas ibang klaseng high.” (This one, you’ll get a different type of high).

Both of them get discipled, trained and now making a difference where God’s placed them.

Toch, who is now our Senior Pastor in Victory GenSan, said,

“My prayer everyday is that we will build a church that will introduce people to Jesus, not to the church.  Church is great.  But introducing them to Jesus is way better.”

FOUND

I became a Christ follower when I was 17 years old.  Before, when I talk to people about my faith journey, I tell them that I was seeking for truth, seeking for peace … seeking for God.

Then at 17, I found Christ and received Him into my life as Lord and Savior.

That’s how I would share my story before until I read the verse that changed my perspective.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

In other words, I DID NOT find God.  It was the other way around.  He FOUND ME.

In fact, He was never lost.  I was the one who was lost.  I was the one that needed finding.

Amazing grace… How sweet the sound … that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now I’m found…