Love is Unselfish


1 Corinthians 13:5 Love is… not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love is Unselfish

•It is not self-seeking. It is giving without expecting any self-gain. It does not seek its own (NASB); does not
demand its own way (NLT); isn’t always “me first” (Message); not selfish (NCV).

•We can be obsessed with ourselves apart from thegrace of God; we could live a very selfish life.
Love is Unselfish…it doesn’t hoard

• People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell (Prov.11:26).
Principle of the verse: When God gives us the capacity to help somebody, but we do not do it, we are like the man who hoards grain who is cursed for hoarding. We bring upon us the curse for hoarding.

• What could we possibly hoard? time, kind words, gratitude, encouragement, forgiveness, patience, respect,
submission, unconditional love, the Gospel… Love shares not only material things but intangibles. If you allow
yourself to be obsessed with yourself, then you only have yourself left with you at the end of the day.

• We should set boundaries and say no whenever necessary, but when God gives us the capacity and opportunity to be a blessing to others, we must give unselfishly. If anyone has material possessions and sees
his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:17)

Love is Unselfish…it sets us apart

•If our obsession and the greatest share of our mind is ambition for power, position and possession, then we
have a problem. Our selfishness will get in the way of our relationship with God and with others.

•But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,
boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy (1 Tim. 3:1-2)… Take this as a
checklist of our (un)selfishness.

•When we are made holy, it means we are set apart for the purpose of God. The opposite is to be set apart for
our own purpose which is being selfish.

Love is Unselfish…it makes Jesus happy

•When God sees His children sharing the things they with another, it warms the heart of God and makes
Jesus happy. It is a win-win-win experience: we make Jesus happy foremost of all, we make another person happy, and it certainly makes us happy. Freely received, freely given.

•When we think of others first more than ourselves, it becomes a privilege more than an obligation. • God does
not need us to do His work; He can fulfill His plan for another person without our help, but He gives us the
opportunity and the privilege to be part of His plan and purpose.

Love is Unselfish…it is secure in the Lord

• Take a look at the life of Abraham. Abraham is an example of a man with unselfish love because he is
secure in the Lord. Abraham freely gave Lot the first pick of the land which they were dividing (Gen.13:8-11).
Abraham could do it because he was secure in his relationship with Lord. He believed God for who He was
and for what He said He will do.

• Just like Abraham, as children of God who have received Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, our
security in our relationship with the Lord will allow us to love unselfishly. If we are secure in the Lord, how
much more security can we possibly want? Our security in the Lord allows us to love unselfishly.
Our time is too short for us to be selfish. Love other people today and every day unselfishly.

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Love is Slow to Anger


1 Corinthians 13:3-5 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

Love is not a feeling but a commitment directed towards imperfect people, to seek their highest good which oftentimes requires sacrifice.

• One of the biggest barriers to loving others is anger. Anger is a ‘respectable sin’ which we oftentimes try to rationalize. The Bible tells us that love is slow to anger.
• Anger is not always wrong. Righteous anger refers to the wrath of God because of sin and its consequences. But even our holy and righteous God is slow to anger. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness (Psalm 103:8). God is slow to anger because God is giving us time to change. But God’s anger is real. It will come one day. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). God loves the sinner but hates the sin. God’s righteous anger against sin is part of His perfect character. The wrath of God will come upon those who keep on sinning; God’s judgment will consume the enemies of God (Hebrews 10:26-31).
• Jesus was angry when people made the Temple of God into a den of thieves (Matt 21:12-13). To be angry for the right reason at the right time is the challenge. Righteous anger is possible with us but it can be dangerous because most of the time we get angry for wrong, selfish reasons, like when our rights are stepped on. But Hebrews 10:30 instructs us to not take things into our own hands but leave the judgment in the hands of God. It is God who will avenge one day.
When we are slow to anger – we will not be rude, not self-seeking, not keeping a record of wrongs (v.5).
Anger comes in different forms and ways:

Temper-Anger (Love is not rude)

• Our anger comes because of our temper problem. We show our temper in different ways – either we immediately explode or we withdraw in silence. The latter tends to be more dangerous especially in parenting children, but whatever way you release anger, it is still dangerous. Anger is “d” short of danger.
• …everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).

It is a mistake to think that by shouting, you can teach people what to do and what not to do. The anger of man will not accomplish what God wants to do in the life of people.

Bitterness-Anger (Love does not keep a record of wrongs)

•Some people have bitterness and anger in their hearts because they have not forgiven people who hurt them.
•In your anger do not sin…do not give the enemy a foothold (Eph. 4:26-27). When you harbor bitterness- anger in your heart, you are giving the enemy a ‘right of way’ in your life. You are being demonized without your knowledge. You have become calloused with your sins; even when you know what the Bible says, you don’t obey it.

•Loving God must be the motivation for you to obey Him and thus manage your anger. Put away all kinds of anger. Put on kindness, tender-heartedness and forgiveness. As you have been forgiven by God, forgive others also (Eph. 4:31-32).

Pride-Anger (Love is not self-seeking)

• When you start to process what makes you angry, you will find out that the root problem of anger is ultimately pride. You get angry because:
> you are hurt when people badmouth or accuse you; > your goals are blocked and you think yours is the best; > your rights and entitlement are violated;

•Pride is self-centeredness, seeking for special treatment and entitlement. When pride enters your mind and your heart, you are in danger of anger.
The antidote to anger is keeping fervent love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter4:8).

The Power of Your Knees


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to hispower that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

God entrusted to us a power that is beyond what our mind can conceive! Prayer is the power of our knees! When we pray, God unleashes His power! God is able to give us what we ask for. God is able to give us what we dare not ask for but dream of in our imagination. God is able to give us more than all we could ask for, dream of or imagine!

Yes, when we pray, God can do more than we can ever imagine! Who would imagine that He would part the Red Sea to provide an escape for Moses and the Israelites from the Egyptian army, feed five thousand men with just five loaves of bread and two fish, and even raise the dead, but He did! Through prayer, He restores broken marriages, brings home the wayward child, heals the sick, changes unbelieving spouses and so much more!

God changes us when we pray! Many times when we pray we want God to conform to our will, to change others or our circumstances. But He often transforms us first. Jacob is an example of this. As he wrestled with God to bless him, God first asked him, “What is your name?” The name Jacob means deceiver and Jacob had deceived his father Isaac by pretending to be his brother Esau in order to steal his brother’s blessing. God wanted him to first realize who he really was, a deceiver, before He blessed him and changed his name to Israel. (Genesis 32) When we truly pray, God changes us. It is impossible for us not to change after meeting God face to face in prayer.

The Holy Spirit is the Power that works within us as we pray! Prayer is total dependence on God. The power to pray comes from the Holy Spirit in us. (Eph. 3:16-17) Our tendency is to begin our prayers with asking God for our needs and concerns. But Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 to begin their prayers with focusing on God and His mighty power. We need to empty ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to take control of us. It is the Holy Spirit that tells us how to pray according to God’s burden and will. When we pray we should ask Him what to pray for. The Spirit enables us to not just pray from our head but to cry out to God from our heart.

Take prayer seriously!

“Prayer is our highest privilege, our gravest responsibility, and greatest power God has put into our hands.” (The Kneeling Christian). Prayer is our powerful connection to experience God. Prayer is the power on our knees for when we pray by the power of the Holy Spirit, God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask, think or even imagine. So pray and be amazed at what God will do!

Prayer for Pnoy


President Noynoy Aquino has confirmed his participation in an afternoon of worship and prayer this Sunday, January 30 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. Around 15,000 Christians from CCF and some other churches are expected to fill up the mega venue for the event dubbed as “Prayer for President Benigno S. Aquino III.” The event is spearheaded by K4 Philippines in partnership with Christ’s Commission Fellowship.

There will be 3 different phases of the prayer time which will be directed towards the different officials and branches of government, national problems and also important concerns like the church and the Filipino family. Former Chief SC Justice Renato Puno will be one of the prayer leaders as well as CNN awardee Efren Penaflorida.

However the main part of the event involves the short evangelistic message of Pastor Peter Tan-chi, accompanied by the life testimony of Ivan Tan, the challenge to the Christian community by Bishop Jonel Milan, head of K4 Philippines and the response of President Aquino. In his response, the president is expected to dedicate the entire Philippines to God. The event will also be highlighted by Pastor Peter leading the whole congregation in praying for the president.

The affair, which will start at 3:30 PM and is expected to be finished by 6:30 PM, will commence with praise and worship by the CCF Exalt Team and a 10-minute exhortation on prayer by Pastor Ed Lapiz of Day by Day Ministries.

Participants are encouraged to come early since tight security by the Presidential Security Group is expected. A no ticket no entry policy will be enforced so partipants are urged to secure their tickets from their respective area pastors. Bringing of children are higly discouraged as well as the carrying of bags.

The whole affair will be covered live and can be viewed on the CCF website through the courtesy of PLDT.

Watch the CCF Leadership Conference 2011 Live …


http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

Prioritize Prayer


The Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 4:2 to “devote yourself to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” In our pursuit of the right goals, we begin with the overarching goal of pleasing God. And then we should choose prayer as a priority. Though prayer, God gives us direction in life and that determines our destination. When we pray we should be ready for God to act!

But many of us think that we don’t have time to pray. This is a myth! If something is important, then we will have time for it

“The sign of prayerlessness is proof that the life of God in the soul is in deadly sickness and weakness.” — Andrew Murray

Jesus said in Luke 22:40, “Pray so that you won’t fall into temptation.”

As John Bunyan said, “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.”

In 1 Samuel 1:1-28, we learn about the power of prevailing prayer. Hannah was childless and her rival, Peninnah, purposely provoked and irritated her year after year when they went to the temple to worship. We can learn from Hannah that our response to people and circumstances is our responsibility. She did not grumble. She did not blame others or retaliate in her distress. Instead, she prioritized prayer. “She, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life (v. 10- 11).” Hannah knew the Lord intimately. She called Him the Lord of Host. Our understanding of God determines our prayer life. She was specific in asking for a boy. She was expectant. After she prayed her countenance changed. She got up and ate and the next morning worshiped God. When we pray the first person changed is you. The Lord invites us in 1Peter 5:7 to cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.

God indeed answered Hannah’s prayer for a son, whom she named Samuel. It could have been difficult to give up her much awaited son but she willingly dedicated Samuel to the Lord as her covenant with God because she saw herself as His maidservant (v.10-11; 27- 28). We can never out give God. He took note of Hannah and blessed her again with three sons and two daughters; and the Lord used Samuel mightily in His work (v.2:21).

Prayer is not a ritual or a memorized script. Prayer is talking and listening to God, pouring out our heart to Him even in tears. Heart prayer is an honest, faith prayer and God listens. We can be assured that He will answer us in His time with either a yes, no, or wait. Whatever His answer, we can thank Him because God loves us and will give us the best. Like Hannah, we should pray honestly from the heart, specifically and expectantly! Thank God in advance for what He will do in response to your prayer! With God, there is no limit!

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Faithfulness Running a Purpose Driven 2011


Every December 25 we celebrate God’s wonderful gift to us! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God in His great love, sent His Son, Jesus, to save us. We must never forget God’s love!

But after we trust in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, why doesn’t God bring us to heaven immediately? Well, He still has a race for us to run and He desires for us to run it well and to finish strong – to be faithful.

As we read in Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Witnesses and Weaknesses In our race as followers of Jesus, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, men and women of faith like Jacob, David and Rahab, who have gone before us. Although they weren’t perfect, by faith and repentance, they finished strong. But their lives bear witness to the hindrances and entanglements that sin can cause in this race. That’s why Paul urged us in verse 1, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…”

We need to rid ourselves of all that holds us back in our race, all the sinful habits, wrong choices and pointless pursuits. There are obvious sins for us to throw off such as immorality, and idolatry, as innumerated in Galatians 5:19-20, but we also need to rid ourselves of the less obvious and thus tolerated, “respectable” sins such as anxiety, unthankfulness, pride, and the sins of the tongue. Also, wrong choices that lead to negative consequences can entangle us as Galatians 6:7 warns us, “…whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” God has a destination for us in our race but pointless, selfish pursuits are a focus that distract us, determine our direction and keep us from reaching the God’s destination. As Paul adds to his exhortation, “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”

Transformation and Inspiration Jesus Christ in not only our Savior but also our Lord. The ultimate purpose of our Christian life is for us to be so in love with Jesus that we surrender our life to Him and are thus transformed into Christ-likeness. However, the reality is that we can experience a struggle between our carnal nature and the work of the Holy Spirit in our livesmuch like the struggle Paul described in Romans 7:15-18. Sadly, some of us call ourselves Christians yet there is a great disconnect between who we say we are and the way we live. Why? Because we are disconnected from fellowship with God and with fellow believers. But we do have the Holy Spirit to give us the power to run well and to finish strong. That’s why we need to run in the power of the Spirit daily.

The Christian race is unique. It is not about who finishes first – it’s about who finishes strong. It has been said that to finish first, one runs fast; but to finish strong, we run together. There are people in this world living life unaware that they need Jesus to be their Savior and Lord and that there is a race to run. We, who are in the race, should live our life in such a way that it will inspire others to love and follow Jesus and take their place in the race.

Mission and Vision Paul continues in Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” As believers and followers of Christ, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author of our faith, who has designed us for Christ-likeness. He’s also the Perfecter of our faith, for He began our transformation and He will complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

So, let us be faithful to what God has called us to do: to make visible the invisible Christ by touching people with His love. Our CCF Mission is to make Christ-committed followers who will make Christ-committed followers. Our Vision is to see a movement of millions of committed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, meeting in small groups – Transforming Lives… Families… Communities…Nations… For the glory of God!

Hebrews 12:2 finishes by saying that Jesus, “…endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We have been given a mission. Let’s be faithful in running the race in spite of trials and problems ahead.

In 2010 as you ran the race were you transformed into becoming more like Christ? According to Ptr. Rick Warren, “Only changed people can help change people.” Have you become better or bitter? Let’s make sure we run better in 2011! We have the Holy Spirit’s power and the promise of victory! We are on the winning side!

So, on your Mark! Get ready. Get set. Run in the power of the Holy Spirit!

The Freedom to Experience Real Relationships


Every one of us has relationships. Our relationships have many levels. Most relationships remain shallow or never go deeper than being comfortable with each other. Now it’s true that we can’t be intimate with every human being we meet. Sadly, most of us walk through life lacking any depth in the level of relationships with people whom we should be very close to. God’s ideal is we go to the deepest level of relationship and intimacy possible with these people. How is that possible? Jesus. He frees us to experience real relationships.

In intimate relationships between two imperfect persons, conflict and problems are inevitable. There will come a time when a difficult issue will arise and need to be addressed. How does one confront someone about a difficult issue? The better question to ask first is this: “What gives me the right to confront someone about a difficult issue?” The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 6. What is the godly response when we see our brother or sister caught in sin?

Throughout Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he is reminding us that the whole issue of salvation and sanctification is solely the Spirit’s work in our lives. It is given by grace, not earned by our hard work. Our job is to participate with the Holy Spirit. The flesh contests with the Spirit’s will; the Spirit empowers us to live lives pleasing to God. Salvation is God’s work, from start to finish.

It is also the Holy Spirit who enables us to have real relationships with others. When Adam and Eve were created, God intended them to experience a deep level of openness with Him and with each other. Our deepest relationships are with God, with your spouse, family, and dgroup. They are the ones we should go to with our hurts, and meet them in a safe place.

The human heart is looking for that safe place. In there, the human heart is able to talk to another about the most sensitive heart issues. In there, the human heart is able to share openly and honestly about heart issues. In real relationships we move beyond a distant or impersonal “surface or comfort level,” to a “safe place” where two persons can allow each other to be completely open. In that safe place, secret wounds can be shared. In that safe place secret wounds are mended.

That can only happen when the confrontation is done God’s way. God’s way provides the right level of personal relationship between two intimates. God’s way gives us the right to confront others with heart issues and allows us to receive the Holy Spirit’s help and empowerment. When we have the answer to who gives us the right to confront, the Holy Spirit shows us the how.

God’s way is this: the Holy Spirit, the Creator of our hearts, gets involved in our relationships. He is the one who understands the human heart the most, and he helps us understand others. So even in dealing with conflicts and heart issues we need to walk in step with the Spirit.

A heart filled with the Holy Spirit will bear the fruit of joy and love and gentleness… everything we need to put us in the right attitude to approach or confront others. So what gives us the right to confront? Power and motive.

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass… Paul sets the condition: if any of our brothers unintentionally blunders into sin–not just when our brother is willfully sinning do we confront him.

…you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness… When we are filled by the Holy Spirit, then we can take the step to restore our brother. Our approach: gentleness, which is the Spirit’s fruit. We can’t confront our brother without the Spirit. Restoring our brother is then about him and the Lord; not ourselves, not our egos. Your motive is to restore – not embarrass, not humble, show your right, put him in his place. …each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted… When you are empowered by the Spirit He keeps you humble. He knows you can fall into the same sin if not careful. One such pitfall is spiritual arrogance–”I’m spiritually superior and you’re not” thinking. This is a very real temptation. Contrast this with a spirit of humility: When the person knows you believe you could fall also, he does not feel judged. He feels safe!

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ… When our motive is to restore brothers then their burden is not just theirs. It becomes ours, too. This is the love that Christ exhorted to show each other.

Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).

For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself… People empowered by the Spirit never think they are to special to help. Instead, they assume Christ’s attitude and realizes they are servant to all. God brings people within our circle of influence for a purpose. Ultimately, it is to bring glory to His son.

But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another… It is not a spirituality contest with anyone. Our only desire is to imitate and please Christ.

For each one will bear his own load… The great freedom this brings is that you are responsible to love and help your fallen brother – no matter what his reaction is. Whether he listens or not is not your concern. Your concern is to do God’s will.

You let God deal with it.

May the Holy Spirit free you and take you to that safe place in your relationships.

Practice True Freedom


True freedom is defined as not the ability to do whatever you feel like doing but the ability to say no to sin and yes to God. Titus 2: 11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” In other words, the grace of God brings true freedom.

Unfortunately, there are some Christians who are free but are not enjoying their freedom. There are also those who choose to be enslaved to sin, and legalism. Paul, thus, reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

In the slope of Grace-living, true freedom is indeed slippery. On one hand is the idea of licentiousness, which is doing whatever you please, and on the other is legalism wherein you need to do certain things in order to go to heaven.

The reason God loves you is not because of who you are or anything you’ve done, it’s because of what Christ has done for you on the cross. Until you understand grace, you will not be delivered from slavery because your Christian life will be all about performance.

TRUE FREEDOM is by the GRACE OF GOD

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Grace is something that we don’t deserve to receive. It is what Christ has done for us.

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:6) It is difficult for us to understand GRACE, because all throughout our life we have been brainwashed that we earn favors and rewards based on good performance. We are made to believe that to please God we must do this and that, we become legalistic. True freedom is the power to love and to serve God and others.

LEGALISM and LICENTIOUSNESS

Many of us are guilty of legalism, i.e. I must do this, must do that…to earn the favor of God. For example, when we couldn’t come to Sunday worship due to some compelling reason, we start thinking that something bad will happen to us because we failed in our ‘obligations’. Because we do not understand grace, everything we do
becomes an obligation. This can drag us down later on.

There is nothing we can do to merit salvation. We cannot manipulate God to favor us with our good works. The extreme of legalism is licentiousness – doing what you feel like doing because you are free (v.13). Don’t use it as an excuse to sin. This is not freedom but also slavery (Romans 6:14).

GRACE and LEGALISM

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Grace and legalism do not match. If you think you can go to heaven by obeying the commandments and rituals you are like saying that what Christ has done on the cross is not enough, because you need to add something in the equation. If you are doing good works to go to heaven, you are not doing it for God but for yourself.

Christ died for us to set us free; not just to be free from legalism and condemnation but to be free to love and to serve. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”” (Galatians 5:13-14)

The paradox of true freedom is when Jesus becomes our Master, we experience maximum freedom. When we allow ourselves to be our master, we experience slavery.

True freedom is defined as not the ability to do whatever you feel like doing but the ability to say no to sin and yes to God. Titus 2: 11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” In other words, the grace of God brings true freedom.

Unfortunately, there are some Christians who are free but are not enjoying their freedom. There are also those who choose to be enslaved to sin, and legalism. Paul, thus, reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

In the slope of Grace-living, true freedom is indeed slippery. On one hand is the idea of licentiousness, which is doing whatever you please, and on the other is legalism wherein you need to do certain things in order to go to heaven.

The reason God loves you is not because of who you are or anything you’ve done, it’s because of what Christ has done for you on the cross. Until you understand grace, you will not be delivered from slavery because your Christian life will be all about performance.

TRUE FREEDOM is by the GRACE OF GOD

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Grace is something that we don’t deserve to receive. It is what Christ has done for us.

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:6) It is difficult for us to understand GRACE, because all throughout our life we have been brainwashed that we earn favors and rewards based on good performance. We are made to believe that to please God we must do this and that, we become legalistic. True freedom is the power to love and to serve God and others.

LEGALISM and LICENTIOUSNESS

Many of us are guilty of legalism, i.e. I must do this, must do that…to earn the favor of God. For example, when we couldn’t come to Sunday worship due to some compelling reason, we start thinking that something bad will happen to us because we failed in our ‘obligations’. Because we do not understand grace, everything we dobecomes an obligation. This can drag us down later on.

There is nothing we can do to merit salvation. We cannot manipulate God to favor us with our good works. The extreme of legalism is licentiousness – doing what you feel like doing because you are free (v.13). Don’t use it as an excuse to sin. This is not freedom but also slavery (Romans 6:14).

GRACE and LEGALISM

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Grace and legalism do not match. If you think you can go to heaven by obeying the commandments and rituals you are like saying that what Christ has done on the cross is not enough, because you need to add something in the equation. If you are doing good works to go to heaven, you are not doing it for God but for yourself.

Christ died for us to set us free; not just to be free from legalism and condemnation but to be free to love and to serve. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”” (Galatians 5:13-14)

The paradox of true freedom is when Jesus becomes our Master, we experience maximum freedom. When we allow ourselves to be our master, we experience slavery.

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Smile: You Are Now A Son


The apostle Paul had been shipwrecked, flogged, stoned, beaten nearly to death. He is one tough guy. And yet in his letter to the Galatians he wrote about being “astonished” (Gal. 1:6), “perplexed…” (Gal. 4:20), and “fearing for them” (Gal. 1:7). Paul worried about the Galatians who were being confused by men trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. Wouldn’t you be astonished yourself if you find in your backyard a beautiful butterfly – with great, big, colorful wings for flying freely – crawling on its belly as if it were still a caterpillar? Paul earnestly reminds the Galatians in Chapter 4, “The Lord Jesus has set you free! You are now sons and no longer slaves. Don’t go back to living like a slave. Slavery and sonship do not mix!”

You are now sons and no longer slaves

Verses 1-3 talk about an heir who could not lay a hold of his inheritance because of his young age. Until the time set by his father, he is placed under the watchful eye of a guardian. We were like the child once. Before coming to know Jesus Christ we were slaves – to the law. Whatever we think could draw us closer to God, we do sincerely, hoping that if we try hard enough maybe we could win God’s favor and even deserve entry to heaven. Jesus even said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.” (Jn. 5:39-40) But He declared, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn. 14:6) Salvation and sonship are only possible through redemption, a giving in exchange of something. Thus, when the time had fully come, God sent His Son to redeem us who were under the law. Referring to Jesus, Isaiah 53:2-6 say, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Redemption has always been God’s plan. It was not an afterthought God had made up as things went along in the history of mankind.

God has sent Jesus Christ not just to redeem us as His sons. Galatians 4:7 says, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” God has also given us a new heart and put on us a new spirit when Jesus Christ redeemed us into sonship. Ezekiel 36:26-27 say, “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” Through Christ’s redemptive death on the cross, God has given us true freedom – freedom from our old selves and from obedience to God just out of obligation. Just as he reminded the Galatians, Paul is reminding us today: when we accepted Christ, we have become sons of God, no longer slaves. No need to crawl on our bellies like a caterpillar – we can fly freely like a butterfly. Remember, the evidence of true sonship is a changed life.

Don’t go back to living like a slave

In verses 9-10 of Chapter 4, Paul scolds the Galatians, saying, “…how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? [10] You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!” The Galatians were becoming obsessed all over again with obeying Section A, Article 1, Item 278… The principles, the items may be right things to do, but if they’re doing them for all the wrong reasons, they’re back in slavery all over again. Paul warned the Colossians, “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Col. 2:23)

We are not exempt from falling into a similar pit. It is entirely possible that we do the right things – attend worship, go to D-Group, serve in a ministry, attend Bible study, have quiet time, go to dawn watch – all for the wrong reasons. We might be doing these things: out of routine & tradition; to help make up for sins; to belong, conform & comply; to overcome my guilt, out of people’s expectations; because God will be angry & punish us if we don’t; to impress and look good; because God will love me more if I do, etc. We need to be sure that we’re doing these things as an outflow of our gratitude to God. We need to be sure we’re doing these things under the power of God’s Spirit. If we’re not careful, we might just end up being sons living like slaves.

Slavery and Sonship do not mix

Galatians 4:22-26 says: “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.”

Slavery and Sonship cannot mix. The formula cannot be faith in Christ plus good works, equals salvation. Good works is on the other side of the equation because it is the response to the gift of salvation. The Christian life is designed to be a life of joy. There are many, many reasons to be joyful in the Christian life: we have been redeemed as sons of God; we are no longer slaves to the law nor to sin nor to our old selves; we have become heirs with an eternal inheritance; we have been given a new heart and a new spirit; we can love and worship the Lord, freely. So stop frowning. Go on and smile.

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