Master Your Emotions: Know God, No Fear

Family Series
Speaker: Joby Soriano Date: August 28, 2011

Our emotions can make or break us. So it’s important that we learn to master them, or else our emotions will master us and control us.

There are two negative emotions that can destroy lives and relationships: envy and jealousy. Shakespeare described such emotions as the “Green-Eyed Monster”, a monster that can attack even mature Christians. Even the Psalmist Asaph wrote about struggling with such emotions: “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:3)

We are taught that when we walk faithfully with the Lord and keep His commands, all will go well with us. Deuteronomy 6:3 says, “Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you…” But sometimes, even when we are faithful to the Lord, we find the unfaithful doing even better in life than us. It is in this seeming disparity between the Word and our circumstances that the green-eyed monster comes in to terrorize us. This is exactly what Asaph experienced, as accounted in the verses following Psalm 73:3. “This is what the wicked are like, always free of care, they go on amassing wealth,” he wrote in verse 12.

When the Green-Eyed Monster threatens to overcome us, we need to remember to delight in the Lord – recognize our struggle, run to Him, and resist the temptation of comparing ourselves to others.
Recognizing the difference between envy and jealousy becomes important when we process these emotions. Envy is from the Latin “invidere” which means “to look at with enmity”. It is coveting what another has. Meanwhile, jealousy is from the Greek “zeloo” which means “zealous or burning with jealousy”. It is to resent another’s rivalry with the desire to guard or maintain what one possesses.

Envy is always wrong, but jealousy isn’t always. It’s natural and normal for jealousy to surface when a meaningful covenant relationship is threatened by unfaithfulness, such as in Numbers 5:29-31. In 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, Paul describes a Godly jealousy, and even God is said to be jealous (e.g. Exodus 20:4-5).
The problem of Asaph is the same problem we encounter from time to time: he was allowing the “Green-Eyed Monster” to limit his view of God’s goodness to material blessings and freedom from temporary setbacks. “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure,” he cried. To think this way is to see things from a human perspective, not from God’s. This paves the way for the Green-Eyed Monster’s attack.

Only when we recognize emotions of envy and jealousy, can we do something about them. And we deal with envy and jealousy by running to the Lord, just like what Asaph did. (v.17) When Asaph ran to God, he realized the bleak future of sinners and his own foolish thinking (v.18-22). And he realized the fullness of the Savior (v.23-28). When we struggle with envy and jealousy, we should run to the Lord and keep our eyes focused on His sovereignty, instead of focusing on our limited capacity.

Finally, to really overcome the Green-Eyed Monster, we need to resist comparing ourselves with others. After all, God has created and called us to Him individually and uniquely.

We have two options in life: we either allow the Green-Eyed Monster to overcome us or overcome it by delighting in the Lord. Don’t adapt human perspective. Choose to view problems from a heavenly perspective today. Remember, in Christ Jesus, we are more than conquerors. We can trample the Green-Eyed Monster under our feet!


Focus on Family (Family Series)

The family is under attack. Just look at the divorces, extramarital affairs, child abuse cases and teenage pregnancies happening today. But the enemy is not the busy husband or the nagging wife or the hard-headed kids. Satan, whose name means divider, is. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the scheme of the devil.”

Satan is attacking the family because it is the fundamental nation-builder. Historical studies show that the decline of civilizations and empires began when families and marriages deteriorated and eventually collapsed. Chuck Swindoll describes the family as “the place where principles, where faith, where walking with Christ in the real world is hammered and honed in the anvil of everyday living.” Based on research, it’s neither the church nor the school which serves as the greatest influence to the youth it’s the parents.

God established and loves the family. He urges us to focus on the family because it is foundational in transforming lives, communities, and nations. Parents therefore must be intentional in raising their kids. Needless to say, effective parenting begins with the life of the parents. Let your children see that you are passionately in love with the Lord and that this love compels you to obey Him. Practice this love at home. Remember that your life at home draws them to Christ. Parents must model being committed followers of Jesus in order to lead their children spiritually. You must know your children intimately by establishing a deep and engaging relationship with them. This is the key to influencing, training, correcting and disciplining your children. In this manner, you would be able to effectively teach God’s commandments diligently to your children.

Oftentimes we think of God as a cosmic KJ who wants to restrict us with commands. On the contrary, God, who knows the beginning and the end, and who knows what’s best for us, gives us commands tied up with blessings. He commands His people to obey Him and to teach their children the same; and for their obedience, God promised that their children and their grandchildren will live well, greatly multiply and will enjoy long life (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).

On the other hand, disobedience to God’s commandments has costly long-term consequences. The passive and condoning parenting style of Eli to his immoral and disobedient sons caused him to lose his spiritual heritage, his priesthood lineage (1 Samuel 2:30-31; 3:12-13; 1 Kings 2:27).

Life is too short for trial and error, so we must choose God’s way in raising our children. His way is for parents, primarily the father, to teach their children to know the Lord, to pass on a spiritual heritage (Ephesians 6:4).

How do we know we’re raising a generation who knows the Lord, or that we ourselves know Him? Matthew 7:20-21 says we shall know by the fruits. It’s not when we go to church or get busy with ministry. Consider Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They were temple priests, but God declared them worthless because they didn’t know Him (1 Samuel 1:3; 2:12).

To truly know the Lord is to do His will. And His will for the family is for fathers and mothers to bring children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and for children to obey their parents in the Lord and to honor them (Ephesians 6:1-4). Let’s stop blaming society, the government or the media for our dysfunctional families. Let’s assume responsibility. It’s time to focus on the family.

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.

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.

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!

Love, Acceptance & Forgiveness

In an upper room where He celebrated the Passover with the disciples, and where He washed the feet of His disciples as a servant would, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” According to Him, all men will know that they are His if they love one another. (John 13: 34-35)

Love one another just as I have loved you – Just how easy is this new commandment from Jesus? How about we look at some of the people described in the Bible to be “loved by Jesus”?

Jesus loved the disciples who were with Him in the said upper room. Jesus loved the siblings Martha, Mary and Lazarus (John 11:5). But Jesus also loved the rich, young ruler who chose to hold on to his wealth rather than follow Him (Mark 10: 21). Jesus loved His disciples James and John, the brothers who asked Him to call down fire from heaven and wipe out a stranger they saw was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. He also loved temperamental Peter who had taken his sword on the high priest’s servant Malchus during Jesus’ arrest. And Jesus loved Judas Iscariot, His disciple who betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver.

Jesus loved them all – and us too – just as they are, faults, failures and all. “Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person to meet the needs of that person in such a way that causes sacrifice,” says Dr. Harold Sala, well-known speaker, author and Bible teacher.

And in John 13: 34-35, Jesus is asking His followers, both His disciples and us, to give the same kind of love.

The problem is, we tend to divide people into two categories: that which we like about them and that which we dislike. And the bigger problem is that, every person has idiosyncrasies, mannerisms or habit patterns that have the potential to be unlikeable, offensive even. And unlike a wormy apple which we could cut to salvage the good part, we can’t love people in slices. And Jesus wouldn’t want us to. Paul even wrote to the Romans, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

When you really love someone, you have to accept them as they are with the expectation that God will work in their hearts and He will be the one who changes them.

“To love a human being means to accept him, to love him as he is. If you wait to love him till he has got rid of all his faults, till he is different, you are only loving an idea. Love him with the love of Christ. This means accepting him as he is then lead him towards a goal he doesn’t see and, because I love, to attack all that is contrary to God with all of the energy of love,” wrote Florence Allshorn, a missionary to Uganda in the 1920s.

Admittedly, it is difficult to accept and love those who have offended us. And there are actually several other options on how we can respond to them. We can go “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…” which leaves both parties blind and toothless. We can break off the relationship – something God never did with us, praise Him! We can live dejected, while letting your pain grow.

Don’t sound like great options either, right? But Jesus is telling us, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you,” (Luke 6:28)

We need to understand that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) When we stand at the foot of the cross, we will all be on level ground. No one could look down on someone else and say, I am better than this person. Paul even wrote to the Galatians, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:1-3) This is compassion and humility – elements that make up the love of Jesus Christ.

Aside from blessing and praying for those who have offended us, Jesus tells us that we must also forgive them. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Forgiveness doesn’t mean the offense was okay. Forgiveness means, you are giving up your “right” to hurt the person back. When you forgive somebody, you release a prisoner – you!

Sounds tough? Nah… IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! Apart from the infilling of the Holy Spirit, that is. We need to ask the power of the Spirit to respond to Jesus’ call to love, accept and forgive as He does. And we ask for the filling of the Spirit by

1. Acknowledging our need for it;
2. Confessing our sins;
3. Giving ourselves, as is said in

Romans 12: 1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God…”;

4. Asking the Holy Spirit to fill us; and
5. Accepting the filling of God’s Spirit and walking in simple obedience.

When we ask and accept the filling of God’s Spirit with thanksgiving, and reach out, take Jesus’ hand and walk with Him, only then can we respond to the impossible call of Jesus. Only then can we love, accept and forgive one another as He has done so with us.

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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God’s Promise Is Greater Than The Law

Many years ago, God made a covenant of blessing to Abraham. The Lord promised him that he would be the father of nations. That his descendants would be as numerous as the stars! However, at the time, Abraham and his wife Sarah were both well advanced in age so it seemed humanly impossible for them to still have a child. What’s more, Sarah was barren. The fulfilment of the promise was completely up to God! But Abraham believed and God declared him righteous because of his faith
(Genesis 15:6).

In the same way, God in His amazing grace grants us salvation when we completely put our faith in Jesus Christ. There is nothing we can do in our own capacity to earn it. God requires perfect righteousness that we would never be able to live up to. But Jesus, when he became man, lived a sinless life. He died on the cross to pay for the penalty of our sins. Then when He rose again on the third day, He conquered sin and death, not only proving that He was the Messiah but also fulfilling, in our behalf, what was needed in order to receive salvation. And if we place our faith in Jesus, God gives us His life and righteousness and forgives us of every sin. This is the Good News! We receive God’s promise of salvation simply by believing in His Son, and not by righteousness through the Law. Once we accept His salvation, it is complete and everlasting.

However, some men called “Judaisers” came and said that God’s work is not enough. According to them, aside from placing our faith in Christ, we must also follow the law to the letter in order to gain salvation. This kind of teaching is called “legalism” which in effect says that the Law is greater than God’s promise. Paul wrote to the Galatians to correct this.

Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

The Pre-eminence of the Promise. Galatians 3:15-16 says, “Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is Christ.” Part of God’s covenant with Abraham was the coming of Christ Jesus, the Savior of mankind!

The Law was like a legal contract but God’s covenant with Abraham was as a promise. God gave the Law to His people through Moses but made the covenant with Abraham. He was asleep and covered in animal blood (read Genesis 15) when God made His promise, which was also symbolic of Jesus shedding His blood on the cross.

Paul said, if a man-made contract is strictly followed, how much more God’s covenant with Abraham? The Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant already ratified by God so as to nullify the promise (Gal. 3:17). God cannot take back His promise of salvation by grace through faith just because of the Law. “For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise” (Gal 3:18). Because God is faithful in keeping His promises, salvation remains a free gift. God’s promise is unconditional. Absolutely nothing can cancel it!

The Purpose of the Law. “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made” (Gal 3:19).

The Law is like a mirror, showing us that we have a sin problem. Like a flashlight in the dark, it shows us the way but does not take out the darkness. Like a plumb line, it can only show us the correct alignment to God’s standards and nothing else. “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God?” Paul asks and answers: “No!” The Law is given to us to show that we are all guilty of not living up to God’s perfect standards. By doing so, it guides us to understand and appreciate the grace of God. It doesn’t give the solution to our sin problem. God has an entirely different reason for giving us the Law. It shows us His holiness and our sinfulness, and our need for a Savior.

The Law was also given to protect us from lawlessness. Like a guardian or tutor, the Law guides us on how we must live. Praise God for His wisdom! The Law was added because of transgressions until the seed–that is, Christ– would come (Gal 3:19). Paul writes, “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” The Law was meant to show us that we are sinners, thatwe cannot make it on our own and lead us to Christ who fulfilled the promise of God.

Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly with His sinless life. When we place our faith in Him, God credits Jesus’ righteousness to us. Our salvation in Christ is complete. Praise God!

The Position of the Believer. Not only does God save us from eternal damnation, He also gives us a new identity. Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” God adopts us as His hildren. And as part of God’s family, we should live according to the standards of God in character, in words, in everything (Ephesians 1:5). (Note: Baptism is the public declaration of one’s allegiance to Christ and not a requirement for salvation.)

We now belong to God. We were given the right to become His children (John 1:12). We are assured of eternal life with God (1 John 5:13). All believers become one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). He gives us a new name and a new home. Our faith in Jesus as our Savior brings us into the family of God. God’s gospel welcomes, loves, and values everyone equally regardless of race, social status, or gender.

God’s Promise is indeed greater than the Law. Salvation is not about achieving; it’s all about believing. Because of His promise of salvation, we have peace, joy, and hope through Jesus. We are free to live lives that glorify God! As God’s children let us live according to the new identity that God has given us.

If you, on the other hand, are asking yourself if you are you saved, know that salvation is available to you because of Jesus. In whom do you place your faith for salvation: in Christ or in fulfilling the Law? This is the most important decision you will make in your life. We pray that you choose Christ Jesus, who loves you and gave His life for you (Galatians 2:20).

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The Gospel of Grace Transforms

The apostle Paul was a classic example of how the grace of God transforms. From his former life of persecuting and relentlessly trying to destroy the church of God (Galatians 1:13), he became a humble man passionately preaching His Word. The gospel of grace was able to transcend his past and transform him. This is because grace comes from God and not from men (Galatians 1: 11-12).

According to Galatians 1: 13-14, Paul’s life under Judaism was filled with traditions. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with traditions, those that are not Biblical can create barriers to the gospel of grace. We need to understand and base our practices on the truth. Mark 7: 6-9 says, “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: this people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”

The gospel of grace also says that just like Paul, who had been set apart from his mother’s womb and called him through His grace (Galatians 1: 15), we too are not products of accidents. God already had a plan for us before we were born. Just like Jeremiah, He appointed us while we were still in our mother’s womb. Just like David, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. In short, even our mistakes and failures have already been ordained.

Verse 16 continues that when God transforms us, He not only forgives our past but also elevates us to a different calling. Paul locked up many of the saints in prison, voted for them to die, forced them to blaspheme and pursued them even in foreign cities (Acts 26: 10-11). But when he was journeying to Damascus, he heard a voice saying to him in a Hebrew dialect, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 26:12). Then the Lord said to get up on his feet, appointed him to minister and be a witness not only to the things he has seen but also what was yet to come (Acts 26:15). Then he was given a mission: “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26: 18-19).

After God transformed Paul, He gave him a mission. As Christians, we cannot just sit in church every Sunday, thinking that that is how the Christian life is. Our lives as Christians begin when we come to know Jesus and the end result should be to bring glory and honor to God by serving Him. That is God’s design and purpose for our lives.

So three years later, Paul went to Jerusalem and stayed with Cephas, otherwise known as Peter, for fifteen CCF Weekly Bulletin Vol. 22 No. 40 October 3, 2010 CCF Mission: Making Committed Followers of Christ days (Galatians 1:18). And then “went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they were glorifying God because of me” (Galatians 1: 21-24). Then he went back to his hometown in Syria and Cilicia and shared the good news. As a result, he glorified God.

The grace of God also transforms through problems and failures in order to wake us up and help us learn from the experience. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:8-10, “and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”

However, change from the truth and the gospel of God happens only when you respond to it in the right way. Until you surrender to the grace of God, this will never impact your life. So for some who are in the wrong path and heading in the wrong direction, you need to go back to the truth, read God’s Words and surrender to His calling. Then His grace will transform your life.

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