Deposit 

~~MTS-4063
Deposit
“…who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Eph 1:14

There is no telling whether we will get our deposit back after we put the funds in the bank, even though the financial institution may have the backing of the government. We are well aware that the global economy may collapse and all our savings may turn into nothing. It’s not all that unusual for people to lose all their investments in one day when the stock market crumples. Nothing is guaranteed in this world. Even if things remain sound, there is no promise that we will have sound health to enjoy the fruit of our labor. The foolish rich man in the gospel who stored up grain for his retirement never got to enjoy it, for he didn’t seem to put death in the equation of all his calculations.
Indeed, nothing is guaranteed except the guarantee of the Holy Spirit who is immutable and in whom there is no turning of shadow. We will never lose our inheritance in Christ Jesus, for it’s sealed and guaranteed by the third person of the Godhead.
We do have a lot to lose, don’t we? I don’t usually care about the fluctuation of the stock market since I have very little at stake. In fact, I have nothing at stake since I don’t own any stocks. Not so with the ones who may have tons of money invested in the market. Even so, losing one’s investment in the market may not be the worst to happen to a man; nothing can be worse than losing one’s heavenly inheritance. Being poor on earth only lasts for a numbers of years, but being poverty-stricken in heaven above will last eternally. Of course, I am speculating here. How can anyone be poor in heaven?
Our redemption in Christ Jesus was the inheritance Paul was referring to in this context. He was probably speaking about the perseverance of the saints, meaning that we will never lose our salvation.
On what ground is our salvation based? It’s on a very shaky foundation if it’s based on our merit and performance. We know how unreliable we are and our merit is nothing but filthy rags. Surely we are where we are by the grace of God and what we will be eternally is also guaranteed and sealed by the Holy Spirit. What a blessed hope this is!
If such is truly the case, why do we still act as if we may lose our most treasured possession, which is the blessing from the heavenly realm? Surely we must quit trying to earn our salvation with our good deeds and personal merit, and exhaust all our energy every day praising the One who is the Giver and Sustainer of our heavenly inheritance. It matters very little whether we are rich or poor here in earth, for our earthly possessions will all turn to dust and only the love of God will remain forever. Surely if we must labor on earth, we should labor “for food that endures to eternal life.”  

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, October 5, 2015 8:13:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Marked 

~~MTS-4062
Marked
“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…”           Eph 1:13

I don’t remember the exact time when I received the Lord into my heart by making a profession of faith. I kind of doubt I ever did it. I started to claim to be a Christian without going through the proper procedures, such as saying the sinner’s prayer and getting baptized. There was a wide time frame between my new birth in Christ and baptism. By the time I received baptism, it felt rather anticlimactic.
When exactly was the time when I became a Christian? There is no way of knowing at this point. It was a period of time rather than a day or an hour. I was quite unaware what was going on when something rather unusual was occurring to me. I only came to understand the significance of the whole thing when I looked at it in retrospect.
How could I know the exact time when the Holy Spirit entered into my heart?
Many people have uttered their prayer of confession and have accepted Christ into their heart in my presence, and I have also baptized more people than I care to remember, yet I only did so by faith out of my obedience to God, since so many of them who went through the rituals with me have since vanished from the church. I did the visible, but had no idea whether the invisible and the mysterious had occurred or not. One isn’t saved unless they are marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit.
I remained a nominal Christian for about four years, and I am pretty sure didn’t have the indwelling within me of the third person of the Trinity. I had never sensed his presence and was doing all the things that I considered right in my own eyes. Had he been in me, I would have known the reality and honored him as my Lord.
I only came to realize the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by looking at the effect of his mysterious operation within my heart. My transformation as a person was very obvious and even I myself had no clue what was really going on in me. I seemed to be turning into someone who was rather foreign to me.
Are you saved? Tricky question, isn’t it? 
Don’t point at the time when you made a profession of faith if there was no inner transformation occurring at the same time. There is no use mentioning when you received the ritual of baptism if there wasn’t death and resurrection taking place in your life. Of course, it means nothing if you bring up your church membership or other official things. They signify nothing but your social affiliations.
There is no seal of your salvation but the seal of the Holy Spirit, separating you from all the unsaved and making the invisible visible before God and men. Instead of asking whether you are born again or not, you can merely look inward and see who is sitting on the throne of your heart, directing your every thought and action. As simple that. If you fail to find him there, you may want to invite him into your heart now and see what a great difference he will make in your life.  

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, October 2, 2015 7:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional

In Order That 

~~MTS-4061
In Order That
“…in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”        Eph 1:12

We are saved unto our own pleasure and glory. This seems to be making a lot of sense to us. By instinct, we are motivated to do things for our own sake, not for anybody else. We are by nature self-centered and are always on the lookout for our own interest. If we were not created this way, sin must have done something sinister to us and caused us to become selfish and egoistical.
What motivated us to humbly bow down before the Lord and accept salvation through the Lord Jesus? Certainly it’s not for his own glory and praise at all; we do so for our own interest and pleasure. Surely we don’t want to perish but to have eternal life. Isn’t this a form of selfishness? One may ask.
We have no glory of our own and whatever glory we may have is derived from him. We are not originators of light, and whatever illumination we may have is a mere reflection of the true light.
It’s for his sake that we are redeemed, and the purpose of our redemption is for the praise of his glory, not for our own benefit and pleasure.
Can the completely self-sufficient God be any more glorified than he already is? Why is the Almighty so vain that he yearns to be honored by his creatures, as if he has any unmet needs at all?
We are created in his own image to reflect the glory of our Maker and the more we do so, the more joyful and fulfilled we will be as persons. We are the most satisfied when God is the most glorified. By the same token, we are the most miserable if we try to bring glory to ourselves in all we do. Self-preoccupation is a sure recipe for sorrow, for we are not our own and we are not created unto our own praise.
If we seek the Lord, we will find ourselves; and if we seek for ourselves only, we will lose both. For sure we will find ourselves in him and in his glory and honor we will find ours as well. It’s hard to comprehend this mystery, yet we are co-workers with the Lord and we will have a small share of profit if he has a great harvest. It’s as if we are share-holders of the company for which we work, and we get to share in the profit if the company becomes profitable. Therefore we continue to invest ourselves in him, for his interests and ours are one and the same. If the head of the body is glorified, the entire body is illuminated as well.
Why are we so slow to learn this spiritual math? There is zero possibility that we will lose our investment if we invest our life and, along with it, all its resources in him. If we are united with him, whatever is his will becomes ours as well, including the praise and honor of our own redemption. We ourselves are praised when God’s name is praised. 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, October 1, 2015 6:31:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Being Chosen 

~~MTS-4060
Being Chosen
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him…”        Eph 1:11

I know the feeling all too well, for I have experienced it many times. It was a sense of total helplessness and nothing I could do but waited for the inevitable. Whether I would be chosen for a certain position or job was completely out of my control. Someone with greater authority would make the final call, and there wasn’t any opportunity for me to appeal the decision; I just had to accept the final verdict, either good or bad, and move on from there.
Of course, before the final decision was made, I was given a chance to promote myself or to boost up my résumé, so to a certain degree I might have had something to do with my final destiny, albeit I had no way of knowing whether my merit as a person had anything to do with the final verdict. There are basically two groups of people in this world - the deciders and the ones being decided upon - and the majority of us fall in the latter category.
Concerning our eternal destiny, all of us appear to fall in the latter category. We are either chosen or not chosen to be saved before the foundation of the world. This is the doctrine of predestination which most of us find rather puzzling, especially when we bring our freewill into the equation. If we have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be saved, our freewill choices of accepting Christ’s salvation in time are no longer free and, in the scheme of things, we have nothing to do with our own salvation at all.
For sure we can always look at this issue from two different points of views and avoid looking at this from an either-or type of perspective and accept one in exclusion of the other. It may appear to be paradoxical, but God’s predestination and human freewill both can coexist without opposing each other. Obviously it’s entirely possible that both can be valid if it’s looked at from a different time and space and by different people. Besides, if the Lord considers our freewill choice valid, it’s valid indeed.
How can anyone choose the Lord if he or she isn’t chosen first? Obviously this is a legitimate question to ask and it’s totally logical according to our rationality. If we, however, look at the two separately from two different spheres, they both make sense, for the actions are made by two entities freely and under no compulsion. Whether we are among the elect or not, we cannot deny the fact that we have made a choice, and upon the basis of our choice we will be judged. Besides, when we make the choice whether to accept the Lord’s salvation or not and ultimately decide not to, we don’t do so on the basis of us not being predestinated to be saved; we do it with hostility toward God and deem what the Lord Jesus has done on the cross merely a myth conjured up to fool us by the early Christians. How can we not be judged by harboring this kind of idea?

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, September 30, 2015 7:03:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Unity 

~~MTS-4059
Unity
“ …to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”     Eph 1:10

There are diversities in this world but true unity is lacking. We have been taught to be tolerant and respect views and ideas that are opposing to ours; and the ones who fail to do so are commonly perceived as bigots. Where do we draw the line, then? Are we becoming all embracing and all accepting no matter how erroneous all the views are?
We have become such politically-correct people that we are so afraid to speak out on what we truly believe. Our opinions are swept away by the flood of the dominating beliefs of this world, and we find ourselves becoming more and more isolated.
In truth, we are not activity taking part in God’s work by bringing “unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Instead of resolving the dilemma, we may have become part of the problem, for by remaining silent, we seem to be in one accord with what worldly people believe. Our inaction may be taken as a stamp of approval on all the ungodly things currently running rampant in this world.
Perhaps the time hasn’t reached its fulfillment yet and the unity under Christ won’t become a reality until then, but that doesn’t mean that we can cease working toward that end as Christians. Obviously we need to bring all things within the church in unity under the headship of Christ, which still remains pretty far from reality. There seems to be all kinds of dissension and conflicts among our churches which demand our attention.
We at the least can work on promoting unity in our local churches by being peace-makers, and avoiding becoming someone who ruins church harmony by gossiping and stirring up trouble and strife within the congregation. Be it great or small, whatever we do or say as church members creates a certain effect, either good or bad, positive or negative. We are either a divider or a unifier in our churches.
The Lord has brought all his children under the unity of God through the blood of Christ Jesus who is the only One who makes church unity possible. Non-believers are not involved in this unifying process, for without Christ, unity becomes impossible. We should never be unified under the name of diversity, for unity and diversity are mutually exclusive. We obviously can have variety within unity, but the perception of truth remains constant and unchanging. There is nothing real in the world but the truth, which is rooted in the attributes of God.
In light of this, perhaps we need to work hard in promoting unity rather than trumping diversity and tolerance all day long, as if they were the epitome of all virtues.   
    

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, September 29, 2015 6:52:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Wisdom and Understanding 

~~MTS-4058
Wisdom and Understanding
“With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure…”       Eph 1:8

I still feel remorseful when I think of my dog Katie, for I might have put her to sleep prematurely. It all started out with a stroke and she could barely walk, and then she quit eating for a week and the vet told me there wasn’t anything they could do for her. I could have kept her for another week or so, but I decided to end her suffering. She appeared to be angry at me when I dreamed about her some time later, which might have been a reflection of my guilty feeling more than anything else. O how I wish I could have communicated to her concerning what I was going to do and, if it were at all possible, asked for her opinion about her final destiny. There was obviously a chasm between us that I could never have bridged. Our communication remained rather rudimentary at best. She might have understood when I told her to sit and to bark, which was about it. I think Katie communicated more by smelling than anything else.
The gap between the human and divine is infinitely wide, yet the Lord is able to communicate with us if he so desires. He is the One who revealed himself to us and he also made sure that the interpretation of his revelation was exactly what he intended to say.
We are rational beings and we certainly have a strong desire to know the essence of things. The Lord could just have told us the way to be saved, period, yet he took such great effort to explain all that’s involved in us being redeemed through the blood of Christ Jesus and the reasons behind it. By his wisdom he was able to make divine mystery accessible to human understanding, which is nothing short of miraculous. How could mere flesh and blood comprehend the mystery of incarnation unless the Lord revealed it so that we are able to embrace what our minds fail to penetrate. We may become puzzled when we try to process the way we are saved rationally and it all sounds too far-fetched; yet it seems so natural and matter-of-fact when we ponder it with our hearts. I guess Pascal was right on target when he uttered: “The heart has its reason, which reason does not know.” 
It’s tremendous to not only know that we are saved and also the mysterious way we are redeemed, starting from the revelation of the blood sacrifice in the old dispensation among God’s chosen people to the coming of the lamb of God who was slaughtered on our behalf. The way of salvation was deemed foolishness by the Greeks and the wise, who considered Christ’s resurrection mere myth and wishful thinking, yet to us believers it’s God’s revelation “with all wisdom and understanding,” intended to communicate to us the deep mystery of his eternal plan, which was to bring all things in heaven and on earth under his lordship, and the salvation of sinners was  merely one of the acts of the divine drama. 

   

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, September 28, 2015 7:08:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Grace 

~~MTS-4057
Grace
“…in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”
              Eph 1:7

After three years of military service with all the bad habits that I had collected over the years, the Lord decided it was time for me to be transformed into a new person in Christ. At age twenty-two, I was really a broken man who was hopeless, helpless, and directionless. With my hair still shaved and appearance haggard I often wandered up and down the alleys and streets of Taipei, probably looking more like a zombie than a man. If there was one who was completely unworthy of God’s attention, it should have been me. Yet it was during this time the Lord reached down from heaven and turned me into a man who was quite foreign even to myself.
What had I done to warrant such grace? Absolutely nothing. I was just a broken man with every intention of keeping the sinful lifestyle I learned in the service. Even though I had heard the name of the Lord, I didn’t want anything to do with him. I should have been forsaken and cast aside, if divine justice were served. That wasn’t what took place, though; God decided to lavish his grace on me.
It was forty years ago when all these things transpired, and God’s grace seems to be increasing more and more even as I am aging. The whole salvation enterprise started out with grace and it will end with grace as well. By God’s grace I was saved, and by the same grace I am able to follow his footsteps and I will need his grace to continue my walk with him until I am no more. Apart from God’s grace, nothing is possible.
How was it possible that a man of my lowly status and limited resources could accomplish all that I have accomplished? What accomplishments? You may be curious. Isn’t following the Lord for forty long years a great achievement? I could have easily turned aside a thousand times had the Lord not sustained me at every turn. Is it a small matter to serve as minister of the gospel at the same church for twenty-two years? It may not amount to all that much to others and may be rather insignificant from a human perspective, yet to me it’s an accomplishment, since nothing greater could a man do than to be a servant of God and a herald of the gospel. 
Apart from God’s grace, none of the above would have been accomplished, knowing how fickle and frail I am as a man.
How was it possible that my wife and I were able to raise a family and bring up three sons on just a small income, doing whatever was necessary. Time after time the Lord came to our aid and he became our main provider when we ourselves became unable to do so. How was it possible apart from God’s grace?
How is it even possible that my heart is still pumping and my mind is still spinning out words, attempting to justify the ways of God to men, even at my age and, by God’s grace, to finish what he has called me to accomplish?
Nothing but grace.  

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, September 25, 2015 7:06:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Forgiveness of Sin 

~~MTS-4056
Forgiveness of Sin
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins…”
          Eph 1:7

Adam was created perfect in every way, yet his disobedience ruined everything. He became imperfect in all ways. We all sinned in Adam and from our first father we inherit the original sin. This is all too far-fetched, isn’t it? It’s the utmost injustice done to us, if anything. Why should we suffer the consequence of someone else’s sin?
We can argue over this point till the cows come home, yet it still doesn’t do us any good. We may consider the original sin that we have inherited rather unfair, yet there is something for which we may be held accountable- our actual sins. Don’t we all sin and fall short of the glory of God?
It all depends, some may be arguing. Sin isn’t really sin if we merely do what comes natural to us. How can we be accused of committing sins if we do things according to our instinct? Indeed we are part of the long food chain in which we find all kinds of brutalities committed in the name of survival, and there is no sense applying our sense of morality to what’s happening among beasts and people every day. Who is going to hold a lion accountable for hunting down a deer or a zebra for food? Should it be charged with murder? If not, why do I have to stand trial for stealing some food or beating up my neighbor out of anger? Am I not merely acting according to my animal nature?
Our belief in Darwinian evolution and its practical and ethical applications doesn’t seem to be always consistent. We seem to hold the highest form of evolution – man - to a set of completely different standards of behavior. When did something called morality suddenly enter into the human psyche, as if we invented some rules and regularities to regulate our every action and make our lives miserable for failing to keep them? If this isn’t enough, something so foreign and intrusive called “conscience” entered into our minds out of the blue and uninvited and its voice has became a constant annoyance if we attempt to do something against its will.
There is no escape from sin and the annoying feeling of guilt, even if we manage to convince ourselves that we are no different from the lower forms of species in the long process of evolution. How we feel emotionally toward sin cannot be altered by the force of powerful intellect and we often find ourselves struggling with fear of death and what it may entail if there is something beyond.
I find the alternative offered by Jesus more plausible and much easier to process. If we call sin sin and divine justice demands it to be punished, we may run for solution to the One who died for our sin. Then we will find this verse extremely comforting and reassuring: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, September 24, 2015 7:08:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Sonship 

~~MTS-4055
Sonship
“In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”       Eph 1:4

We are God’s sons and daughters by spirit and image, not by blood. We are created in his own image and, by virtue of the creation, we all have become children of God. Yet because of our sins in Adam we lost the sonship and we can only become children of God by adoption through the merit of Christ Jesus. It goes without saying, there are privileges and entitlements that come with the sonship and the honor of being called the children of God is beyond compare.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” wrote the apostle John in his letter.
What have we done to merit the privilege that we are enjoying? Absolutely nothing. We may be born into an aristocratic or wealthy family and get to enjoy the fame and fortune all our lives merely because we happen to be born into certain families. Indeed, we had absolutely nothing to do with into which family we were going to be born. Same as our spiritual birth, really; it’s all done “in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
Therefore we have no reason to be arrogant about our upbringing as persons and, by the same token, we have no cause to be proud of us being adopted as children of God. What and who we are is entirely through God’s grace and nothing else.
How can we not be extremely humble and thankful in light of the fact that we have been adopted out of a vast multitude of people?
There are quite a few children wasting away in orphanages all over the world, waiting to be adopted and ushered into homes where they will be loved and cared for, yet only a select few are fortunate enough to be chosen. By virtue of adoption their lives will become entirely different from what they used to be. The orphan girls and boys probably can do nothing to boost their chances to be chosen in front of the adopters except to smile and to present their best selves if they are old enough to do so. I can’t even start to imagine what it feels like to be put in such a dire situation. Come to think of it, weren’t you and I among the multitude sitting in the dark orphanage waiting to be adopted by the Heavenly Father? We were lonely, miserable, and desperate to be chosen, yet couldn’t do anything but wait for the inevitable, either good or bad.  
O what a difference it made when we were chosen and adopted to be children of God! I have no idea what it did to you; I sure know what the adoption did to me when I was very young and utterly lost. Becoming a son of God gave me a sense of worth that I had never experienced before and I immediately came to realize which direction I should be heading in life and what ultimate goal I should be seeking as a child of God. I was lost, and then I was found.  

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, September 23, 2015 6:56:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Chosen 

~~MTS-4054
Chosen
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”           Eph 1:4

Contrary to what we believe, the Lord chose us before the foundation of the world to be something, not do something. He chose us “to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
Aren’t we all task and achievement oriented? We somehow believe that the Lord chose us to perform great tasks and achieve renown in this world. Not so at all; he called us to become holy and blameless in his sight.
We need to reorient the priorities of our life if we are convicted this is truly the case, and focus more attention on our interior life than our exterior, our thought more than our action, and our attributes more than our achievement.
What was the purpose of the Lord creating the first man? The Lord created him to be holy and blameless so that he could have perfect fellowship with him. Indeed, Adam had jobs to do, but they were more diversions than anything else; the first man’s main purpose of being was to have sweet fellowship and union with his Creator. The union was lost because of Adam’s sin, and the Lord intended to have the relationship restored by sending his own Son to have the issue of sin resolved. Therefore, the purpose of creation remains the same.
“Without holiness no one will see the Lord,” we read in the book of Hebrews. Surely we don’t have holiness of our own; we are clothed in Christ’s holiness and by his merit we are able to see God. But this doesn’t mean that we can quit pursuing holiness as long as we live in the flesh. We have been chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world and his holiness has become our own, yet we are called to become more and more like Christ.
No matter what our earthly professions are and wherever the Lord places us on earth, our main goal in life is to strive to become holier and more blameless in his sight and all things that occur in our lives seem to be pointing to this particular goal. Whether we are promoted or demoted at our jobs, the purpose of what happens remains the same - our holiness. Whether we are well or ill, the goal is still unchanged - our holiness.
No wonder so many people feel so unfulfilled and become remorseful on the death bed, mourning that they have wasted their lives. Why? They have squandered their entire lives seeking the wrong things and neglecting what they had been chosen to fulfill as God’s children.
Such is the occupation of all eternity, even after we are glorified, for Christ is immensely holy and our eternal striving is to be more like him. In the meantime, it should be our primary occupation here on earth as well.                                     

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, September 22, 2015 6:49:00 AM Categories: Devotional
Page 40 of 145 << < 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 70 110 140 > >>
  • RSS

Statistics

  • Entries (1455)
  • Comments (0)

Categories

Archives