Sin always finds its way in me. No matter how much I try to avoid it, in so many subtle ways it could always reach out to me. God’s Grace however, catches me for restoration.
Matt Redman sings in his new album, Your Grace Finds Me, that God’s Grace is the same for the saint and for the sinner. Yeah, yes. There is grace for the righteous and for the sinner, or in other words, for the saved and the unbeliever. But also, no. There is a special kind of grace that is exclusive only for the saved. In God’s eyes, the saved are forever righteous. They have been justified. And, in great contrast, the good works of the unsaved are like filthy rags. Strong comparison. Heart-flattering for the saint, condemning for the wicked.
Sin damages my heart, and God’s Grace is always there to heal me. After committing the most hideous sins, i would bow down in prayer and ask for cleansing and forgiveness. Yes, immediate cleansing I receive, but it should not stop there. True repentance always calls for the changed mind and heart, and of course ways of life. Period. Anything less than that is not true repentance but only confession.
It is indeed an endless pursuit. Running away from sin, being taken by sin, and being catched and snatched away by God’s grace.
As long as a saint is on earth, the pursuit is endless. In heaven, this pursuit cannot happen. How I long to be with Jesus!
God taught me wonderful new things during the recent four-day medical mission done at the place where our current local church is. The experience is overwhelming, fruitful, challenging, and uplifting.
It was headed by the Mercy Link and the Youth With a Mission, targeting the island of Mindoro for the dental, medical, and mission outreach. The doctors, nurses, and medical technicians were coming from different countries – Brazil, New Zealand, Korea, and the United States.
Their arrival to our place at Lumangbayan san Teodoro was truly God’s answer to our long-time prayers. We had been seeking God on how we could provide medical assistance to the community and at the same time offer them the friendship of Jesus.
Their outreach started on Monday morning, May 6 and ended on Thursday, May 9 at midday. Almost four days. Days that granted me some helpful thoughts to live by.
1.) It is not about what we could receive, but what we could possibly give. The direction of love is always not towards the self, but always towards the service of others. I went there with very little pocket money and resources, challenging the provision of God. As I was trying my best to keep up with my physical needs, the unexpected happen – someone from the Church took away my reserved bowl of fish! I was expecting that they would be the ones who would give me assistance, but the opposite happened. Anyway, it is about what I could give, not what I could receive.
2.) Trusting in God does mean not underestimating Him. Continuing the first learning above, God showed me that my ‘trust’ wasn’t great enough. Truly trusting Him would mean being open to whatever ways God could open up and spill over His resources – in ways that we have not possibly thought possible. For my example I was worrying about my food – but God gave me extra that for two times my food was spoiled!
3.) Be always ready to Hear His Word and heed Him. On the second day of the Medical Mission, I was commissioned by God to take every opportunity to share His Word. That was very clear to me on His Word. Yet for so many times I let my hesitance and weaknesses took over me – how I regret those times that I could have shared the Gospel and invite them to the Church! Those missed opportunities – could never be brought back.
4.) Strive to build relationships. Offering medical assistance means a lot to the needy people. But making them see and feel that their presence and friendship is special to us is a different thing – it will make them stay with us even after our medical resources are exhausted. The diagnoses and medicines provide physical healing, but when wrapped in love they will also prove to give spiritual and emotional healing.
5.) True humility always seeks out to serve – not minding the self. This is so true for the servanthood example of Jesus found on Phil. 2:5-8. Jesus took aside personal glory and instead embraced the life of a human servant all for the sake or true service. True service always has the heart of humility at its center.
6.) Give your best shot every moment. Every deed, especially those done for God and His Kingdom should truly demand the best of us. This is a helpful mindset. Not everything could be repeated, once done, that’s it. It’s either we exerted a mediocre effort of our very best. The same specific goals, in the same place for the same group of people – a specific ministry – once accomplished, could very rarely be expected to happen again.
God, You are the Supreme Lord of the universe. The Only One who is Sovereign. You have entrusted us so much, may You find us faithful and diligent. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Personal evangelism, or the act of sharing Jesus and the Gospel has always been a source of joy in my life, and a pool from which challenges provide training for the ministry.
Last October 12, Friday, my friend and I went to the city plaza to do some personal evangelism. Both of us reminisced our individual experiences of doing evangelism years before – and felt that we should have done this ministry regularly as a lifestyle. We believe it should be a lifestyle for every Christian.
It was hard at first. We were hesitant and nervous to approach strangers, in fact, for the first hour we had not approach anyone. We felt really awkward as we tried to approach highschool students but failed, and noticed that these students somehow felt that we had something for them – and yet we were not courageous enough.
Good thing is that God led us to first two people whom we can share Christ – one of them formerly attends a Christian Church, yet salvation was still unclear to her. That was our first couple, and the first time I ever tried to use the so-called ‘Shotgun Evangelism’, by frankly asking, ‘If you die now, are you sure you’re going to heaven?’
God allowed us also to share the Gospel to a policeman, and from him we understand that many people are hesitant or afraid to believe in Christ because of personal vices and some other sins – either they are not ready to forsake them or afraid they will fail in forsaking them. So we led him to a prayer not to accept Christ, but to let God take a hold of his life little by little. And, we reminded him that not all of his life he could have a chance to believe in Christ – tomorrow maybe too late, our life is not in our hands.
College students. Most are Catholics, and one belongs to Iglesia ni Cristo. My friend shared the Gospel for too long, around 30 minutes, thus losing their interest. One student believed in reincarnation, so we had to do some clear explanation.
We tried to share also to a foreigner, but he cut our conversation.
The greatest test of character for us was when a female prostitute challenged us to share the Bible to them. It was a test of integrity and respect on our part. Yes we shared the Gospel, and we exchanged mutual respect, they respected us and the Gospel, and we respected them as beings who are sinful yet not beyond the mercy and forgiveness of our Loving God.
That night was very fulfilling for us. We have realised some things, learnings that led us to the conclusion that if we dare to bring others to Christ, we ourselves shall draw near to God first.
Evangelism requires the heart of the Heavenly Father. Unless we have the kind of heart that cares for the lost, evangelism would only be a burden, a Pharisaic Religiosity, a dead act of legalism. A task that follows the act of God in saving sinners should certainly include a heart that cares and values pitiful souls.
Evangelism requires wisdom. The heart matters, but not at the expense of having wisdom – that is, adequate wisdom of the Word in areas of salvation and some general knowledge of the world. Evangelism brings us to different sorts of people, coming from different backgrounds, beliefs, and orientation. Surely along the way some would ask hard questions regarding the Bible and our faith – though we must avoid any debate, nonetheless we should be able to answer the important ones that could bring them to Christ. And also some general knowledge, for how could we relate and face questions regarding science, politics, psychology, myths, and the like, if all that we know is Scripture? By knowing other things as well, then we will have the capacity to use the Bible as to how it relates to and answers these other knowledge.
Evangelism requires proper etiquette. It requires that we act not as professionals, but individuals that could be respected, and, of course, that we respect others also.
Evangelism requires boldness and courage. It is never easy to approach strangers, much more to ask for their valuable time listening to a ‘common’ message.
Again, evangelism requires wisdom, now in a different sense. There are places where evangelism could be a good ground for the devil to trap us into temptations, we should know how to avoid them and stand firm on our conviction as Christians who live out the message we share..
And, above all, fruitful and true evangelism depends on the Power and Grace of God. This truth should bring the Christian to his knees in prayer and humble dependence.
Please pray with us, we really like to do this evangelism weekly.