Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Free Gift to You

How bad do you want it? 
Are you willing to do what it takes? If you want it, you need to go get it!

That's what the world tells us. Nothing in life is free. If you want to succeed in life you have to push yourself to the limit and beyond to secure your place. I have no problem with this. This is true if you have your mind set on the success and accomplishments of the world. If you want to excel in martial arts, you have to put the work in to do so. There is nothing wrong with this. The downfall, however, is that no matter how hard you work, no matter how much you accomplish and no matter how far you go, none of it is lasting. What does it really do for you? In the end, it is all in vain and meaningless. I am not saying this because I don't want you to set goals and accomplish things in life. Goals are good and a desire to succeed at what you do is good as well. What matters is whether or not you are trying to claim your identity on them. There is no true peace, joy or freedom in this. Think about it. If your place in the world depends on how hard you want to work to get it and then when you do, your still not satisfied, where is the peace, joy or freedom in that? You will be continually chasing after the wind.

None of us are ever truly satisfied when we reach a goal. How many of you have reached a goal and then said, "Finally. Now I am completely satisfied!". Not me. Instead, we reach the goal, smile that we did it and then say,"What's next?". This is because the things of the world simply can not satisfy us. If our success, accomplishments and material abundance is what we stake our peace, joy or freedom on, we will always want more and will never find what we are looking for.

"What does a man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?"  Ecclesiastes 1:3

"All streams run into the sea, but the sea is not full; the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, and the ear not filled with hearing."      Ecclesiastes 1:7-8

Please understand that I am not saying to give up on your goals because they are meaningless. I am saying that although setting goals is good and achieving success is also good, you will never truly be satisfied in it. There is a partial satisfaction that comes with it that doesn't last. The peace, joy and freedom that you might find in material abundance doesn't last. It is one thing to provide for your family or to excel in something that you enjoy and another to place all of your chips in the hope of finding a lasting peace, joy or freedom in those things. If you want to achieve things in this world, that is fine. Do as the world says, go get it. Just remember that this world will not last and therefore neither will anything of it.

This is the "work and receive" mentality. If you work hard enough, you will receive more. Many people including Christians have mistakenly taken this same approach on salvation. If you do good enough, you will be saved. If you continue to do good, you will receive more blessings from God. Just like in the world, if you are lazy you won't achieve anything.

Although goals are good and achieving success in the world is also good, there is a problem, we are not good. What do I mean by that? Man to man I would say that there are good people who do plenty of good things. Man to God, we are as wicked as can be. When compared to the righteous God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, we are like "Filthy rags". God has to hold us accountable to His standard of righteousness. It is the only true standard. According to His standard we fall way short. So even though man to man we can do a lot of good, we still are wicked in the eyes of God. These scriptures give us an idea of where we stand with God.

"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."        Romans 3:10-12

"If you who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?"       Matthew 7:11

In God's eyes we are evil but He also says that we know how to give good gifts or do good things.
Man doesn't hold his standard as high as God because we can't. We are so far from it that we can't even fully grasp it. God said if you who are evil know how to give good gifts, how much greater will I give you. As it says in Isaiah 64:6 our good deeds are like filthy rags. We are selfish even in our good deeds. We always want something out of the deal. Whether it be a pat on the back or a sense of worth, we want something and have a hidden selfish motive. Most of us do not do good deeds simply for God's glory. This is His standard. Why? Because He created us to do so. He created us for good works. To serve one another through love and to give Him the glory and honor of being able to do so. We can only do such a thing by the power of His Holy Spirit. By his grace alone may we do any good.

"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow."     James 1:17

"For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."    Philippians 2:13  

If you train with me at the Clinch and you go do well when you compete, naturally you would give credit to me and your teammates. When my MMA fighters compete they often mention my name when they speak after the fight. Why? Because I taught them and equipped them for victory. I would be a bit dissapointed if they took all the credit for themselves because it wouldn't be true. I would consider it disrespectful.  God created us and equips us for good works. For a good work to be complete, the glory must go to Him. 

This takes me back to why the "work and receive" mentality has a flaw. Since we are not good and have wickedness even in our good works, we naturally gain a since of pride in our good works. We create our identity in them. Because of this we set ourselves above others (even if it is only in our minds) when we accomplish good things. Some of us become arrogant or boastful and others have a more quiet humble approach to their greatness but it is all the same to God. When others are unable to do what we can than we naturally place them below us. It is the way it has to be. Even in jiu-jitsu, I where a Black belt and others do not. It shows that I have achieved more than others and it claims my jiu-jitsu identity. 

Is there another way? Yes. Although nothing in this world is free, God has promised us another world. This new world is founded on the FREE gift from God.  Jesus came to begin ushering in the new kingdom. This kingdom of which he is also the King and Lord of is the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus came to earth it was the beginning of Heaven on Earth. Jesus is God's free gift to us.

How is Jesus a gift?

As I stated before, in God's eyes we are wicked. Wickedness cannot be in the presence of righteousness just as darkness cannot be in the presence of light. It is not that we are not allowed, but it's impossible! We would vanish. Even though we are wicked, God is good and he loves us so he did what it takes so that we could be in his presence. God first sent the ten commandments so that we could understand His righteousness. The law was to act as a tutor that both helped us to know what is good and to realize that we are not. The job of the law was to make us realize that we need a savior and point us to Christ, the one who is good. Jesus came to save us from the judgement of the law. Through Christ's life man has fulfilled the law and are declared righteous in God's eyes. Through Christ's death on the cross he has fulfilled God's just wrath on our wickedness as the perfect eternal sacrifice. We are now justified completely! Made righteous through the works of God, not our own. Through Jesus's resurrection and ascension we are given the Holy Spirit who is the current representative of  Heaven on Earth.  God's kingdom is both here now and is yet to come. It is here now in the form of the Church (or those who know and love God as their Lord and Savior) by the power of the Spirit and is yet to come when Jesus comes again and does away with the current world and creates a new, united, heaven and earth.

God's kingdom is founded on a free gift and operates according. You don't work and receive God's kingdom. Neither do you work and receive in God's kingdom. You "receive and work" instead. First, you receive God's kingdom in the free gift of Christ and then you work out of pure joy and appreciation in receiving the gift. You don't work to earn anything, you work because you love. You don't work to claim a status or identity, you work because you desire to glorify God and love your neighbor. There is so much peace, joy and freedom in knowing that God is good, sovereign, loves us and works all things out for the good of those who love him.            

God is good! This is the first thing we need to grasp if we want true peace. God is not good as we are good, he is altogether Holy. In other words, He is as good as we can possibly understand and then some. There is no wickedness in Him whatsoever. If we want true peace we need to seek to grasp this. Jesus says in John 14:27:

"Peace I leave with you; (F)my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you."  

God's peace is different. We don't have to earn it but only receive it. God's peace doesn't fade but is eternal. You could never earn a home or a land that will ever be as good as what God has in store for you in his kingdom. You could never fill your home or land with as many great things as God has in store for us in his kingdom. No matter how many great things you do fill your home or land with, none of them will last. your joy will never last in them. Everything you work for in this world will not last but everything you receive from God will last forever including the joy in receiving it. True peace and true joy is this, to know God personally. Lastly, when you work to receive you are essentially a slave to your goals. You will never receive or achieve them unless you put in the work first. That's not true freedom. Yes you are free to set goals and free to achieve them but they aren't free. In Christ we are free from the works of the law. We don't have to earn salvation, we are given it. Both what we receive and the work that we do in Christ is free. We are not a slave to dreaming, earning or achieving. We are free to love and do good out of the joy and peace we have received in Christ. True peace, true joy and true freedom come through the FREE GIFT of FAITH, being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

"For (A)by grace you have been saved (B)through faith. And this is (C)not your own doing;(D)it is the gift of God, 9 (E)not a result of works, (F)so that no one may boast. For (G)we are his workmanship, (H)created in Christ Jesus (I)for good works, (J)which God prepared beforehand, (K)that we should walk in them."   Ephesians 2:8-9

I offer this gift up to you for Christmas and pray that you will receive it. God has worked miracles in my life and continues to do so. I would not lift Him up as I do unless I have experienced his grace for myself. The peace, joy and freedom that I have in knowing Him give me the strength to overcome and outlast the trials I face in this life. I pray that you may you experience the fullness of God's love and His peace too!  May your gifts this year remind you of the free gift of God's son, a gift far greater than the ones you receive under your tree.

Merry Christmas!


drjoser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
drjoser said...

Thanks for this words. The Holy Spirit works good things through you. Gracias. (English is not my native language but i think i make myself understandable)osss..