April 2016


This is the second part of the sermon shared in my church on Saturday. You can click here for the first part

Introduction

“Therefore, having been
  justified by faith, we have
  peace with God through
  our Lord Jesus Christ,
  through whom also we have
  access by faith into this grace
  in which we stand, and rejoice
  in hope of the glory of God. “ – Paul (Rom 5:1-2)

Paul says that we enter into grace by faith and we have hope in the glory of God.  Paul is a man who had suffered much for God but he felt his suffering is worth it for the coming glory far outweighs the temporary suffering he encountered. He once shared with the church in Corinth. 

The Glory That Is To Come

“It is doubtless not profitable for
  me to boast. I will come to visions
  and revelations of the Lord:
 
I know a man in Christ who fourteen
  years ago—whether in the body I
  do not know, or whether out of
  the body I do not know, God knows
  —such a one was caught up to the
   third heaven. “ – Paul (2 Cor 12:1-2)

Paul said that it is pointless for him to boast about himself. He would rather share the about the vision and revelations from the Lord. The man which he was referring to is himself. He was once taken up into heaven. He is unsure if he had physically been brought to heaven or if he encounter a vision . But what was important was written in Verse 4

“how he was caught up into
  Paradise and heard inexpressible
  words, which it is not lawful
  for a man to utter.”- Paul (2 Cor 12:4)

He was taken up into Paradise, it is in the spiritual realm where he heard of things that man cannot describe. When he say it is not lawful for man to utter. Of course it does not mean that he is sinning against God if he said it, but what he saw was glory that cannot be describe using the words of man. It is possible or one to compare and contrast various sites and scenes on earth. There may be places which we use to regard as beautiful. But if we come across another site, perhaps you can make a comparison and describe the difference using words.

But nothing on earth could compare to the paradise that Paul had seen, it is so indescribable which is why no man could utter a word to describe it. Paul was taken up to the heavens and he saw glory that cannot be compared with any place on earth. In the same way we have brethren who had seen heaven in vision and when their vision had finished, and we asked them how beautiful heaven is. But they were unable to describe it in words.

Glory In Tribulation

Paul was given the privilege to enter heaven and to see the glory that is to come. It is so glorious that nothing on earth can describe it. If we want to enter this glory, we would need to enter the grace of God through faith. After that we need to work hard to spiritual nurture ourselves in order to receive this glory. After we believe in the Lord, we will encounter trials in our faith. Paul once talk about tribulations in Rom 5:3 

“And not only that, but we
  also glory in tribulations,
  knowing that tribulation
  produces perseverance,
  and perseverance, character;
  and character, hope.” – Paul (Rom 5:3-4)

In order to allow us to enter into that glory we need to go through trials and tribulations. That is why we need to be vigilant when we are suffering in difficulties. For nothing on earth can describe that glory that is awaiting for us in heaven. If our sufferings on earth can be use to exchange for this glory. This exchange will definitely be worth it. For these tribulation can allow us to remain strong in faith. 

We need to be strong in the midst of tribulation for it will give us patience, through this patience we will learn perseverance. If we do not go through tribulation how would perseverance be produced? Without perseverance how could one endure in his faith till the end. If we do not endure to the end, we will be destroyed.

Trials Creates Perseverance

If we endure and persevere in faith, it that endurance is a proof that our faith is real.  If our faith is real we would be just like the Roly-Poly toy. It would never tumble because of its low centre of gravity, the more you try to stumble the doll the more it would come back up. The anchor of our faith is Jesus, he is our rock and the centre of our faith. He is our base with a strong weight. It is because of this faith in Jesus, we could turn tribulation into perseverance.

Without tribulation we would not know our areas of faith that needs improvement. That is why God allow us to meet with trials so that our faith will grow. A faith that could grow will create within us hope. In life we often say that practice makes perfect. If we do not use a skill often, we would not be able to retain the same level of competency. For example, if we drive a few times in a year, we will sometimes make mistakes at the wheel for we are unfamiliar with driving.  the more we drive, the more skilful we become. Eventually the driving will become second nature to us, inbuilt into our character.

How Perseverance Creates  Character, and Character Creates Hope

This is what Paul meant by Perseverance creates character. In our lives we learn to rely on God to be victorious in tribulations. Over time these victories will create perseverance.   Just like an Athlete who practiced often  in order to compete with their opponents. They are able to respond to their opponents move no matter how fast they may be. In order to develop such reflexes thy need to practice for long hours. The same applies when we persevere in trials and it will create the character within us. 

From character comes hope. Whenever we face tribulation and we overcome them by relying on God. From these experiences  we learnt to rely on God and that God  will opens a way of escape during the trial. Perhaps there are certain trials that we cannot avoid, but because of our reliance in God. We experience deliverance from God.  Over time our reliance become our hope whenever we face trials. ‘

Hope that is created out from our character is not a theoretical understanding of how to rely on God. But it is build from our practical experience after going through many tribulation. That is why whenever tribulation arrive, we would rely on God and hope that God will open a way of escape.

This is a hope that is not built base on theory but from your own experience in Christ.

The Source Of Hope, The Holy Spirit

Paul continue his sharing saying

“Now hope does not disappoint,
  because the love of God has been
  poured out in our hearts by the
  Holy Spirit who was given to us.”- Paul (Rom 5:5)

Here Paul tells us that this hope does not disappoint. Do we know of occasions where hope does disappoint?  Hope can be disappointment when what we expect from God did not happen. When everything in life turn against you and those who hurt you ridicule you asking “You claim that your God is so great and powerful, why did he not save you from your troubles?”  That is when we find disappointment in faith.

In the church there are many brethren who experience trials in faith. As long as they do not let go of their faith, their hope eventually does not disappoint. There are members who had unbelievers in their family. When they are stuck with illness, their family members mock them saying “You say that your God is so wonderful, why did he not save you from your illness? isn’t Jesus the best physician around?” But from our testimonies we hear of our brethren undergoing trials and how they feel that there was no way out. But God did not bring their hope to disappointment.   

A Personal Testimony From The Preacher

The preacher shared that during the period in the 80s when he was a student in Singapore. There was a riot in his hometown in Sabah. the rioters were burning shops and overturning vehicles. The rioters were looting and destroying the area near his fathers shop.  It was the grace of God that preserved his family, where in only the row of shop houses where his father shop was not set on fire. In that incident, all the buildings around were burnt and many of the shops are destroyed. But strangely their row of shop house were spared. When they came out after the rioters had left. They notice that the cars around the shop were all overturned and petrol was leaking out of the cars. But the shop did not caught fire. For his mother was in the shop, she was unable to escape on time, so out of desperation, she closed the shutters and hid in the shop. All she could is to pray.

She was the only believer around, according to her, there were other non Christians in the shop, whoever who tried to run risk being mugged and robbed.  Even though his mothers faith was not strong, but she relied on God and she prayed. Later on when the the rioters left, the police started to check on any survivors. When his mother left the shop she notice that everything around them were burnt.

Trials And The Building Of Faith

Sometimes God allow us to encounter trouble so that we can learn to keep our faith.  It is through trials and tribulation we can experience God.  As long as we do not lose faith our hope would not be disappointed. In another words God will let us experience his salvation no matter what trouble we encounter. It is through these experiences  we will experience God. These experience will give us hope so that when we encounter the similar situation again we will believe and rely on God. That will help us to overcome the trials that are before us.

During the Israelites 40 years of wandering of the wilderness, they encountered both Marah (BItterness) and Elim (Comfort) along the way, but they are mere stops along the way onto Canaan. Job experience a similar experience, but at the end of his trials God blessed him. The bible concluded his story by saying

And the Lord restored Job’s losses
 
when he prayed for his friends.
  Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as
  much as he had before.”- Job ( job 42:10 )

The bible tells us that Job met with much troubles during his trials. God tested him and allowed him to lose all his processions within a day. And later on God struck Job with illness so much so as he had sores all over his body. Job 42 records the end of the trials, at the end God gave him all that he had loss and blessed Job twice as much. This is the mercy of God to Job.

From here we know that no situation in life is permanent, God will change the situation around us. Whenever we encounter trouble we need to have the hope that Job had. Eventually God will change the situation and give us more blessing. If we compared Job procession in Job 42 verses what he had in Job 1, you will realised that he got back double of everything,

Love Poured Out To Our Heart By the Holy Spirit 

The latter part of Rom 5:5 tells us that the love of God was poured out to us through the Holy Spirit given to us by God. God did not give us trial for the sake of destroying us. It is meant to build us up and establish our faith. He allow us to encounter trouble and difficulty in order for us to grow.

If a flower is place constantly in the greenhouse, they will not be able to withstand the storms outside. For these plants are too well taken care of. A flower from the greenhouse may appear strong and sturdy but if we were to plant them in the wild, they may just die and wither away. The wild flowers are as strong as the trees in the wild. They  may not look tall but their roots are deep underground. They are able to withstand the strong winds and will not be uprooted easily.

From here we know that the stronger the winds the deeper the roots. As far as Christian life is concern, an easy life would not produce a deep root. Therefore God allow trials to come so that we will be deeply rooted in him . We remain rooted because the Holy Spirit was had poured out the love of God within us. The trials from God are meant to build us up and not harm us.  He will give us trails based on our degree of faith.  Those whoa re stronger will meet with greater test while those who are weaker will meet with a small test. As long as we believe in his love we will grow in faith at our own pace.

Conclusion

Rom 5:1-5 teaches us how is one justified by faith.  Baptism allowed us to access the grace of God through faith, after our baptism, we must undergo trials to help us be established in the grace in which we stand. Trials and tribulation can grow our faith and build up the hope of God within us. This hope does not disappoint, when hope is perfected it produces perseverance, and from perseverance comes character and from character come a stronger hope. God will use trials and tribulation to train us up in faith, they can come from within and outside the church.

Therefore when we encounter trials let us not doubt the love of God.  As long as one does not doubt the love of God, he will not be disappointed and God will lead him to a higher ground and bless him as he continue to grow in his love.

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This is the sermon shared in my church on Saturday.

“Therefore, having been
  justified by faith, we have
  peace with God through
  our Lord Jesus Christ,
  through whom also we have
  access by faith into this grace
  in which we stand, and rejoice
  in hope of the glory of God. “ – Paul (Rom 5:1-2)

Paul was talking about justification of faith in the book of Romans From Rom 1:17 onwards, Paul was talking about how the righteousness of God is revealed through the gospel. In the gospel, the righteous shall live by faith. The main theme of the book of Romans is justification by faith. Paul shared in great details how is one justified by faith.

Understanding Justification By Faith

in the days of Paul there are 2 ways for one to be justified before God. One is through the keeping of the Law of Moses while the other is to be justified by faith in Christ. In Rom 5:1 Paul was talking about Christians being justified by faith. Most of the Christian churches believe that justification by faith happens when one believe in Jesus. But we believe that justification by faith happens at the point of Baptism .

For Paul once told the Church in Corinth

And such were some of you.
  But you were washed, but you
  were sanctified, but you were
  justified in the name of the
  Lord Jesus and by the Spirit
  of our God.” – Paul (1 Cor 6:11)

In the earlier verses (1 Cor 6:9-10) Paul was describing the lives of the Corinthians before their conversation to Christianity. How they used to be fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers and extortioners. They used to live in sin,  but after their baptism they were cleanse and justified. For baptism washes away their sin, that is why they are justified before God.

Baptism is effective for it is done in the name of Jesus and with the witness of the Holy Spirit.

When we are baptised, we are immersed into the waters, but it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that bear testimony that this baptism is effective. It is at baptism where our sins were washed away and we are sanctified and justified before God.  But Christians ought to understand that there are two types of sanctification.  These two types of sanctification can be seen in Paul’s salutation to the Corinthians

“To the church of God which is at Corinth,
  to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
  called to be saints
, with all who in every
  place call on the name of Jesus Christ
  our Lord, both theirs and ours” – Paul (1 Cor:1:2)

There are those who are sanctified in Jesus Christ, these are the members who had received baptism and have put on Christ. They have their sins forgiven and are called the sons of God. But these are also people who are called to be saints. After baptism, we need to pursue sanctification in our lives. Our sins are forgiven during baptism, but after our baptism, we must strive to remain sanctified. In another words, we must live a life separate from the world and to spiritually cultivate ourselves. That is what it mean to be called to be saints.

When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he addressed the Corinthians as  people sanctified in Christ and called to be saints.  These are two aspect of sanctification that we need to pursue. The Corinthians were sanctified by the blood of Christ at baptism, but they did not respond to the call of being saints. For when Paul wrote the letter to them, they were weak and there were divisions among them. They were drunk during Holy Communion and they bear grudges among themselves so much so that they sued their own brethren in court. They have not responded well to the calling to be saints, so therefore Paul wrote to them encouraging them to be sanctified before Christ.  He wanted their conduct to be compatible with the gospel of faith which they have received from him.

Paul reminded then in 1 Cor 6:11 that they were sanctified by the blood of Christ during baptism. They are justified in their status, they are now children of God. But this sanctification does not necessarily change their conduct.  So when does one conduct justified? John wrote in his book of 1 John

“Little children, let no one
  deceive you. He who practices
  righteousness is righteous, 
  just as He is righteous.” – John (1 Jn 3:7)

Those who do righteousness have good conduct. Indeed when one arise from the water during baptism are justified before God, but how can they continue to be justified? They need to continue do righteousness.

Understanding Peace With God

In Rom 5:1, Paul describe  those who are justified by faith have peace with God though Jesus. What does he mean? Before our conversion, we were separated with God because of sin. We were his enemies.  God is holy and no sinner can come to God directly. But when a Christian believed in Christ and are baptised. They are  justified by God, they have a change of status. They changed from being a sinner to one justified before God. As they are justified by the blood of Jesus,they can come before God and draw near to him.  They can overcome sin by relying in Jesus and they can enter heaven.

Gaining Access To The Grace Of God  By Faith

That is what Paul meant by those who are justified by faith are able to gain access by faith. Today Christian receive baptism by their faith in Jesus, this allow them access into the grace of God. When Paul talk about gaining access to grace, he is telling us not to stay put at the point of baptism. For the righteous must live by faith, it is only though faith we can access the grace of God. A Christian life in the grace of God begins at baptism when he decide to acknowledge his sin and to follow the instruction of Jesus to be baptised. After that he must continue to deeper into the grace of God by faith.

Those who have faith  are able to access the grace of God easily. He is able to access regardless of his education level or social status. One may be highly educated but he may not see the grace of God. Interestingly,   a normal man may be able to understand it better.  In our church we have natives who live among the hill tribes that had little access to TV, civilisation and internet, but they are able to understand the grace of God.  Those with faith can understand the grace of God even if they are illiterate and without much knowledge. A person may be illiterate but if he hear the words of Jesus and believe by faith he is able to receive the grace of God.

We use to have a sister who cannot read at all. In the church we often write the instruction to pray in a banner. The opening  words are written in red while the rest of the words are  in blue. Usually the preacher will instruct the congregation saying “Repeat the red line follow by the blue line”. So this sister followed that instruction with faith, she prayed by saying “Repeat the red line follow by the blue line”. As she prayed she ended up speaking in tongues. Eventually the church taught her more regarding prayers and faith. The more she understands the more experience she receive.  Her faith grew and she was eventually baptised. It continues to move her even today.

The Grace In Which We We Stand

Rom 5:2 Tells us that those with faith will access the grace in which we stand. It begins at baptism and baptism is the beginning of this relationship with God. How can one continue in this relationship? He need to enter into this grace by accessing it through faith. Perhaps we may not start off with a good faith initially, there may be some of us who started with a weak faith, but we need to continue in this faith and grow in it. Then we can be preserved in the grace of God.

At the point of baptism, we are justified in status, but our conduct have not match up to the standard set by God. Even though we are far from his standard, but we have taken the first step and entered into the grace of God through faith. If we continue o stand in grace, our faith will grow in grace. Gods had high demand for us, we must be perfect just as our heavenly father is perfect.

Since we have entered this grace, we need to pursue perfection from our imperfection. Our faith need to be progressive. We need to strive to improve continuously until we reach all of God requirement for us. As we strive to meet God standards, we will receive both spiritual and physical blessing and the more we experience in this faith the more joy we receive.

Rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Eventually this joy will develop into hope. For the more experience we have with God the stronger our joy and hope becomes.  Then we will hope in his glory. After gaining access to the grace of God by faith, we need to continue to stand in this grace and the more we experience God the more we will rejoice when we experience God working in our life. This joy will turn into hope, this is a hope of the coming glory of God that we will receive at the end.

Our hope is related to the grace we receive, if we lose hope we will lose the grace that God had given to us. In order to maintain this grace in which we stand, we need to spiritually nurture ourselves, to come for service often, to offer to take part in the holy work. This hope will help us overcome problems and difficulty, we will be able to hold on to this hope. For Paul once shared with the church in Rome.

“For I consider that the
  sufferings of this present
  time are not worthy to be
  compared
with the glory
  which shall be revealed in us” – Paul (Rom 8:18)

Paul was a man who suffered for Go, he  was often whipped and tortured . He was eventually sentenced to death by Emperor Nero. Paul wrote the book of Romans, he tells us that no matter what suffering he encountered, they cannot compare to the coming glory that God had revealed to him. For he knows that the coming glory outweighs the suffering he encountered.

We all desire good achievements in life and  we are willing to work hard for a good result in life. We know that we need to go to a good school to put in effort to start and prepare ourselves for the test. In order to get to a good university, we are even willing to sacrifice our rest days in order to achieve a good result. Similarly a farmer is willing to work hard in his field for he hope to receive a good harvest. There is no free lunch on earth, we need to pay the price in order to get the good result.

Conclusion So Far

Paul wanted to achieve that glory that is to come, therefore he put in his effort with his relationship with god. He had entered into grace through faith and he works hard to stand in his grace in order to achieve that glory that is to come.

In the same way, we need to move forward in faith, different Christian move forward at different speeds. Some can sprint quickly while others run slowly as if in a marathon. But  what we need to know is that faith must not be stagnant, we must move forward as our goal is in the glory to come.

There was a sister who had believed in Jesus for more than 20 years. But her faith remain stagnant, she had no learnt to rely on God and she kept working day and night and have no advancement in faith. So God shown her a dream to help her understand her problem. In her dream she saw herself carrying her daughter in her arms as if she first came to church 20 years ago. She entered the place and she saw an examination hall, she was going for an exam and her husband is seated on a table nearby. When the invigilator pass her the papers, she read the question and was unable to answer. So she look on her husband to see how he was faring. Her husband simply told her to write anything on the answer sheet and hand up your papers.  But the sister was afraid so she handed a blank answer sheet to the invigilator.

When the invigilator saw it, he commented “This is a simple question even a kid can answer it.” She was unable to recall the test subject, but she distinctly remember the invigilator saying “Why did you not rely on Jesus but solely relied on yourself?”

When she awoke, she thought of the comment and she remembered that she had followed Jesus for 20 years. She still saw herself carrying her daughter for she was stagnant in faith, her faith is exactly the same as 20 years ago when she carried her daughter to church. Even though she entered into the grace through baptism but her faith remained stagnant and there was no progress. Therefore she was reminded by God.

In the same way, we have entered by faith into this grace. As long as we are living we need to stand in this grace and grow in joy and hope. For this hope tells us for the glory that we will receive. In order to attain this hope we need to seek to improve our faith. It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow we walk, but we need to seek perfection in faith. So that eventually we will receive this greater glory that God had destined for us.

Introduction

In our previous post, we have looked at two metaphors that describe the word of God.

In Part 1: The word of God is like Fire and Hammer

Let us continue our next metaphor

Word Of God Is Like A Mirror

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word
  and not a doer, he is like a man
  observing his natural face in a mirror;
  for he observes himself, goes away,
  and immediately forgets what kind of
  man he was. But he who looks into the
  perfect law of liberty and continues in it,
  and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of
  the work, this one will be blessed in what
  he does.” – James (Jas 1:23-25)

Here Elder James describes the word of God like a mirror. A man can never see himself, that is why we have mirrors. The purpose of the mirror is to show us our reflection. The mirror will reflect how we look accurately.  If the mirror does not produce a good reflection  we cannot push the blame to the mirror.

Likewise the Word of God is like a mirror, it reveals our true character.  It reflected our weakness and the ugliness that is within us. When we look at this reflection of our weakness and ugliness, should we be angry with the mirror?  Will we choose to get up and walk away from it?

Whenever we observe our reflection on the mirror, if we notice that our hair is messy or dirt on our faces. We would comb our hair and clean our faces. Though some may decide to clean the mirror for they think that it was the mirror that was dirty. It would be bad to choose to ignore it and walk away.

If our face is dirty, can we blame the mirror for reflecting the dirt? Sadly this is the attitude of some Christians whenever they gather to listen to the word of God.  They would rather wish that the mirror to be quiet and not point out their mistakes. What is worst is when they push the blame to the mirror for being dirty. 

The “Holy” Bible

Once an atheist asked “Why is the bible called the Holy Bible when it records of so many unholy things?”

Indeed there were stories of rape, incest, murder and genocide within the records of the scripture.  There are also stories that are scandalous and could ruin the reputation of Kings. For the bible recorded how King David peeped at Bathsheba bathing and how it led him to become an adulterer, a murderer as well as a covetous man who lusted for his subordinate’s wife. 

That is why many atheist insist that the bible is an evil book and is not fit to be called the Holy Bible.

But how should we react to such criticism? We know from James that the word of God is like a mirror. It is able to reflect our sin, our pettiness and ugliness within our heart. It testifies of evil that is around us. Only a mirror that is clean could show our reflection faithfully. It would be ironic not to notice the dirt on our faces and to clean the mirror instead.

Indeed there are many books and chronicles that beautify and glorify things that are evil and dirty. They hide the ugliness of man so that no one can see it. This is why they cannot be a true mirror , only the word of God is a mirror.  If we observe the reflection carefully we will know that it is talking about us. 

The reason for the bible to keep such record is to tell us a few things. Firstly it allow us to re-examine ourselves to see if we need to repent.  Secondly it is a record telling us that no an could remain righteous by their own power. Which is why God need to intervene in order to save man from sin.

The Mirror That Reveals The Ugliness Of Men

Interestingly, both western and eastern culture contained stories and folklore regarding magic mirrors.

Among the Chinese legend, there was a mirror that is able to revealed goblins who disguised themselves as humans.The Chinese called it 照妖镜 (zhào​ yāo​ jìng)​. The term is now used to describe the ability to see through a conspiracy.

But in that legend. The mirror is able to reveal the true reflection of the demons even if he is disguised as a common man.  In the same way, the word of God is able to discern if we are good or evil. Jesus once used the word of God to reflect the ugliness and hypocrisy of the Pharisees of his days. 

(Extracted from Jn 8:40-44 )

Jesus : “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man 
                who has told you the truth which I
                heard from God. Abraham did not 
                do this. You do the deeds of your father.”

Pharisees : “We were not born of fornication;
                          we have one Father—God.”

Jesus :   “If God were your Father, you
                  would love Me, for I proceeded
                  forth and came from God; nor have 
                  I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 
                 Why do you not understand My speech?
                 Because you are not able to listen to My word.

                 You are of your father the devil, and the
                 desires of your father you want to do. 
                 He was a murderer from the beginning,
                 and does not stand in the truth, because
                 there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie,
                 he speaks from his own resources,
                 for he is a liar and the father of it”

The Pharisees appear to be God fearing before everyone, but when Jesus uses the truth as a mirror on them. The mirror reflected that they were not of God but were of the devil. For their thoughts and their actions are similar to the devil, who is the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning . When Jesus told them the truth, they wanted to kill him.

The Pharisees understood the truth spoken by Jesus and they are unable to accept it, when the words of Christ reflected the fault that is in their hearts . They wanted to silence Jesus by killing him. For no one dares to speak against the Pharisees so far. The truth reflected the ugliness within their hearts .

The Mirror That Reveals What Is Beauty In The Eyes Of God

In the west there mentioned another magic mirror. This mirror tells us who is the prettiest in the land. The queen  who stood before it often ask “Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?"

The mirror will always reply "My queen, you are the fairest in the land." The answer remain constant until the day Snow White was born. This time the mirror replied “My queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than you.” The queen was unable to accept the truth.

The word of God is like a mirror, it reflected what is beautiful in the eyes of God. In real life, we often use the mirror to help us groom ourselves and to make ourselves look presentable. But sometimes beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

But have we wonder what is beautiful in the eyes of God? That is the beauty we ought to pursue after. Sometimes we feel that God is unfair, for he had made some beautiful and some less beautiful. Sometimes we murmur against God and ask why are we not as intelligent as our friends.

Even though it is not our fault, but people give us different treatments according to how intelligent we are and how pretty we are.

But whenever we read the bible, it tells us of what is beautiful and valuable in the eyes of God. It point us to the right direction to the qualities we ought to pursue. For everything on earth is temporary, it is vanity and its glory will soon pass away. The things that are beautiful in the eyes of God are eternal and they last forever.

So will we pursue the beauty of the world or the beauty of the kingdom of God?

If we want to pursue after what is beautiful in God’s eye, we need to have the courage to stand before this mirror and check our reflection.  Then when Jesus come again we would be like the bride ready for the bridegroom. If we fail to prepare ourselves and we allow our filthiness to remain on us. How can we be fit to enter the kingdom of heaven?

Let us remember that the word of God is like a mirror, and most importantly let us use it regularly to examine ourselves for dirt For we need to cleanse ourselves in order to enter the kingdom of God.

Let us examine another metaphor

Word Of God Is Like A Rain

“For as the rain comes down,
  and the snow from heaven,
  And do not return there,
  But water the earth,
  And make it bring forth and bud,
  That it may give seed to the sower
  And bread to the eater,

  So shall My word be that goes forth
  from My mouth;
  It shall not return to Me void,
  But it shall accomplish what I please,
  And it shall prosper in the thing for which 
  I sent it.”- YHWH (Is 55:10-11)

Here the book of Isaiah describes the word of God as rainwater. Water is essential for life, without water the land will not give its produce. No matter how good the seed or how fertile the land is, without rain there will be no harvest.

The word of God is like rain, it is one that had the strength and the power of life. It can nurture life and help plants grow. That is why we need to get the water from God. For God spoke through Isaiah saying 

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
  Come to the waters;
  And you who have no money,
  Come, buy and eat.
  Yes, come, buy wine and milk
  Without money and without price.
  Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
  And your wages for what does not satisfy?
  Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
  And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
  Incline your ear, and come to Me.
  Hear, and your soul shall live;
  And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
  The sure mercies of David.” – YHWH (Is 55:1-3)

Let us not buy the waters from the world, for the things of earth can satisfy us temporarily. It may be able to satisfy us materially, it may be able to satisfy the lust of our eyes. But it cannot satisfy the void that is in our heart.

Why should we spend so much effort and money on things that can never truly satisfy?  Whenever we get a new car, a new house, we would feel elated upon receiving them. But how long will that happiness last? When we see other having something better, it robs us of our happiness.

We would desire something better a larger house, a cooler car  when will we ever be happy and satisfied? If we can be contented that easily, we would not have the rich committing suicide.

Men had a void in their heart, it is something nothing in the world can truly satisfy.  You may be a CEO with with a grand house and a luxury car. But our hearts would still be troubled we will find it hard to feel happiness. The void in man is the result of a life cut off from God. There is no hope of eternal life and eternal rest.  That is why only by returning to God can this void be filled up

Filling The Void In The Heart

Jesus had once said

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
  
but whoever drinks of the water that I shall
   give him will never thirst. But the water that
   I shall give him will become in him a fountain 
  of water springing up into everlasting life.”- Jesus (Jn 4:13-14)

You may have a lot of water in this life, but you will experience thirst again.  For there will not be everlasting joy and peace.  Our world is never had a lack of  good food and good  enjoyment . Every culture regard their food as the best in the world.

But is there something that is so delicious yet the hardest to swallow?

It can be found in all cultures and we all have problems eating it. It is called “The Last Morsel”

It is the last bit of the most delicious food that will give us fond memories. But when we arrive at the last morsel, we would admire it for a long time and we will find it hard to swallow . It is not that this last morsel taste awful. But we all know that sadness of not being able to eat it for some time. 

That is why we would take a long time to eat it, we would nibble on it slowly and keep it for as long as we can. 

Under normal circumstances, we are able to enjoy our food because we know that we can try it again if we want to. That is the reason why we can enjoy without worries, for we know we can still eat it again. 

Therefore let u consider “Can enjoyment and sin satisfy forever?”

Let us consider this from some real life examples.

Suppose if a man were to spend his days living in sin, he may be happy during that moment of sin. But when he returns home and he knows that he have to account for his action before his wife and his family. Will that joy satisfy him forever?

Suppose if a man is able to enjoy everything that money has to offer. He is happy and contented with all that he had. But if one day his life is threatened by terminal illness and he would pass away anytime. Can he still remain happy? Will he be able to face death with courage?

The two examples above tells us that man needs the assurance to be able to face God and to have his sin forgiven. He need to know that when he dies, he is able to enter heaven and enter that eternal life. A man who is sure of that can face death without an issue. At the same time he will learn to enjoy every moment he had on earth. For he knows that he only live once, and after that he will enter a better place. 

Only the words of God can give us this eternal life and peace. It can satisfy us allowing us  not to thirst again. It is able to give us peace and allow us to be truly satisfied.  It can help us remain joyful. That is why the word of God is indeed the water of eternal life. It points us back to God and it lead us to eternal life

Let us not waste our time pursuing the waters of the world. Let us seek out the water of eternal life that God wanted us to have. Let us focus on what is everlasting and not the temporary things on earth.

The Cleansing Rain

There is another aspect of rain that we should consider. For many things on earth is cleanse with water. 

“that He might sanctify and cleanse
  her with the washing of water by
  the word, that He might present
  her to Himself a glorious church,
  not having spot or wrinkle or any
  such thing, but that she should be
  holy and without blemish. “ – Paul (Eph 5:26-27)

God demands his church to be a glorious church. But how do we define “a glorious church”?

Many regard a glorious church to be grand and clean, without a spot or wrinkle. That is why they built grand looking cathedrals and majestic church halls. They have the state of the art sound system with excellent indoor acoustics. They decorate the hall with stained glass, crystal lamps so as to give it a grand and majestic look. But does that make it a glorious church?

The church is not the building but the people who gathers and worship in it. They are the ones washed by the blood of Jesus. At the moment of baptism, , we are part of this church. Since we are part of this church we need to strive to be the Christian that are spotless and without wrinkle.

To help us achieve that, Jesus had used his blood to wash away our sins.  He had also given us his words to cleanse us. We need to understand the will of God and accept the cleansing of his blood. At the same time we need to listen to the words of God and allow it to clean us. We need to change our lives and repent before God, allowing his words to remove the uncleanness that is in our hearts.

Whenever we gather in church to listen to the words of God. It will remind us of our sins and sometimes rebuke us. There will also be time when the words of God can bring comfort and refresh us in our times of disappointment. If we do not listen to the words of God, we will not know of our own uncleanness.  We would think that everyone around us is as bad as us. 

Only by listening to the word of God we can see our actual situation. It can help us discover our weakness, sadness and our areas that require improvement.  As long as we come before God with a heart of repentance and to obey him, the word of God will be like rain water, giving us comfort and strength to change and to return to God. 

Let us esteem the word of God and allow it to cleanse us and help us.

Relationship Between Repentance And Resolve

Some of us may observe, “We have see many Christians coming to church and hearing the word of God. But they remain weak and unclean, it seems as though the word of God is powerless against sin.”

Such observation worries speakers as well. We sometimes question if we  should continue to speak the words of God. We wonder if there is a need to change our tones or to speak with tears.  Sometimes we wonder if we should speak with more zest and vigour. Especially when we look from the pulpit and it looks as though the word of God had no effect.

But Jesus once said that his words are life and they are spirit. They do have their power and effect. If not why do we receive testimonies of how the word of God changes the life of sinners.

The reason why many lives remain unchanged is because the hearers refuse to allow it to change their hearts. It is not that the word of God is without power and is not able to change life. For many of these Christians did experience changes, but their change impacted only for a moment.  Peter describes this aptly in his letter.

“For if, after they have escaped the
  pollutions of the world through the
  knowledge of the Lord and Saviour
  Jesus Christ, they are again entangled
  in them and overcome, the latter end
  is worse for them than the beginning.

  For it would have been better for them
  not to have known the way of righteousness,
  than having known it, to turn from the holy
  commandment delivered to them.

  But  it has happened to them according to
  the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own
  vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to
  her wallowing in the mire.”- Peter (2 Pet 2:20-22)

In the old testament, the dogs and pigs are considered unclean animals. For dogs ate their own vomit and the pig is unable to chew the curd, they  will also wallow in the mire. You may be able to give them a bath but they will return to their habits after that.

Some Christian have the same problem, they repented when they heard the teaching of Jesus. Their repentance is true and they began on their journey of faith.   But after a while they became estranged by the wickedness in the world again.

They do know the way of God, but they are unable to continue in that path.  They knew that it is wrong to visit  Casinos and Brothels and they know how it would bring harm to their life. But they choose to walk towards it.

These are the believers that Peter was talking about in his letter. That is why we see Christian lusting after the things of the world and leaving the church. They have stopped following Christ. They may be believers or even disciples in the past. They were the ones who left everything to follow Christ. But today they are no longer walking on the path of God.

That is why we need to understand that faith is not just about repenting with sincerity.  We need to have the resolve to follow Christ all the days of our lives. If we choose to  continue walking the path of wickedness we will fall away from God eventually.

A Concluding Story

There was a mental patient who felt that he had recovered and wanted to go home. So he approached the doctor to ask for his discharge. The doctor replied him with a challenge

“Let me give you a test,
  if you pass the test, I would 
  approve your discharge and 
  you can return home as you
  wish.”

The doctor went forward and turn on a tap, and the water was flowing into a pail. The doctor gave the patient a scope, and gave him his instruction.

“If you are able to scoop out 
  all the water from the pail,
  you can be discharged.”

So the patient was happy and replied “This is so easy” and he began scooping the water out. After some time,  there is still water in the pail. He wondered why it is not empty. So he told the doctor “There is something wrong with the pail, it is not normal”

So the doctor said “That is why you cannot go home”

A normal person will know that he need to close the tap before scooping out the water.

This same principle applies when we are trying to maintain holiness. A man can only be holy when he had decided to stop sinning. He needs to turn off the tap. We need to stop walking on the path of the wicked. We need to stop entertaining the thoughts of sinning. That is the only way to stop wickedness.

The Psalmist once said 

“Blessed is the man 
Who walks not in the
counsel of the ungodly, 
Nor stands in the path 
of sinners, Nor sits in the
  seat of the scornful;” – Psalmist (Ps 1:1)

We know the path of the righteous and the path of wickedness. We are aware of the end of both the sinner and the righteous. Let us use the word of God to cleanse and preserve our faith, When Christ come again we will receive blessing.  Let us make this decision to follow Jesus and never turn back.