Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

When a leader fails / falls … what then?

In the last few years, there have been some dramatic scandals and moral/ethical failures by Christian leaders, sending the press and social media abuzz with a cauldron of strong emotions and responses.

Sadly, when leaders fail or fall, the impact of the fallout is vast upon the followers, and others in the wider community … and sometimes, even people far away.
Strong emotions are unleashed … shock, disillusionment, disappointment, anger, hurt, sadness, unforgiveness, etc … polarising people.  Real wounds and pains which take time to heal.
And, as a consequence, … serious losses of various types for some folks.

Some thoughts running through people’s minds:

‘How can a godly person do that?’
‘How could they preached to us … serve communion, etc … and did what they did?’
‘We trusted them’

Trust is broken.
Credibility vanished.
Reputation tarnished.

Like in corporate/financial scandals,
it’ll take time for trust to mend,
credibility to be re-established,
… no easy road to return to the way it was.

In the midst of the rising tide of many  voices and opinions,
was wondering about this, … & did some digging around God’s word to find out
what does the Bible say about leaders … or for that matter
… anyone (full-time or not) who fails or falls?

What then?

How then …do we as believers respond in such situations ?
… especially, someone we know personally and care about.

We’ll begin with the parable of the lost son,
and then examine 3 leaders who knew the Lord,
their stumblings,
and through their lives,
see what we can learn about the ways of God
— Ahab, Samson and Manasseh.

(Yes, agree … every situation is unique and different.)

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, …
 12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
     but love covers over all wrongs.
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, …
(Proverbs 10:11-13)


 

Perhaps, one place to start is the lost or prodigal son.

The lost/prodigal son

In the parable of the lost son, the son left his father and his home to a distant country with his father’s inheritance.
By the son asking for his inheritance before his father died, he dishonored his father.  By leaving home,  … to him, his relationship with his father did not matter at all, since now he’s got his share of the inheritance..

Luke 15:12-24 (NASB)
12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.

In the distant country, he squandered all of his father’s wealth frivolously.

14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

After he had spent all of his father’s inheritance, a severe crisis struck the land, … he lost everything … and became poor and destitute.

In the end, the son had to face the consequences of his choices, and his lifestyle … in the midst of unpredictable turn of events.

The severe crisis caused him to come to his senses,

17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!

and deeply humbled him.

18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’

The son repented, and returned to the father.

20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

To his utter surprise,
his father saw him and felt compassion for him,
and ran and embraced him
and kissed him

His father restored him,
instead of rejecting him.

22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Instead of justice & punitive discipline,
the lost son received mercy, grace and restoration,
‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;
and the father called for a celebration,
bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;

I am no longer worthy to be called your sonprodigal son
All guilt and shame erased,
by the Father’s love and restoration.

Instead of receiving him back as a hired men or servant,
(as hoped for by the lost son),
the father received him back fully as his son.

In the parable, Jesus vividly painted the unsearchable and unfathomable depths of the Father’s mercy and grace towards a repentant heart … which was right at the opposite end of the spectrum to what the lost son did to the Father.

The son tasted the tenderness & fullness of the Father’s grace

Such is the extent of the Father’s amazing love to anyone of his sons.

Psalm 103:8-14 (NIV)
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,

    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve

    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,

    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,

    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,

    he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103 echoes the parable of the lost son :-),

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

In the parable of the lost son, Jesus vividly painted for us the true breath of the Lord’s forgiveness towards us, when we repent and turn to him
… in spite of all the un-honorable things we have done towards Him,

as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

And in His amazing grace and mercy, to the lost son who returned,

 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.

Today, … our Father still patiently waits for His lost sons to return.

ready to run, embrace and kiss him,
put on the best robe, ring and sandals,
& calls everyone for a celebration.

Psalm 30:5 (NIV)
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Praise the Lord!

Micah 7:18,19 (NIV)
18 Who is a God like you,
    who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
    of the remnant of his inheritance?
    You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
    you will tread our sins underfoot
    and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

A brand new clean slate.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul
— Horatio Spafford



Let’s pray Paul’s prayer

17  … And I pray that you,
being rooted and established in love,

18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp

how wide
and long
and high
and deep
is the love of Christ,

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge
—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:17,18 NIV)


 

No one is immune to the temptations of the evil one,

John 10:10, 8:44 (NIV)
 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; …

… He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

We all need the Lord’s strength.

Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

1 Peter 5:8,9 (NIV)
Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Our defense – Be alert and of sober mind, Resist him, standing firm in the faith

Resist him, standing firm in the faith,because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

The love of the world tries to stealthly, .. deceptively lure and entice us away from the Lord, our love for the Lord.

1 John 2:15,16 (NIV)
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world.
If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

One of Paul’s close ministry friends, Demas, was mentioned in his letters to the Colossians and personal letter to Philemon,

Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
(Colossians 4:14 NIV).

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
(Philemon 1:23,24 NIV)

However, much later … in Paul’s letter to Timothy, we read
for Demas, because he loved this world,
has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica
(2 Timothy 4:10 NIV)

Let’s be alert, pray and stand firm against the evil one’s snares — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  

1 Timothy 1:5
 The goal of this command is love,
which comes from a pure heart
and a good conscience and a sincere faith.



 

Ahab

1 Kings 21:17-29 (NIV)
17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This i

s what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”

In this account, the king of Israel, Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard.
Jezebel, Ahab’s wife unjustly schemed to have Naboth stoned to death, so that Ahab could seize his property;  a piece of land near the palace.

The prophet Elijah was immediately dispatched by the Lord
to rebuke the King, and pronounce God’s judgment upon Ahab’s act.

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. 21 He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’

23 “And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.”

Here’s Ahab’s track record,

25 (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)

1 Kings 16
30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him.

There was never anyone like Ahab who sold himself to do evil …. he behaved in the vilest manner
Evil and vile to the max.

Under the influence of his heathen wife,
urged on by Jezebel his wife
… began to serve Baal and worship him.

After hearing Elijah’s word,

27 When Ahab heard these words,
he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted.
He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

Ahab listened … and responded.

Elijah’s rebuke worked.
In an unexpected turn-around, … Ahab humbled himself.

28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite:
29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? …

Ahab’s humble repentance did not miss the Lord’s eye.
Ahab has humbled himself before me.

29 … Because he has humbled himself,
I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

The Lord had mercy on Ahab, and gave him a second chance.

Unfortunately his repentance was shortlived.
Three years later, Ahab wilfully chose not to heed the Lord’s advice,
and died in battle (1 Kings 22).


 

Samson

In the Old Testament, Samson was given an anointing of supernatural strength to deliver Israel from their enemies, the Philistines.
While Samson confidently relied on his anointing and ability, and saw success in his ministry
…. his prayer life diminished,  …
till one day  … he found himself sleeping on the lap of a Philistine prostitute in her home in enemy territory,
… physically and spiritually asleep

Judges 16:19-21 (NIV)
19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. sd
And his strength left him.

20 
Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.”
But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison.

And his strength left him.
But he did not know that the Lord had left him.

Samson did not know that the Lord had left him.

He lost his strength,
he lost his sight,
he became a prisoner and slave of the enemy.
Samson was physically and spiritually bound in chains.

Thankfully, the Lord is the God of the second chance.

Judges 16:22,27-30 (NIV)
22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Then, Samson prayed to the Lord again ….

27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, andSamson on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform.

28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

And the Lord heard Samson’s repentant prayer,

29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it.

Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

His strength immediately returned,
Samson fulfilled his anointing & calling in an unexpected way,
by the grace and mercy of the Lord.

all the rulers of the Philistines were there … down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it.

Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

In the Lord’s grace and mercy,
the Lord answered Samson’s humble prayer, & repentant heart,

“Sovereign Lord,
remember me.
Please, strengthen me just once more

There’s hope for all of us … once more, Lord

Like the parable of the lost son, the Lord honored Samson’s faith,
and …. praise God,
he is mentioned in Hebrews 11’s ‘heroes of faith’ ,
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about
Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah,
about David and Samuel and the prophets, (Hebrews 11:32 NIV)

Praise the Lord!
Samson made it 🙂


 

Manasseh

Manasseh was one of the last kings of Judah.

2 Chronicles 33:1-17 (NIV)
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.

Here’s his track record:

He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.”In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists.  He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.

He took the image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and regulations given through Moses.”

His record was so bad, that the Bible records,

But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.
10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.

As Manasseh did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and desecrated the temple,
he and the people refused to listen to the Lord,
the Lord’s anger was aroused,

11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.

The Lord sent the heathen King of Assyria, who captured Manasseh.  Manasseh was dethroned from his kingship and exiled into Babylon.  Banished away in the prisons of Babylon with no way out.
From his lavish palace to a cold dark foreign prison cell.

Manasseh was physically and spiritually bound in chains.
He lost all his authority.

Thankfully, Manasseh’s story did not end here.

12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him,

In his distress
Similar to the prodigal/lost son,
sometimes the Lord sends something so drastic into our lives,
that brings us to our senses.  (see also Hebrews 12:7-11)
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. Hebrews 12:10 (NLT)

He loves us too much to leave us in our backsliding, sin.

Manasseh  sought the favor of the Lord,
Manasseh humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors.
Manasseh prayed to Him from a Babylon jail cell!

Psalm 62:1,2 (NIV)
Hear my cry, O God,
   listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
     I call as my heart grows faint;
     lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

And in the Lord’s amazing grace,
the Lord listened to Manasseh’s prayer for mercy.

13… the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea;

The Lord could have ignored Manasseh’s prayer, due to his bad past,
but, He did not.
In His grace & mercy, He listened to a repentant heart,
locked far away in a dark prison cell in Bablylon.

See, how tenderly the Bible describes our heavenly Father’s heart for a lost son,
the Lord was moved by his entreaty
the Lord listened to his plea

Not only did the Lord listened to Manasseh’s prayer,
…. the Lord restored Manasseh!

so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom.

Manasseh’s authority was restored.
Amazing 
restoration!
The Lord suddenly released him out of his ‘dead end’ sentence in the prisons of Babylon.

This turnaround had a profound impact on Manasseh,

Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.

Truly, the Lord is in control … His decision overrules everything else.

Because of the Lord’s great mercy,
Manasseh demonstrated his heart repentance and gratitude to the Lord through his word and deeds:

14 Afterward he rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, west of the Gihonspring in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate and encircling the hill of Ophel; he also made it much higher. He stationed military commanders in all the fortified cities in Judah.

15 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. 17 The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.

He cleansed and restored the temple of the Lord.
He worshiped the Lord, and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings

And …
Manasseh did not stop there,
Manasseh told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel.
Amazing 
transformation!
From one who led the country astray,
… to a teacher & example of righteousness!

Besides leading the country administratively & executively,
now … Manasseh was leading the country spiritually.

A total 180 degree turn-around on Manasseh’s part (i.e. repentance)
Praise the Lord!

Truly the Lord is the Lord of the second chance.
For Manasseh’s life, no matter how evil he was,
his heart repentance brought
the Lord’s tender hand & favor,
amazing restoration,
amazing transformation!

Romans 2:4 (NASB, NLT)
… the kindness of God leads you to repentance
… his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin

On a side note, Manasseh’s reign of fifty-five years was the longest amongst the kings of Judah.

Perhaps it may be helpful for us to take a brief look at the process of bringing spiritual change, drawn from this story:

he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself,
personally seek the Lord with a humble heart

the Lord brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom
taste the tenderness of His grace

then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.
personal encounter/experience with the Lord

He rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David
Repair, restore the broken walls

he got rid of the foreign gods
he restored the altar of the Lord ..  sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings
Worship, cleansed heart

 told Judah to serve the Lord
Share with others.
A tangible transformed walk by His word

As  the Lord promised,

 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)

I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him,
bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

(John 15:5 NKJV)



 

Undoubtedly,
… Yes, there’s a limit to the Lord’s patience,
before we ourselves are destroyed by our own folly, rebellion. (like in Ahab’s case)

Proverbs 29:1 (NIV)
Whoever remains stiff-necked
after many rebukes
will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

many  – in the Lord‘s mercy He coaxes us to return back to Him.

Till, finally,
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:19 NIV)

Sometimes the Lord’s judgment is swift … while other times He patiently waits and continues to work upon our hearts.

Psalm 106:43-46
43 Many times he delivered them,
    but they were bent on rebellion
    and they wasted away in their sin.

44 Yet he took note of their distress
    when he heard their cry;
45 for their sake he remembered his covenant
    and out of his great love he relented.
46 He caused all who held them captive
    to show them mercy.

Sin or moral failure also brings consequences to ourselves and those around us
(like Samson’s case).
even though when we return back to the Lord, He forgives us.

Therefore, though God’s grace extended to us is great … it is not a blank cheque.
God is outcome focused, and He holds us accountable to follow Him and His Word.

John the Baptist said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
(Matthew 3:8 NIV)

Paul said, “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem
and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles,

I preached that they should repent and turn to God
and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” 
(Acts 26:20 NIV)

Fruit/deeds of receiving His grace
demonstrated their repentance by their deeds
or prove they have changed by the good things they do. (Acts 26:20 NLT)
(like Manasseh’s case)


 

How then …do we as believers respond in such situations when leaders fail/fall?

Let’s turn back to the parable of the lost son.
In the second part of the parable, the attention shifts to the older brother who all along behaved well towards his father, and did not squander any of his father’s wealth.

Luke 15:25-32 (NASB)
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’

The older brother’s reaction was,

28 But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’

Did the older brother suffer any material loss?

What was he emotionally worked up and upset about?

By being merciful and gracious to his younger brother, the older brother felt the father was unjust and unfair  (to him).  One third of the father’s wealth was gone, and for all the financial damage his younger brother caused,
devoured your wealth with prostitutes,
… no punitive discipline, no restitution (?)
and yet,
… the father restored him (?) … and a celebration?

No commendation or celebration for him for being faithful, filial and prudent?
Where’s justice in all of this?
He felt neglected, overlooked and unappreciated.

his father came out and began pleading with him.
The father showed his love for both his sons was the same.
His relationship with each of them was greater than any material loss.

31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me,
and all that is mine is yours.

you have always been with me
The father’s heart was his relationship with his son.

all that is mine is yours
He assured the older brother that he’s not short-changed in any way, and the father will not withhold anything good from his son.  He wanted the best for him as well.
By the law of Moses, the eldest son inherits a double portion of the inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17) … and whatever the father owned will be rightfully the eldest son’s (since the younger son had already taken his share).
In fact, his inheritance is larger than his younger brother’s loss.

The father was just and fair, and his decision respected.

the fattened calf
How much is one fattened calf
compared with two-thirds of the father’s wealth which the elder son will inherit one day?

In reality,
by grace, the elder son will inherit his father’s inheritance … (with many fattened calfs)

Hence, the parable highlights the difference between law and grace.

Receiving grace from our heavenly Father,
and also 
we, His children, extending grace to others as well.

(see also Matthew 18:21-35
parable of the unmerciful servant)

For any humble, repentant heart,
by Jesus sacrifice and blood for us,
 Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)
given, bestowed, undeserved, unearned,
by His grace.

The father invited the older brother to rejoice with him over his brother … who was once dead, but now is alive, …was lost and now found
… their restored relationship.

32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

Like the elder brother,
when our heavenly Father forgives and restores our lost brothers who turn back to Him,
… as fellow brothers, shouldn’t we ?

And if the Lord hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea,
what about our fellow brother‘s past
… or our own past words & actions ?
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven,
but dwelling on it separates close friends.
(Proverbs 17:9 NIV)

Galatians 6:1,2 (NIV)
Brothers and sisters
, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.

But watch yourselves,
or you also may be tempted.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NKJV)
23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.
24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance,
so that they may know the truth,
26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Pause for a moment,
if we physically stumble and fall
… would we be glad for an open hand to lift us up,
or some harsh words?

Isaiah 42:3 (NIV)
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out

Yes, agree …
its instructive we review our … oops … stumblings, …
and learn how to safeguard our future … and not repeat it again.



When Stephen was martyred, as he endured the pain of stones unjustly hurled at him … he chose to forgive his persecutors.

Acts 7:59,60 (NIV)
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Forgiving others, … doesn’t wait until others change their ways.  Unconditional.
Forgiving others … begins with our own hearts.

Luke 11:4 (NIV)
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us

Healing begins with forgiving others.

Yes, agree … rebuilding trust takes time, and takes two hands to clap.


On a further note, a good portion of the Bible is written by 3 persons – Moses, David and Paul.
Moses was a murderer before his burning bush encounter with the Lord.
David committed adultery and instigated a murder through abusing his authority and power.
Paul was a persecutor of Christians, a blasphemer, a violent man before his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus. (1 Timothy 1:13).

Knowing their background, … how would today’s church boards view Moses, David and Paul, if they applied for a ministry job?

Also,
.. Peter denied the Lord 3 times … in Jesus most crucial hour,
yet, Peter delivered the sermon on the day of Pentecost, and 3000 people came to the Lord.

Hence, … it’s hard for anyone to predict the outcome, or how things will finally turn out.

Ultimately … the Lord is the judge,
… not anyone of us.

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.  
1 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)

Paul wrote,

1 Timothy 1:15,16 (NIV)
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserve full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

For Paul, David, Moses, Peter …
they personally tasted and experienced the sweetness of God’s grace,
thus, they were able to write and sing about the depths of His abounding grace.
And in their moment of crisis when they were being challenged, they were able to demonstrate grace to others.

On a final note,
David committed adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife … and was also involved in Uriah’s death.
Confronted by the prophet Nathan, David listened,
he repented before the Lord (Psalm 51)
… the Lord restored him.

However, there were still consequences of his failure – the baby died, and further consequences to David’s family (2 Samuel 12).

However, like Samson in Hebrews 11,
in spite of our imperfect offering,
.. in the Lord’s mercy and grace,

God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse,
a man after my own heart;
he will do everything I want him to do.’
(Acts 13:22 NIV)

Later, David and Bathsheba had a second son — Solomon.

“And you, my son Solomon, … 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary.  Be strong and do the work.”
(1 Chronicles 28:9,10 NIV)

In the Lord’s great mercy and grace,
in the genealogy of Jesus, we read,

and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been Uriah’s wife

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary,
and Mary was the mother of Jesus
who is called the Messiah.
(Matthew 1:6 NIV)

He is Lord!

Rather dwell upon our or other’s past
… let’s focus on the present and the future.
The Lord looks beyond our faults to our need.
He looks at what we can become in His mighty hand,
as we yield ourselves and our future to Him.

The God of the second chances.
Praise the Lord, for His redemptive love, His unfathomable love.
He is greater than our mistakes, if we return back to Him.
Like the lost son, there’s still hope.


 

Excerpts from David’s prayer,

Psalm 51:1-4, 10-12, 14-17 (NIV)

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

 


 Daily Rice | Serving Quietly

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
July 30, 2015
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License

 

 


 

 

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This entry was posted on July 30, 2015 by in Daily Rice, Ministry, Serving Quietly, Shepherd leadership and tagged , .

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