The Life Defender

Do you remember a time in your life when you felt excluded, or perhaps left out? What did that feel like?


So get this, how about being on the outside looking in because you deserved it? How did that feel? 


As a child, we’d often have moments where we battled not only with our inner self but also pretty much everyone around us because we think we are better off without their help. What does this mean? Think of a time where you’ve been sent to your room while having dinner because of what you said or did to your mom or dad?


How did that feel? Angry? Regretful? Sad?


“When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!’”Exodus 20:18-19


It is important to understand that in this context, the people of Israel had just been rescued and delivered out of Egypt in a miraculous way. On their journey into the wilderness, God protected and defended the Israelites by providing water from the rock for them to drink, and raining down manna for them to eat.


And in order for God to continue to defend and protect His people, as a new community, He gave them standards and instructions to live by. God did this because He wants His people to belong, not to be excluded, not to be left out, not to be on the outside looking in, which is caused by sins. 



Our Sin Leaves Us Excluded

Here’s the truth: our sinful actions and conditions, or even the lack of actions, lead us to the outside looking in because it is not what God has designed us to be.


We know our God is holy, therefore He cannot just look the other way. Because of the sins that we committed, He needed mankind to be punished. 


So there’s no wonder why the Israelites were trembling with fear at the foot of the mountain. 

The Truth

Here’s THE Truth: Jesus, the holy Son of God is our defender. He is the one who made sure that we were not excluded. He is the one who came and took our place to make the payment for the things that we have done that keeps us on the outside looking in. 


Ultimately, Jesus is the presenter and the mediator of the new covenant. He endured the just and right punishment of God for the sins mankind committed. And in the same breath, Jesus took our place.


His death and resurrection became a proclamation of grace and love. That’s why when God looks at us, He sees Jesus. And He affirms and welcomes us into belonging, no longer excluded, no longer looking on the outside looking in. 


Jesus is the one who unlocked the door and says, “I love you. You belong.” He bridged the gap to let us out of our room and let us sit back at the dinner table. 



God Longs to Defend Every Life  

As the body of Christ, we have to become Jesus’ community of defenders – a community that’s always ready to lend a hand for the broken, unseen, and unheard. Our mission is to help them realize that they are loved, and that they don’t have to be excluded despite how ugly they think their pasts are. 


That may be easier said than done. But just as Jesus displayed the ultimate declaration of love on the cross, we too could embody His love and bring His light just by being there for those who need us most.


The Creator and The Creation

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1


God the Creator

Genesis tells us a beautiful, intricate story of how God made things into existence. For six days, God did not only craft all that there is, but He created things for His creation. He created mankind to toil the soil. He created rain to allow plants to grow and be able to bear fruits for mankind.


Everything is designed by the Creator and everything exists because of Him. And with that, everything has a purpose because of the Creator.


The Breath of Life 

“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” – Genesis 2:7


At the point of creation, everything was “God said…” or “God spoke…” and it was there. But when God formed man, this is the first different piece of information we read about from the story of creation. This just shows how intimate, careful, and personal God is with mankind. 


Mankind is made in His image. Made completely unique in His creation by being formed by the dust from the ground with His hands like a potter working and forming a masterpiece with clay. 


Despite the abundant provision and the ability to walk with God, mankind decided to want more, that its place in creation was not enough. 


And so sin entered the world, and from all of God’s creation and subject, mankind was set to be cursed. 


As years went by, God observed and saw the extent of mankind’s wickedness – that everything they thought and did was evil. So God was sorry that He ever made mankind and decided to wipe all of the living things He had created. But Noah found favor with the Lord (read Genesis 6) and we see humanity continuing. We see God’s creative power at work both in the flood and His grace and mercy by creating a rainbow signifying that He would never again destroy His creation this way.


Jesus Enters into Creation

Jesus, our Creator, with the very Spirit of life, spoke into creation. During His walk on earth, He taught and lived a life so mankind could see and follow it. And all that came out of His mouth was love, compassion, and patience.


Yet, in the end, the very words spoken by mankind despite Jesus performing signs, miracles, and amazing things was “crucify Him!”


“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’” Luke 24:34a


Mankind’s words spoke death but Jesus’ Words spoke life.


Jesus is the life. He is the Word, the Breath that creates life, our life. Jesus lived with and for mankind so that He could again recreate them as His holy brothers and sisters, and children of the Holy Father – this is the one true life.


When He said I am the way, the truth, and the life, there is so much more in it. Jesus is the creator, the very author and as He is on earth knowing what to do, is the recreator. 


So here’s something we need to ponder: what are our lips used for? What is it that we create for the Spirit of life that is within us? 


May our words, our lips, and the Spirit God has given us, speak the life that He gives us to speak. May everything that has breath praise the Lord!


The Truth: Freedom not Suppression

“Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!’” –Matthew 27:24


The Kingdom of God exhibits a very different set of values and ethos than the kingdoms of the world. The encounter with Pontius Pilate during Jesus’ trial makes this abundantly clear. 


And that time, it appeared that the earthly kingdom, the Roman kingdom, was prevailing and another one seemed to be suppressed. 


People followed Jesus because they thought He was going to free them from the suppression of Rome and when they found out that He was going to be silent and go to His own death, they stopped following Him. 


Things are not Always as They Appear

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?” –John 18:38-39


Pilate, the Jewish leaders, the crowd, even the followers of Jesus in their hushed, silent fear seemed to choose the strength of Rome. But Jesus and the nature of His Kingdom is not of this world – He said that very clearly.


It is the Kingdom within. Its riches, its spiritual power, and its glory is welling up from within. Jesus’ Kingdom need not to use force to maintain or advance its purpose and mission in the world.


And as a King, He conquers. And He conquers by the convincing evidence of truth. He rules by the commanding power of TRUTH.


Jesus is True Freedom

What is the truth? That’s the question our society often seeks and asks today. 


As Jesus’ subject, we tend to the Truth and Jesus teaches us about His Kingdom in His Word. So as subjects of this King, how is our relationship with His Truth? Or why don’t we tend to the truth more passionately, more readily, more willingly? 


And as we think more about it, there are two reasons why we don’t open our Bible and spend time with the Truth: lack of patience and lack of humility.


We operate in a day and age where we want to see immediate results and answers. And studying the Word of God and its Truth takes patience to sit for a while because He wants a relationship with us. He just doesn't want to transfer information to us, rather He wants to transform us. 


Humility is another thing. When we read the Bible, we can either be inspired or be corrected. And it takes a receptive heart to receive the correction and allow it to change us, or a habit, an attitude. 


So take a minute to think about this: isn’t it interesting how the trial of Jesus before Pilate shows up in our situation today? 


And as we think about our circumstances, how would we complete this: it appears that…?


With whatever is going on around the world, now more than ever, people need to know the Truth. As believers, we need to show that we are not suppressed, rather it is our time to stand up and show to the world that the Truth is in Jesus.


Those who are not part of the church don’t read and open their Bibles. They look at us and see our lives. So let it stand as testimonies of God’s goodness. 


Becoming A Household Well

In a season when there are so many things going on, it is understandable that some might feel worried and perhaps afraid when we don’t know where to draw water in order to survive. 


When we look at stories throughout the Bible, we see characters scrambling one way or another because they are facing tough and overwhelming situations. 


In 1 Kings 19:3-4, Elijah cried out to the Lord asking Him to end his situation as he already had enough.


King David in Psalm 55:4-7 felt like running away to hide as he felt overwhelmed with troubles.


And then remember Jonah. He spent three days and three nights inside a great fish because he chose to move opposite from the direction God had called him to.


Don’t be discouraged! Even these mighty characters in the Bible had their fair share of troubles. But one thing is for sure, WE ARE NEVER ALONE.


Here’s a thought: think about the way we farm our cattle in America. We often use fences to protect and defend our land. But in Australia, instead of fences, they place wells across their land. Because of this, the cattle would know that in order for them to survive, they need to stay close to the wells where they can draw water from.


So as Christians, instead of being defensive, what if we tear the walls down and become a well for the people around us? Instead of them having nowhere to go but to flee and run away from troubles, how about we befriend them and guide them to the source of the living water?


And then There’s Jesus

Even in the hour of Jesus’ greatest need, He took the time to stop and pray for Himself, for the people in the upper room with Him, for His disciples, and for every future disciple that would come thereafter. Jesus’ prayer to the Father is to make His people holy by His truth, just as He sent Him into the world. Jesus was willing to give Himself as a sacrifice so His people can be made holy by the truth (John 17). 


Jesus’ simple lifelong prayer was: “Father, thy will be done.”


The World is Not our Greatest Enemy, Sin is

The one thing that hinders, overthrows, and suppresses us is sin. And Jesus is saying, “Keep this deadly influence away from my followers, and then they will have progress and victory.”


There is a Strong Connection Between Holiness and Sentness

We are not just made holy to get us ready for heaven. We are made holy in the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ to be sent like He was sent into the world. Our role as Christians isn’t just to worship faithfully through the years and wait until the day the Father takes us home – it is to live our faith. Jesus wished that His disciples would be like Himself – that’s why He prayed. (John 17:17-18)


He Does Not Only Prayed for Us, He Laid Down His Life for Us 

Jesus acted on our behalf and made the greatest deposit that has ever been made for our worthiness before the Father. It is Jesus’ gift of life that makes prayer effective. (John 17:19)


So here’s the good news: Jesus is our Savior, our strength, and most importantly, our living water that satisfies!


And so how do we respond as a church? 


We continue to instill this reminder, not only in our minds but also in our hearts that Jesus prayed for us, He lived for us, He died for us, and He reigns for us. Not just for heaven, but in the here and now.


A Battle For The Truth

Whether you are aware of it or not, there's a battle going on. The truth that God has made known has been concealed, leading others to muddle their way through life.  God has planted eternity in your heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) but there is an enemy that tries to keep you away from living in this truth.  


The quest and battle for this truth affects all of us. Those of us who are still in this world are a part of this. However you live your life, it speaks out about what you believe. Your voice contributes to the battle that is going on. What most people aren't aware of is that so much is at stake. The consequences are high--your side in the battle will dictate where you will spend your eternity. The battle begins and is centered on the truth. 


In this world that we live in, so many things set themselves up as “truth.” The barrage of information, the influence of the media, the voices and opinions of other people, along with personal experiences can lead us to formulate our own kind of truth. At some point, we are the ones who formulate what is real even when we are tempted by our own minds. 


Follow the Truth 

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. - John 14:6


For those of us who have had an encounter with God, we realize that Jesus is indeed who He says He is in the gospel. He is our only way to the Father and that eternal life is received through Him. But let us remember that Jesus is the embodiment of truth. We gain an understanding of this when we accept the salvation He offers us and make our way towards repentance. To know Jesus as truth is to see Him—in His love and holiness. A believer will realize that this character of our Savior is far from how we are, inspiring us all the more to follow Him. 


How then can we begin to follow the truth? We do this when we love God and follow His instructions. John 5:1-3 says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.  Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” 


To believe in Jesus as the truth means to believe that He is also love—that God is love. Because of the kind of love He has shown us from His life, death, and resurrection, we have an example that we can follow. Loving God and His children go together. In this fallen world, this love sets us apart from those who have yet to experience the saving grace of our Lord Jesus. 


Victory not Surrender

Now that we have found the way and have chosen our side in the battle, we have the victory. Though it seems that we are sometimes outnumbered, surrendering is not an option. We as children of God have the power to triumph over the evil in this world through our faith. And this victory is only for those who believe that Jesus is the son of God (see 1 John 5:4-5). 


So many things in this world seem to lead us astray from the truth. Even if we claim to be in Christ, we must be vigilant to protect what we have received. What we now know has already given us freedom and has enabled us to live a life of love and faith. Though we are in the midst of a battle where eternity is on the line, we must remember Jesus’ words: 


“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 


Let us continue to hold on to the truth. We already have our peace in Jesus. Despite all the challenges and heartaches we have yet to face, victory is already ours. God is with us.