On the first Sunday of February I shared about how I got sick, and how I was recovering. I shared about pain, and pain so extreme that I had trouble thinking and speaking. All I wanted was to rest and literally not do anything while my body was getting rid of whatever was infecting my blood.
I fell short of sharing the verses that were supposedly on my mind at the time, preferring instead to mention Psalm 136, and how unique it was in the sense that for every line a response followed: ‘His love endures forever.’
We talked about how no matter what our lives are singing at any given moment, the Holy Spirit reminds us in response, ‘His love endures forever.’
Last Sunday was technically Valentines’ Sunday, and we dove into the story of Saint Valentine, or Valentinus. We spoke on how things were as a Christian during the time of the Roman Empire – how they were literally in danger every day, and how eventually, because Valentinus was a Christian, he was also tortured and executed on February 14, 269AD.
We went through 1 John 3, specifically where the apostle expressed that love was not about us loving God, but that He loved us first. I spoke on how it didn’t matter what day and age we were in, but two things were in common between the early days of the body of Christ and today: (1) that the enemy has not stopped in stealing our faith, killing our hope, and destroying our love, and (2) through Christ we have life, and life eternal and abundant.
We could sing about how Christ is the best thing that happened to us, because the Holy Spirit sings to us, ‘He loved us first.’
Before we move on I just have to give God the credit for leading me and all of us through this February, by way of song. The Holy Spirit sings, His love endures forever. And the Holy Spirit sings, He loved us first.
Truly and indeed, it is as the Psalmist says in Psalm 32:7 (NIV):
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.“
The ESV says ‘You surround me with shouts of deliverance.’ The NLT says ‘You surround me with songs of victory.’
What would the Holy Spirit be singing to us today?
Father, thank You so much for being with me, as I prepare for the message, and as I share it later in the Aces’ Service. Thank You for preparing our hearts, and for loving us every step of the way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
At one time last week I decided to revisit a podcast entitled, ‘How To Get Rich’, by Naval Ravikant. The entire podcast lasted 3 hours, but I got so much already from the first half of the first hour.
Naval was interviewed on a series of posts he made on Twitter, and one of the first tweets he had was, ‘Seek wealth, not money or status.’ He explained that what he meant by this was we shouldn’t seek status or reputation, because if we win, somebody loses… and we shouldn’t be seeking money either, because that’s just a temporary number on our bank account which can increase or decrease at any moment. He suggested we should all seek wealth – what did he mean by this? Well, he literally defined wealth as ‘assets that earn while you sleep’. So over the passage of time, the more assets you have that earn, the more wealthy you are.
As he went along, I was fascinated by one thing he mentioned – ‘You are the best are being who you are.’
He elaborated that nobody lives this life precisely the same as you do, and therefore, you have a contribution to this world and this reality that only you can provide. Nobody has had the same experiences precisely the same as you do, and therefore, you have ideas and solutions to this world and this reality that only you can give to a precise set of people.
He pointed out that knowing this may have been useless in the earlier part of the century, but now that we have the internet, where we can easily communicate with the entire world, it has been made possible for us to know who those people are.
So putting this all together, the goal for all of us, no matter how old or young we may be, is to dig deeper into knowing who we are, how we were built, what we’ve gone through, so we know who we can help, and in the process, we do not present fixes that give us money, but rather, we create assets that earn while we sleep.
At this point I’m reminded of a certain story. A nuclear plant was in critical levels and was about to explode. A mechanic was contracted by the administration to fix the problem. The mechanic looked through all the machinery and all the systems. Finally, he went to one machine in particular, changed one of the screws, and the entire power plant was saved.
The mechanic charged $1000 for the fix. The administration was quite angry; they said, ‘All you did was to replace a screw! Why should we pay you a thousand bucks!?’
To this, the mechanic took a piece of paper and wrote down the specific charges:
“Screw = $1
Knowing Which Screw To Replace = $999″
Now I know this was probably told again and again by Pastor Rey Cordoviz, but I thought I’d share it once more just to stress Naval’s point, which I believe has its origins from the Bible. If Naval says we are all unique, then Psalm 139:14 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Are you understanding where I am coming from so far? In order for us to have any sort of significant contribution to this world, it all starts with us understanding who we are.
While I was writing this week in particular, I’ve been sharing a thought I myself have been meditating on and trying to update, clarify and refine. It goes as follows:
You lead others by leading yourself.
You lead yourself by being yourself.
You be yourself by living to learn.
You live to learn and learn to live.
You learn to live, and communities form.
When we lead, we learn more about ourselves, and as we learn more about ourselves, we lead others. Ultimately, leading and learning form an endless cycle, and everyone grows.
Why am I pointing this out? I believe it’s because it’s stark contrast with the way things were for us, before we let the Gospel of grace transform us. We weren’t always like this. Isaiah 53:6 goes as follows:
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Once we were unable to lead, we have gone astray.
We were unable to learn because we turned our own way.
Finally, we were unable to grow, because of iniquity.
The first part of Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. So in other words, we weren’t anywhere near the supposed endless cycle of growing, and leading and learning; No, we were in a downward spiral of dying, being lost and prideful.
We had no chance of properly leading or learning, because of our iniquity. But wait! It says it differently, didn’t you notice? ‘the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’
Who did the Lord lay our iniquity on? Friends, in His perfect timing, the Son of God was born as one of us, and in laying His life down, He took our iniquity – No, friends, 2 Corinthians 5:21 says He BECAME our sin; He BECAME our self-righteousness, and He BECAME our being astray…
He BECAME our sin, so that we would become His righteousness.
What does it mean to be righteous? Simply put, righteousness is good standing with God. God looks at you with favor because you have been made righteous by Jesus Christ. And this is true no matter what. You know that I always like quoting Romans 8:39, which says nothing can ever separate us from the love of God… well, I believe in this because Jesus Christ became our sin and died, and Jesus Christ rose again and declared we are righteous.
So no matter what you do, or no matter what happens to you, Christ’s finished work declares that you are righteous. You no longer need to fear that God doesn’t love you, unless you think that Christ’s finished work didn’t work.
God loves you more today than yesterday. Just as you have been made righteous forever, so He loves you forever.
I’ll end by sharing what Jesus said to His disciples before His crucifixion, in John 16:7-11:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Friends, you are not of this world, so the Holy Spirit does not convict you of sin. You are not the ruler of this world, so the Holy Spirit does not convict you of judgment. Because Christ has ascended to heaven, and because we do not see Him, the Holy Spirit does not want us to be reminded of past sin, or future judgment – Friends, while we are in this world, the Holy Spirit constantly reminds us that we are righteous.
No matter what we do, and no matter what is done to us, Christ’s finished work guarantees that we are ALWAYS in good standing with God. God will ALWAYS look at us with favor and everlasting love.
The Holy Spirit sings to you, His love endures forever.
The Holy Spirit sings to you, He loved you first.
Today, the Holy Spirit sings to you, ‘He calls you righteous.’