Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Freed from Punishment

Each day, I realize my frailty. One time, I felt uncomfortable after an incident made me realize that I don't know everything. Of course, I don't. No one does. That's something every human being knows, but it's not everyday that you get hit by this truth. I had to admit that although I know some things, there are areas where I needed help. So I asked for help and had someone teach me what to do. 

Yesterday, I discovered a mistake which I made last year. The error was made a long time ago but it affects my current state. I'm not sure if I will still be penalized for that error but this made me think of the many mistakes I've made, the errors I've committed, and my many offenses against God. What if I am punished for all those wrongdoings? If I am not dead yet, maybe I would not even have the heart to go on with life because I'd be stripped of dignity, hope, and strength. 

And indeed, for our many sins, or offenses, against God, we deserve to be punished. Everyone has sinned and is far away from God's saving presence*. Sin pays off with death--a spiritual death that means eternal separation from God. And when we are separated from God we are separated forever from His loving kindness and the joy and peace that can only come from Him. 

But the good news is that God reached out to us to forgive all our sins against Him and put us in a right relationship with Him. But by the free gift of God's grace all are put right with Him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free. God offered Him, so that by His blood He should become the means by which people's sins are forgiven through their faith in Him. God did this in order to demonstrate that He is righteous. In the past He was patient and overlooked people's sins; but in the present time He deals with their sins, in order to demonstrate His righteousness. In this way God shows that He himself is righteous and that He puts right everyone who believes in Jesus**.

God is ready to forgive our sins against Him and is willing to help us correct the mistakes we've committed. At times, if He decides, He will even override our errors. Most of all, God, through His Son Jesus Christ, can give us a new slate, a new beginning. His Son Jesus Christ has been offered already as punishment for our sins and He is waiting for us to ask forgiveness and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. 

God brought to life together with Christ, having freely forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.***

*Romans 3:23  Good News Translation (GNT)
**Romans 6:24-26  GNT
***Colossians 2:13-14   Amplified Bible

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Life of Learning

This day, March 20, is a memorable day. A few days ago, a high school classmate unearthed our graduation programme and quickly reminded our Facebook group that on this day, 30 years ago, we graduated from high school. By coincidence, on this day also, I spoke at a Moving Up and Recognition Ceremony for kindergarten students. 

Many of us seems elated and at the same time, nostalgic at the thought that it's been 30 years since we received our high school diploma. Back then, I never thought that 30 years later I would be standing on  a stage, not to receive a diploma but to deliver a message to the students being promoted and their  parents. 

After high school graduation, I went to college and received a bachelor's degree. Between then and now, I took a diploma course in pastoral ministry, a certificate in teaching language, attended seminars, workshops, and conferences here and abroad. I became involved in church ministry, got married, raised a family, and built a freelance career. 

Along the way I recalled some things which I learned from high school. But there were also other things I learned not from high school but from everyday life. I learned from my mistakes and from unlikely people. I came to know God by reading the Bible and became wiser doing what I discovered from the Book. Even up to now, I'm still learning. In fact, just recently, I started taking up online courses. 

The day is about to end. The reminiscing will probably continue until tomorrow or the day after. In this season of graduation, I realized that we may stop going to school, but we never stop learning.