Tuesday, November 21, 2017

THANKSGIVING

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On the first thanksgiving, the pilgrims were truly thankful for
what God had done for them in their new homeland (USA). He
had protected them from harsh weather, hostile neighbors and
diseases, and given them a good harvest.

Later, ‘Thanksgiving’ was established as a National Holiday
by President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.
In the proclamation, President Lincoln specified that the last
Thursday of each November should be set aside as a day to give
thanks for the founding of our nation.

The fourth Thursday of each November therefore became
a National Holiday; a day for ‘Thanksgiving.’ The celebration is
usually marked with lots of cooking, get-togethers and feasting

As Christians, what is our take on this celebration? Are we truly thankful,
and for what? Do we focus on God in any way? Getting together
with friends and family is a great idea, but let us not forget the
genesis of it, ‘THANKFLNESS TO GOD’

There is so much we need to thank God for, not only on
the last Thursday of every November, but every moment, every
day, and every night. God loves grateful people. He loves to be
acknowledged and appreciated. After He cleansed the ten lepers,
only one came back to say thanks. Jesus’ response, “Were not all
ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Luke 17:17 (They probably
were off celebrating).

Stop and think! Are you forgetting to say thanks for something? It’s
not too late to say it.

What are some of the things we need to be thankful for?

• The fact that we are here
• Health, daily provisions, accommodation,
• Gift of salvation
• The Word to help us grow
• The Holy Spirit to comfort, lead and teach us
• Those who minister to us faithfully through preaching,
teaching, music
• Freedom to gather and worship
• Friends, family
• Jobs
• Things that bring us joy and laughter (like children and
grandchildren)
• Those who pray for us and encourage us
• Technology (has enhanced our lives in so many ways)
• Advances in medicine
• The seasons and the beauty we see around us
• Governments and leaders who establish and enforce laws
that protect us
• And so much more!

Let's follow the example of the Psalmist. He admonishes:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever”
(Psalm 118:1 NIV).
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among
the nations what He has done” (Psalm 105:1 NIV).
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord [that’s us] say this” (Psalm 107:1-2 NIV).
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His
wonderful deeds for men” (Psalm 107:15 NIV).

Let;s give thanks!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

THE PAYMENT FOR SIN IS DEATH







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Let’s define the main words in the title of this article: payment, sin, and death.

Payment may be defined as compensation or wages, and it is an indication that some service has been rendered for which one needs to be compensated.

Sin is defined as an offence, a crime, wrongdoing, or transgression deserving some form of punishment.

Death is defined as demise or passing away.

 This phrase, the payment for sin is death, is part of a Bible verse. It says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This verse is conveying the fact that we do get compensated for our wrongdoings, no matter the type or magnitude. Wrongdoing is wrongdoing, and the compensation is death.

When the Bible talks about death as a compensation for sin, it is not talking about physical/natural death; it is referring to spiritual death -- spending eternity in hell, also known as the second death. The first death is characterized by cessation of breathing and cessation of heart beat. Given time, every living thing dies eventually, but not everyone is going to experience hell/second death.

There are people who like to compare their wrongdoings to the wrongdoings of others, and conclude they are not as bad as those people. That reasoning sounds logical. However, sin is sin, and death is death. No matter which sin you commit, your compensation is death, and when another commits another kind of sin, their compensation is death as well.

I thought like this in my early teens. I attended high school with some very promiscuous teenagers; I had no respect for them, and always thought of them as SINNERS. It wasn’t until someone explained to me what I have just explained in this article that my perspective changed.

A lady named Florence, the traveling secretary for the Scripture Union, explained to me that the wages of being promiscuous were the same as the wages for telling a little lie. The light bulb went on in my heart, and I understood. The reason is that the One (God) who said don’t kill is the same One who said don’t lie. If you don’t kill but lie, you’ve still wronged that someone! 

So do you understand you are a sinner, no matter how insignificant you think your sins are? Do you understand there are consequences for your sins, no matter how insignificant? Are you ready to face the consequences? Let me remind you again; the consequences of sin is death/hell. Would you like to face that?

I’d like to think you'd prefer an alternative, and thank God there is one. The verse in Romans 6:23, continues with, “But the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” So instead of death/hell, you can have life/heaven. How do you pass from death to life? God has made provision for that to happen in your life!

In order to pass from death to life, God wants you to admit to Him and to yourself that you are a sinner who deserves death, the due payment for sin. He then wants you to accept life by believing in His only Son Jesus Christ, who died to pay the penalty for your sins. Jesus’ holiness is transferred to you, and when God looks at you, all He sees is Jesus’ righteousness. He has nothing else to hold you accountable for; Jesus paid it all! The chorus to one of my favorite hymns goes like this: Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe, Sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.


Would you allow Him to give you New Life today? Yes? Then call on Him today; tomorrow could be too late! 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

QUIT TRYING TO HELP GOD

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Has God made you a promise that He hasn’t fulfilled yet? Are you tired of waiting, and thinking He forgot, He cannot fulfill it, or He needs help to fulfill it? Are you tempted to help Him along, any way you can to make it happen? Please don’t!

Maybe, the first thing to do is to be sure that He has indeed made you a promise, and if He has, you have nothing to worry about; He will come through. Scripture clearly says, “He who promised is faithful” (Hebrew 10:23 NIV), and also, “No matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV).

Let us remember Abraham and Sarah! God’s promise to give them a son (see Genesis 15:2-5), did not happen soon enough for them; they were worried about their inability to have a baby at their old age (see Genesis 16:1-4), so they devised their own way to help Him fulfill the promise that He had made. The result of their help is with us today; Ishmael, the father of the Muslims, is constantly at war with the Israelites. God being the faithful God that He is, still went ahead and fulfilled what He had promised (see Genesis 21:1-3), and through His faithfulness, you and I have salvation through Christ Jesus (if we believe in Him). Amen!

Taking things into our own hands, or trying to help God will always end in disaster. Let us not break rules and laws and the like to help God out. He will ask for our help should He ever need it, so until then let us wait patiently. God had a dialogue with the prophet Habakkuk about the future of the Israelites, and reassured him this way, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3 NIV).


How encouraging! “If it linger, wait for it.”  So let us be fully persuaded that God has power to carry out whatever He promises (see Romans 4:21). In addition, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). If we believe nothing is too hard for Him, then let’s quit trying to help Him, wait patiently, and trust His wisdom. After all, He created the universe with the Word of His mouth. If we really want to help, this is what we can do to help, “Go and make disciples of all nations…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

KNOWLEDGE OF THE FUTURE SHOULD DICTATE HOW WE LIVE IN THE PRESENT


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Knowledge is a good thing; it helps us manage our lives better. Knowing what time work or school starts helps us plan when to get out of bed, clean up, and have breakfast, and leave the house. Knowing how long it takes to get to a destination, helps us determine the best time of departure in order to be punctual.  

When children know what time their parents will be back home, they make sure they clean up their mess before then, or complete whatever chores they were assigned. Spouses start meal preparation at a time that allows them to have a hot meal ready by the time they expect the other home. 

Knowing that the Lord Jesus is coming back soon or that He will be calling us home any day now, should help us prepare, because it is not a matter of if, but when. So when is He coming back, or when is He going to call us home? The Scripture says no one knows the time, except the Lord, not even the angels. The day will be unannounced, and that is why we always have to be ready, living expectantly, with the knowledge that either event could happen any day, at any time (See Luke 12:40, Matthew 24:42, Mark 13:32, Ecclesiastes 9:12).

In preparation for His return, we need to be:

Living right – John reminds Christians (us), “Continue in him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming” (1John 2:28 NIV). Wouldn’t you be ashamed to be living in sin, doing something you know is wrong, when He appears?  I am sure you would be, and I would be too.

Working diligently – The Bible tells us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV). Also, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, who the master puts in charge of his servants…It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns (Luke 12:42-43 NIV). Again, “Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV). Accountability should be one of our biggest concerns.  We will have to show how we’ve lived, using the gifts and talents, opportunities and resources entrusted to us in this life. (see Matthew 12:36, Romans 14:12, Hebrew 4:13 NIV). We also need to remember that with every passing day, we have less time in which to work, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4 NIV).

Warning the unsaved – Jesus tells us in John’s gospel, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18 NIV). This makes it clear that there is trouble ahead for unbelievers. Should we go about, not caring what happens to them? Is that the attitude God expects from us, when we know full well that Jesus suffered for the whole world   ?Of course not; Paul addresses this issue this way, “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11 NIV), and Jude expresses the urgency of the situation by saying, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them” (Jude 22-23). Family members, friends, and neighbors could be in serious trouble, depending on what they do or don’t believe. Let us help them escape God’s judgment.

Enduring persecution and trials with the right attitude – the following verses teach us the attitude we should cultivate toward suffering. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12 NIV). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28 NIV). After being flogged for preaching the Word, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41). James encourages us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2 NIV).

The Lord promised to reward us for our faithfulness when He returns. Receiving rewards however, should not be our motivation for service and obedience to Him.  After we’ve completed our assigned tasks, the Scripture says we should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (John 17:10 NIV). Whether we expect rewards or not, He has promised them (see Matthew 5:12 NIV), so we can thankfully and expectantly look forward to enjoying them. The apostle Paul reminds us of the same thing when he told the Church at Corinth, “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose and each will be rewarded according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:8 NIV).


May our knowledge of the future encourage us to be all that we need to be in the present, so that when He appears, we can confidently report, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more” and expect this response, “”Well done, my good servant!  Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities” (Luke 19:16-17 NIV). 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

MAINTAIN YOUR SALTINESS


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In Matthew 5:13, Jesus told His disciples (Christians), “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” What was He implying?

Salt is used to season and preserve food. Without it, food does not taste as good, and goes bad quickly. So if Christians are the salt of the earth, then we should be the seasoning and preserving agent of the world.

One cannot lose something one never had. Losing our saltiness means losing the effectiveness we once had; it means losing our testimony and influence. Although it is sad, it happens quite often in the Church, government, corporations, and even in families.   

What kind of testimony do we have among family, friends, and neighbors? Do people ever wonder if we are Christians as we profess? What can make people doubt our sincerity? Is it preaching one thing and doing the opposite? I think so.

The end result of losing saltiness is devastating. Unbelievers turn their back on the gospel, saying, “If that is Christianity, I want no part of it.” By not living up to the standards we teach and preach, we put hindrances in their way. Also, instead of people seeing our good deeds and praising our Father in heaven (see Matthew 5:16), they blaspheme His name. “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:24 NIV).   

We also need to understand that our way of life does not affect only unbelievers; it affects believers as well. We are commanded to encourage one another daily (see Hebrews 3:12), not only by quoting Scripture and saying encouraging words, but also by living right, according to the Word of God.

Once saltiness is lost, it is lost, and the salt is useless; there is no way to restore its saltiness. Likewise, when we blow our testimony by misconduct we lose our influence, and instead, become stumbling blocks. The restoration to our previous effectiveness in ministry or amongst our sphere of influence is very difficult, once we’ve lost it.  Quite often, the guilt and shame that result from loss of testimony, force people to step down from whatever position they once held. 

The devil loves to see us fail so that he can accuse us before the Father. After all, he is known as the accuser of the brethren. 
The secret to maintaining saltiness is:
·        Trust God and obey Him. 
·        Abide in Christ, the Vine (see John 15:1-8).
·        Be vigilant at all times; because the devil is prowling around looking to cause havoc (see 1 Peter 5:8).
·        Resist the devil (see 1 Peter 5:9). Put on and keep on the full armor of God 24/7 (see Ephesians 6:11-18).

Let us remember, it is easier to maintain a good testimony (saltiness) than trying to restore one that has been shattered!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

THE RIGHT TO THE TREE OF LIFE IS RESTORED



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In the middle of the Garden of Eden, God planted two specific trees that had names, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (see Genesis 2:9). He took the man, Adam and put him in the garden to manage it. He instructed  Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17 NIV).

Sadly, Satan misled the First Couple to disobey God by doing exactly what Adam had been instructed not to do; they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (see Genesis 3:1-6). Being a faithful God, He did not go back on His word, so man died that day, spiritually, but also started down the path of physical death!  Hence sin and its consequences of pain, sorrow, toil, sweat, relational trouble, and death (see Gen 3:16-19) passed on to every person since then.

God drove the couple out of the garden to prevent them from eating from the tree of life, because it would be tragic to live forever in their sinful state. “Then the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of Us, knowing good and evil.  He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever’” (Genesis 3:22 NIV).  

God did not walk away from the mess man created, rather, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). Our fellowship with God has now been restored as a result of Christ’s sacrifice. 

So with our sins forgiven, and our relationship with God restored, Jesus’ pronounces, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14 NIV). We can now rejoice that there will no longer be any curse, and our right to the tree of life has been restored (see Revelation 22:1-3). Touching it or eating of it will be safe. Halleluiah!  


Dear reader, is your robe washed in Jesus’ blood? If not, you still have time, but maybe, not for long. Call on Jesus today for forgiveness, and gain the right to the tree of life and eternity in heaven with God! Tomorrow could be too late.     

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR EACH OTHER’S GROWTH

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Although we all come to faith in the Lord individually, and at different times, we are all born into the same family of God. The Bible says, together, we are the Church of God, and also calls us all members of the body of Christ, where we are each a different body-part of His body. For this reason, we are brothers and sisters. What an awesome thought! He has given us different gifts and abilities to complement and to build each other up. His intent is to “Prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ [that phrase means us] may be built up…and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13 NIV). 

In the average natural family, siblings take care of each other.

For example, if the younger needs something, and the parents are tied up doing other things, the older ones handle the situation. Also, siblings who attend the same school, for instance, look out for each other, making sure all the siblings are safe and not being bullied by some trouble-maker. 

I remember vividly, many years ago, that I punched some guy in the stomach (I was so short, that was the spot I could reach) for harassing my older sister. Under that circumstance, my reaction came very natural to me. I didn’t think twice about what my response should be, or what the probable counter response could be. This was my sister. I had to protect her. I wasn’t about to put up with any nonsense. That’s all there was to it, so I punched him. Needless to say, we never heard another word out of that bully. 

In a similar way, God expects us to take care of each other under all circumstances to foster each other’s spiritual growth. The Scriptures admonish us to, “Consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds” (Hebrew 10:24 NIV). Synonyms for spur include incite, urge, and even goad. 

So how can we spur one another in the right direction? Which is the direction towards love and good deeds?

Love and respect – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV). 
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10 NIV). 
“Love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1 NIV). 
“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers”
(1Peter 2:17 NIV).

Rebuke and correct – “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him…forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4 NIV). For example, the apostle Paul rebuked Peter when Peter was being hypocritical regarding his association with the gentiles (See Galatians 2:11-14 NIV). We should do likewise if the need arises.

Forgive – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). 
“As God’s chosen people,...Bear with each other…Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:12-13 NIV). Do you have an issue with a brother? Handle it. 

Support/Encourage – King Saul, being jealous of David, pursued the young man relentlessly from place to place. During one of those pursuits, Jonathan, son of Saul “Went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. ‘Don’t be afraid’ he said” (1 Samuel 23:16-17 NIV).  How beautiful! Can we help each other find strength in God during hard times? Sure we can, and we should. 
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak…Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Roman 15:1, 2 NIV).
“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrew 13:3 NIV). 

Pray for each other – “Always keep on praying for all the saints”
(Ephesians 6:18 NIV). When was the last time you prayed for a brother or sister? 
Be examples for each other – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV). 
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5 NIV).

Stay in touch and meet together often – “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as we see the Day approaching” (Hebrew 10:25 NIV).  When was the last time you checked on a brother or sister to make sure he or she is okay?

Be kind and hospitable – “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13 NIV). Do you know of any needs in the body? Have you responded? If it is within your means, please respond!
Luke the Physician, in reference to the new converts at Pentecost reported, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42 NIV).

Serve one another – “Serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13 NIV).  Do you usually like to be the one who is served? Jesus washed the disciples’ feet! Think about it.

Live peaceably – “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15 NIV). 
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15 NIV). The devil enjoys nothing better than to see fights among Christians, because then he gets the opportunity to slander (see 1 Timothy 5:14), and also disrupt God’s work. 

The growth of the Church is so important to God that He does not cease to admonish us continually to take care of each other. He says in 1 Thessalonians 5: 11 NIV, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Also, in verses 14-15 He says, “We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”


May God help us to continue to build each other up, more and more (see 1 Thessalonians 4:1) for the growth and stability of the Church and for His glory!