Tuesday, September 19, 2017

NATURALIZATION


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What is naturalization? It is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country, and that definition is the focus of this article. There are numerous reasons why one would desire to be a citizen of a country, other than one’s country of origin.  Reasons could range from seeking better opportunities, getting away from persecution, seeking asylum, or marrying someone from that country.   Certain criteria have to be met in order to be granted citizenship anywhere, in any country. In addition to requirements for naturalization, there are responsibilities that come with citizenship. I remember, when I became a citizen of the U. S.A, I was admonished to exercise my voting rights to effect changes that will help the country to continue to be the great country that it has been.   
      
Requirements for naturalization can be very stringent, and requests are not always granted. Requests do get turned down, if criteria are not met. There is however, one country (Heaven) where requirement for citizenship is straight forward; there is no hassle, and no one is ever turned away, unless they try to come in through a back door other than the prescribed opened door (Jesus).  In fact, all are invited and encouraged to come, and are all welcomed. The requirements are the same for each person, regardless of their background. Politics and partiality play no part in this process. People of all nationalities, cultures, and languages; the educated, illiterate, sick, healthy, rich, poor, male female, adult, and child are all welcomed. As you can see, no one, willing to come is turned away. The Maker, Founder, King, and Lord of this country is God Almighty.

Why are we invited to seek citizenship elsewhere? Because our current countries of origin are all temporary, full of evil, strife and woe, hatred, wars, and diseases; besides, they will all pass away, sooner or later. Only the city built by God will last through eternity. This city is not an ordinary city built by human hands; it is built by God, and its streets are made of gold, like transparent glass, and its gates are made of pearls, and illuminated by the glory of God (see Revelation 21:22-23), and “He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4 NLT). The apostle Paul describes it this way, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT).

For a place this magnificent, one would expect the entry requirements to be very tough to meet, but they are rather very simple and straight forward: First and foremost, an applicant must be a sinner, seeking forgiveness of sins and freedom from the power of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Anyone who does not have the need to be forgiven does not qualify to apply.  An applicant has to understand that he or she is a sinner and needs a Savior.  Once a person is forgiven, he or she becomes a citizen of heaven, in training on earth. 

 The training continues until God decides, it is time to go and enjoy citizenship to its fullest. Jesus comforted His disciples by saying to them, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:2-3 NLT). Nothing will disqualify anyone who has been granted citizenship, because the Bible tells us, “Now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:1-2 NLT).

While here on earth, our responsibility is to maintain fellowship with our Father through prayer, and reading, and studying the Word, and working at being more and more like Jesus every day, evidenced by the way we behave and interact with society. Also, while we are still here, we have the responsibility to encourage and build up others who are also on their way to the magnificent city, and to help those who are not, to understand how urgently they need to naturalize. When we finally relocate to heaven, we will see our Father face to face (see 1 Corinthians 13:12); and so we will be with Him forever (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17). 


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

JESUS IS COMING BACK



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Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet, prophesied both of Jesus’ first and Second Advents (see Isaiah 9:6-7). As we know, the First Advent was fulfilled when Jesus was born. The details of the events surrounding His birth happened exactly in the manner in which they were prophesied. That fulfillment was proof that the Word of God is dependable. We celebrate that First Advent as Christmas, characterized by festivities, giving and receiving gifts. Looking back, we see that, that advent was very obscure, very few people knew anything about it, or cared about it. The key people mentioned in that event included: His parents-Joseph and Mary; the Inn Keeper; the shepherds; and the Wise men.

Similarly, the Second Advent will be fulfilled unerringly; Jesus is definitely coming back! Whereas He came as a helpless baby the first time, and did not catch the attention of many, things will be a lot different with the Second Advent. The Second Advent will not be obscure in any way; rather, as the Bible says, “Every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7 NIV). He is going to come with the armies of heaven and the Christians who were raptured seven years earlier. This occasion is going to be grand, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. He is coming as the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Ruler of the nations, and the Judge of the world, and He will hold sinners accountable for their wickedness, and reward the righteous.

Before His Second Advent though, there will be the rapture of the Church. The Bible describes the rapture as the sudden removal of all Christians from the earth to join with resurrected believers and Jesus Christ Himself, in the air. The rapture will usher in the tribulation period, a seven-year time of suffering, lawlessness, and severe persecution of Christians. At the end of the tribulation period, Jesus will return to earth to cleanse the world of sin and evil, and establish His Millennial Kingdom (a thousand-year rule). This will be Jesus’s Second Advent.

Jesus’ return to earth is mentioned not only in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament. Jesus Himself spoke about His Second Advent while He was here on earth. Towards the end of His ministry, Jesus promised His disciples He’d return from heaven, “I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3 NIV). Furthermore, the day Jesus ascended into heaven (forty days after His resurrection), two angels appeared to the distraught disciples who were amazingly watching, as their Master went up. The angels comforted them by saying, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11 NIV).

In the book of Revelation, John, the author, recorded for us Jesus’ message to the Churches. He said, “Behold, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done…I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star…Yes, I am coming soon (Revelation 22:12, 16, 20 NIV)! God is faithful; none of his promises has ever failed, and will not fail now! So let’s be ready; Jesus is coming back soon!     

After the millennium, there will be no more tears, pain, or suffering, which is what God had in mind right from the beginning of creation. There will be peace, no political garbage and lies! We will have one Ruler who is kind, loving, and just, and totally trustworthy. Wow! What a world that will be! We’ll get to call it our permanent home; a city whose Founder and Maker, and Ruler is God Almighty! Amen!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Please Listen to Reason



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Recently, while watching the evening news, I saw the report of a plane crash in Ohio; apparently, all ten people on board died. They showed the plane on fire with flames going everywhere; it was heart-wrenching to watch. Then it occurred to me that the passengers were burning with the plane; it scared me and broke my heart. Such loss!

That fire eventually went out, and the pain and fear the passengers felt eventually stopped, because they were dead. However, there is a fire that someday will burn forever and never go out. Whoever is in it will never stop feeling the pain and discomfort, and boy, does it scare me. Can you imagine burning in a fire that never goes out? I can and I’m sure you can too. But does it scare you like it scares me? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that some people don’t like to talk about hell. Others believe it is a scare tactic to get them to do something they don’t want to do, and still there are others who don’t believe hell exists at all, and if it did, a loving God will not send anybody there.

The Bible is the Word of God, and it is 100% true. Nothing it has said in the past ever failed; everything has been fulfilled exactly. Consider the life of Jesus. Years before His birth, His coming, birth, life, and death were all prophesied in detail, and all happened as was prophesied. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden, before His bogus trial and crucifixion, He asked those who arrested Him a question, and answered it Himself. He asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me” (Mark 14:48-49 NLT). On another occasion, He told His listeners, “I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved” (Matthew 5:17-18 NLT). The proofs of the authenticity of the Bible are overwhelming! The more you read it, the more convincing you’ll find it. For this reason, whatever the Bible says is going to happen, will happen, hell included.

So then, understanding that hell is for real, it makes a lot of sense to discuss it. Although some people would rather not talk about it, many will go there (see Matthew 7:13), regardless of what they’d rather do or not do.  Once they are there, their doom is sealed. They cannot escape, make an appeal, get a new trial, or bribe their way out. Once they set foot in hell, it’ll be a done deal; hell will be their final and permanent destination for all eternity. Recently, two criminals escaped from a maximum security prison in New York with the help of a female prison worker. I can assure you, that scenario will not happen in hell; once in hell, no one can escape from there! Isn’t this scary?

If you are reading this, it means you still have time to make certain you won’t go to hell. But please don’t wait another minute. 
Why go to hell when you don’t have to? If you’ve never placed your faith in Jesus for salvation, you are heading for hell:  the place many don’t want to talk about. Unfortunately, choosing to not talk about it will not change the truth; what the Bible says is what will happen. So if you’re not sure you’ll go to heaven when you die, please stop whatever you are doing and ask God to forgive your sins and save you through Jesus Christ His Son. If at the end of your earthly life, you discover that there is no hell (which there is), you’ll have nothing to lose. As the old adage goes, “Better safe than sorry.” In Jesus’ prayer for believers, He said, “This is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3 NIV).   

Those who put their faith in Jesus are given the assurance of forgiveness. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him” (John 3:18 NLT). Also, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NLT), and “I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus” (1 John 2:12 NLT). The Bible also assures believers that their names are written in the Lamb’s (Jesus’) Book of Life (see Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 20:15, 21:27).


I’m pleading with you in the name of Jesus to call on Him today for forgiveness of sin and salvation through His finished work on the cross. He died for you because He loves you! Hell is not a figment of the imagination; it is a real place of torment. Don’t chance it! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

IDENTITY CRISIS


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A person’s identity is who they are; it is what sets them apart from everyone else. Who are you? Who do you claim to be? Do people know you, and does their knowledge of you match who you claim to be? Don’t make room for them to assume who you are, and don’t make room for them to guess, but if they do guess, make it possible for them to guess correctly. Just be yourself!

For example, if you see an individual with a stethoscope around his or her neck, you could assume he or she is a medical professional. If you see an individual in court, wearing a robe, sitting behind the bench, and holding a gavel, you could assume he or she is the judge.

In our natural world, everyone has parents. So it is in the spiritual world.  You either have God or Satan for a father. Do you call yourself a child of God? If you do, then be a child of God. When you meet people, do they notice something about you that causes them to assume or guess you are a Christian, or will they be uncertain? If they don’t think you are a child of God, you are left with only one other option: they must think you are a child of the devil. But if you are a Christian, then there is something wrong with your identity. What is it? 

If you became a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, then the person you are should be obvious to people around you. If you live a life of obedience to God, you will in essence be saying you love Him (see John 14:15). On the other hand, if you are living in disobedience, people can quickly assume you are not a Christian, even if you claim to be one.

Jesus is not interested in lip service, and He made that plain to the disciples when He asked them, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not what I say” (Luke 6:46 NIV)? When Jesus was warning against false prophets, He said, “By their fruit you’ll recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18 NIV).

If you are a child of God, the characteristics (fruit) you exhibit should be a clear indication that you are His son or daughter. There is no better way of demonstrating that you are child of God than through obedience. The Bible says, “Be holy for I (God) am holy.” In other words, we should exhibit His trait of holiness in the way we live.

Developing those traits is an ongoing effort. We do not arrive at holiness overnight. According to the apostle Paul, we have to work at it with fear and trembling (see Philippians 2:12). It takes meditation on God’s Word and allowing it to transform us into His nature through the renewing of our mind. Then we will shine, as the Scripture says, like stars in the universe (see Philippians 2:15).

Observing the lives of the disciples, the Jewish leaders were able to accurately conclude that they had been with Jesus. If we indeed have been with Jesus, it should be obvious to others. Claiming to be a Christian and yet living as an unbeliever is proof of an identity crisis. It means one is not really sure who one is.

We need to turn our backs on worldliness and all appearances of evil. A Christian should not live comfortably in sin. If you are, then you need to revisit God’s plan of salvation to make sure you are really born again. If we fall into sin, we should quickly repent, confess, and seek forgiveness. That is the mark of a Christian: the fear of sin and the concern for displeasing God.


Are you experiencing an identity crisis? You can change that by making the determination to live a life that is pleasing to God, and then seeking the help of the Spirit to accomplish it. Let’s put on the armor of God and keep it on (see Ephesians 6:11-18), 24/7.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Your New Address

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Christian author, Carol Stratton wrote a book titled Changing Zip Codes. Apparently, she had relocated twenty-two times so far; that sounds painful. Knowing firsthand, some of the apprehension and frustration movers go through; she has shared some good ideas to help moving folks. I'll like to share what the Bible says about the relocation that everyone will experience in the near future

I think the average person relocates to a new address at least once in their life time. You are probably someone who hates to relocate, because you are a homebody, or afraid of change. No matter how many times you’ve relocated to date, you have at least one more in your future. This pending address is going to be permanent; your final one! There will never be another opportunity to relocate or make changes! So if this new address is going to be IT, how much thought do you think you should put into your preparation? The wisest thing to do will be to determine, ahead of time, that your new address will have everything you will need to live there comfortably.     

Your permanent address is going to be one of two places, heaven or hell, and fortunately, God has given you the right to choose. Each individual has to choose where they want to be. No one is authorized to decide for another person, be it family or friend. The new address will automatically be hell for anyone who does not make their intentions known by placing their faith in Jesus. 

Let’s compare the two available places. The Bible describes heaven as God’s dwelling place (see Isaiah 66:1)! It has pearly gates and golden streets (see Revelation 21:21). There is no hunger, thirst, or tears (see Revelation 7:16-17).   The Bible describes hell as the dwelling of the devil and his angels (see Matthew 25:41)! It is a place of ongoing torment with inextinguishable fire (see Revelation 20:10). Now think about it, compare the two - which location would you like for a permanent address? This of course is a no-brainer, but Whiles you are thinking about it, let me tell you how you can make the needed reservation at your address of choice.   

If you’ll like to relocate to heaven (highly recommended), you’ll need to agree with God that you are a sinner who deserves to go to hell. Then you’ll need to accept His forgiveness provided through the death of His only Son, Jesus (see Romans 3:23; John 3:16). You could pray like this: Dear God, I know I am a sinner.  Thank you for the gift of salvation through your Son, Jesus Christ. I accept Him as my Savior; please accept me as your child. Thank you. Now that you’ve made your reservation, you’ll need to start preparing for heaven by living according to His Word, the Bible. On the day of relocation, you will be ushered into your Savior’s presence, your permanent address, by the angels.

On the other hand, if you prefer to relocate to hell, do absolutely nothing different; continue to live the way you are now, with no regard for God. When your time to relocate comes, you will be sent there with no questions asked.  Remember that not making a decision is the equivalent of deciding to relocate to Hell. 

This is the most important decision you will ever make; so please don’t take it lightly, because God doesn’t. Place your faith in Jesus today, so you can escape the horrors of hell!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

HELP FROM EGYPT Vs HELP FROM THE HILLS


Image result for help from godWho is the first person you turn to when you have a need or a problem? If you were upset with someone, would you call a friend? How about if you had health needs? Would you turn first to doctors and medicines? How about if you had financial needs, would you turn first to your bank account, family and friends, and the bank? And if you had a disagreement with another that couldn’t be resolved, would you turn to the legal system?

The Israelites had a history of wanting to return to Egypt time and time again when they faced challenges on their way to the Promised Land. Although God Almighty had called them His people, and had repeatedly demonstrated His power amongst them, their response to trouble was always to call on Egypt, or go to Egypt for help. That attitude always saddened God’s heart, and made Him jealous, because over and over again, He had told them to look to Him for help. It saddened His heart because by going to others, they were getting less than He wanted for them; less than they deserved, if they got anything at all.

There is nothing wrong with consulting doctors, banks, or the legal system; God made these available to us, but they should not be the first in our thinking. We need to always turn to the Lord first, and have Him direct us to those if that is what He’ll have us do. Jesus said, “Apart from me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV). If He doesn’t give doctors the needed wisdom, they wouldn’t be able to help us, and if we do not depend on God to provide the right judges, we’ll not experience the justice we need and seek. Let us go first to God, and then He will guide us to the right resources. The Psalmist wisely says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV). 

It is important to note that aside from the inability of those we consult to help us, there are consequences for bypassing God, and looking for help elsewhere.  Bypassing Him is a clear indication that we do not trust Him, and in response to     that attitude, this is His response, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD” (Isaiah 31:1 NIV). Additionally, He says in Jeremiah, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5 NIV).

The arm of flesh always fails, but “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7 NIV). Goliath trusted in his size (giant), his sword, and army; David trusted in the living God, although he was tiny in comparison, and only had a sling for a weapon, and an army shaking in its boots. This is our wakeup call to seek God first in everything. 

Sennacherib, king of Assyria invaded Judah during the reign of Hezekiah.  Hezekiah encouraged his army officers and the nation, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8 NIV).


Instead of going to borrow from the bank and paying a hefty interest, God could find us the money we need, without us having to pay it back. God does provide you know!  Before I got into using credit cards, I prayed about every need, but after starting to use credit cards, I didn’t always wait for God’s response even if I prayed. The habit of credit use can erode faith, and cause us to take our focus off God. Let us be careful; let us place our faith in God alone, and seek Him first in every situation. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE OVERLY BLESSED?



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What does it mean to be overtaken by blessings? To be overtaken in any situation is an indication that there is a race, or a competition going on. So to be overtaken by blessings is an indication that I am racing ‘Blessings’, and clearly, I am not the winner, ‘Blessings’ is the winner. I believe it means being so blessed that I don’t know what to do with it all; blessings ahead of me, behind me, beside me, above me, and underneath me.
Have you ever been overtaken by blessings? In a way, I think we all have, because we don’t really deserve any of the blessings we get as it is, but I believe, to be overtaken means, blessings above and beyond all that.

How possible is it to be overtaken by blessings? Do you believe God honors His promises? Then here is what He promised the Israelites, and Christians can claim it as well. “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:2 NKJV). 

So how do we get blessings to overtake us? I should mention that this is one of the promises based on conditions. “If you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that ...” (Deuteronomy 28:1 NKJV).

What will it look like when you are overtaken by blessings? “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds …, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 28:3-8 NKJV).  

Here is a recap of this passage, as I understand it, “If you keep my commands, I will so overwhelm you with blessings that you will ask me to stop, and even then I won’t. I will bless you in all areas of your life, spiritual, physical, social, financial, at work, at home, at play, when you are awake, and even when you are asleep; just name the time, circumstance, and place, and my blessings will overtake you there.”  Signed: GOD!

The secret of being overtaken by blessings is obedience to God’s commands! The thought of being overtaken by blessings is overwhelming, and it really blows my mind! Let us learn to be obedient, whether He blesses or not, because He is the Potter, and we are the clay; we owe Him at least that much. But let us also remember that, all His promises are yes and amen in Christ Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 1:20), and so He will honor them! Our obedience means a lot more to Him than our sacrifices (see 1 Samuel 15:22).