Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It Is The Lord

The Lord reveals Himself to us in many different ways. He does
that through His Word (the Bible), nature, His Ministers, friends,
family, circumstances, etc. Unfortunately, we don’t always hear
Him or recognize His voice right away. It is either because we
are not paying attention, we don’t believe Him, or we have not
learned to recognize His voice or ways. Jesus says in John 10:4,
“His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.” When
we fail to recognize His voice we miss out on things like: His
encouragement, comfort, assurance, directions, and blessings. Jesus
revealed Himself to different individuals after His resurrection.
They recognized Him through the things they knew about Him.

Mary Magdalene went to the tomb on the Day of Resurrection,
only to discover that it was empty. She reported that to Peter and
John, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t
know where they have put Him!” John 20:2. Peter and John went to
verify her story, and after that they left, “but Mary stood outside
the tomb crying.” (John 20:11). Jesus appeared to her at the tomb, but
she thought He was the gardener. During the conversation, Jesus
said to her, “Mary” (V 16). As soon as she heard the mention of her
name, she knew who she had been talking to, she had recognized
His voice. So “She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic,
‘Rabboni!’” (V 16). Oh, the joy, the excitement, and the peace she
must have felt to know that her Lord was alive after all, the result
of voice recognition. Had she not recognized His voice, she might
have continued to sorrow over His death and disappearance from
the tomb.

Likewise, when Jesus appeared to the disciples by the sea of
Tiberias, they recognized Him, not by His appearance but by
what He said and did. They admitted to Him their failure and
disappointment for the night. They had not caught any fish. When
Jesus told them what to do, and the result was a large catch of fish,
they knew right away who He was. John said to Peter, “It is the
Lord.” (John 21:7). How comforting and how reassuring it might have
been for them! Do you ever recognize Him in your circumstances,
and are you able to follow His leading? When the disciples did,
the result was astonishing.

On the day of resurrection, two disciples were on their way
to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem. They were
discussing the events from the past few days, i.e. Jesus’ death and
resurrection. As they went along, Jesus went up and walked with
them. They didn’t recognize Him, even when He rebuked them for
being so slow in understanding the Scriptures. They invited Him
home to dinner, and at the table, as He took bread, gave thanks,
broke it and began to give to them (He had a habit of doing that),
their eyes were opened and they recognized Him (Luke 24:30-31).
Are you able to recognize Him through His ways of doing things?
We need to look for God in all situations and circumstances and
be able to declare to ourselves and others, “It is the Lord.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Who is a saint, and when does one become a saint? There are
people who think sainthood is pronounced upon a person after
their death, based on how good or how holy they lived. According to the
Scriptures, saint is another name for Christian. The apostle Paul
addressing the Church at Ephesus called them saints; “Paul, an
apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus,
the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1). These addressees were alive,
so one does not need to be dead to be called a saint. Hence those
of us who are in the body of Christ Jesus are saints, whether we
are in or out of our individual earthly bodies.
Having established that we are saints, we should also establish
that unless the Lord draws us we cannot come to Him (John 6:44),
and therefore sainthood is a calling. Paul writing to the church
in Rome addressed them this way, “To all in Rome who are loved
by God and called to be saints” (Romans 1:1). The online dictionary
defines Call as: 1) Making a request or demand, 2) Speaking
in a loud distinct voice so as to be heard at a distance, and one
of the definitions for to be: is to become. So CALLED TO BE
SAINTS means, God requested/demanded that we become
saints. To become something different from what we are requires
a transformation from one state of being to another (Example:
going from a cocoon to a butterfly). We are transformed from a
state of unbelief/ungodliness to belief/faith in Christ, resulting in
the newness of life and the renewal of the mind. We are not called
to act like saints; we are called to be saints.
Sainthood is not a cloak we put on and take off when we feel
like it. We are to be saints around the clock, 24/7. It should be
our new nature, our state of being. We are to be saints at home,
away from home, when we are awake and when we are asleep. We
should be saints at all times; in the company of believers as well
as in the company of unbeliever, no matter what. ‘Saint’ should be
our identity; the identity by which we are known.
How can we vibrantly maintain our sainthood? Let’s compare
sainthood to professions in the circular world. We need to have the
mindset that we are saints. We need to learn all we can about being
saints, by studying the manual for saints, by attending in-services,
seminars, and training sessions about saints. This will equip us to
get better at being saints. The word says we should not neglect the
assembling together of the saints, as some are in the habit of doing,
but we should encourage one another (see Hebrews 10:25). It also says we
should correctly handle the word of truth (see 2 Timothy :15). Every so
often, professionals go through certification and re-certification
to ensure their skills and knowledge are up to date. We Christians receive
our certifications and re-certifications through the trials we go
through, to confirm that we are applying the lessons we learn on
how to maintain our sainthood.
Sainthood is ongoing, and takes perseverance. We should get
better at being saints with the passage of time as we keep our gaze
on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

You Need to Secure Your Visa Now

Securing a visa is a clue that you’re about to go on a trip. Many people are homebodies; they hate to travel. The reason for being a homebody differs from person to person, but we’re all on a trip right now, whether or not we hate to travel. Sooner or later, we’ll arrive at our intended destinations.  
Our destination is the afterlife. The decision to travel is not ours to make; that’s just how life is designed. Once the journey starts though, it goes on until it ends and we relocate. The destination after this life, however, is by choice; we get to decide where we’re going. Having the ability to decide implies there are multiple destinations from which to choose; there are two distinct places: heaven and hell.

Heaven is the place Jesus is preparing for all those who believe in Him. “’In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. 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). In another conversation about heaven, Jesus promised, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34 NIV). 

Heaven is described as a place where God will live with His people. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there’ll be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain! (See Revelation 21:3-4).
Who wouldn’t want heaven for their eternal destination? It has streets of gold, gates of pearls and no need for the sun or moon, because the glory of God lights it up (see Revelation 21:21-23). That’s where I’m going! I got my visa ready, and it reads, “Because you believe in the name of Jesus, the Son of God, you have eternal life” (see 1 John 5:13 NIV). Would you like to come to this wonderful place of peace, tranquility, and beauty? I encourage you to come along. Your departure date could be any day from now, so allow me to show you how to secure your visa.  Someone once said about preparedness, “I stay ready, so I don’t have to get ready.”

In order to secure your visa, you have to agree with God that you’re a sinner (see Ephesians 2:1-3), accept Jesus’ death on your behalf, and ask for His forgiveness and to be adopted into his family (see Romans 10:9-10). He will forgive you, give you His Spirit, and give you the assurance of eternal life in your new home (see Matthew 25:34). After you secure your visa, start learning more about your Savior and your future home through daily Bible reading and prayer. The more you discover, the more you’ll long for your new home. In addition, join a Bible-believing church that will help you grow in your faith.

Hell, on the other hand, is the place prepared for the devil and his angels, as well as those who don’t believe in Jesus. Jesus presents it this way: “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:41 NIV). Hell is described as a place of torment, day and night, forever and ever (see Revelation 20:10). Who would want to go to such a miserable place if they had a choice in the matter? Think about it! Still, many refuse to make the decision that will ensure their future is secured in God through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son. Choosing to not believe in Jesus is the only visa you need to get into hell.

But why would you choose to spend eternity in such a God-forsaken place? Please call on Jesus today while there’s still time. You might be called out without notice. God loves you and does not want you to perish, and that is why He sent His Son to take on the punishment you deserve (see Romans 6:23). So you don’t have to go to hell; the penalty for your sin is already paid for. This could be your last chance to get ready, and stay ready. Secure your visa today!  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Are You Trying To Impress People With Your Spirituality?

Which Scripture passage comes to mind when you think, “Faking Spirituality”? Do you remember the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira? If not, please allow me to refresh your memory. You can read the full account in the Acts of the Apostles (see Acts 5:1-11).

After Pentecost, having been empowered by the Holy Spirit, the believers lived in love and shared everything, even their possessions. Those who had property sold it and brought the money to the Apostles to benefit the entire community, although it wasn’t required. They did it, because it was the right thing to do, as expressed by John, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17 NIV). They did it joyfully, not looking for any recognition, for God loves a cheerful giver (see 2 Corinthians 9:7).

One couple, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, like the others, sold a piece of property. The two agreed to give only part of the proceeds to the Apostles for community use, and that was their right (see 2 Corinthians 9:7). However, when Ananias brought the money, he wanted the Apostles to believe that he brought the total amount. Sapphira, coming in a few hours after her husband’s report, not knowing what had transpired earlier, confirmed her husband’s report, which was a lie. Needless to say each was rebuked sharply by the Holy Spirit, and they were buried side-by-side, a few hours apart (see Acts 5:4-10). It was a good lesson for the rest of the group, and it should be a lesson for us as well.

Ananias and his wife were not rebuked for surrendering only part of the money; they were rebuked for deception. They were trying to give the impression that, like the others, they had surrendered all.

Do you ever pretend to be something that you really are not? Do you like to tell others how often you read your Bible, how much time you spend in prayer, how you do this, that and the other good work? Think about it! Do you try to impress others with how often you fast, give to charity, and so forth? Do you criticize others when you are guilty of the same thing? Do you put others down so you can appear to be better? (See Matthew 7:6). God wants you to be yourself.  He sees what you are and what you do, and why. He will take it from there. “Your’ Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:18 NIV). You don’t need the applause and commendation of men. God will reward you in due time.  

Jesus called the Pharisees, “Whitewashed tombs” because they were such hypocrites, “Everything they do is done for men to see” (Matthew 23:27). That definitely is “Faking Spirituality.”