Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Earning Returns On God's Resources

What does it mean to earn returns? To earn returns means to gain or receive profit on a committed capital (an investment). Usually, the capital and the gains earned belong to the individual who provided the capital. 
Although whatever we own belongs to God (we are simply stewards – see Psalm 24:1), we can legally and rightfully earn returns on it for ourselves. You might ask, “How in the world can anyone gain returns on what belongs to another person?” Well, in God’s economy, it is very simple. Spend God’s money and resources wisely and generously: don’t be stingy, and the returns will pile up for you in heaven (see Luke 18:22). What a brilliant idea! After all, earthly riches are temporary; we do not take our possessions in moving trucks with us when we die.
Paul says to the young preacher Timothy, “Command them (the rich) to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:18-19 NIV).      
In the parable of the shrewd manager, for instance (see Luke 16:1-9), the manager falsified debtors’ records that cost his employer lots of money. He came up with a scheme in preparation for his future, thinking these debtors would be kind to him when he was broke after being fired by his employer. But in our case as Christians, we don’t have to falsify anything; we have God’s permission to use all that He has entrusted to us for His glory and for our benefit (see Matthew 6:19-20).   
          So Christian, what are you doing with what God has entrusted to you? Are you holding onto it tightly? Remember, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6 NIV). So let it go. It is not yours anyway; allow it to work for your future!
           “How?” you ask. Meet the needs you see around you, give to God’s work, and Jesus’ response to you will be, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35-36 NIV). 
If we don’t invest what God has entrusted to us now, we cannot hope for any future returns. If you’d like to hear God say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21 NIV), then do this: START TODAY PUTTING GOD’S RESOURCES TO WORK to benefit others!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Is Anything More Valuable Than Your Soul?

As Jesus was nearing the end of His life, He made sure His disciples knew how things were going to unfold. He talked about the importance of His followers being willing to lose their lives for His sake. During one such occasion, He asked them, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26.).  It has been hundreds of years since this question was first posed, but it still needs to be asked, and needs to be answered honestly.

What does this question mean? No matter what you think it means, the manner in which it is posed suggests what the correct answer should be. Although everyone is at liberty to answer this question either way, “Yes” would be the wrong answer, because the question is suggesting that you shouldn’t put anything above your soul.

There are individuals who have claimed to be Christians, but with the passing of time, instead of growing in faith, they are living in sin, and don’t seem to care. They avoid the Church, maybe in an effort to avoid confrontation by caring Christians. They act like they either have no conscience at all, or don’t care; I find that very bothersome and scary. How can “Christians” who know what the Bible says about sin feel comfortable living in it? Whatever sin they are “enjoying” cannot be that much more important than their souls, can it?   

The book of Hebrews addresses this issue. I think we all need to pay attention, because God cannot be mocked. He always fulfills His promise, whether it is to bless or to punish. When He said He’d destroy the world for their increased sins, He did! See Genesis 6:9-22, 7:11-24. When He first called Abram, He promised to bless him, make him into a great nation, and make him famous and a blessing to others (see Genesis 12:2-3). Again, He did! These fulfilled promises assure us of God’s faithfulness. See also: Genesis 15:4-5; 15:13-16.

The author of the book of Hebrews says, “If we deliberately continue sinning, after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies” (Hebrews 10:26-27 NLT). And to prove his point, the author reminds us of the consequences that resulted from disobeying the laws of Moses in the Old Testament, and goes on to explain why it will be worse for people who trample on the Son of God, and disrespect the blood of the covenant (see verses 28-29). This message should wake up any Christian who is willfully living in sin-“Is anything worth more than your soul?” No! The pleasures of sin are so temporary and fleeting, and in the end, they sting!

John addresses the issue of Christians caught up in sinful lifestyles this way: “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep sinning, because they are children of God” (1 John 3:9 NLT). His recommendation for prevention? “Anyone who continues to live in Him will not sin” (verse 6).

And how do we live in Him? By reading, studying, and meditating on His Word, allowing it to transform our way of thinking and living. As part of a vibrant relationship, we need to maintain open communication through prayer. Nobody can be applying the Word of God and praying for deliverance from temptation while living in sin!

The difference between the children of the devil and the children of God, according to John, is this: “Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God” (1 John 3:10 NLT). So if you claim to be a Christian but are enjoying living in sin, you need to ask yourself if you are really a child of God. It is very possible that you do not know Jesus in a personal way: that you are making a false claim. However, you can make a decision now to live for God by placing your faith in Jesus.

You decide where you are in your spiritual journey. Either you are not a Christian and need to be, or you made a decision for Christ at some point, but did not follow through. Either way you need to repent and allow the Word of God to guide you into godly living.

If you are a Christian, God has called you to be an ambassador for Christ. How are you going to accomplish that by living in sin? An ambassador represents his country of origin to another, by portraying his country in the best possible light. That is what God expects of His children; that we portray Him in the best possible light to the world. We don’t have to figure out how to do it; He has already given us the blueprint—godly living, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings” (John 8:31).  Let’s follow it! We've been redeemed by the blood of Christ; nothing should be more valuable to us than our souls! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


 “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). God could have judged us and condemned us to hell without mercy, and no one could have questioned Him. Instead, He made provision for our redemption, and did not rub our sins in our faces, even though He is without sin and hates sin.

Having responded to God’s love, we became partners with Him to draw the rest of the world to Him in love. How can we achieve this? The best and surest way is to follow our prototype, Jesus! The apostle Paul admonishes us to “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly beloved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV). 

So how did God show us His love? Definitely not by rubbing our sins in our faces, but by presenting to us the gospel of salvation in love, and letting us know the consequences of ignoring it. He implored us to come to Him, and so we did, and now we are set for life.

If we are going to be imitators of God, we need to know what our prototype did and how He did it. Remember when Jesus was out with His disciples, and they went through Sychar, a Samaritan town? Jesus sat by a well because He was tired. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well, Jesus asked her for a drink of water. The two had a conversation that led the woman to admitting her immoral life style. Jesus didn’t condemn her for her lifestyle; He offered her the Living Water that wells up in a person to eternal life (see John 4:1-26). 

On another occasion, the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery; they wanted her stoned according to the Law. Jesus did not go along with them; He rebuked them for their hypocrisy (see John 8:7), and then encouraged the woman to give up her sinful life style.  He said to her, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11 NIV).

As Christians, what should we do when, based on the Word of God, people’s lifestyles are clearly wrong?  Should we shame and condemn them? No! Our approach should be sharing the love of God and salvation through Christ. If we follow up with love, God will give the increase at the right time, leading them to faith. Then when we encourage them to read and study the Word, the Holy Spirit will convict them of whatever they happen to be doing wrong.

Let’s remember that we are not called to judge or convict people. We are called to “Go and make disciples of all nations, and baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).   

For now, let’s show people love and the way to salvation in Jesus, and leave the convicting, judging, and condemning to God for the appointed time! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Church Is Heaven's Embassy In The World

What’s an embassy, what is the Church, and how are the two similar? According to the Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary, an embassy is a body of diplomatic representatives; specifically: one headed by an ambassador. In other words, an embassy represents its government in another country. According to the Bible, the Church is the Body of Christ-sinners who have placed their faith in Jesus for salvation, thus making them citizens of heaven. Christians are therefore, sojourners on earth; our home is heaven, and the apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are Christ’s ambassadors (authorized representatives) here on earth.

Hence, both entities are established to represent higher powers (their governments). If one desires to know something about another country, one could go to that country’s closest embassy to find out, or ask any of the diplomatic representatives of that country they encounter. In the same way, individuals who’d like to know about God and heaven could contact the Church or Christians. As Christians, we should present our home and Lord in a way that makes people outside the Church hungry for what we have, and how they could also know our Lord in a personal way. It is our responsibility as citizens to introduce others to our Lord!

Some of the individuals who have never traveled outside their country of origin probably have very little knowledge about the importance of Embassies. They don’t care much about the role embassies play in international matters. Having been born and raised in Ghana, and currently living in the United States of America, I know a thing or two about embassies.

When considering relocating to another country, one can’t just up and move there without encountering an embassy. Every country has requirements for immigration from other countries. In order for me to gain access to the US, I had to go the US Embassy in Ghana, present the required documentation (quite extensive) for processing, and then be interviewed. On approval, I was issued a visa, permitting me to enter the US. That embassy was representing the government of the United States: protecting its interests, enforcing its laws even outside its shores, and making sure it is seen in the best possible light.       

Similarly, Christians are representing their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, here on earth! As the Church-heaven’s embassy, we should present the whole counsel of God to the world. We’re all ambassadors, and should maintain that status twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week! We can show folks outside the Church how to become fellow-citizens of our incredible country, whose designer and builder is God Almighty (see Hebrews 11:10). Armed with the information we share, those interested in becoming citizens will be directed to place faith in Jesus Christ, and can then look forward to their new home, where no one will ever shed another tear or experience sickness or death. We can also show them how they can contribute to the efficient running of the embassy by faithfully using their God-given talents and abilities.

An Embassy doesn’t run independent of the homeland; communication is ongoing whether there are problems or not. Likewise, the Church needs to be in constant communication with the Father, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV), because without Him we can do nothing (see John 15:5). Lines of communication are always open; there are no busy signals or voicemail messages. In fact, he is always with us and knows our needs before we even realize them.

Another role embassies play is looking out for the welfare of their citizens in the countries where they are based. Their citizens call on them when they run into trouble. Likewise, the Body of Christ supports one another, whatever the need. We pray for each other, encourage each other from the Scriptures, and meet social and financial needs as much as is possible.

Embassies and their ambassadors show travelers how to obtain visas to the countries they represent. The Church needs to show the world how to get entrance into heaven. Let’s do this diligently, because the time is coming when it will be too late to obtain a visa into heaven.