Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Envy in Church Ministry

The Church is the Body of Christ, made up of born again sinners. Christ Himself is the head of the Body, and Christians, collectively, make up the remaining parts of the Body. We’ve each been given gifts and abilities with which to serve each other, for the welfare and growth of the whole Body. Much of Scripture teaches that we need each other (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-31), and for that reason we should encourage and pray for each other. We are taught to rejoice with each other over our victories (see Romans 12:15).

Unfortunately, sometimes, instead of rejoicing over each other’s function in the body, we fight. Some of the conflicts in churches stem from pride, envy, and jealousy, resulting in anger, divisions, and breakups. If we are obedient to the Word, we’ll not fall into the envy trap! For instance, we’re called to admonish each other, every single day, as long as it is called today (see Hebrews 3:13). If we honestly encourage and rejoice with each other, there won’t be room for envy.

In the Bible, 2 Chronicles 18, we read about the conflict between Zedekiah and Micaiah. Micaiah had prophesied defeat for King Ahab and Israel, the Northern Kingdom, as they faced an oncoming battle in Ramoth-Gilead. Prior to this, Zedekiah had prophesied victory, so Zedekiah, feeling jealous, responded by slapping Micaiah across the face, demanding: “Since when did the Spirit of the Lord leave me to speak to you?” (See 2 Chronicles 18:23). Zedekiah did not appreciate being challenged. Does this attitude ever happen in the church today?

The answer is yes, because love of attention and the desire to be the center of attention often leads to all kinds of conflicts in the church. Let’s be honest: who should be the center of attention in the church? God, of course! It’s not about any one individual, regardless of the position they hold in the Church, be it pastor, elder, deacon, teacher, or member.  The church is the house of God, the Body of Christ.  We should all take our roles seriously, be respectful of others and their roles, and serve one another with love. After all, we’re told to consider ourselves as unprofitable servants, after we’ve done all we’re commanded to do (see Luke 17:10).

During Jesus’ time, two of His disciples, James and John, who were brothers, requested to someday be granted the honor of sitting on either side of Him in His kingdom. When the other ten disciples heard about it, they were indignant (see Mark 10:35-41). The ten must have thought they deserved those seats just as much, and that the two brothers were self-centered and sneaky. Jesus confronted and rebuked them, saying, “Whoever wants to be a leader among you, must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).

So if these incidents happened then, and are still happening today, shouldn’t we find practical ways of dealing with them? We should admit that we have these tendencies and diligently work to confront them. The house of God should be peaceful. If each person seeks to serve others selflessly and promote the efforts of other members of the Body, there will be harmony and joy. If we learn to imitate Christ, we’ll serve others. There should be no room for envy and jealousy in the house of God; these accomplish nothing good or positive, but instead bring resentment, division, breakups, and the like.

Having said that, we need to understand there are instances when confronting one another is also needed to grow and mature the church. In other words, when things are going wrong, we need to speak up, but in love. Healthy confrontation is sometimes imperative in the church to avoid confusion or shame to God’s name and the church. In addition, church discipline has a place in the Body of Christ, but should be the last resort: after one-on-one efforts have failed (see Matthew 18:15-20).

We need to do all we can to resolve conflicts in a kind and loving manner. Envy and pride should never be the reason for conflict in the church. When the devil succeeds in causing a breakup, the church is left with hurt, finger-pointing, and a blame game. Let’s remember Jesus’ heart and prayer for the church as recorded in John 17:11, “…that they may be united just as we are.” The Trinity will never have an in-fight: why should we? Right from the start God, speaking to the Trinity, said, “Let us create human beings in our image, to be like us” (Genesis 1:26 NLT). Of course, with the fall of man, that intention has not materialized, but with the victory Christ won on the cross, we can work towards that end—unity!

“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1 NLT)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Obedience is defined as compliance, agreement, submission, or conformity. In short, obedience is doing the bidding of another person, usually, the bidding of a person in authority over you, as in parent/child, master/servant, or boss/employee relationships.

What are the reasons for compliance in relationships? People usually obey or comply out of fear of punishment. An insubordinate employee for instance could be fired; a disobedient child could have privileges suspended. Other reasons for compliance could be out of respect, being in agreement with the orders, or trusting that the individual in authority knows better and is right.

So when it comes to Christians’ relationship with God, why should we obey Him? All the aforementioned reasons apply when it comes to relating to God, but in addition, He commands us to diligently obey His command (see Deuteronomy 6:17). As our Father, God is entitled to our respect; it is our duty therefore to respect and obey Him. Through the prophet Malachi, God asked His people, the Israelites, “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve?” (Mal 1:6 NLT). If we know God as well as we should, we’ll embrace His commands and instructions, we’ll love to obey Him, because His commands are for our wellbeing (see Jeremiah 11:29), and not for our detriment. He knows the outcome of all the commands He gives us. Human parents on the other hand, are not always so sure, and sometimes, outcomes of their own instructions take them by surprise. Not so with God.

We Christians need to obey God out of trust; let’s look to Abraham for that example. God promised him a son, Isaac, through whom He’d bless the whole world (see Genesis 17:19; 21:12). Then later, God told him, “Go and sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2 NLT). Was God speaking from both sides of His mouth, had He forgotten His promise concerning Isaac? Of course not! But guess what, Abraham did not ask any questions, and did not hesitate to obey; the very next day, he set out to go and sacrifice Isaac as God had commanded. And he would have killed Isaac had the angel of God not called from heaven to stop him (see Genesis 22:). Abraham obeyed the command, because he trusted God. The book of Hebrews tells us, “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again” (Hebrews 11:19 NLT).

There should also be obedience out of fear for God, because He is capable of resisting and disciplining us for disobedience. Jesus once said to His disciples, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NLT). This of course doesn’t mean we should have a morbid fear of God; instead, we need to have a reverential awe of Him. That will mean obeying Him out awe, love, respect, and trust. If we choose to not obey, then definitely, we need to afraid, very afraid! His holiness requires that He reprimand sin in any form including insubordination.     

  It is so wonderful to know that although God is entitled to our obedience with no questions asked, and although obeying Him is for our own good, He promises to bless us when we do (see Exodus 20:6). Those are not empty promises either. In Deuteronomy 28:1-14, we’re given a list of blessings that will come our way when we are obedient. When the Israelites were being unfaithful about tithing, God challenged them, “If you do…I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10 NLT).

So do you think you should obey God? If so what would be your reason? Personally, I love to obey Him, because He’s God and I’m not. He commands me to, and that should be a good reason for anyone. In the absence of all that, I know He loves me, and through His Son Jesus, He has saved my soul, and is preparing a place for me in heaven. He has the power to do anything, He directs my life in ways that nobody else could. His love for me overwhelms me, and obedience is the only way I can prove my love for Him (see 1 John 5:3).  Think about it, and be obedient!      

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


 At the end of the year 2015, we had no idea what to expect from 2016, but we plunged into it all the same, trusting God to guide, direct, and provide for us. The year 2016 just ended, and no matter what our circumstances were, God was right there with us. He fulfilled His promise, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God” (Isaiah 43:2-3 NIV).

You may have experienced ill health, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one, or other hardships in 2016, but God honored His Word, and sustained you! Do you know or do you have any idea what 2017 holds? Please don’t answer “yes,” because you would be claiming to be God, which you are not. Only God knows the future! 

Jesus warns us, and our experience confirms, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV). The year 2017 will undoubtedly bring its own set of challenges, but we are encouraged, because Jesus said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). This warning applies as long as we are in the world. The date is irrelevant. If we believe that Jesus is the same yesterday, and today and forever (see Hebrews 13:8), then we know He will remain faithful, and He will keep His Word and walk us through 2017, just as He walked us through 2016 and all the years before that.

Not knowing the details of 2017, can be frightening, but we can hold on to His promise that says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

As we claim God’s promises for 2017, shouldn’t we be making Him some promises? I think we should! Let us make it our aim to be well pleasing to Him at all times, in all that we do and say (see 2 Corinthians 5:9). That attitude will be in keeping with the admonition of Moses to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV).

On the very night Jesus was betrayed, he told his disciples, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15NIV). Let’s demonstrate our love for Him by being obedient to His Word. Some sins so easily beset us; we need to be vigilant and prayerful, in order not to fall prey to any of them in 2017. Peter enumerates some of these sins that we should watch out for, in order not to allow the enemy to make us victims. He says, “Rid yourselves of all malice, and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1 NIV). 

Christians struggle with one or more of these sins every day, an indication that we are in a battle. Our weapons and strategy for victory are quite different from the ones used by the world. The weapons that will assure victory over sin are prayer, the Word of God, and obedience to the Word of God. In addition to our weapons, we need to be outfitted with our God-designed armor, 24/7 (see Ephesians 6:13-18).  

This year, let’s draw closer to our Commander in Chief, Jesus, and learn from Him how to wage war successfully. I suggest our promise to God for this year should be, “Lord, with your help, I will be more prayerful, be a student of your Word, and seek to be obedient to you.”   

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Man's Spiritual Health Record

Man’s Condition – (Sin)
Sin nature, evidenced by (not all-Inclusive):
Pride, arrogance 
·        God’s Diagnosis -
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
“The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Psalm 14:2-3
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 
·        Prognosis of Man’s sinful Condition -
The wages of sin is death in the absence of God’s intervention.
Romans 6:23; John 3:18  
·        The Only Available Cure–(Faith in the name of Jesus)
“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
Whoever believes in Him is not condemned.” John 3:18 
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.”  Isaiah 55:7

·        Status Post Treatment –(Assurance of forgiveness and eternal life)
Forgiven – “I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name.” 1John 2:12
Provision for Future  sins- “If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense –Jesus Christ the Righteous One.” 1John 2:2:1.
Eternal Life - “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1John 5:13