Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Your Invitation Has an Expiration Date

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An invitation is a written or verbal request inviting someone to go somewhere or to do something. Have you ever been invited to something like a wedding or a bridal shower? Do you remember that your invitation had an RSVP date? What the invitation really meant was, your presence at the event would be appreciated, but you have to respond by the stated date. Otherwise, it is assumed you are uninterested or unavailable, and you’d not be included in the count.

Here’s another example. Manufacturers are in business to make money, and their target market is the public. After all, if we don’t buy their products, what will they do with them, and how would they earn a living? It is common knowledge that competition is fierce among manufacturers, so many of them use all kinds of advertisements to draw sales away from their competitors.
One of the strategies they use is price reduction --commonly known as sales -- and another one is coupons use. What’s interesting about both strategies is that both are dated: they have expiration dates, forcing the buyer to purchase products by the specified deadline. If products are not purchased by the expiration dates, the discounts no longer apply and one has to pay full price for the products in question.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve thrown money away when I let a coupon expire, yet I misplace them all the time or forget that I even have them. In other words, I don’t treat coupons as if they are as valuable as I say they are. Fortunately, the products will probably still be available, whether or not there’s a sale or coupon. I will just have to pay a bit more.

God loves us and would like us to respond to Him. Although we are unaware of a specific date, God’s invitation into a relationship with Him has a time limit as well.  That date is not readily available as one might see on coupons, but I can assure you, your invitation to come to God expires when you die, or when Jesus returns to earth, whichever comes first. The Bible says so. God knows when, but we don’t, and that is why each person needs to take this invitation seriously and treat it with urgency. It is better to have the assurance now that God has a place for you in heaven, than get to the end only to find your name is not on the list. What a disappointment and loss that would be!

Having explained time limits, let me explain God’s invitation again. Through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, our first parents, sin was passed on to us. That sin caused a separation between God and man. In order to restore that relationship, Jesus died to pay the price for our sin. God’s love through the death of His Son, Jesus, is enough to cover every single person, but each person has to choose what they want. God will not force salvation on anyone, neither is He going to wait forever while people toil with the idea of loving God or something else. People have to take responsibility for their sins and make plans for their eternal future.

Living now without faith in Jesus means living in eternity later without God, and that means spending eternity in hell. Using the word hell is not a scare tactic; it is the truth, and should be addressed as such. Sugar-coating it or calling it by any other name won’t change what it is. Jesus’ invitation to you is, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT).

How are you going to respond to this invitation? Time is running out with every day that passes. You probably don’t have as much time as you think. This is God’s assurance when you repent and put your faith in Jesus, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God” (1 John 5:1 NLT), and “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13 NLT). Respond to this invitation, before it’s too late for you!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Eternity is Around the Corner

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Quite often when people die, you hear their loved ones say, “He (or she) is in a better place.” This is a comforting thought, and I am sure everybody wants to assume that about their deceased loved one. However, before we go any further, we need to ask ourselves, “Where is this better place, and how do people get there?”

 The Bible, the Word of God, talks about eternity (time without end) as being either in heaven or in hell. There is no neutral or in-between place, so when people talk about a better place, they are referring to heaven, since hell is not a desirable place. Heaven, however, is not an automatic destination for the deceased.

When people die, their living loved ones can comfort themselves any way they want, but that does not guarantee their deceased loved ones are in heaven. The biblical truth is this: only those who believe on the name of Jesus (see Romans 3:22) -- whose names are written in the Lamb’s (Jesus) book of life (see Revelation 21:27) -- will go to heaven.  People who do not believe on the name of Jesus Christ before they die cannot be wished or prayed into heaven by loved ones: not even by the church.

Eligibility for heaven is not based on gender, age, or social or political standing, nor  does it  depend on good works or anything else people do. It is based solely on the sacrifice Christ made by dying on the cross (see Ephesians 2:5). By that act, He made Himself the bridge between God and man. Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for sin, making Him the only way for sinners to come to God by faith in Jesus (see John 14:6).

This is your opportunity. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins now. He will forgive you, taking away the guilt of your sins, filling you with His Spirit as the deposit that guarantees your future with Him (see 2 Corinthians 1:22) and writing your name in His book of life.. Don’t count on your loved ones or your priests to wish or pray you into heaven after your death. It just doesn’t work that way.

If you refuse Christ’s offer for salvation, you have automatically and personally chosen to go to hell after you die. Remember: if you die without making this decision, you’ve missed the opportunity to go to heaven for good!

So, while you still live, I encourage you to make the decision that guarantees you will spend eternity in heaven. Your loved ones will then be able to confidently say without hesitation, at your passing, “He (or she) is in a better place.” Please make this decision soon: hopefully today, because eternity is around the corner!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


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, May 9, 2017


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/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 (see 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 unbelievers, 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 1:5). Every so
often, professionals go through certification and re-certification
to ensure their skills and knowledge are up to date. We 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, May 2, 2017


“Occupational hazard” is a very common expression in our society that refers to potential risks, dangers, or perils associated with one’s job or profession. For example, people who work with asbestos run the risk of developing lung cancer later on in life; roofers run the risk of falls and injuries. Most professions, if not all, have associated risks. 

So are there associated risks with Christian service (ministry)? The answer is yes!  There are associated risks for just being a Christian; Jesus warned, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV). The early church was bitterly persecuted. The hymnist captured it this way, “Mocked, imprisoned, stoned, tormented, sawn asunder, slain with sword.” The Church today still faces persecution in horrible ways, including isolation and being disowned by loved ones. Persecution and the like in themselves, as harsh as they sound, are really not the worse hazards associated with Christian ministry.

The worst, I believe, is DISCOURAGEMENT, which can happen to any Christian, no matter how spiritually mature. How does one arrive at discouragement? Discouragement creeps into our lives for various reasons and at different times. Discouragement can ensue when there’s not enough support or cheering on (encouragement), not enough supplies to work with, obstacles and threats in the way, and the absence of fruit. Discouragement, if not appropriately addressed, can lead to despondency and throwing in the towel.     

First King 18 recaps for us the contest between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to call on Baal to send down fire to consume their sacrifice, which of course didn’t happen.  On the other hand, God answered Elijah! When he called, fire came down from heaven, burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. After demonstrating that “The Lord-He is God! The Lord-He is God!” (1 King 18:39 NIV), Elijah had the prophets of Baal killed. King Ahab’s wife Jezebel swore to kill Elijah in revenge. So what did Elijah do?  He ran for his life; he went into hiding! He was so discouraged, he wanted to die. This was his prayer: “I have had enough, Lord, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 King 19:4 NIV).

Elijah was exhausted, persecuted, and afraid, which led to discouragement, to the point of wishing he were dead (maybe he had no prayer support). Before his discouragement, he was fine. He had challenged the people, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is god follow him” (1 King 18:21 NIV). He had also challenged the king without fear of punishment, telling him that he and his father’s house had made trouble for Israel (see 1 King 18:18). He then taunted the prophets of Baal about their god who could be asleep, deep in thought, busy, or travelling (see 1 King 18:27). Discouragement, however, changed everything for Elijah; he threw in the towel!

Discouragement can be a serious occupational hazard in Christian ministry. Let us remember to pray for one another, for our missionaries, and for our pastors. Let us cheer them on, and if at all possible, make sure they have all they need to get the job done.