The Charge Against Rich Believers

Grace, mercy and peace be with you in abundance, from God, our Father, and from Jesus, our Lord and King. Oh my friends! How are the riches of this world so capable of shutting forever the doors of heaven to those who desire to go in. Jesus made it explicitly clear that it will be especially hard, virtually impossible it seems, for rich people to enter His Kingdom.

Matthew 19:23,24 [CSB] – Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 

And His words were soon confirmed through the composition of the earliest churches.

1 Corinthians 1:26,27 – Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.

Our concern in this rather long article, is on people who are rich within the church. In other words, rich Christians. 1) We will first look at how God deals with them, as opposed to those who are poor. 2) We will then look at two categories of sin that are particularly specific to the rich in the church. 3) Then we will identify who the rich are. And lastly, 4) We will look at what the rich believer should do. 

I. The Rich Must Realize that No One Can Boast in God’s Presence

Poor or rich, no human should boast in God’s presence. But it is the rich, the intellectuals, the educated, the ones of “noble birth” who are more likely to boast in His presence.

1 Corinthians 1:28,29 – God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one may boast in his presence.

Matthew 11:25 – At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants.

The problem with the rich is the trust they place in what they have, who they are, or what they have achieved. And for the rich who enters the church, God has a very specific way of dealing with this issue. As recorded in James, the poor, the one who has nothing, will be shown the precious value of what he truly possesses (the riches of heaven). But the rich, on the other hand, the one who lives comfortably, will be shown the worthlessness of everything that he possesses.

James 1:9-11 – Let the brother of humble circumstances boast in his exaltation, 10 but let the rich boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. 11 For the sun rises and, together with the scorching wind, dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance perishes. In the same way, the rich person will wither away while pursuing his activities.

This apparent harshness toward the rich is not the evidence of God’s hatred of the rich, but of His determination to open his or her eyes so that he or she may see life the way He (God) Himself sees life. What we have are nothing, the intelligence we have is worthless, our family inheritance or name has as much value as the most beautiful flower that fade away in an instant under severe weather. And so the rich believer will be humbled, and through that painful process, will be brought to glorify God. But the poor believer will go through a different path, although leading to the same outcome, for he is in need comfort in the midst of his suffering. And so God will show him how exalted he really is.

II. Two Major Charges Against Rich Believers

Jesus and James present at least two categories of sin committed by the rich believers.

A. Preferential treatment: Despising the poor

The first charge is the preferential treatment given to the rich and how the poor are despised.

James 2:1-4 – My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 2 For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, 3 if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” 4 haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

The seriousness of this sin cannot be overemphasized. In the very next verse, James gives one of the reasons for the gravity of this sin: The poor are God’s chosen people to be rich in faith and heirs of His Kingdom.

James 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?  

One can certainly understand why one of the – if not “the” – most dreadful warning given by Jesus was in direct reference to the treatment (or lack thereof) of the poor.

Matthew 25:41-46“Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’
45 “Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

B. Misuse of Wealth

In Matthew 19, after a rich man had rejected the advice that Jesus gave him, to give his wealth to the poor and follow Him, Jesus declared that it will be very difficult for those who are rich to enter His Kingdom.  Yet this person, from what is recorded, was not a bad person! He had first asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. To which Jesus replied that he should keep the commandment: Do no kill, steal, commit adultery, etc. And this was his answer

Matthew 19:20 – “I have kept all these,” the young man told him. “What do I still lack?”

Yet, when it came time to doing what Jesus told him after “Give all to the poor and follow me”, he could not do it. Kingdom access: Denied!

Jesus also gave a parable to illustrate how the rich misuse their wealth.

Luke 12:16-21Then he told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? 18 I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’
21 “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

This man looked at his wealth as his security for the future. This, according to God, qualifies as foolishness.

III. Who is the Rich Believer?

My friend, here are a couple of question: Do you consider yourself a Christian? Do you have a safe roof to sleep under? Are you secure in terms of what you will eat tomorrow? Do you have a decent, regular income? Are you considered at least in the middle class?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then, you are very likely a rich believer. You may not be a millionaire, but you are rich. The vast majority of the earth population live in deep poverty, with no access to clean water, food shortages, and no decent roof above their head. Yet you might be looking at your investments, dreaming that one day they may generate the kind of return that will allow you to retire and simply “enjoy” life…like the man in the parable of Jesus. If so, how are you different? You are not looking at hurting anyone and neither did he! But your trust in your riches is the problem, your dream to be rich is your problem.

The 12 disciples of Jesus were certainly not as rich as the man in Matthew 19. Nevertheless, what Jesus declared about the difficulty of the rich to enter His Kingdom made them very nervous, and rightfully so! This prompted them to seek some reassurance from Him!

Matthew 19:25,27 – When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, “Then who can be saved?”…27 Then Peter responded to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you. So what will there be for us?”

So you see, one needs not be “crazy” rich to fall into the category of the rich believer, and hence, being found guilty of the sins described above.

IV. What Should the Rich Believer Do?

The answer to this question is simple, but the implications are profound. James says, do not engage in preferential treatment. Jesus says, invite those who cannot repay you. And Paul says.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 – Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, 19 storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life.

You the rich, I pray that God will open your eyes, that you may see where you are falling short. You may be a good person, a good man and woman, but you may be in danger of being found wanting. Your trust in your riches, in your intelligence, in your lineage, or in your name may be brought to full display upon His return, to your shame in the presence of His Holy Angels, unless you repent and hid those words that He has pronounced to warn you.

To the King Eternal. Rich in Mercy and ever Faithful. JESUS.

AMEN.

I Must Face My Goliath

My brothers and sisters;

Perhaps this title sounds cliché, since the account of David and Goliath – recorded in 1 Samuel 17 – is a classic biblical story in its truest sense: A young man, a shepherd, not even considered worthy to be counted among the men of war, slays a giant that no soldier dared challenging.

When a Goliath presents itself in your life, you have no other option but to face it. And to overcome it, you have one weapon: Your Faith in the Lord Jesus.

Hence, since it is evident that not all challenges we face in life require faith, you will realize that Goliath, as used in this letter, is not merely a major challenge, but instead the opportunity, sometimes orchestrated by God Himself, to demonstrate your faith for His own glory, your own exponential growth of faith, and the work of His Kingdom.

Goliath makes itself known

We learn in 1 Samuel 17 that Goliath presented Himself to Israel every single day for 40 days!

1 Samuel 17:16 Every morning and evening for forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand.

We also learn that from the very first day, Goliath had already informed the Israelites about what they had to do.

1 Samuel 17:8-10“…Choose one of your men and have him come down against me. 9 If he wins in a fight against me and kills me, we will be your servants. But if I win against him and kill him, then you will be our servants and serve us.”

Yet, rather than facing him, the Israelites will put themselves – every single day for 40 days – in formation to engage the Philistines, only to run for their lives whenever Goliath would come.

1 Samuel 17:21-24Israel and the Philistines lined up in battle formation facing each other. …suddenly the champion named Goliath, the Philistine from Gath, came forward from the Philistine battle line and shouted his usual words, which David heard. 24 When all the Israelite men saw Goliath, they retreated from him terrified.

Are you occupying yourselves so as not to face your Goliath?

It should be noted that ultimately, none of the activities that the army of Israel was engaging itself in at that time actually mattered, for they would never have won that battle through them. Goliath was there, and he was the challenge they had to face.

Do you have a Goliath in your life – an opportunity to demonstrate and exponentially grow in faith – which, in fear, you are trying to avoid? Perhaps, just like the army of Israel, you are engaging in activities which, to the casual observer, is a beautiful demonstration of your faith as a Christian. Perhaps you are very active at you Church. Or perhaps you enjoy participating in conversations to defend the scriptures. Or maybe, you use the “I am not good enough” card, as an excuse for your sloppiness, as if it is by their own strength that Jesus’ followers are to face their Goliath.

When Goliath shows up it changes everything. At that point, it must be faced, everything else becoming of little priority.

Jesus, Abraham and many others had to face their Goliath

Abraham had been a God-fearing man for some time. He obeyed God and knew how to properly offer sacrifices to Him. But when his Goliath showed up, everything else became secondary. He had to face it.

Genesis 22:1,2After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 “Take your son,” he said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

Jesus did many great things during His ministry. He taught, healed, cast demons out of people and demonstrated the worth of the Kingdom of God. But then the time came when His Goliath came also, and He had to face it: It was His own sacrifice. Everything else became secondary to facing His Goliath. And just like Abraham, Him too did face His Goliath and overcame.

Philippians 2:8he [the Lord Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross.

Jesus could have chosen to avoid His Goliath and continue His ministry, but then the whole plan of man’s redemption would have been in jeopardy. And who knows what would have been the outcome of Abraham refusing to sacrifice Isaac, His son?

Likewise, it is reasonable to believe that there are consequences, perhaps very big ones, when we refuse, often in fear, to face our Goliath. I pray that we, me first, find the strength and courage in Jesus to face our own Goliaths. They are there for a reason, for God’s glory, your own exponential growth of faith, and the work of His Kingdom.

In the name of Jesus. AMEN.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ;

May the grace and peace of God our Father, and of our Lord Jesus-Christ be with you. I thank the Father of Lights, in the multitude of His mercies toward me, for allowing me to write these few lines concerning Christmas, a widely celebrated holiday. The question before us is whether Christians should celebrate Christmas.

This question is not a trivial one, and for many, it is a sensitive one. Many indeed have already written extensively on it. Bible scholars largely agree on the fact that Christmas was not the time when Jesus was born, and its secular origins leading to how it is celebrated today are also very well-documented.

I submit to you that the celebration of Christmas be viewed in light of our freedom in Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:29,30…why is my freedom judged by another person’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thanksgiving, why am I criticized because of something for which I give thanks?

The Apostle Paul was addressing the question of whether Christians should eat meat sacrificed to idols, and his answer was, Yes, they can…but!

1 Corinthians 10:25-29Eat everything that is sold in the meat market, without raising questions for the sake of conscience, 26 since the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it. 27 If any of the unbelievers invites you over and you want to go, eat everything that is set before you, without raising questions for the sake of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This is food from a sacrifice,” do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who told you, and for the sake of conscience. 29 I do not mean your own conscience, but the other person’s.

The reason why Christians were allowed to eat meat sacrificed to idols is because Christians, by thanksgiving, recognize that regardless of what others may say or practice (e.g. offering a meat to their idols), there is only one God, and everything belong to Him, including that meat sacrificed to idols.

1 Corinthians 8:4-6About eating food sacrificed to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him.

But the reason there was a caveat to this permission was the effect of our eating on the conscience of the unbelievers who were eating precisely with the objective of honoring their idols. Paul laid this argument as follows

1 Corinthians 8:9-11 …be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, the one who has knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 So the weak person, the brother or sister for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. 12 Now when you sin like this against brothers and sisters and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ.

There are several key elements which demand our attention:

Element 1: Paul Is Referring To Unbelievers as “Brothers” and “Sisters”

While these terms are often used to refer to members of the church, the context of this passage indicates (from the best of our understanding) that Paul is using them here to refer to unbelievers. And he refers to members of the Church as “the ones who have knowledge”. Which knowledge? The knowledge “all true Christians” have that there is only one God and one Lord, which he restated a few verses earlier (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).

Paul therefore, is not talking, as some may suppose, about different beliefs systems within Christianity, regarding eating and drinking, for every Christians should know that everything is the Lord’s.

Element 2: Christ Died For The Unbelievers Too!

Instead, Paul seeks to remind us that Christ died for all, including unbelievers. Indeed, it is God’s desire that all will accept His gift of salvation through Jesus. Therefore, Christians should be careful with their actions because they might contribute to the loss of some of those unbelievers. This is sinning against Christ (1 Corinthians 8:12)

Element 3: The Contrast Between 1 Corinthians 8 And 1 Corinthians 10

In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul stated…

1 Corinthians 8:10For if someone sees you, the one who has knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols?

When a Christian goes into an idol’s temple, he is aware that all the food he will find has been sacrificed to idols. And the unbeliever seeing him may be further encouraged to eat food offered to idols. But while the Christian is enjoying his freedom in Christ, the unbeliever will dig himself or herself deeper in his or her idolatry. Hence, the unbeliever may perish, and therefore the Christian, acting unwisely, is sinning.

In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul stated…

1 Corinthians 10:25-27Eat everything that is sold in the meat market, without raising questions for the sake of conscience, 26 since the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it. 27 If any of the unbelievers invites you over and you want to go, eat everything that is set before you, without raising questions for the sake of conscience.

Here the Christian does not have prior knowledge of the meat. He is invited by someone and is free to eat without consequences. Matter of fact, he is even advised not to ask to meat provenance (why should he complicate matters!).

But, if he is informed by his host that the meat was sacrificed to idols, then the case becomes similar to 1 Corinthians 8 and he should therefore refrain from eating it, for the same reason – not to embolden the unbeliever further.

1 Corinthians 10:28, 29 – But if someone says to you, “This is food from a sacrifice,” do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who told you, and for the sake of conscience. 29 I do not mean your own conscience, but the other person’s.

The Celebration of Christmas May Not Be A Different Problem

There may lie the difficulty of the Christmas celebration. We are free in Christ and therefore we recognize that everything is the Lord’s including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! They are the Lord’s. And if by giving Thanks we celebrate these times, I believe our Thanksgivings are accepted.

We are also free to celebrate Christmas with whomever invites us. But are we allowed to celebrate it in a way that would encourage some further in their idolatry? The answer is No, we are not. The idol’s temple gave a different meaning to the meat that was sacrificed in it, and so is the declaration of the host that the meat he just served was sacrificed to idols. Outside of the idol’s temple, and in the absence of the host’s confession, the Christians was permitted to eat meat sacrificed to idols.

I submit to you that similarly, in celebrating Christmas, Christians should not engage in activities which challenge the sovereignty of God and of Jesus. For instance – and I pray I am speaking with the Lord’s permission – decorating your house and exchanging gifts are permitted, while teaching your children the mythical person of Santa Claus and his reindeers, who rewards children for their good deeds is not, since only God is worthy of our praise and worship, and it is God who give good gifts.

James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Some unbelievers think very little of Santa Claus, although they would not mind taking a picture with him or even decorate their house with him. This may be similar to the past when some unbelievers did not think much of idols, and easily ate the food sacrificed to them.

But others are careful to perpetuate, year after year, and generation after generation, the person of Santa Claus, their children truly believing in his existence and his purpose. This may be similar to the past when other unbelievers thought highly of idols, and would eat the food, not just because it was food, but “because” it was sacrificed to idols. We are not permitted to engage in activities which would only further encourage these beliefs.

These statements, are in agreement to how Paul concluded his teaching on the matter, that whatsoever you do, you ought to ask yourself this main question: Is it to the Glory of God?

1 Corinthians 10:31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.

In Jesus Name. AMEN.

NO! My Friends, Christ is NOT There!

Friends;

May the grace, mercy and peace of God be with you in abundance, through Jesus, the faithful Witness. Oh my dear friends, it is noteworthy that one of the very signs of the end-times resembles so much the fulfillment of the great commission, recorded in Matthew 28.

Matthew 28:19 – Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

The wise child of God ought to ask Himself: Is “Christ everywhere today” the fulfillment of the great commission? Or is it the fulfillment of Christ’s Own prophecy regarding the great tribulation?

Matthew 24:23 – Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not…26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

As I observe the times in which I live, I believe that Matthew 24 is unfolding before my very eyes. And it is not a call that I am hearing here and there saying…hey, here is Christ, hey, he is in the desert. NO…what I am hearing are SCREAMS so loud my temples feel like they will explode! They are SCREAMING…CHRIST IS HERE, CHRIST IS HERE, CHRIST IS HERE it is too hard to bear.

Look, look my friends how churches are proliferating everywhere and embracing worldly practices. When was the last time you saw churches innovating and disturbing the fabric of their surrounding? They sure are modernizing, but they are not innovating. They copy everything from the world and offer nothing for the world to copy. They have become masters at blending with their environment…Ohhh the tragedy!

Look how Youth camps and conferences are in record attendance. Look how today’s Worship services rival the best performances of Hollywood, looking more like rock bands and Hip-Hop concerts, employing EVERY known technique to appeal to the senses: Light, smoke, mood, sound effects, etc.

Everyone is screaming…CHRIST IS HERE…and I cannot bear!

No…No! NOOO my friend! It is a lie and I will not fall for it. CHRIST IS NOT HERE! CHRIST IS NOT THERE!

1 Corinthians 1:13 – Is Christ divided?…

Just like Jesus was born in a lowly place and not in a palace. Just like the blood of salvation was offered outside the gate of the city and not in the midst of the Temple, just like Jesus appeared to meet His disciples in small houses and a beach shore, or on a road to Damascus to convert a sinner rather than in a manicured Synagogue that screamed holiness, Jesus is found among the lowly and the humble, the ones who endeavor to obey His voice.

Jesus Has chosen His residence, and His residence is the heart of the Humble.

John 14:23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Humble yourself before Him with a sincere heart…and Christ will come! Christ will be there!

In His Name. AMEN.

Were Not Ten Cleansed?

Dear Servants of Jesus-Christ;

May the peace, mercy and grace of God our Father, and of His Son Jesus-Christ, our Lord, be with you. Through God’s Spirit, I trust that I may exhort you to press on and continue to abound in good works, even when the beneficiaries of your good deeds do not express any gratitude toward God.

Luke 17 records such instance, where Jesus, in disappointment asked

Luke 17:17Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?

Let’s take a look at the context.

Luke 17:11-19On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

The response of the nine lepers is, unfortunately, not uncommon of those who receive the mercy and grace of God. They rejoice greatly indeed at the grace they have received, for they see their burden lifted. But their joy does not translate into God receiving any glory. At times, it is the messenger of God who is at fault, as he or she may seek glory for himself. But in the case above, it is the recipient who is not rendering to God what is due to Him. To the servants, this may be discouraging.

We see that Jesus said“Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”. As the perfect messenger of God, Jesus never sought glory for Himself, but for His Father, and by the grace of God, such ingratitude did not deter Him to continue to abound in the good works His Father had commissioned Him to perform.

As we honor Christ by serving others, we should adopt the same attitude. We should share the grace of God freely, while we lament on the reality that many who will receive this grace will not return and glorify God. Their newfound freedom will not translate into a God-honoring life.

We see in verse 15 that the one who returned praised God with a loud voice!

Here is something the servants of the Lord may learn. For it is evident that the leper who returned – as well as the other nine – knew that it was GOD who had extended His mercy to Him through Jesus. We too, we must ensure that the recipients of our good deeds are fully aware that the it is GOD, not us, extending His grace on them.

Here goes the first key to not only protecting ourselves from sinning by robbing God of His glory, but also to giving the recipients everything they need to give God His glory.

But we should refrain – in our desire to see God glorified – from adopting the carrot-and-the-stick approach, whereby we first “force” the needy to hear “the gospel preached” before his or her physical need is met. At best, this often results in hypocrisy, for the recipient knows that unless he publicly praises God first, he will not be freed from his burden.

A servant seeks to please His Master. Many will not return and give God glory, but simply move on and enjoy the grace they have received. We should not be discouraged. We should move forward, ever abounding in good works, for just as we see our Master working, we too, should be working.

May the Lord continue to empower you for the work of His Kingdom.

In Jesus name. AMEN.

Drawing Inferences from Past Blessings

Dear friends;

May the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father, and of His Son, our Lord Jesus-Christ, be with you as you read these lines. Friends, the accounts of the people of Israel – how they repeatedly tempted God – soon after He had saved them from the Egyptians by partying the Red Sea, are recorded to teach us that we should guard our hearts from falling unto unbelief, by constantly drawing inferences from His past work in us.

Indeed, one of our greatest deficiencies is either the unwillingness or inability to draw inferences from – or said another way, to extrapolate – God’s blessings in our lives. We can recognize God’s blessing in a specific situation in our life, but we are either unwilling or unable to deepen our understanding of God and His Character. As a result, we are unable to see past that specific blessing or situation. We are either unwilling or unable to derive from that specific experience, that God will bless us again, again, and again.

We see this happening to Israel. The same people who witnessed the partying of the Red Sea, only 3 days after started to murmur against God because they could not find any water to drink. There God made another miracle by making the water of Marah sweet and then brought them in a place with 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees.

Exodus 15:22-25 [ISV] Then Moses led Israel from the Reed Sea and they went to the desert of Shur. They traveled into the desert for three days and did not find water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water at Marah because it was bitter…24 Then the people complained against Moses: “What are we to drink?” 25 Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, which he threw into the water, and the water became sweet.

Soon after they started to complain about what they should eat, going as far as regretting having left Egypt! This is where God responded with another miracle where He first brought quails, and every morning, He brought Manna for them to eat [Exodus 16:4-35].

Exodus 16:2,3 [ISV] The whole congregation of the Israelis complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert. 3 The Israelis told them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt when we sat by the cooking pots, when we ate bread until we were filled—because you brought us to this desert to kill this entire congregation with hunger.”

We see here the failure of the Israelites to make inferences from each blessing of God. They could not – or were unwilling to – conclude that if God had saved them from the Egyptians, He not only could not, but also would not let them perish in the desert.

In the times when Jesus walked on the earth, we saw the same issue taking place, at multiples times. And Jesus rebuked his disciple for it, addressing this issue as a lack of faith…by failing to understand!

Matthew 16:8-10 [ISV]Knowing this, Jesus asked them, “You who have little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you don’t have any bread? 9 Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected, 10 or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many baskets you collected?

We must do a better job at drawing inferences from God’s blessings. We should see them beyond their immediate context and see in them opportunities to better understand God’s ways. This is yet another mechanism by which our faith grows. When we face a new situation, regardless of whether we have faced something similar in the past or not, we should a better job at inferring that if God blessed us in the past, then He will do it again. We should not fall unto unbelief.

Reading how God responded to the Israelites back in Exodus, or how Jesus addressed His disciples in Matthew, it is clear that God knows that we are capable of such exercise for He is the one who has created us, as intelligent beings, and beings who can choose to hear Him, and therefore be strong in faith.

Do not be doubtful dear friend in the face of your calamity. Learn to draw inferences from God’s blessings! Be strong in faith.

In Jesus name. AMEN.

You Are Being Watched!

Dear friends;

I pray that the Grace of God, His peace and mercy are upon you as you read these words. In the name of the Lord Jesus, I would like to assure you that you are regularly being watched. You may not like this fact, but Christians especially should be very mindful of the fact that their lives are under a constant microscope. What you do is known, everything you say is recorded, and whatever you think is known!

THERE IS PLENTY OF EVIDENCE IN THE SCRIPTURE THAT TELL US THAT THIS IS TRUE

Luke 8:17There is nothing hidden that won’t be revealed, and there is nothing secret that won’t become known and come to light.
Matthew 12:36 – I tell you, on Judgment Day people will give an account for every thoughtless word they have uttered 

We are not being informed of this fact to drive us to paranoia, but to wisdom. Many a Christian live foolishly and suffer the consequences for being ignorant.   

Look at what Jesus said in the book of Revelation, and how many times He said it…

Revelation 2:2I know what you’ve been doing, your toil, and your endurance. I also know that you cannot tolerate evil people…
Revelation 2:9I know your suffering and your poverty—though you are rich…
Revelation 2:13I know where you live…
Revelation 2:19I know what you’ve been doing—your love, faithfulness, service, and endurance—and that your last actions are greater than the first…
Revelation 3:1 I know what you’ve been doing. You are known for being alive, but you are dead…

Demons are also regularly watching you…

1 Peter 5:8,9Be clear-minded and alert. Your opponent, the Devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith…

YOUR FAITH IS REGULARLY TESTED

Whether it is to make you slip in your walk of faith, or to make you realize where you are still weak so that you will take corrective measures, your faith is constantly under scrutiny. Every moment of your life is an occasion for the state of your faith to be manifested. The big tests and the small, all work to evaluate and strengthen your faith. The big attacks and the small, all work to destroy it.

But Sometimes, we have no one to blame but ourselves…

James 1:13,14When someone is tempted, he should not say, “I am being tempted by God,” because God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. 14 Instead, each person is tempted by his own desire, being lured and trapped by it.
James 4:3 – You ask for something but do not get it because you ask for it for the wrong reason—for your own pleasure.

GOD IS PATIENT

God’s patience toward us makes a lot of sense and is critical in light of the fact that our lives are constantly evaluated. He does not want us to perish, therefore He gives us an opportunity to come back, or to simply come on the right track.

2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some people understand slowness, but is being patient with you. He does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to find room for repentance.

BUT GOD’S PATIENCE HAS SOME CLEAR LIMITS

While the scriptures are full of evidences of God’s enduring patience toward us, there are also ample evidence that this patience is not without limit. One will do well to recall how He sent the big flood in the days of Noah, or how He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, or how He destroyed the people of Israel in the wilderness after He had saved them from Egypt. Lastly, one can read this clearest of statements from Jesus, a testimony of His patience reaching its limit.

Revelation 2:21,22 – But I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and who teaches and leads my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refused to repent of her immorality.

GOD WILL SEND A POWERFUL DELUSION

We are informed in advance that God will send a powerful delusion to seal the fate of those who would have made light of His patience and not repented. It is a very powerful delusion because it is designed to separate the false believers from the true ones.

Distinguishing the true believers from false ones is a task best left in God’s hands. While we may have, with the Holy Spirit, the ability to distinguish between them, there are cases that even the most seasoned believers will not be able to discern. But here, God has engineered the most perfect solution. And His solution will absolutely separate the false from the true.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-11The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the power of Satan. He will use every kind of power, including miraculous signs, lying wonders, 10 and every type of evil to deceive those who are dying, those who refused to love the truth that would save them. 11 For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. 12 Then all who have not believed the truth but have taken pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

Those among us who, rather than truly turning to God in repentance still have pleasure in what this life is so willing to offer will not be able to resist the deception that God will unleash on us. While the most clever among us can fool the rest of us about their faith, this deception will act as a precision device designed to extract the deepest and truest desires of their hearts and show that in fact, they still preferred this life rather than the life Jesus demanded.

Interestingly, looking at the immediate context of this passage, we can see that this delusion is associated with the great falling away in the Church, predicted in the scriptures (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

CONCLUSION

My friend, it is clear that God is patient toward us, but that He is also asking us to have a true change of heart. He is asking you and me to truly repent and follow Him. He does not want us somewhat dedicated to Him, or even 90% dedicated to Him, but 100% dedicated to Him. True, He is not talking about a perfect life for He knows that we are not capable, yet, of it. Nor is He asking all of us to be full-time missionaries and pastors. But He is talking about you making every effort possible, with the amazing power and help of the Holy Spirit, to live the most holy life you can possibly live, a life that honors His Son Jesus, who died for you. You are indeed being watched!

In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

The Foolishness of the Spirit

Dear friends;

Greetings from our God and Father, and from our Lord, Jesus, the Christ. This letter is an updated version of an article I originally posted in July 2013, pertaining to the foolishness of the acts and ways of the Spirit. Yet, it is according to the Spirit of God, that Christians are commanded to be led.

WHAT DOES NATURE TEACH US?

Romans 1:20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…

I was at a zoo not too long ago where I took the picture of the tiger you see here. Thankfully, there was a “very” thick glass separating us. This tiger, like the crocodiles and the many other animals I saw that day has a strength that far exceeds mine. Without the glass separating us, I simply would not stand a chance in a physical combat (if there is even one to begin with). Yet I thought

Men were able to lock this tiger in a cage. Men also caged all the lions, the crocodiles, and even the elephants in that zoo. Some men (and women) did all this so that others can come and look at them“.

Then I thought, “what is it that we, human, have that allows us to dominate all these animals?” A mind of course! We can think, we can reason, they cannot.

Then I thought

“if only he could, I am sure this tiger would give up all its strength in a heartbeat just to get a piece of my mind”.

WHY? BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW STRONG HE IS, HIS POWER CANNOT BE COMPARED TO THE POWER OF MY MIND.

HOW MUCH MORE POWERFUL IS THE MIND COMPARED TO THE BODY?

Well, we can’t really tell because the mind and the body are on completely different scales, the mind being evidently on a far superior one. NO AMOUNT OF BODILY EXERCISE CAN DEVELOP A MIND. EITHER ONE HAS A MIND, OR ONE DOES NOT.

WELL, THINK OF THE SPIRIT! IT MUST AT LEAST THAT MUCH MORE SUPERIOR TO THE MIND

Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God is Spirit so His ways and thoughts are spiritual. The mind of a man is really what defines him (Proverbs 23:7), so his ways and thoughts are of his mind, his intellect. That is how he reasons. Here in Isaiah, we see that the ways of God, which are Spiritual are far superior to our ways, which are the ways of our mind.

Just like with bodily strength compared to the power of the mind, NO AMOUNT OF MIND EXERCISE WILL EVER DEVELOP A SPIRIT OR ATTAIN TO THE POWER THAT THE SPIRIT AFFORDS.

Now, as we will see with the two examples below, the ways of the spirit can be so different than the ways of the mind that actions that originate from the Spirit may appear downright foolish to the mind. That is how incapable the mind is in trying to understand the spirit.

ACTIONS OF THE SPIRIT

1 Corinthians 2:14But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Understanding the context of this verse, a natural man is one who does not operate with the Spirit of God. To the best of my understanding, by “natural man”, 1 Corinthians 2:14 refers to anyone who does not have the Spirit. The natural man is one who operates solely from his mind (or worse, his body). God says that such a man “cannot” accept the things of Spirit because they are foolishness to him. He “cannot” even understand them! Wow, what is so special about the Spirit that even the smartest among us cannot understand his things?? It is just the same as the tiger who cannot explain by its brute strength, how he found himself caged by humans.

SPITTING ON DIRT TO HEAL BLINDNESS

John 9:6When He (Jesus) had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

1) spitting on the ground, 2) making clay out of it, 3) applying that clay on someone’s eyes who is completely blind, and then 4) sending that person to go wash in some pool is hardly an acceptable recipe for healing blindness. This is an act of the Spirit. And for the mind, this is pure foolishness!

WALKING AND SHOUTING AS A MILITARY STRATEGY

Now the whole record of the battle of Jericho under the leadership of Joshua is a bit long (Joshua 6:1-27). But essentially, God instructs Joshua and his military officers to march around the city of Jericho for six days. And on the seventh day, they were supposed to march around the city seven times, blow the trumpet, and shout. The expected outcome? The wall of Jericho – a fortified city – was supposed to fall down flat! Well, Joshua and his men did it, and the wall did fall flat!

Joshua 6:20…the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.

This strategy continues to puzzle many a military pundit, simply because they are trying to explain by the brute strength of their intellect. But it was an act of the Spirit, not of the mind. And so are, the partying of the sea with Moses, Jesus walking on water, people being healed from Paul’s handkerchief, or Jesus feeding thousands of people starting with five fish and a piece of bread, and many more.

BUT PERHAPS THE MOST PUZZLING WAYS OF THE SPIRIT ARE FOUND WHEN CHRISTIANS ARE MIRACULOUSLY WILLING TO ENDURE BOTH MENTAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSES

2 Corinthians 6:2-10See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

To the rest of the world, suffering to this extent hardly makes any sense. We serve a God we cannot see, get instructions from Him to live selflessly, to suffer so other rejoice, and endure, sometime unto death, having a hope that our mind cannot grasp.

Ephesians 3:20…to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine

The most brilliant mind will still never understand the ways of the Spirit. As Christians, we are told to put on the mind of Christ, that is…to operate on a Spiritual level, not at the level of our mind.

Philippians 2:5…Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus

Then, and only then, can we effectively contribute our share in the great commission of reconciling people to God, of sharing the burden of our brothers and sisters, thereby honoring Christ.

Zechariah 4:6“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts…

It is futile for the tiger to think that he can accomplish with its physical strength what can only be accomplished with the mind. Likewise, it truly is futile for us to think that we can accomplish with the mind those things that can only be accomplished through the Spirit. We need the Spirit of God to accomplish the tasks God has given us. We need the spirit of God and we should dictate our own mind to subject itself to the immensely superior power of it! It is only then that we will see the acts of the Spirit. A mind that is subject to the spirit is a mind that acts upon the directives of the Spirit instead of its own directives. 

We may look very foolish at times to outsiders (Jesus certainly did when he spat on the ground), but Spiritually speaking, we would be moving mountains, raging blows to the Devil’s army, freeing those who are oppressed by it, with the freedom that only Christ can provide.

May His Name be praised. AMEN.

The Book of REVELATION

Dear friends, fellow Christians;

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus-Christ, and grace, mercy and peace from God the Father. I would like by God’s grace to bring your attention to the Book of Revelation, as far its main purpose. It is true that for most – if not all of us – Revelation is one difficult book. It is full of symbolism and the time dimension is used in ways that bind our minds. It speaks of a Dragon and Lake of fire, and a war of “Biblical” proportions. And it speaks of a pure river of Water of Life that is clear as crystal, of billions of angels, of a new heaven and a new earth, and of immortality.

And therefore, it attracts many, most of whom for the wrong reason. It has inspired countless movies, books, and stories. Promise to unveil the meanings of its many symbols and you are guaranteed to attract many.

But Revelation is no fairy tale. It is NOT addressed to everyone and its essential message is very clear.

WHAT IS THE BOOK OF REVELATION:

Revelation 1:1 [ISV] – This is the revelation of Jesus the Messiah, which God gave him to show his servants the things that must happen soon.

The Book of Revelation is a message that the Father gave to His Son, Jesus, to give to His Servants, regarding a number of things that are about to happen.

TO WHOM IS REVELATION ADDRESSED:

Revelation 1:3,4 – How blessed is the one who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy and obey what is written in it, for the time is near! 4 From John to the seven churches in Asia.

The Book of Revelation is a message from God TO THE CHURCHES. Hence, while anyone can read this Book, not everyone is blessed by it (some may actually be cursed from reading it), for it is 1) to the churches, and 2) one is blessed when one hear and obey what is written.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK:

As was said earlier, the purpose is to inform the churches about what is coming.

Revelation 1:1 [ISV] – This is the revelation of Jesus the Messiah, which God gave him to show his servants the things that must happen soon.

WHAT IS THE INTENT BEHIND THE PURPOSE:

Revelation 22:10-17 [ISV] – Then he told me, “Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy in this book, because the time is near. 11 Let the one who does what is evil continue to do what is evil. Let the filthy person continue to be filthy. Let the righteous person continue to do what is right. And let the holy person continue to be holy.”
12 “See! I am coming soon! My reward is with me to repay everyone according to his behavior. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
14 “How blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city! 15 Outside are dogs, sorcerers, immoral people, murderers, idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give this testimony to you for the churches. I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
Let everyone who hears this say, “Come!”
Let everyone who is thirsty come!

Let anyone who wants the water of life take it as a gift!

The intent of the Book is to give God’s people all the information they need, by means of powerful encouragement to those who need it, but also very solemn warnings and rebukes to those who must have it, to get their acts together before the Lord Jesus comes back.

Revelation 22:14 – “How blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city!

It is a call to members of the CHURCHES to wash their robes so that we may be given access to the tree of life and be allowed into the presence of God, for God will be IN the city.

Revelation 22:3 – There will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and the lamb will be in the city.

WHAT THE BOOK OF REVELATION IS NOT:

The Book of Revelation is NOT a Book to convert the unbelievers! Not to say that unbelievers cannot be brought to repentance through it, God knows. But please note of the fact that it is ADDRESSED TO churches (Revelation 1:4 and 22:16), also described as THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE A ROBE! (Revelation 22:14). And to them, the blessing is in WASHING THEIR ROBES (NOT wearing one, buying one, etc.).

Hence, it is a warning to repentance and obedience.

Brothers and sisters, think about it: God is speaking to us whom He count as His children. There is a reason he gives us such strong warnings. How long will we ignore His voice and make light of His invitation?

Revelation 22:17-19 – The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
Let everyone who hears this say, “Come!”
Let everyone who is thirsty come!
Let anyone who wants the water of life take it as a gift!

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy in this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will strike him with the plagues that are written in this book. 19 If anyone takes away any words from the book of this prophecy, God will take away his portion of the tree of life and the holy city that are described in this book.

Father, in the name of Jesus Your Holy Son, according to Your Own Grace, cause us to hear, understand and obey your voice and heed your warnings, that we may have right to your gift of life and eternity by your side. I pray not only for myself, but for my loved ones, for the readers, and all who call upon Jesus.

In the Jesus’ name. AMEN.