Examining Ourselves

Dear Readers;

May God, in the multitude of His mercies, and in His love and patience, bless you in abundance, giving you knowledge and discretion concerning His Son Jesus, the One He has appointed to be the mediator between Him and us, that we may have a hope which shall be made evident after this life.

The knowledge of Jesus that God gives, is not a knowledge “about” Jesus”, but the knowledge of Jesus Himself. It is not knowing about Jesus that transforms us, but instead it is knowing Jesus Himself that transforms us. One may know about Jesus and yet be as evil as evil a man can be. But cannot know Jesus and not be progressively changed into the image of Christ Himself.

Yet in the fast-paced, self-help, and self-centered world in which we live, we longer spend time to examine ourselves.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

But, as we see from the verse above, it is through self-examination that one may discover in which camp he falls regarding the faith. Do we know Jesus and are being transformed, or do we know about Jesus and are being deceived, hardly experiencing the transformative change that knowing Him personally affords?

Ephesians 5:15-17Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

The verse above from Ephesians echoes the one in Corinthians, that we have to examine ourselves. And its words have never been truer than they are now…that the days are evil!

All forms of social media, self-help books and seminars, platforms of all kinds where everyone is given center stage to proclaim their wisdom, these are harming us. For God has appointed 24 hours in a day, and more won’t be given.

It is as if we have made camp at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, eating of it and corrupting our minds further in the process. We earnestly seek to learn how the world works so we can thrive in it…and those who have figured out the “secret” of the successful life are held as heroes, being showcased to everyone’s admiration and envy. Yet God said…

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Such wisdom, dear friend – the one that seeks to understand how the world works so one can thrive in life – is not the wisdom of God, but the wisdom of the world. It is sensual and devilish.

We ought to pause and examine ourselves.

Where am I in my faith? How is my relationship with Jesus? What does God want from me? As a son, am I doing what I am supposed to be doing to honor my Father? Am I behaving in ways that demonstrates that I am my Father’s son? What does Jesus tell me? Where He is encouraging me? Where is He rebuking me? Am I listening? How often am I talking to Him? And what am I telling Him?

I counsel you in the name of the Lord Jesus, to slow down and examine yourselves; not as the world counsels you to do the same, but as God counsels. That you examine yourselves to see whether you are “in” the faith, knowing Jesus.   

May the Lord be with you and protect you. In Jesus name.

AMEN

Forbidden Fruit

Dear Children of the Kingdom;

Oh that the grace of God and His mercy may be upon me at this time, that Christ may act in me mightily, that I may serve as His instrument to instruct you His people, serving you His Word, for the days in which we live are truly evil. But the fools and the uninstructed, not able to discern good from evil, keep moving forward and suffer dearly.

Proverbs 22:3The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

The prudent sees danger and hides himself just as Joseph ran out of his master’s house when the master’s wife was determined to sleep with him.

Genesis 39:6-12Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph DAY AFTER DAY, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.

Look at Joseph’s primary concern: “There is no greater person in this house after my master than I. He has place everything in my hand, except you his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?

Sinning against God was Joseph’s preoccupation! He recognized everything he had, everything he was free to have…and that was precisely the reason he could not venture into committing such a great sin against God by going after the one thing He was not permitted to touch!

One can see the similarity between this account and Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, to whom God gave absolutely everything that belonged to Him here on Earth, save His tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. But as opposed to Joseph, they DID go after what was forbidden when tempted by Satan, and committed a great sin against God.

YOU TOO, ARE FREE

Much freedom my friend, has been granted to you too, when you were purchased and washed with Jesus blood. You have been made free! For with God, free is how His creatures, us, should be!

Galatians 5:1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

But to you and me who have been given much freedom, much power, Satan is after the one thing that God has forbidden us to do: To disobey Him.

But sometimes, perhaps blinded by our freedom and power, or yielding to the lies of Satan, we act as fools, not recognizing the danger when we see it, or simply making light of it given who we are in Christ, free. As opposed to Joseph, we may think that because God has blessed us so much, we may afford to be careless here and there. We believe we may afford to disobey and enjoy sin, going after the one thing we have been forbidden. Hence, we do not see the danger for what it is and hide, but instead press on, only ensuring that we will reap the consequences.

Galatians 5:13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

My friend, you are God’s child,  and you love the Lord. Perhaps you are great at praying with your family, or studying the scriptures, reading devotionals and hearing sermons. Perhaps you are growing in your understanding of the freedom and power given to you.

Continue my friend on this path, and do not let Satan lie to you. Do not either be a fool, but strive to stay away from the one forbidden fruit: Disobedience. Every day, Satan or your own flesh will seek to derail you, just like the master’s wife who kept going after Joseph…DAY…AFTER…DAY! 

But RESIST…RESIST…and you will conquer!

Lord, my Lord, may you be exalted in me, and in my friend, to the glory of your Father, our God in Heaven.

AMEN

The Diversity of Our Trials

Dear family, children of the Kingdom;

May the grace, peace and mercy of God be with you. I pray that the Lord Jesus grants me to share with you a few words regarding the suffering of the saints, in the hope that you will be encouraged to stay the course, not being ignorant of the schemes that Satan uses.

From several places in the scriptures, we know that the saints should expect suffering for the sake of Christ.

Philippians 1:29For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.

However – as a disclaimer – it should be noted that one could be suffering, not because of his allegiance to Christ and his continued resolve to honor Him, but because of his continued fellowship with sin. In such case, one should not appropriate to himself the verse above, but should instead meditate on the ones below.

1 Peter 2:20…what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?

This said, when one suffers for Christ’s sake, how does the persecution look like? You could be thinking of a missionary being imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, or for Christians being beaten for assembling themselves in someone’s house to fellowship. You could also be thinking of being forbidden to speak about God or pray in the school setting.

These cases certainly qualify as suffering for Christ’s sake. But allow me to submit to you that suffering for the sake of Christ comes in a much richer multitude of forms, many of them not falling into the “traditional” context of preaching the Gospel.

Consider what the Apostle Peter said… 

1 Peter 2:19,20Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust [Greek (4646): skolios]. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

Peter was exhorting servants (or employees) to be subject to their masters (or their employers), even if they were morally twisted, perverse or unjust (according the definition of the Greek word “skolios”). In other words, the worst kind. The employee is a child of God, and probably NOT “preaching” the scripture in the workplace. But he is a God-fearing person, and therefore he does good, he is honorable, with integrity because he recognizes that he must honor His God, and Him He should fear.

And this is enough to be persecuted for Christ’s sake.

You, who continuously endeavor to honor God in your life, you are being transformed into the very image of Christ. It is this fact – the fact that your character is displaying the attributes of God – that triggers the persecution. The employer, in this case, is nothing more than an instrument of Satan, and may never even refer to your faith. He or she will just persecute you.

HOW Satan persecutes you (and for how long) is not nearly as important as the simple fact that he is able to persecute you. The objective is simple: To cause you to stray away from Christ, even renounce your faith, which will manifest itself by Christ’s attributes progressively decaying in you.

Earlier in his letter, the Apostle Peter highlighted the fact that persecutions come in many different forms.

1 Peter 1:3-6Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various [Greek (4164): poikílos] trials.

The Greek word poikílos translated various properly means, of various kinds, diversified (“manifold”). In other words, the trials that we are subjected to have a variety of forms, they are very rich in their diversity.

Physical or mental persecutions, it really does not matter. The objective is simple: Lose your bearings, start sinning, take matters into your own hands, stop listening to Christ and hopefully simply give up that which you were given by Christ and charged to hold fast (the Gospel of Truth) and not lose.

My friends, you who endeavor to subject yourself to Christ that He may have His Way in you; stay strong and persevere. Persecutions come and will come in its many forms, sometimes not even suggesting that it is because you are holding onto Christ. But rest assured, He who is in you, is greater than He who is in the world. Hold fast, and you will conquer.

1 John 5:4 – And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Praise, Honor and Glory be given to our Lord, Jesus, the Christ.

AMEN.

Communing with Jesus

To the Saints in Jesus-Christ, grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus, our Lord. I desire to commune with Jesus in greater measure. I desire to discern His voice as clearly as I discern yours. But far too often, His voice seems faint, and sometimes, not even there. I desire to experience Him deeper, beyond simply my imagination or understanding of the scripture. Him I desire as a person, to converse with Him. Him I desire as my Master, my Guide, and the One who invited me and equipped me to work alongside Him.

But it is as if He hardly speaks. It is as if I do not recognize Him, understand Him or even hear Him.

Oh my dear friends, do you too, wish you were close to Jesus? Do you wish His experience in your life was more tangible than it is now? Do you wish He was more real than the One spoken of at Church? Do you wish, like me, that you could feel in greater measure, His presence?

I believe the reason for this very limited experience I have of Him has nothing to do with His love for me, and everything to do with my lukewarm love for Him. Yes, my tongue has run out of words to express how much I love Him, but there also lies my frustration. For it has become abundantly clear that if words are the only thing I have to express my burning love for Him, then long ago have I reached the limit of my love. I have long ago exhausted my vocabulary, and I now painfully realize that if this is all I can give Him, then I am the most miserable among men. For words, unless they are Words of the Holy Spirit Himself, have no value.

There must be more…I want to feel Jesus…there must be more! There has to be more. What is the issue? What is the problem? Why can’t I experience Him that much?

I counsel you to carefully consider the case the Apostle Paul brought before the Corinthians, in the form of two questions

2 Corinthians 6:15-18 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God

Here lies the problem. Christ has no agreement with the devil. None whatsoever. A believer shares nothing with an unbeliever. None whatsoever. The temple of God cannot be used for idols.

YET, we ARE the temple of God. YET, we ARE guilty of placing idols in that temple. We ARE guilty of making deals with Satan while belonging to Christ. When interacting with unbelievers, we are not recognizable as Christians, so much we resemble them.

If you are honest with yourself, you know that at least some of this applies to you. Too comfortable you are with the enemy. We are comfortable with the enemy! But we also desire to experience Christ in greater measure.

This cannot be my friend. This cannot be. And unless we do something about it, our experience of Christ has little hope to go any deeper. We will have to satisfy ourselves with songs, teachings, and far too sporadic and rare experiences of Him, like shooting stars that disappear as fast as they appear.

The solution

2 Corinthians 6:16-18…as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 7:1 – Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

The promise is there…the Father says, I will welcome you, I will be a father to you. You will be sons and daughters to me. Now you may say, “I am already a son”, “I am already a daughter”. That is very true! But are you experiencing that relationship to its full extent? Do you feel and experience the closeness of Jesus, or of the Father, as a daughter does with her father? If you are like me, I think not. You may be a son, but you do not know your Father, for you have no relationship with Him.

Let us cleanse ourselves my friend, from everything that defile our body, and from everything that defile our spirit. What do we meditate on, what do we watch, what are our dreams, what activities do we partake in, what are our hobbies?

Unless we are serious about cleansing ourselves, there is no hope of a deeper experience of Jesus. You will not commune with Him. You will not recognize Him. You will not understand Him. You will run out of vocabulary to express your love for Him, and those words will be as empty as words can ever be.

He will not be swayed by our lukewarm love. He will not be swayed by our half-hearted consecration to Him. He will not be fooled when we prostitute ourselves in the dark of night.

2 Timothy 2:12-14 –
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

Dear Father. Forgive me. Yes, you have given me great and exceeding promises. I know that words are just words unless your Spirit utters them through my mouth. Give me your grace and fly to my rescue. For I have sinned, being too comfortable with the one who seeks to slay me, my enemy, Your enemy! Give me strength, give me strength in the Lord Jesus, to cleanse myself of all these things that I still take pleasure in, but which hurt my experience of Him. In the name of Jesus, I pray, not only for myself, but also my fellow readers. AMEN.