Do You Love?

Friends;

May the Father, in the name of Jesus-Christ, sanctifies me to write unto you these few words, that I may faithfully communicate His Gospel by which your souls are being saved. We ought to ask ourselves the question of whether we love.

One of the most unfortunate reality today is that Love means different things to different people. Hence, we feel free to express it as we see fit to ourselves. There is even greater and greater emphasis on “Self-Love”. Yet it needs not be this way, for God Himself has defined it, and to that one definition we should abide

1 John 4:8God is love

This three-words statement defines Love. Love is the permanent attribute of God. Love is the very essence of what God is. It is the defining character of God. And the prime manifestation of His character was in the sacrifice of His Own Son.

John 3:16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

It says, “For God SO loved the world…THAT He gave”.

This tells us therefore, that the ultimate expression of love is “sacrificial” giving. Not just giving, but sacrificial giving: Giving that comes at cost to self.

Returning now to 1 John 4:8, we see that the complete verse actually reads…

1 John 4:8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

If one does not experientially know what love is, if one does not experience sacrificial giving, then one does not know God.

This is a particularly strong statement from John. Unless you personally know what sacrificial giving is, you do not know God, for sacrificial giving is the very expression of what God is, as stated in John 3:16.

Not all giving requires a sacrifice, which is why giving is by itself not equal to love. Giving tithes and offering does not necessarily mean to love, because not all tithes and offerings are at cost to self. In the United States for example, giving may actually be beneficial monetarily since it may reduce how much one owes the Government in taxes.

It is also noteworthy that despite every things God did and continues to do to sustain us – how He always gives us enough air to breathe, food to eat, things to enjoy, etc. – none of those acts were used to express who He really is: Love. It is the giving that was undoubtedly sacrificial…the giving that was at greatest cost to Him that was used to show us what God really is.

So, do you love? Do you strive to love more?

I pray the Father of Lights, our God in heaven, that He teaches every one of us, to become more like Him. To love as He does.

In Jesus’ name. AMEN

The Need for Grace, Mercy and Peace

Dear Saints and faithful in Christ;

I pray that God’s peace, mercy and grace be with you in abundance, in the name of the Lord Jesus. These my friends, are not mere words of salutation, but the very means of God by which we find the strength not only to hold onto our faith, and to continuously grow in it, but also the power to proclaim the Gospel and exercise our ministries.

Growing in faith and putting our spiritual gifts to use can be and often are painful experiences. Paul, to the Philippians said

Philippians 1:12-14 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

There is nothing pleasant about suffering. There is nothing pleasant about being incarcerated, let alone when you are innocent! Yet, the process of sanctification and advancement of the Kingdom, the process by which God encourages other brothers and sisters in Christ to rise to the full use of their God-given gifts, is often extremely painful to the one He works through.

Hence we need His peace, we need His mercy, and we need His grace in abundance. For we need strength when we are weakened, we need His mercy when in frustration we sin against Him, and we need His peace when we feel that we are about to lose hope and start envying those who have a much easier life.

Psalms 73:2,3…my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

But just like in the case of Paul, we too can hope not only to understand why God is allowing us to go through these difficult paths, but also to begin to see the fruits of His works through us. Paul said…

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel…”

God granted to Paul to see the outcomes of his sufferings. We too can hope for the same. Let us therefore fully embrace His grace, mercy and peace toward us. Let us ask for those in abundance that we may find comfort in the midst of our challenges, while at the same time continuing to grow in faith, being progressively transformed into the image of Christ Himself.

To the One who loves us with an unfailing love. In His name, JESUS.

AMEN

Starving for Role Models

Dear Friends;

May the peace and mercy of God be with you. Role models. Oh that we could use some role models. Whether we attribute it to modern-day living, or to a more sinister cause such as the fact that the Spirit of the Anti-Christ is already at work, it is hard to argue that today, we hardly know people well-enough for them to serve as role models for us, or for us to serve as such for them.

Yet, it is by this Role Model template that the Holy Spirit of God moved in spectacular fashion in the early church, converting people by the masses and keeping them on the walk of faith. Consider the following text, in a letter that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy wrote to the Church members of Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 2: 1-12 – For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

They reminded the church members of the lifestyle they themselves had when there were among them. Earlier in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, we learn that those members once converted, became followers of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy. Here, we read the details of how those three gentlemen preached the word to them. Their preaching were not just words, but a combination of words and a lifestyle that aligned with those words.

How effective do you suppose is this form of preaching, where those you preach not only hear you, but can also see you in action, and acquaint themselves with the practical aspects of your preaching?

Paul says,

For you yourselves know that…

we never came with words of flattery

… we did not seek glory from people, whether from you or from others

… we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children

… we were ready to share with you our own selves

… we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you WHILE we proclaimed to you the gospel

… You are witnesses how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you

… you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God

The Thessalonians knew that all those things were true because they witnessed it. Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy lived right among them, providing the Thessalonians with the most effective demonstration and blueprint for what the Christians life looks like. This is in fact, effective preaching.

To the Corinthians, Paul says something similar

1 Corinthians 2:2,3 – …I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power

He says…“I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling”. I submit to you that the Corinthians also saw how Paul handled himself and exercised his faith in those moments, thereby providing them with powerful practical lessons that they could rely on. The ultimate purpose being…

1 Corinthians 2:4 – …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

We have to do a better job as being present for each other, that all may see how practically we walk in the Spirit. Much preaching without concrete evidence will only go so far, for the Spirit of God is a Spirit of Actions!

Do you consider yourself a faithful Christian – not a perfect one of course – then to whom do you evidently display yourself, so they may see you, know you, and learn from you?

Are you a great preacher? Do the people you preach – at least those who live in your city – know you just as much for your preaching as for your lifestyle? Or are the people left to suppose what that lifestyle may be?

We are indeed starving for role models. But it need not stay this way.

After all, wasn’t this the commandment of Christ…

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy showed us how exactly we ought to do it. Let us follow them.

In the name of Jesus, our LORD.

AMEN

Your Most Prized Possession

Children of the Kingdom:

Peace, mercy and grace in abundance to you, from God, the Creator of the universe, and from Jesus-Christ, whom He sent to save the world. I pray that by His grace and mercy, I may write unto you regarding your most prized possession, the one you must cherish and guard even with your own life: The Words that we have all received from our Lord Jesus-Christ.

Matthew 4:4Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

This passage – certainly familiar to many – speaks in no uncertain terms about the necessity of the Words that God has given us. One does not need to agree with, believe in, or even love the fact that one must eat to stay alive, to make it true. It is simply true because our Creator, God made it true. You must eat to sustain yourself, or else you will die.

By the same token, in Matthew 4:4, Jesus declares that we all must feed on every word that God has pronounced or we will die. The Words that God has pronounced give to our Spiritual self, life, just like natural food gives life to our natural self. It is not a matter of preference or choice my friends. It is a matter of truth and principle. It is what it is.

YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THE WORDS OF JESUS ARE THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS YOU HAVE

The Words that God has given you are your most prized possession. You must protect those words, you must protect what your Spiritual life depends on, at all cost. For rest assured, that it is the One thing the devil seeks to steal – and is often successful at doing – so that you will starve and die.

John 10:10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Jesus came to give us the Words whereby we should live, and the thief (i.e. Satan) has no other purpose than to steal those words and attempt to kill and destroy whatever those words have started to produce in us.

When Jesus gave what is known as the parable of the Sower, he later explained that the Sower [Himself] sows the seed [the Word of God], and that in 3 of the 4 possible outcomes, the Word is either stolen by Satan, forgotten or neglected by the recipient, rendering the Seed completely unfruitful [Mark 4:14-19].

THE FIGHT OF THE APOSTLES FOR THE PEOPLE WAS ABOUT PROTECTING THOSE WORDS THEY HAD RECEIVED

One of the ways we can – in this context – summarize the charge Jesus gave to His Apostles was…“give my sheep these Words and charge them not to lose them at any cost, for it is their livelihood”.

JUDE saw how Satan has now gone full force to steal the Words we have received

Jude 3Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

PETER saw it necessary to do everything possible even until His death to make sure that the people will not forget, but fearlessly protect the Words they were given

2 Peter 1:13-15I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

JOHN is very direct…the one who does not keep those words can’t be in God.

1 john 2: 4,5Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

And just as direct, PAUL says that keeping those Words is directly linked to our Salvation

1 Corinthians 15:1,2Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

My friends. Do not be ignorant or passive about your lifeline…the Words that Jesus received from God and gave to us. There is someone, by means of countless of agents actively seeking to steal as much as those Words as possible from you.

You must be active. You must be vigilant to guard what you have been given. It is your lifeline. And you must feed, and continually feed on those Words you have been given.

It is not a matter of whether you agree (although I hope you do) with it or not. It is not a matter of fairness or injustice either. It is a matter of life and death. Protect, cherish and eat and you will live. Do not be fools.

Today, the Lord can still be found.

In His name, may you receive these words.

AMEN

Does our righteousness exceed theirs?

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ;

In the days we have left, we must examine ourselves with more resolve, as the day of our Lord draws near. I pray that by God’s grace, I can exhort you to vigilance and self-examination, through the words of our Lord recorded below.

Matthew 5:19,20Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in NO CASE enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The Kingdom of Heaven is what we all look forward to, and these words are a solemn warning given to us regarding our righteousness. The context should make it clear – I believe – that the righteousness referred to here is not the imputed righteousness of Jesus (i.e. our new identity), but rather our attitude toward God’s commandments (i.e. our walk of faith).

The Scribes and Pharisees of our day

To enter the kingdom, our righteousness – our observance of God’s commandments which is done by faith – must exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. The Scribes and Pharisees of our days are none other than many amongst our own selves. We know the scriptures and God’s commandments. We believe in the redeeming power of Jesus’ blood and in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within ourselves. Yet people of other faith – Muslims, Buddists and the likes – and even Atheists and Agnostics often are manifestly more in tune with the commandments of God than us His very Children.

How would we be able to answer for ourselves on that day? While it is true that them, being ignorant of Christ, are relying on their flesh (or idols) for good works, the fact remains that their lifestyles are often a better reflection of what a Christ-centered life should be.

Yes, their righteousness often exceeds ours. What a tragedy! We, who know better. We, who have been redeemed, should be the beacons of this world, the moral compass, the voice of voiceless, the hands of the handicapped, the bearer of the good news, those who points to the Way of Salvation by shinning bright by our lifestyle the very Light of Christ which has been placed in us.

Us, who have been preached the more excellent way, the Way of Faith, should be the bearer of God’s righteous decrees, the embodiment of what it means to love God and our neighbors.

But you see…the Children of Israel were in part guilty of the same…

Romans 2:13-15For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts…

The charge is that many Gentiles, who had not received the law of God were doing the things contained in the law, while Israel, who had received the law and was taught on it, was not.

Let it not be so today my brothers and sisters. For it is the doers, not just the hearers of the truth who will be justified. Your righteousness must exceed the one of your brothers and sisters who hardly display the characters of Christ.

Else, how will you respond on that day, and how will your brethren, the scribes or pharisees, who are in error change their ways?

Matthew 5:16…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

May our Father speak to our hearts. May He use the multitude of His mercies and patience toward us in Jesus-Christ.

The Lord be with you and me.

AMEN.