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.

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 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.

Do Not Lose the Good Ones

Dear friends;

By the grace of God, allow me to speak on a subject that has great relevance in the workplace, in your worship community and even in your personal life in general: Loosing the Good Ones.

You are most likely familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is what the Angels of God said to Abraham as they were going there…

Genesis 18:20,21The Lord also said, “How great is the disapproval of Sodom and Gomorrah! Their sin is so very serious! 21 I’m going down to see whether they’ve acted according to the protests that have reached me. If not, I wish to know.”

God was prepared to destroy them for their sins, but look at what the Angels also said to Abraham when he asked whether God will still destroy it they found first 50 righteous people in there (verse 24). Then 45 righteous (verse 28). Then 40 righteous (verse 29). Then 30 righteous (verse 30). Then 20 righteous  (verse 31)…Then 10 righteous…(verse 32). Their response: He will not destroy it!

Genesis 18:32 – “For the sake of those ten I won’t destroy it.”

BUT the angels found less than ten! They only found ONE!…and once Sodom and Gomorrah lost that one, their fate was sealed.

In your workplace, you lose people: Employees, and coworkers. In your life, you lose people: Friends, acquaintances, mentors, etc.  At your church, you lose people: Leaders, brothers and sister.

BUT, DO NOT LOSE THE GOOD ONES! DO NOT LOSE THE GOD FEARING MEN AND WOMEN, FOR THE BLESSINGS OF GOD FOLLOW THEM!

As long as they are in your midst, their blessings cover you. But once they are removed, there is no hope for you, your team or your church community. The only thing that awaits you is a downhill trend (certainly spiritually and morally, and may be even physically, financially, intellectually and much more).

So friends…Do Not Lose the Good Ones.

In Jesus’ name.

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.

The Day of Salvation

My name is Delfit and I used to live in what you would consider your average US city in the middle of the country. My town was not known for anything in particular. We had our schools and businesses, and typically, life was smooth sailing. We had the same issues every other city had. Not everyone got along, and there were certain people and areas you would rather avoid. Nothing out of the extraordinary, a city with good and bad. But then there was also my community. What kind of community we were exactly I am not sure, but we sure loved each other. There might have been a hundred or so of us, young and old, and everything in between. We usually spent a lot of time together.

One day I met this guy. I do not remember his name. Matter of fact, I do not think he ever told me his real name, but I met him at the local Perkins, a favorite breakfast restaurant in town. He looked kind of my age, was usually wearing a hat, blue jeans and would typically leave his jeans shirt opened, revealing a plain white shirt underneath. Really nothing special about him. But he was a very nice guy and we became friends, really good friends. But that was the strangest of friendships, because I do not remember what we would usually talk about. In addition, from the very first time we met, I had always sensed that there was something odd about him. Really odd. I always felt that he was hiding something from me. Well, first, I kind of knew that he was not from town, and I did not know where he was from, or even what he was doing in town.

And the more time we spent together, the more that I felt it. Where was he from? I became fixated with that question. One day I brought him to my group, and introduced him. Everyone was nice toward him, but no one sensed the same thing I was sensing. They treated him well, just like any other person, but no one ever felt the same feeling I had. That was very strange. He was MY friend, but I was the one having a strange feeling about him, not my group. He would not typically come to my group but I would usually seek him out. Over time, as I could not contain that feeling anymore, I started to bring it up, day after day among my friends, to the point they had become annoyed with me, and him especially. Why was I fixated on him anyway, they would ask me? I actually started to think that I may be I was going a little crazy.

Then one day things got even worse. I went to meet him at Perkins as we usually did. But within two minutes of me seating down, I saw what I believe was a mom and two young girls. They seemed to be about 5 or 6 years old, the same age as Elvea, my best friend in my group. I loved Elvea! A sweet little girl, we could easily spend hours together. I am not sure whether I knew her parents because in our community that did not really matter much. Everyone took care of everyone, you know, what you might call a real community in its truest sense. Except for the fact that now I had increasingly become the odd one of the group, the one with the fixation on the strange friend.

Anyway, back to the restaurant.

Within two minutes of me seating down with my friends, I had this overwhelming feeling that I was being watched from some distance. And as I turn, I saw the mom, or at least I think she was the mom, with the two young girls. As the girls look at me with the softest yet most curious look, their mom almost rushed out of the restaurant with them, as if she did not want her girls to keep looking at me or to interact with me. Well, things could I have just ended there, except for the fact of what I felt. This time, although I did not even get the chance to speak with the lady, or to even see who she was, I felt exactly what I had been feeling about my friend from the first day we met. In fact, I cannot explain it but somehow, I knew that they knew each other. I just knew it. But no matter how hard I would push my friend, he just wouldn’t say much. Yet, he would always be there, and it was obvious that he too enjoyed my company as I enjoyed his.

Call me crazy but by now I had formulated my own theory. My friend came from somewhere. I don’t know, somewhere. May be from space I don’t know, but he just wasn’t a normal guy, and meeting that woman with the two girls convinced me even more of that. Them too were from somewhere. Who knows, another planet, space, I don’t know. But I loved them! I really, really love them, yes, even the woman and the two girls I had not even spoken with. I loved these people and I wanted to be with them! Who were they, were did they come from? Could I be with them? These people sure weren’t from my town, or from this country, but now I was convinced, not even from earth. Well, that theory did not go too well with my friends back at the camp. I was officially crazy, and from that point, everyone was just about tired to hear about him.

But then came the day that change our town forever. Some kind of disaster struck our town. It did not really feel like it was of natural cause although it looked like it. The sky was lit in bright orange with the raging fire just on the outskirt of town. The town was now in a permanent darkness, because the dark, thick smoke had completely covered the sun. Then, everything stopped working. Everything was broken, it became very dangerous to venture outside at any time of the day, and there was hardly any water. I remember going into town and those bad guys had made camp right in front of the grocery store. With the orange sky and the smell of smoke feeling the air, it felt like overnight we were in the wild west, but a very scary wild west.

What I did not tell you is that Elvea, myself and the rest of the group we were always meeting in this building, with one story. Actually, two stories. I think the ground floor had a few shops and a parking garage. The second floor, where we usually met, was essentially just a plain big open area. Like an office space before it has been partitioned. We were always there, because that is where we usually met. And I remember that there was one section of the roof that had a few panels missing. No one really cared for that section except that if you took a pick in that hole, it was dark with an impossible number of copper pipes, all intertwined. Although they were made out of copper, they were all dark. I am not sure if they were dirty or if they were simply dark, but there was a lot of them! I mean, there was basically no way anyone could go through them, say, for servicing, so small the gap between them was. And for whatever reason, you just had the feeling that they went on for miles and miles high, deep into the roof. Very strange. In any case, there was something really eerie about that roof section.

Now that room had become our refuge. We did not really know what was coming, but everyone knew something was coming, and everyone knew there was no way out. Everyone was afraid, but no one knew what to do. We were like sitting ducks, waiting for our fate, whatever that fate was. But somehow, somehow as we all looked at each other in the eyes, there was this sense that this was it, we were all going to suffer and die. Everyone, all of us!

Then my Perkins friend showed up. Except for those few times in the very beginning when he came, he never really came to that building, to us. We would just meet at Perkins. But here he was. He came, and held me tightly by the upper hard, as if to secure me. Then all of the sudden we ran me through the open space and he carried me into that opening in the roof. All of the sudden him and I were inside and he did not stop. We kept running vertically, passing among all the pipes. I do not know how we did it, but here we were, running vertically. Actually, I almost felt like we were flying, but we were moving our feet frantically (at least I was), although they barely touched anything, I was tightly attached to him and we were moving fast! Really fast! I think I must have passed out at some point. But here we were. And that feeling I had about how deep that rooftop was turned out to be true. It was deep, really deep, with no end in sight! But like someone who knew exactly where he was going, my friend was just passing through those pipes, in that dark expansive place. No one could go through those pipes. I mean, I remember how there was hardly any space between them, and how eerie it felt. But here we were my friend and I, him carrying me at a frantic speed.

Then I must have lost consciousness because I do not remember how it ended. But eventually it felt like I regained consciousness, lifted my head and opened my eyes. I was in this room, a very bright and white room. The room was not big and there at the other side was my friend, seating on a desk, as if he had just been waiting for me to wake up. I do not know how long I had been unconscious but here he was, and I immediately knew where I was. This was his place, this is where he lived.

This was a different world entirely, inaccessible from my world, from where I came from. I mean, who could fly for miles through that dark roof among those tightly knit pipes? This was his place, on the other side. I stood up and there was this door by the stairs. I went to it, and opened it. And there they were. The two girls. I remember their look. Oh how can I forget what I felt when I saw them at the restaurant? How my heart burnt with love for them. But not only them, the adult woman was there too, and many, many other kids and adults were there with them.

But this time, this time they did not run away, but run toward me, hugged me and I knew that I would be with them forever. The moment had arrived. This had become my home, my home for eternity. But then, in a flash I was back in that building with my friends, back on earth, back in my town! My friend from the other world was also there with me, but no one could see him. Elvea! Where is Elvea, my sweet girl, my sweet friend? Here she came running to me, her sweet voice marred by fears. She knew something was about to happen, and would not let me go. “Where were you? Where were you Delfit? I want to come with you, take me with you?” My heart was broken. I was on my knees, holding her tighly in my arms, her little chest so pressed against mine I could feel her heart beat. I began to cry. “Take me with you Delfit, I want to go with you Delfit. Why can’t I go with you. Take me with you Delfit, I want to come with you. Please do not leave Delfit, please, please, don’t go”. “Elvea…I can’t” tears pouring down my cheeks. I started to cry uncontrollably holding her tighter and tighter against my chest. I knew what I had just happened. I was leaving, and my little Elvea was staying.

Why Does Grace Save Through Faith?

To my brethren who have been called to be saints;

May the Grace, mercy and peace from God, our Father, and from Christ-Jesus our Lord be with you. We live in a time where there seems to be a sudden reawakening of the churches to the unmerited, divine favor of God, otherwise known as Grace.

Grace is everywhere now. Every congregation would like to be known as being in the Grace of God. They rename themselves to reflect it, revise their mission statements to highlight the unmerited, divine favor of God. Grace is like our newfound friend, we cannot get enough of it. Every day it seems, a new song is released to celebrate that Grace of God. A Youth conference here, a concert there, and yet another T-Shirt. Oh that God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son to die for me! It is not about what I have done, or will ever do, but about what He (Jesus) has done. Who can resist Grace? Looking around, it seems that we love it, and cannot get enough of it. Grace seems to have no limit, able to save even the worst of sinners, promising them glory with Jesus, for God knows their name. We have a place in heaven, by God’s side, and that is all thanks to His Grace.

But the very same cornerstone verse that speaks of the saving power of that Grace of God throws in…a wrench…

Ephesians 2:8,9For by Grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

In all its portrayed all-encompassing power and glory, Grace seems to have a seriously limiting factor in its ability to save us…it can only save us through faith. Why? Why didn’t the passage say… “For by Grace you have been saved”, period! No, it says… “For by Grace you have been saved through faith”. It seems clear that unless faith is there, the Grace we have fallen so much in love with simply can’t save us. But why? Why is it so?

The Grace of God saves through Faith because Jesus HAS TO BE Glorified

We understand that the faith in question is faith in Jesus-Christ.

Acts 20:20-22I [Paul] did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

It seems therefore that it is by God’s Own design that His unmerited favor (His Grace) can only be accessed (for salvation) by those who have faith in His Son. The love of the Father for His Son is such that unless one honors His Him (the Son), one cannot experience His saving Grace. Having faith in Jesus is how we honor Him (Acts 4:12). Having faith in Jesus is how we submit to His Lordship (Luke 6:36, James 2:1). Elsewhere (Hebrews 11:6), God also makes it clear that it is impossible to please Him without faith. Unless one honors the Son, one cannot benefit from the saving power of that Grace.

Yet, there is also a very practical aspect to why Grace only saves through faith, and what it means to have faith in Jesus. The answer lies (at least in part) into HOW Grace saves through faith.

Grace saves us through what it teaches

Titus 2:11For the Grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age

The Grace of God does not manifest itself through some kind of feel-good sensation or divinely appointed fragrance that God has poured over the earth. No! The Grace of God manifests itself through a specific message that not only informs us, but also teaches us to renounce our current lifestyle. And when we read Titus 2:11 carefully, we see that what Grace trains us in, is in nothing else than living the very lifestyle that Jesus Himself taught us to live.

Faith in Jesus therefore, in the context of salvation, is believing and accepting the message and training of Grace. One must believe in the message of Grace to be saved by it. In other words, one must believe that he must renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. One must believe that he should live self-controlled, upright and godly lives today! AND one must believe that Grace HAS the ability to train him to become such a person!

Recognizing that by their own effort, they could never be saved, the disciples asked Jesus in despair…

“Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25). How did Jesus respond? “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” What did He mean? Well, if we look at Titus 2 again…He meant that we will have the best teacher to get us there…we will be taught how to be holy, and we should believe in that teaching! And if we do, we will see the results that are otherwise impossible for man to achieve. The question is…do we believe Jesus when He says it? Who can transform us but God Himself? Do we believe that if we follow the training of Grace, it will produce the intended results? This is what it means to believe in Jesus, without which, even Grace can’t save us, for we would not believe its message, let alone follow its training.

My friend. I exhort you to pray, and to pray in earnest. If you feel that you have been missing on this training from Grace, either because of not understanding the scriptures, not being properly taught at your church or whatever other reason, pray…pray my friend! God, your Father, will hear you. He will hear your imperfect, but honest and sincere prayer. And He knows how to give good gifts (Matthew 7:11). He will not ignore such a request.

May the Lord Jesus be glorified in our lives. AMEN.

I wish above all things…3 John 1:2

I wish above all thingsIt is safe to say that for many Christians, 3 John 1:2 is one of those “favorite” verses in the Bible. But the reason this is case, as this short study will attempt to demonstrate, is that it is often misinterpreted.

3 John 1:2 – Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

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We hope that you will join us in studying the scriptures for yourself,  and examining this article. We look forward to your comments based on your own study of the scriptures, telling us whether or not we have misinterpreted the verses we are using in this study.
[Note: We are using the New King James Version of the Bible]

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What makes 3 John 1:2 so appealing is the “…I wish above ALL things…” segment, which appears to reveal God’s utmost desire for you and me. And that desire, which is above everything else, is that we prosper in everything, whether it be in our health, our finances, or anything else in between. How can one not love this declaration? Indeed, this interpretation is one favored by many churches. But we have reason to believe that this interpretation is simply wrong, and that some cases, those who teach it usually take pleasure in twisting God’s position regarding prosperity.

We submit to you three arguments, using the same verse and its immediate context to show why we believe the interpretation of 3 John 1:2 above is simply wrong!

Argument 1: …even as thy soul prospereth

The Greek word translated “even” is the word kathos which means “just as” or “to the degree that”. Therefore the Apostle’s wish above all things is that Gaius (the person he is writing to) would prosper and be in health “to the degree that or just as” his soul is prospering. The syntax of the statement shows clearly that what John wishes above all things “depends first” on the prosperity of his soul. The verse makes it clear that “all things” is NOT all inclusive since it does NOT include the prosperity of his soul. In stark contrast, what the verse makes clear is that it is the fact that his soul was prospering that the wish for him to prosper “equally” in other areas of his life was expressed.

I wish above all things 3

Argument 2:3 John 1:3

We believe Argument 1 is supported further by the very next verse. In verse 3, the Apostle explains why he wishes above all things that Gaius may prosper and be in health. It is because he heard how greatly his soul was prospering!

3 John 1:3 – “For” I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

The conjunction “for” at the beginning of the verse links this verse to the previous one. Gaius walked in the truth. People testified of his faith, of his godly life. And John was exceedingly (that is the Greek word lian translated greatly in 3 John 1:3) joyful about the testimony of the people about Gaius.

Think about it: Given that Gaius had such exemplary walk in the truth, how could John not wish that the rest of his life (such as his health) would also experience the “same” level of prosperity? Indeed, “given” what I am hearing about you Gaius, how you contend for the truth, and how you live it; how you walk the walk and honor our Lord Jesus-Christ, and God our Father, I have no greater wish for you Gaius, that in every single other aspect of your life, you will experience the same degree of prosperity, be it health or anything else!

Argument 3:3 John 1:4

The next verse in the passage, leaves – in our opinion – absolutely NO room for misinterpreting 3 John 1:2 as we believe we usually do. 3 John 1:4 states that there is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that brings more joy to God than to hear that his children walk in truth.

3 John 1:4 – I have NO GREATER JOY than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Could this verse be any clearer? What the Apostle heard from everyone regarding Gaius, as he stated in 3 John 1:3, was exactly the kind of things that brings him the most joy…Gaius was walking in truth!

Now, let us think: If nothing can bring greater joy to John than hearing that we walk in truth, how could his “greatest” wish for us be anything other than walking in the truth? It simply cannot be!

I wish above all things 4Conclusion:

The way 3 John 1:2 is often interpreted may sound good, and may make us feel good, but it is NOT the truth, at least if our interpretation is correct. The truth is that the greatest wish of God, His utmost desire for us is…for us to walk in the truth! There is NO way around it! We have to walk the walk of Christ. Nothing brings God more joy. And this truth is in the period of Grace! Even in this Grace period, there are certain things that have not changed, and will never change: There is nothing greater than walking in truth! This is how we honor the Father, and this is what brings Him the most joy!

My friends, we believe this short study demonstrates the need to study the scriptures for ourselves. If you are not in the habit of doing so, I pray that you will start reading and meditating on the scriptures for yourselves? Do not let yourself be conditioned and sometimes deceived by your “spiritual” leader? Roll your own sleeves, take your own bible, pray to the Father, and then my friend…start reading…just read! Your Father in heaver WILL guide you, if you genuinely seek to understand and walk in the truth. Remember, there is nothing than brings Him more joy than to know that you walk in truth. He will help you if you call Him and ask. Call Him, ask Him without doubt, and the Father will respond.

Glory to His highest, our Father in heaven. Glory to the Son, our Lord Jesus-Christ. Glory, honor and dominion forever, to the Father and the Son. The Son is King of kings and Lord and lords, for His Father has willed it. Father, may you teach us to walk in truth, for in this you delight, in Jesus name. Amen.

Does Every Sin Lead to Death?

Namib-Desert-NamibiaDear brothers and sisters,

The question of whether every sin leads to death (not simply physical death, but instead, eternal separation from God) is one which has very serious implications. Chief among them is the inevitable question of whether a true Christian (someone who is born again) can end up losing the promise of eternal life. Needless to say, this is a hotly debated topic, and it is not the subject of this article. However, it makes it clear that sin is an important subject, and this article seeks to address the specific question of whether any sin leads to eternal death.

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We hope that you will join us in our study, by slicing, dicing and examining this article, as we seek answers to some very important questions. We look forward to your comments based on your own study of the scriptures, telling us whether or not we have misinterpreted the verses we are using in this study. 

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1 John 5:16,17 – If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.

The Apostle John seems to be extremely clear on the subject, and his answer is: No, not all sin leads to death. There is a sin that leads to death, but not all sin do. We also believe that the context makes it quite clear that John is indeed referring to the eternal separation from God, not just the physical death we know. Yet, the Apostle James seems to contradict him.

James 1:13-15 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God…14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Not only does James attest that all sin, without exception, leads to death, but he also describes the process by which death takes place. Furthermore, it is evident that he is addressing brothers in Christ. Just see, from the very next verse (i.e. verse 16), to whom he is speaking: “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren”.

Sin leads to Death_1If there is no contradiction, then it may be that the Apostle John is often misunderstood

We believe the Apostle John is often misunderstood when he says “…there is sin not leading to death”. Let us revisit what he says and pay attention to a few key points.

1 John 5:16If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.

Here is a question: If there is a sin that does not lead to death, why is John saying that anyone who will petition for that brother who commits such sin will give that brother life, as if he had lost it? Isn’t it a strange statement? Why is there a need to give life to someone if that person never lost it?

It is also noteworthy that, save for the expression…which does not lead to death in 1 John 5:16 above, the Apostle John seems to be in perfect agreement with the Apostle James.

James 5:19,20 – Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Both John and James appear to convey the same idea that someone who petitions for or brings back a brother who has been living in sin will give that brother life (James says…will save a soul from death). Yet, in stark contrast, when it comes to a brother who has committed that “special” sin (for lack of better word) that leads to death, John goes so far as forbidding us even to pray for him. As a side note, see how both John and James refer to that person living in sin (any sin) as a brother (John says “…brother” while James says “…among you”, both of which meaning the same thing). Both John and James seem to be referring to those living in sin but yet are part of the church.

The evidences appear to suggest that Death (i.e. Eternal separation from God) is a process, not a sudden occurrence

Sin leads to Death_2How should you and I respond when we see our brother or sister committing sin? For all sin, we should intervene…we should pray, petition, and confront that brother or sister. But for one specific sin – that “special” sin – we should not do anything, because that brother or sister will absolutely die, be eternally separated from God! This is what John is saying. But what is that “special” sin? We believe that our Lord Jesus spoke specifically about it.

Matthew 12:32 – Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

We believe this is the sin John makes reference to, blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. What is the point of petitioning for someone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit if the Lord Jesus-Christ Himself says that such person will never, ever be forgiven? It is pointless to intervene because that person will not repent, and because God will not answer our prayer. John simply says…don’t pray for it! On the other hand, it is important to note that James indicates that eternal separation from God (i.e. death) is a process, not sudden occurrence. He himself gave the steps in the process in James 1:14, 15: First, we get enticed and drawn away by our very own desires. Second, our desire then gives birth to sin. Third, our sin grows. And fourth, when our sin has reached full maturity, death takes place.

The Lord Jesus-Christ Himself appears to confirm the fact that death is indeed a process. Consider Revelation 3:2.

Revelation 3:2 – Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.

We believe that Christ was warning the church in Sardis to confront those who were living in sin within the church because their sins were getting close to reaching full maturity…they were indeed ready to die.

Understanding that death is a process and not a sudden occurrence probably explains why both James and John are speaking of giving life to a brother who is sinning. During that process, death is slowly but surely coming. But is only fully realized when sin has reached full maturity. Nevertheless, when you and I – my dear friends – intervene for our sister during that process, confronting her, praying and interceding for her, etc. we effectively block that process and prevent sin from reaching full maturity. Therefore we will be giving life to that sister who was in effect losing it. John says “…he will give him life”, and James “…he will save a soul from death”. These in our opinion, speak of the same thing.

The process of sin leading to death is analogous to a cancer spreading in the body.

Sin leads to Death_3Think of cancer, any cancer. The stages through which someone with cancer goes are not very different than the process of death described above. From the very moment someone gets a cancer of any kind, that person is in effect dying, although it may not appear to be so in the beginning. But if that cancer is left unchecked, it will eventually reach full maturity and will absolutely kill that person. That is an absolute certainty. However, the sooner the cancer is detected and addressed, the higher the chance of completely restoring life to that person. But the more advanced the state of the cancer, the more effort is required to undo its effect in the body, even though there is still hope.

As any doctor will tell, there is indeed a point when nothing else can be done, and the person will die. True, that point where nothing else can be done may be much further than any doctor would dare to believe (and many accounts of miracle healing are here to prove it), but the fact remains that such point does indeed exist, especially if nothing is done. Similarly, the point where sin reaches full maturity may be really afar off, all because of the great mercy of our Father, but the Apostle James assures us that full maturity of sin is an absolute reality. This fact truly speaks of the mercy of God: While life is not a process (it is instantaneous), death is a process, it takes time. Death is the process of losing life. One cannot help but realize that God does really have a huge bias toward giving life than letting someone die. Oh, His mercy my people…His Mercy!!!!

Is full maturity of sin equivalent to blaspheming against the Holy Spirit?

We believe the answer is “No”, those two are not equivalent. This is our position because on one hand, John asserts that someone who is born again cannot blaspheme against the Holy Ghost (if we understood his expression…the sin that lead to death…correctly). Yet, on the other, it is evident that James applies the process of sin reaching full maturity to anyone, Christians and non-Christian alike. “Perhaps” this is the reason our Lord alludes to the possibility of forgiveness taking place even after this present age. But that is another topic.

We conclude that every sin does indeed lead to death: “No one” seems to be exempt from that process.

We understand that some may strongly disagree with the conclusions of this article. But from our study, we believe that the Apostles John and James are not contradicting each other. Quite the contrary, they are only confirming what each other said. Sin – any sin – lead to the same result, and that result is death, eternal separation from God. But sin produces that death only when it is fully mature. This fact, if true, does speak loudly about our Father’s bias toward life and not death. Sin absolutely has to be fully mature to be able to kill someone. Not “somewhat” mature or “partly” mature…it has to be “fully” mature! This is the love of God my people.

But while the above is truly comforting, the fact that such death does indeed exist, and apparently for anyone according to both John and James, should really cause us – Christians – to act as spiritual men and women, and no longer as babies. It is our responsibility to cease every singly opportunity to break that death-producing process in ourselves, and in our brother or sister who are sinning. If our understanding is correct, we do not need to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit to meet death. But we only need to reject repentance and continue in our own lust and desires to meet death. Both the tremendous love of God toward us on one hand and the chilling reality of eternal separation from God on the other are captured powerfully in the following verse.

2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Look how the merciful nature of God, “perishing” (which is that death or eternal separation from God) and “repenting” are tightly interlinked in this verse. The mercy of God exists to give time for people to repent so that they will not end up being eternally separated from God. When someone repents, that persons renounces to live any longer in sin, and it is very reason why repentance is the antidote to death, because sin leads to death.

Sin leads to Death_4Are we looking out for our brothers and sisters?

My friends, it is time to wake up, and to step up. It is time to do what James is telling us…to turn our brothers and sisters back from living in sin. This is not about what “they want to do” because it is “their life”. It is about them “losing” their life and you and me “giving them” back their life promised of God. How can we claim to be loving our people, our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our children or our friends when we are willing to let them live in sin. Have they blasphemed against the Holy Spirit…chances are…No! So there is still hope! Just like the human body can endure far more of the cancer attack than the doctors are willing to believe, the mercy of our God extend far beyond what we can often imagine. Therefore, instead of counting some people as already lost, we should be those people James and John are calling us to be: Givers of life!

Let’s be honest my friends. How much you and me are praying for our people? How genuinely are we praying for our people that the power of sin be broken in their lives? Do we take that time my people? Do we take that time to intercede for them and confront them? Or are we afraid to look “uncool” because we might be looked at being “too tight” in this life, or minding someone else’s business? As you know, this is not a joke my people. The blood of our Lord has been spilled to save us. How are we treating that blood that once washed us completely clean. Do we return in the mud??? Do we allow our loved ones to return in the mud??? May the Lord be with all of us my people, and may He provoke us to love, that we may mature and be those life giving people He has called us to be.