What’s the Use Anyway?

Dear Friends;

May God the Father, and Jesus our Lord be blessed, and may the Lord sanctify you and give you a heart to understand His Will.

Yes, what’s the use of serving God? What’s the use of enduring suffering and injustice for His name, while others seem to have it easy. While others, who do not fear Him, actually prosper?

There is nothing new under the sun, and neither are these questions. Look at what the Jews used to say in the times of Malachi.

Malachi 3:14,15 – “It is useless to serve God. What have we gained by keeping his requirements and walking mournfully before the Lord of Armies? 15 So now we consider the arrogant to be fortunate. Not only do those who commit wickedness prosper, they even test God and escape.”

Do not fall into that sin. It is a death trap! While many of the Jews were speaking and thinking that way, a few did the opposite…

Malachi 3:16At that time those who feared the Lord spoke to one another.

And God took notice

Malachi 3:16The Lord took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared the Lord and had high regard for his name.

Friends; think very carefully about what you are thinking and harboring in your heart. The Lord may seem quiet at times, but He takes notice and listens.

Malachi 3:17 “They will be mine,” says the Lord of Armies, “my own possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.

In His Name. AMEN.

No Confidence in the Flesh

Dear Reader;

May the grace, peace and mercy of God be with you, through His Son, Jesus, whom He has appointed King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords. Friends, it is astonishing to see just how anti-biblical some of the deeply held beliefs in our societies are. And it is even more troubling when we see that they are deeply held even by our own Christian brothers.

Take for instance, the notion that we need to believe in ourselves.

This commonly accepted belief takes many forms: We need to have faith in ourselves. We can do anything that we put our minds to. We have amazing potential that just needs to be unleashed. These are just some of the ways this belief is expressed.

We see this belief applied in every domain of our lives, all geared toward some “betterment” of ourselves, our loved ones or our community, whether it be physical fitness, career advancement, or wealth generation.

But look at how the Apostle Paul expresses one of the defining characteristics of Christ’s followers:

Philippians 3:3 – …we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh

The statement…do not put confidence in the flesh…refers to the fact that Christians should believe that they are incapable of doing anything worthy of anything by themselves, through some form of inner ability that – as being widely believed today – all of us may possess (what the Scripture calls the flesh).

Romans 7:18For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.

This statement is perhaps even more troubling and echoes the sentiment of Philippians 3. Paul said that nothing good lives in him. It is incongruent to both believe that nothing good lives in you and at the same time believe that you have within you what it takes to accomplish anything worthy.

Now, you may at this point read these and call to mind the countless stories of success (your own, or of others) which attest to the contrary: Evidences which prove that indeed we have within ourselves the ability to accomplish whatever we put our minds into.

Romans 3:4…Let God be true, even though everyone is a liar

Man does indeed have an inner ability, but it is not to do anything good

How we do reconcile what the scripture says with the countless evidences which seem to affirm the opposite of what God says?

I submit to you that one may find the answer – among other places – in Romans 7:18 we just read.

Romans 7:18For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.

Whatever we can accomplish through the strength of our will, our inner strength (however that ability is labeled) is not good.

But what is “good”?

GOD defines what is good (unless we want to define for ourselves what is good, at which point we have made of ourselves our own God). And only things that can be accomplished through Him and Him alone are considered good. Everything else is not good.

Hence we may say, that if one desires to satisfy the passions of his flesh, he indeed has the ability to do so within himself, for his flesh is inside him. But the one who desires to do anything that is good – and hence, pleasing to God – is incapable to do so but with the help of God Himself.

Should we therefore hold onto the belief that we can do anything we put our minds to?

No, we run away from it, for that mentality only promotes the flesh, and its sinful desires, no matter holily those desires may portray themselves. Just think of the Galatians who thought it a good thing to circumcise themselves (Galatians 3:1-5).

And this applies to ALL of our aspirations in life. No matter how noble and right they might appear. If we are able to attain to them through our own strength, then we ought to know that they were nothing more than the sinful desires of our flesh.

In me dwells no good thing. I place no confidence in my flesh. I am incapable of doing anything that is good, for myself, my children or my community. I am wretched and miserable, destitute.  

Romans 7:24What a wretched man I am!

We should truly believe in our utter destitution so that we may truly believe in our utter dependence on God.

Only with the profound belief that we are destitute and incapable of doing anything good for ourselves or anyone will we cherish and hold onto our dependence on GOD, THROUGH WHOM WE CAN DO EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD.

Philippians 4:13I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.

May the Spirit of Christ ministers to you the Word of Truth, for the glory of His own Name.

AMEN.

Burning Out in Search of Your Purpose

May the God of all grace, who is rich in wisdom, and abounding in mercy, be with you in the name of our Lord Jesus-Christ. I wonder how you would describe your Christian life. Has it so far been one of constant fire for the Lord? Or can you distinctly identify periods of drought, sometimes very long ones? Periods where you were – and perhaps still are – simply cold toward spiritual matters. May be even worse. Do you feel like you have simply run out of steam for God?

You can remember the days when you had all the zeal of the world. Perhaps that was at your new birth and the months that followed it. On fire you were to even preach the gospel. Volunteering at your local Church, even proposing new ideas of ministry. But now…

…You are exhausted. You feel like you have been doing everything you can, but now, you are tired, and that zeal is just not there anymore. At best, a routine has settled in, but spiritually and emotionally, you are somewhere else.

You, have burned out.

This burning out, is not like the one Paul is describing, where, precisely because of the Gospel, they were persecuted on every front.

2 Corinthians 1:8We don’t want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our affliction that took place in Asia. We were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life itself.

No, the burning out I am describing is where your Christian zeal is gone. Your prayer life is all but nonexistent, and your active involvement in Church is a thing of the past.

And even worse…

It seems like it does not really matter whether you find in you the energy to jolt yourself back up. God Himself seems silent. Not a word from Him, not a word of encouragement from Jesus in your head that perhaps says “Yes, go ahead, I am with you, do not give up!”.

What is my mission? What is my ministry? What is my calling? Why can’t I seem to find it? Why am I just not on fire for Him?

These are just some of the questions you have been wrestling with.

You, have burned out.

What is Happening?

I would not pretend to have the comprehensive answer on the matter, nor presume that God would reveal such to me. But one potential big reason could be the mistake we often make of placing the carriage before the horse.

We are focusing on the ministry before focusing on ourselves.

When you look at the words of Jesus, and of His apostles after Him, by in large their focus was on our personal growth, rather than our ministry.

Jesus’ message was full of Do’s and Don’ts for our personal life. He preached so that our very character will change. You can read Matthew 5 to 7 for a good illustration of this. His focus was not for us to engage on a quest to find our “ministry”, but to embark on a life of internal transformation by getting rid of moral traits, habits and behaviors which keep us far from God.

The Apostles’ message echoed their Lord and Master’s. Very little – if anything at all – is found in their writings about how to get creative in the church, how to attract new members, or how to get children engage in Bible school. No, we do not see any of that. But what do we see instead? A call for personal transformation. A call for each of us to look inward, a call to fight old habits and put on new ones.

Galatians 5:19-25Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Fighting our old nature – the flesh and what it produces – is where our focus should be. The fruit of the Spirit is not described as a series of activities in the Church, or a series of personal ministries, but instead as a list of character traits that are in perfect agreement with the Laws of God.

It is God’s part to give you a ministry, not yours – It is your part to fight your old habits, not His

And so we find ourselves often focusing on something else that God would have us focused on. We want to work for Him, but we are not focusing on purifying ourselves as He commanded. And therefore often we move forward, with our temporary zeal and creative mind, only to run out of steam because the Lord, was never with us to begin with!

2 Timothy 2:21 So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

It is the Master’s privilege to judge us fit for use. Sure, as we fight our old nature and put on the new one supplied by the Spirit, we will find ourselves “doing” things that could rightfully be described as doing ministry work. But they are not the focus, for they are simply the natural product of the transformation that is taking place inside of us, which should be our focus.

And if God judges that we should spend the rest of our lives here on earth doing nothing else but transforming ourselves, rather than doing any kind of ministry, so be it, for it will all be worth it. For remember, only holy people will see God (Hebrews 12:14).

Matthew 5:8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

May the Lord Jesus live His life in You, through the Holy Spirit, for the glory of the God the Father.

AMEN

Knowing Christ

My dear Brothers and sisters;

Oh that we need to have our eyes opened so that we may know what we ought to know, namely, the surpassing value of knowing Christ. I pray the Father, in the name of Jesus, that He may grant to us such blessing, for if we do not know Christ, and the value of knowing Him, we have no hope of seeing ourselves transformed. We will continue to be at the mercy of our sinful dreams and desires, at the mercy of the latest current of our societies. At the mercy of our many limitations as human beings. And we will simply not know what we should know, until it will be too late.

The Apostle Paul knew the “Value” of Knowing Christ

We see in his letter to the Philippians that the Apostle Paul had come to understand the surpassing value of knowing Christ. He came to realize that knowing Christ was the greatest treasure he had to possess, above – and actually in lieu of – everything else that He had.

Philippians 3:7,8 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…

Knowing Christ was, for Paul, worth everything and more. He did not simply consider that everything that he had – and was in his society – to be little to lose in order to gain that intimate knowledge of who Christ is, but he also considered them to be a real waste, an encumbrance.

Philippians 3:8Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ.

One element that is very interesting to note is that Paul plainly declared that he did not yet know Christ, but that this was his goal, and that he was doing everything to reach it.

Philippians 3:10-12My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. 12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

But my question to my God is HOW? HOW Father may I KNOW THE VALUE of Knowing Christ?

If I know the value, my life will change. My desires will change. My pursuit will change. At this point, it matters more to me that know the value of knowing Christ, for if I do not know its value, how will I pursue that knowledge. Paul knew the value, hence he made “every effort to know Christ”.

Oh my people, the answer is right before our eyes! It is right there in the passage itself: CHRIST HAS TO TAKE HOLD OF ME FIRST!

Philippians 3:12 – Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

The verb translated “taken hold of” is katalambánō [Greek: 2638], and it has a forceful, almost violent connotation to it. It means to grasp something in a forceful (firm) manner; (figuratively) to apprehend (comprehend), “making it one’s own.”

Is that how the Christian life starts? I am not sure. Perhaps not necessarily. But one thing seems sure to me: Understanding the value of knowing Christ starts this way. Christ must take hold of me. He must apprehend me. He somehow must manifest Himself to me FIRST.

We know that the consequences of Christ taking hold of us are pretty severe, if Paul’s loss of everything is any indication. Could it be therefore that there is timing to when Christ does decide to take hold of each one of us, so that He does it when He knows it is the right time? I ask God for I do not know.

But one thing Paul does offer is the following. Whatever truth we DO know, we should strive to live up to it.

Philippians 3:16,17In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. 17 Join in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and pay careful attention to those who live according to the example you have in us.

May God open your eyes and mine, that we may understand these deep truths, and the value of knowing His Son, Jesus, the CHRIST.

In Jesus name. AMEN.

Confession without Repentance

My dear brothers and sisters;

I ask the Father of mercies, in the name of Jesus, His Son, that He pours upon us His mercies, and gives us a heart of repentance toward Him, for such a heart is one of great value before Him.

Have you wondered if there was a relationship between confessing the Lord Jesus, and repentance? If there is one, what is it? Are they synonymous? Does one come before the other? If yes, which one? “Must” one come before the other? In Acts, the Apostle Paul summarized in ministry as follows:

Acts 20:21I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.

I submit to you that having faith in Jesus necessitates that you have confessed Him as Lord. I also submit to you that your confession is only valid if you have repented toward God first. One must first repent before their confession of Jesus as Lord can be considered valid.

On the day the Church was born (on the day of Pentecost), after Peter explained to the assembly what they had just witnessed – the disciples speaking in tongues – they were deeply hurt because he had testified that Jesus, whom the Jews had crucified, was indeed the messiah and was now resurrected and glorified.

Acts 2:37When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?”

But now look at the response Peter gave when they asked “Brothers, what should we do?”

Acts 2:38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We can glean at least two elements in Peter’s response.

Anyone can repent, at any time: God protects a man’s ability to repent 

Peter instructed the people to repent, and he expected them to do it on the spot. In other words, repentance can be done immediately, and without the Holy Spirit. It is a God given ability, an ability that He protect so that anyone can be saved. Neither the Devil, the Angels or any other creatures can steal or nullify this ability.

Repentance emanates from a deep conviction that you are personally responsible and guilty of murdering Jesus, the Son of God, who, being sinless, did not deserve to die.

Jesus did not simply die FOR you. 

Jesus died BECAUSE of you. YOU have the blood of Jesus in your hands. YOU are guilty. YOU are a murderer.

Unless one is deeply convicted of this truth, one cannot truly repent. And unless one repents, one cannot be forgiven of his crime.

One MUST repent before he can be forgiven of their sins

From the response, we also see that repentance is a necessary condition for receiving the forgiveness of your sins. How can one be forgiven unless he 1) is made fully aware of his crime, and 2) acknowledges his crime, and 3) seeks grace for his crime? This is the process of repentance, a process that Peter, through His preaching that day, enabled in the people who were present that day. The people indeed did rightfully ask:

Brothers, what should we do?

Answer:Now that I have made you fully aware of your crime of your charge, you must acknowledge it as true. Then you should seek grace from the great Judge, and He will forgive you.

Many who have confessed Jesus as Lord never got saved

Romans 10:9,10If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

I submit to you that this passage must be understood in light of the account of the day of Pentecost.

Confession of Jesus as Lord necessitates that repentance has taken place first. One must first repent toward God. One must first acknowledge his state as guilty of murder before God. The one YOU once murdered is now ALIVE. He is LORD. How can you expect that your recognition of His Lordship (He is LORD) will be judged valid, genuine, unless you have first repented of your crime toward Him?

Hence, we conclude that your confession is invalid without true repentance. You are still in your sins. You are still dead.

But to those who have indeed repented, and confessed Jesus as Lord, a new call, a shout from heaven has been issued: Bring forth fruits Worthy of Repentance!

In Jesus Name. AMEN.

The Charge Against Rich Believers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. Two Major Charges Against Rich Believers

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

A. Preferential treatment: Despising the poor

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

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

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

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

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

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

B. Misuse of Wealth

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

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

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

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

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

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

III. Who is the Rich Believer?

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

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

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

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

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

IV. What Should the Rich Believer Do?

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

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

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

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

AMEN.

I Must Face My Goliath

My brothers and sisters;

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

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

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

Goliath makes itself known

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus, Abraham and many others had to face their Goliath

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the name of Jesus. AMEN.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are several key elements which demand our attention:

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

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

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

Element 2: Christ Died For The Unbelievers Too!

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

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

In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul stated…

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

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

In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul stated…

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

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

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

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

The Celebration of Christmas May Not Be A Different Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Jesus Name. AMEN.

NO! My Friends, Christ is NOT There!

Friends;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 1:13 – Is Christ divided?…

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

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

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

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

In His Name. AMEN.