Drawing Inferences from Past Blessings

Dear friends;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Jesus name. AMEN.

You Are Being Watched!

Dear friends;

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demons are also regularly watching you…

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

YOUR FAITH IS REGULARLY TESTED

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

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

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

GOD IS PATIENT

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

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

BUT GOD’S PATIENCE HAS SOME CLEAR LIMITS

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

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

GOD WILL SEND A POWERFUL DELUSION

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

The Foolishness of the Spirit

Dear friends;

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

WHAT DOES NATURE TEACH US?

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

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

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

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

Then I thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIONS OF THE SPIRIT

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

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

SPITTING ON DIRT TO HEAL BLINDNESS

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

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

WALKING AND SHOUTING AS A MILITARY STRATEGY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May His Name be praised. AMEN.

The Book of REVELATION

Dear friends, fellow Christians;

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

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

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

WHAT IS THE BOOK OF REVELATION:

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

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

TO WHOM IS REVELATION ADDRESSED:

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

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

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK:

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

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

WHAT IS THE INTENT BEHIND THE PURPOSE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT THE BOOK OF REVELATION IS NOT:

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

Hence, it is a warning to repentance and obedience.

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

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

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

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

In the Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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.

Prayer as a Sign of Faith

Dear brothers and sisters;

May God’s grace, peace and mercy be with you in abundance, in the Lord Jesus. We have reported previously (read here)  that this form of salutation is no mere formality, but a prayer that God gives you strength not only to hold onto your faith, but also power to proclaim the Gospel. To pray constantly is God’s Will for us, and to constantly pray for things that are according to His Will is one of the most authentic testimony of the health of our Faith.

Put it bluntly, if you have a weak or non-existent prayer life, it is a sure sign that either you have little faith or no faith at all.

Consider indeed the parable recorded in Luke 18, where Jesus sought to teach us that we should always pray, and not give up.

Luke 18:1-8Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray all the time and never give up. 2 He said, “In a city there was a judge who didn’t fear God or respect people. 3 In that city there was also a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while the judge refused. But later, he told himself, ‘I don’t fear God or respect people, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice. Otherwise, she will keep coming and wear me out.’” 

6 Then the Lord added, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says. 7 Won’t God grant his chosen people justice when they cry out to him day and night? Is he slow to help them? 8 I tell you, he will give them justice quickly.

Jesus illustrated constant prayer by speaking of a widow who kept bothering a judge to grant her justice against her adversary, although the judge kept ignoring her request. He then indicated that this judge, as unrighteous as he is, will eventually grant her request because of her persistence.

Then, as was often His custom, He invited us to consider how much more therefore God would answer the valid requests of His people who pray to Him daily.

But then He asked a question:

Luke 18:8…But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

What is the meaning of this question? What is the link between faith and prayer if not that constant prayer is the very proof that one still has faith, and has not given up?

JESUS ASKED:

WHEN I COME BACK, WILL I FIND FAITH…WILL I FIND PEOPLE WHO STILL PRAY CONSTANTLY? WILL I FIND PEOPLE WHO STILL BELIEVE THAT I HEAR THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS, AND DO ANSWER?

The widow in the parable could not have come back again and again to the judge is she was not intimately convinced that he could do, AND was the only person qualified to do something about her case.

Do our prayers carry the same conviction? Or do we begin to look for alternatives when we think that the answer is delayed? Do we now begin to think that someone else may be able to answer our request? Perhaps, as opposed to the widow, we may decide to take matters in our own hands, rather than returning again and again to the only one with the power and authority to render justice.

Our prayer life is a sure measure of the health of our faith. Men and women of strong faith always have a strong prayer life, and men and women of weak faith always have a weak prayer life.

Therefore, the Lord permitting, allow me to counsel you with these few words of wisdom: If you have weak prayer life, your faith is weak. Then, in those few occasions when you do pray, pray that God will give you more faith. For if your faith grows, so will your prayer life.

May the Lord Jesus be with you.

AMEN.

The Need for Grace, Mercy and Peace

Dear Saints and faithful in Christ;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMEN

Your Most Prized Possession

Children of the Kingdom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, the Lord can still be found.

In His name, may you receive these words.

AMEN

Does our righteousness exceed theirs?

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ;

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

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

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

The Scribes and Pharisees of our day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord be with you and me.

AMEN.