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.

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.

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.

Remembering Who Owns the Churches

Dear Friends;

May the grace, mercy and peace of God, our Father, and of Jesus, our Lord, be with you. Allow me to submit to you by the Lord Jesus that for a church (a community of believers) to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and therefore be healthy, it must not only remember, but also understand that it is Jesus, the AMEN, exalted on the right hand of God, who owns it.

Revelation 1:20As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

In the Book of Revelation, as He spoke to seven of its churches, Jesus reminded them of this very fact, in at least two distinct ways: By declaring that the churches (and its leaders) are in His hand (Rev. 1:20), and by demonstrating in excruciating details just how much He knows about the life of each church. He knows not only the state of your church, but also where it comes from. He knows every single activity that is taking place inside your group, whether in public or in secret. He knows how your church has progressed (or digressed), where it is heading, and what your group must do given its current state.

In fact, NO ONE KNOWS BETTER about the state of a church than His Majesty, our God, and Jesus, our Lord.

Not only remembering, but understanding this fact (that Jesus owns the churches) gives us the most essential ingredient in the life of a church. A CHURCH MUST BE CONNECTED TO JESUS OR IT WILL WITHER.

John 15:4As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

AND TO BE CONNECTED, ITS LEADERS MUST BE EXCLUSIVELY DEDICATED TO PRAYING AND SERVING THE WORD.

In the Book of Acts we find this very practical truth in action. The early church was growing, and growing rapidly. And among the many ministries the church was performing, one of them was to ensure that everyone, among themselves, especially those in need of help like the widows, would receive food, daily. An issue arose as the greek-speaking Jews started to complain that their widows were being neglected.

Please note that the very fact that this church was performing this ministry among themselves speaks volume about the life and love that must have been present among the members! A beauty to behold indeed!

Nevertheless, note how the Apostles handled this matter.

Acts 6:2-42 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

The twelve Apostles did not say that this ministry was not important. Matter of fact, the instructions they gave to the people to choose seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirt and full of wisdom speaks highly of their position regarding the importance of this matter.

But what was even more important than daily food was the need for them to be continually in prayer and to continually serve the people, the spiritual food, the Word of God. The Apostles understood that NOTHING should come in the way of spending any less time with Jesus. As leaders, they should continually be in prayer. They must devote themselves at the feet of the One who OWNS THAT CHURCH, to receive daily grace, life, and blessings so that they will continuously feed the flock entrusted to them. They must not distract themselves, even with valid matters of the church.

Oh that you will appreciate the wisdom given to the Apostles, for they did not neglect the matter brought before them. But something more important, more valuable, they were instructed never to neglect, no matter the cost, for in them did the very life of the church hanged: Prayer and ministry of the Word.

And perhaps here lies the greatest failure of many of our churches. Our leaders do not understand their most solemn duty, the one duty they must preserve at all cost, to be in prayer, so that they may receive the daily grace they need for themselves and for the people.

If you are a leader, and recognize that these words are TRUE, then repent and assume your duty, as a servant of the LORD who desires to be called faithful.

For those of you who might aspire to be a leader. You desire a good work, but may this letter serve to caution you of your most important, and only duty.

And to all, abide in the Vine, the Lord Jesus in prayer, that His life may flow in you in abundance.

In Jesus Name. 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.

Do Not Shy Away From Them

May the God of all grace be with you. Today, allow me to exhort you on not shying away from your least favorites verses. All of us individually, our denominations, and our churches are likely to have favorites verses in the scriptures. There are also universal favorites, as well as universally unpopular ones.

But if you believe that the Word of God is the truth, then you are doing yourself a MAJOR disservice by shying away from those least favorites, since in them, are some of the most profound revelations that God has given us about Himself. Hence, when you shy away from them, your view of who God is, what is His nature or His character, is most certainly heavily skewed, and therefore inaccurate. As uncomfortable as they might be, I plead with you to dwell on them at the very least as much as you dwell on your favorite ones.

Allow me to share some of them here…a very small subset…

John 14:22,23  – God does not love everyone the same way: He makes Himself at home only to those who love Him

“But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

Matthew 7:21 – Many professed Christians won’t make it!

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Hebrews 12:14 – Holiness is mandatory to make it

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Isaiah 53:2 – Jesus was not physically attractive

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

2 Timothy 4:3 – Many professed Christians fabricate their own custom Christianity – A Christianity that suits them

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

John 14:15 – The only way to Love Jesus is to do His commandments

“If you love me, keep my commands.

1 John 2:3 – If we are not keeping His commandments, then we actually do not know Him

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Philippians 1:29 – Suffering for Christ is part of the deal

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him

Ecclesiastes 1:2 (and 12:13,14) – Everything we do, without exception is absolutely pointless, unless it is out of our  reverence for God.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

May the Lord be with you all my dear friends, and may He give you the grace to take His entire counsel.

Blessings