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

Easter…It is More Blessed to Receive

My dear brothers and sisters in God’s Kingdom;

We are in a special week-end: Easter, and for the occasion, allow me to share a thought from the Wisdom that Jesus gave. Easter is typically full of Christian events. Church shows and performances of all kinds, Easter eggs hunt (still trying to wrap my mind around that), concerts, etc.

For some settings, just preparing for Easter can take weeks, or sometimes months. As a church, we certainly do not want to drop the ball on Easter. Our performance must be spot on. We have a plan to invite the community, and perhaps get some of them to start attending church, reaching those who are “lost” in our communities. We will have cookout, bible theme games, story-telling, reenactment, etc. We will give our best, and as so, we will have honored Jesus.

But sometimes…it is more blessed to receive than to give.

Remember the exchange between Jesus and Marta.

Luke 10:38-40 – Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

But look at how Jesus replied:

Luke 10:41,42 – But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

On that day, Mary had chosen to receive from Jesus, rather than being too busy trying to give Him something. What you give Him will perish one day (your church performance, etc.), but what He gives you, His Word, is gold, and will never perish. 

Matthew 5:18 – …truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

In this potentially busy week-end, allow me to invite you to find time just for you and your Lord. Invite Him, and ask to receive His Word. You will have chosen the “good portion”, that which will never be taken away from you. Easter was the greatest gift He gave us: His Life. Easter is time to receive.

May you all blessed by the Father through the Spirit, in the name above all names: Jesus, our Lord.

Happy Easter. 😊

Amen.

Behold, All that he has is in your hand

Children of the Kingdom;

Grace, mercy and peace on you from God our Father, and from Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Behold, all that he has is in your hand.  This short statement, uttered by God, was all it took for a man’s life to be turned completely upside down. You are familiar with Job, the famous character in the Bible who lost everything. Yet, Job was the best in the entire world according to none other than God Himself.

Job 1:8 –  Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?

This was God’s own description of Job! We also read a bit earlier just how prosperous and wealthy he was

Job 1:3 -…this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.

Not only was job wealthy, and blessed with a large family, having 10 children, but he also feared God. What a combination! One might consider that he was the greatest living example of what it meant to be blessed! Matter of fact, Satan himself acknowledged it…

Job 1:10 – Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

But one sentence, one sentence from God was all it took for Job’s life to change forever…”Behold, all that he has is in your hand” (Job 1:12). In ONE day…Job lost everything…his wealth, his reputation, his servants, and ALL his children. His own sweetheart even came to him, and advised him to simply curse God and die (Job 2:9)! She was astonished that Job was so foolish as to still maintain his integrity before God.

Oh that we would grasp Who it is that we have to answer to!

Our lives hang on the mouth of God…His words! Before Him, we rise or we fall. Let us not think that because our lives are fine, it is because we somehow are deserving of it, nor if our lives are a misery, it is because we are deserving of it either. God makes the rich and the poor. He raises one, abases another. One day we are in a green field, the next we might be in the valley of the shadow of death. You would think that after all Job went through (and that without cause!), that God would rush to comfort him as we would deem appropriate! Ohhh…not so!

Job 38:1 – Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

But you see, He is God, and He came down and spoke at length to His servant. He took His time to teach His servant who He really was, because he, job, was a servant He was deeply in love with. One may look at the metal worker beating frantically at a piece of metal he just subjected to an intense heat and call that person heartless and perhaps even…a fool! But the learned eye will recognize the deep love of the metal worker for his craft, and for the fine piece of art he is determined to create.

You see, Job had now experienced something he had not experienced in his entire life, even as a God fearing man…

Job 42:5,6 – I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

How much stronger do you suppose was Job’s faith after this experience? How much stronger was his connection with the God He served all his life? How much more did he understands Him? and loved Him? How did he feel, though he realized that he was nothing, even despising himself after experiencing God, that God from the seat of His throne knew Him personally, and loved Him personally?

My friend, whether you are living in abundance or you have known nothing but misery in your life,  maintain your integrity as Job did (Job 1:22).  God loves His own! Do not accuse Him foolishly, for He is Lord of all. Praise Him, and offer Him your tears if in despair. He hears you and delight greatly in those who fear Him, and shall reward you in His own ways…just like he rewarded Job by unveiling Himself to Him. 

In the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

 

The Grace To Pick Up My Cross

Grace_Title

May the peace and grace of God our Father, and of His Son our Lord and Savior Jesus-Christ, be with you. But grace, Oh the grace of God…what does it mean? As I am seating here in my home in the late hours of the night, I cannot but conclude that, in my day, much of the teachings of the Apostles, and of Jesus-Christ Himself have been lost. Today, thanks to the false teachings of many eloquent men and women, rather than growing in humility, Christians are increasingly proud and boastful. They claim to be humble, pretending to be giving all the glory to Christ, but will not do one of His commands, to follow Him wherever He goes. What they sing at worship they do not do. They admire what He has accomplished in His life and on the cross, but this admiration does not translate into a change of life. They are like one who stares at Jesus on the cross, weeps and is in awe of Him for His ultimate sacrifice, but then return to his former life, leaving Him on the cross.

But the grace of God calls for Christians to take up their own crosses, and to follow Christ even in suffering. That is the only way true grace can be experienced. God told the Apostle Paul “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. To which Paul replied “…therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”. But Christians today are proud, and speak as if the power of Christ is a permanent fixture upon them. They avoid insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ. Yet, they have the arrogance to claim that power. How can one fail to notice the proud and triumphalist tone of Christians in the proclamation of their faith? While Christians are called to humility, and urged to constantly pray for God’s help, many a Christian today rest in their own self-assurance that they are in perfect harmony with God through the blood of Christ. They walk around proud, claiming to be forgiven, to be righteous, to be highly favored, that God knows their name, to have eternal life, and that the devil is under their feet. Yet their lives hardly reflect the elevated status they claim to be at. They are not different from those who do not claim to know God, and often times, they are far worse than them.

Grace_5The grace of God has been reduced to a badge of honor for far too many Christians. It is their assurance of eternal life with Jesus Himself, because they recall the day they accepted Him as Lord, or are constantly reminded of such by their favorite preacher. But how can one pride himself in having understood what Christ has accomplished on the cross? Humility, not pride is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Pride, regardless of the domain, is sin, even if it is in regards to who we are today. Because they think they have understood the message of grace, they “rest” in the finished works of Christ, and admire, as under a spell, their “new found identity” in Christ. Yet, they hardly acquaint themselves with the very person they call Lord, and are oblivious to His constant call to join Him in the great work for the Kingdom. They forget that with much suffering and afflictions were the pages of the New Testament written. Peter, Paul, John, and the other apostles all sacrificed much of their life so that the grace of God will be preached and lived.
In their letter to the Galatians, Paul gave us a glimpse of the fight he and his companions had to wage to protect the preaching of Christ, the grace of God. Jude, Peter, John all did the same. Who told us that the fight was over? Why aren’t we picking up our own cross as they did and follow in their footsteps, as they followed in Christ’s? We are hardly ready to lift a finger for our Lord, and that as long as it is not an inconvenience for us. And God forbid if we have to suffer for it. How low have we fallen!

The passages of scriptures that warn us against false teachings, and against living according to our former nature are systematically overlooked. No one wants to hear those warnings. Oh that we will not dare confront a brother or sister, preferring instead to focus on the “goodness of God”, for that approach is “more effective in bringing someone to repentance”, so we say. Should we now teach God? The saying goes that if the message does not make me feel good, then it must not be the gospel. Oh, what a deception from hell, what a disgrace to our Lord and to our God. Should not a loving Father warn and correct His children. Read the Old testament, and see how God dealt severely with Israel. Was it because He hated them, or because He loved them? Has God changed? Could Israel have survived as a nation if God had not dealt with it as a loving Father, blessing every time, but also disciplining when necessary?  Grace_2Why do you suppose Israel kept killing all the true prophets? Was it not because they were offended at their words? Have you read the words of Christ? Or have you considered why many disciples stop following Him? Would you now teach Jesus because He should have known better than offending many?

Conveniently we forget that the Apostles foretold of the time when people will no longer endure sound doctrine, and will choose instead to listen to those teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. Oh how has the Evil One, that Wicked One blinded the eyes of many my brethren.

What many call the gospel of Grace today is nothing more than a doctrine of demons, coming straight from the gates of Hell. It is a gospel of death and not of life. The Holy Spirit, that great comforter is all but forgotten. He is not disliked, just forgotten. Prayer is but a casual act we do before eating or sleeping, or when we are in distress. No one really cares about the feelings of our Lord. Don’t get me wrong, we sure love everything He did, and admire Him for who He is. But that does not mean we love Him. Even our genuine feelings for Him are not proof that we love Him. Obeying His voice, as our master, as the head, that is what matters! Have you but considered that He is afflicted? That He knocks on the door to dine with you but you would not open it because you cannot hear. And you cannot hear because you cannot recognize His voice and are too busy with your own affairs? Yet you claim to know Him! He bore our sins so that you and I would be free to obey Him and be in relationship with Him. Of course, He loves you, but don’t you think He is hurt when you would not listen to Him? We pray only to satisfy our personal wishes, and never beg Him to reveal His plans to us? Unlike Peter, we praise Jesus but will only do it from the comfort of the boat and will not dare to come out of it and walk on the water, even at His command. Yet, we claim to love Him.

We claim to know Him, when we should be screaming… “I have not yet taken hold of Christ, as He took hold of me, but I am pressing toward it, Father, help me in my faith for I am weak”. When are we going to wake up my brothers and sisters? When are we going to go on our knees, not because we want a promotion in our job, or success in our business, but because we disparately need Him to work in us so that day after day we will win the battle against our flesh, and grow in union with Him. So that we will be busy with His affairs, and not our own! Have we thought that He and His Father long to see fruits in our lives? God’s Son is the tree and we are the branches; the Father visits us and desires fruits…but far too often He return empty-handed, for all the branches are barren. Grace_3But we refuse to hid the warning that despite His great love and mercy, there comes a time when the Father will remove those branches that do not produce those fruits Him and His Son so long for.

Oh my people that we would repent from our sinful lives, for we are trampling the grace of God under foot. Oh that God would be gracious to us to remove the veil from our eyes. We are blind, and do not know it. The Children of light are walking in darkness, Oh what a tragedy. Where are the Christians? Where are the Sons of the Kingdom? You my brethren are meant to be the light of the world. You are like a prince that knows He is a prince but brings shame to the name by his riotous living.  How can you be that light if you are proud of your status as a Son of God? Is there such thing as a “good” pride? Is pride acceptable here? How can you be that light if you do not carry your cross and your spiritual armor? Will you stand against the devil without the latter?

Oh that you would remember the words of your Lord that those who exalt themselves will be humbled. Or the twenty-four elders in the book of Revelation. Is there a greater position of honor than to be in the inner circle of God Himself? Yet those elders cast their crowns at His foot saying that He (not them) is worthy! Why don’t we call ourselves “unprofitable servants” instead, for this is what the Lord Himself commanded! He did not call us to brag about ourselves but to humble ourselves and see ourselves as unprofitable, even after doing all He would have commanded us. But if we do not even do those things He commands us, then what are we my brothers and sisters? What we are we?

Oh that my Lord will be gracious to us. Father forgive us, forgive me. Give us more faith to live for you Oh Righteous Father. For the sake of Your Son answer my prayer.  Don’t you desire Father to gather fruits from us? But how can we produce them unless your grace comes to us. Be merciful Father and give us a new heart, for the sake of Your Son, our Lord Jesus, King of Kings, Lord or Lords. Amen.    

Does Every Sin Lead to Death?

Namib-Desert-NamibiaDear brothers and sisters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intercession: God Is Stunned! (Part 2 of 2)

file0001113742119We Should All be Like Epaphras

To develop an appreciation for just how God values those who intercede, consider Epaphras, mentioned three times in the scriptures.

Colossians 1:7 – As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ

God calls Epaphras a “faithful minister” of Christ. What an honor! And shortly after, we understand why.

Colossians 4:12 – Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly [Greek: agōnizomenos] for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

“Laboring earnestly” is one Greek verb which means “struggling”. Epaphras was held in such high esteem by God because he had a “very intense” prayer life, not for himself but much more importantly, for his brethren. He is only mentioned 3 times in the scriptures, and this – his prayer life for others – is what he will always be remembered for. This is what God values. What do we want God to remember us for?Intercession_3

Interestingly, his request in his prayers seemed to be essentially the same request Jesus made for Peter: that his people will stay fully assured of their faith toward God. Clearly, there is no greater part of us that is at stake than our faith; the faith of our brothers and sisters, and the faith of those we do not even know. Our brethren often fall prey to the temptations of the devil, but our fervent prayers can do so much to prevent the devil from moving further with his plans.

Spiritual Fight…Spiritual Weapon

In Ephesians 6, Paul reminds us that our fight is a spiritual fight, requiring spiritual weaponry. The last weapon he introduces is prayers, telling us that we should “always” pray for all saints.

Ephesians 6:18 – With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel

What a responsibility we have! While it is good to pray for ourselves, it is far better to pray for others; for it is impossible for God to deny our own needs when we are consumed with the well-being and the needs of our brethren. We know from 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan is roaming around, and we are told that “daily” he accuses us, seeking permission to sift us as wheat, to shred our lives. And indeed, looking around us, we can see that some of his requests are granted. Many of our brethren live a life of spiritual defeat, they are being robbed of everything, and their faith is shaken, and perhaps even, falling in the process. O that we would intercede! My brethren, let us intercede! Let us bring our prayer life to the next level, focusing less on ourselves and more on others. This is not just about being the “moral” thing to do. This is spiritual warfare, and we are in it! To the God of our Lord be all the praise, Glory without end!

Intercession: God Is Stunned! (Part 1 of 2)

praying_on_bible_redMy brothers and sisters in Christ, as I look at the scriptures, I believe I am beginning to realize just how much God wants us to intercede. It is one of our greatest responsibilities, and yet, we are failing so many times at carrying it. As described in Isaiah 59, when we do not intercede God is stunned!

Isaiah 59: 15,16 – Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. 16 And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;…

How graphic are God’s emotions in this passage. There was no justice and it was displeasing in God’s sight. And God was astonished, stunned, appalled that there was no man to intercede! Is our world today different than the one described in Isaiah 59?

Two Types of Intercessions:

From my limited understanding of the scriptures, there seems to be at least two types of intercessions. The first type can only be made by Jesus-Christ, who is currently seated at the right hand of God. Through this type of intercession, Jesus-Christ is able to save us, and make us children of God, as described in Hebrews 7.

Hebrews 7:24, 25 – But Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession.

The second type of intercession, which is the focus of this article, is altogether different. It can be performed not only by Jesus-Christ, but also by us, God’s children and servants. Contrary to the first type, this type of intercession has been around from well before the day of Pentecost. Here is an instance of Job interceding (i.e. praying) for his friend.

Job 42:10 – And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The calamity of Job ended when he prayed – when he interceded – for his friends. We learn from verse 8 of the same chapter that God was so angry with Job’s friends that He could only accept the prayer of Job for them (an intercession). Job’s prayer effectively appeased God, causing Him “not” to deal with His friends according to their folly (Job 42:8). However and sadly, the book of Job records earlier that in his prior conversations with his friends, Job was himself crying because there was no one to intercede for him to God (which is probably why his deliverance came as described in Job 42:10).

Job 16:21 – O that a man might plead with God, As a man with his neighbor!

Satan versus Your IntercessionIntercession_part1 of 2

Fast forwarding to Jesus’ time on earth, Luke 22 records a stunning confession of Jesus-Christ to His disciple Peter.

Luke 22:30 – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission [Greek: exētēsato] to sift you like wheat;

Looking at the Greek can help us appreciate the intensity of Jesus’ statement. The Greek verb “exētēsato” means to request a “full handing over”. And the word “hymas” is the plural form of “you”. Simply put, Jesus was informing Peter that Satan had requested to God that he (Peter) and the rest of the apostles be “completely” handed over to him! And the purpose of his request was clear: Satan wanted to sift them as wheat. Picture it as you may, but this is a very scary account! Think of Job and you will immediately get an idea of just how much pain Satan is willing to inflict.

Now consider this: How could Satan make such a bold request to God? The only reason Satan could make such request must have been because he knew that there was a chance his request could be granted! Think about it…Satan was making such a request because he knew he “could” get it. Otherwise, what would have been the point?

But thank God, Jesus was there to intercede.

Luke 22:31 – But I have prayed [Greek: edeēthēn] for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus interceded for his disciple and friend Peter! And the verb edeēthēn translated “prayed” is the same verb used in Luke 8:28 to describe how the demon “begged” Jesus-Christ not to torment him. This was an “urgent appeal” that Jesus made for Peter. And apparently, Satan is still “very” active in making such requests for you and me!

Revelation 12:10 – Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

Day and night my brothers and sisters! Day and night Satan accuses us before God. He is always roaming around, tempting us so we can fail, so that he can in turn accuse us, and make his requests to God to wreck our lives, our marriages, our faith, etc. even further. And he does so because he knows that unless someone intercedes (be it Jesus-Christ or some of us), he might just get what he asks for.

We have to pray for each other, for those we know as well as those we do not. The implications are far too serious for us to ignore that they are real. Can you imagine what would have happened if Jesus had not interceded and Satan had his request granted? Given the grave implications, no wonder our God is stunned, appalled when we do not intercede. Yes people, God is  stunned! In Part 2 we look at an example of an intercessor, with whom all of us should be able to identify.