Forbidden Fruit

Dear Children of the Kingdom;

Oh that the grace of God and His mercy may be upon me at this time, that Christ may act in me mightily, that I may serve as His instrument to instruct you His people, serving you His Word, for the days in which we live are truly evil. But the fools and the uninstructed, not able to discern good from evil, keep moving forward and suffer dearly.

Proverbs 22:3The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

The prudent sees danger and hides himself just as Joseph ran out of his master’s house when the master’s wife was determined to sleep with him.

Genesis 39:6-12Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph DAY AFTER DAY, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.

Look at Joseph’s primary concern: “There is no greater person in this house after my master than I. He has place everything in my hand, except you his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?

Sinning against God was Joseph’s preoccupation! He recognized everything he had, everything he was free to have…and that was precisely the reason he could not venture into committing such a great sin against God by going after the one thing He was not permitted to touch!

One can see the similarity between this account and Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, to whom God gave absolutely everything that belonged to Him here on Earth, save His tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. But as opposed to Joseph, they DID go after what was forbidden when tempted by Satan, and committed a great sin against God.

YOU TOO, ARE FREE

Much freedom my friend, has been granted to you too, when you were purchased and washed with Jesus blood. You have been made free! For with God, free is how His creatures, us, should be!

Galatians 5:1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

But to you and me who have been given much freedom, much power, Satan is after the one thing that God has forbidden us to do: To disobey Him.

But sometimes, perhaps blinded by our freedom and power, or yielding to the lies of Satan, we act as fools, not recognizing the danger when we see it, or simply making light of it given who we are in Christ, free. As opposed to Joseph, we may think that because God has blessed us so much, we may afford to be careless here and there. We believe we may afford to disobey and enjoy sin, going after the one thing we have been forbidden. Hence, we do not see the danger for what it is and hide, but instead press on, only ensuring that we will reap the consequences.

Galatians 5:13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

My friend, you are God’s child,  and you love the Lord. Perhaps you are great at praying with your family, or studying the scriptures, reading devotionals and hearing sermons. Perhaps you are growing in your understanding of the freedom and power given to you.

Continue my friend on this path, and do not let Satan lie to you. Do not either be a fool, but strive to stay away from the one forbidden fruit: Disobedience. Every day, Satan or your own flesh will seek to derail you, just like the master’s wife who kept going after Joseph…DAY…AFTER…DAY! 

But RESIST…RESIST…and you will conquer!

Lord, my Lord, may you be exalted in me, and in my friend, to the glory of your Father, our God in Heaven.

AMEN

The Diversity of Our Trials

Dear family, children of the Kingdom;

May the grace, peace and mercy of God be with you. I pray that the Lord Jesus grants me to share with you a few words regarding the suffering of the saints, in the hope that you will be encouraged to stay the course, not being ignorant of the schemes that Satan uses.

From several places in the scriptures, we know that the saints should expect suffering for the sake of Christ.

Philippians 1:29For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.

However – as a disclaimer – it should be noted that one could be suffering, not because of his allegiance to Christ and his continued resolve to honor Him, but because of his continued fellowship with sin. In such case, one should not appropriate to himself the verse above, but should instead meditate on the ones below.

1 Peter 2:20…what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?

This said, when one suffers for Christ’s sake, how does the persecution look like? You could be thinking of a missionary being imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, or for Christians being beaten for assembling themselves in someone’s house to fellowship. You could also be thinking of being forbidden to speak about God or pray in the school setting.

These cases certainly qualify as suffering for Christ’s sake. But allow me to submit to you that suffering for the sake of Christ comes in a much richer multitude of forms, many of them not falling into the “traditional” context of preaching the Gospel.

Consider what the Apostle Peter said… 

1 Peter 2:19,20Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust [Greek (4646): skolios]. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

Peter was exhorting servants (or employees) to be subject to their masters (or their employers), even if they were morally twisted, perverse or unjust (according the definition of the Greek word “skolios”). In other words, the worst kind. The employee is a child of God, and probably NOT “preaching” the scripture in the workplace. But he is a God-fearing person, and therefore he does good, he is honorable, with integrity because he recognizes that he must honor His God, and Him He should fear.

And this is enough to be persecuted for Christ’s sake.

You, who continuously endeavor to honor God in your life, you are being transformed into the very image of Christ. It is this fact – the fact that your character is displaying the attributes of God – that triggers the persecution. The employer, in this case, is nothing more than an instrument of Satan, and may never even refer to your faith. He or she will just persecute you.

HOW Satan persecutes you (and for how long) is not nearly as important as the simple fact that he is able to persecute you. The objective is simple: To cause you to stray away from Christ, even renounce your faith, which will manifest itself by Christ’s attributes progressively decaying in you.

Earlier in his letter, the Apostle Peter highlighted the fact that persecutions come in many different forms.

1 Peter 1:3-6Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various [Greek (4164): poikílos] trials.

The Greek word poikílos translated various properly means, of various kinds, diversified (“manifold”). In other words, the trials that we are subjected to have a variety of forms, they are very rich in their diversity.

Physical or mental persecutions, it really does not matter. The objective is simple: Lose your bearings, start sinning, take matters into your own hands, stop listening to Christ and hopefully simply give up that which you were given by Christ and charged to hold fast (the Gospel of Truth) and not lose.

My friends, you who endeavor to subject yourself to Christ that He may have His Way in you; stay strong and persevere. Persecutions come and will come in its many forms, sometimes not even suggesting that it is because you are holding onto Christ. But rest assured, He who is in you, is greater than He who is in the world. Hold fast, and you will conquer.

1 John 5:4 – And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Praise, Honor and Glory be given to our Lord, Jesus, the Christ.

AMEN.

Communing with Jesus

To the Saints in Jesus-Christ, grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus, our Lord. I desire to commune with Jesus in greater measure. I desire to discern His voice as clearly as I discern yours. But far too often, His voice seems faint, and sometimes, not even there. I desire to experience Him deeper, beyond simply my imagination or understanding of the scripture. Him I desire as a person, to converse with Him. Him I desire as my Master, my Guide, and the One who invited me and equipped me to work alongside Him.

But it is as if He hardly speaks. It is as if I do not recognize Him, understand Him or even hear Him.

Oh my dear friends, do you too, wish you were close to Jesus? Do you wish His experience in your life was more tangible than it is now? Do you wish He was more real than the One spoken of at Church? Do you wish, like me, that you could feel in greater measure, His presence?

I believe the reason for this very limited experience I have of Him has nothing to do with His love for me, and everything to do with my lukewarm love for Him. Yes, my tongue has run out of words to express how much I love Him, but there also lies my frustration. For it has become abundantly clear that if words are the only thing I have to express my burning love for Him, then long ago have I reached the limit of my love. I have long ago exhausted my vocabulary, and I now painfully realize that if this is all I can give Him, then I am the most miserable among men. For words, unless they are Words of the Holy Spirit Himself, have no value.

There must be more…I want to feel Jesus…there must be more! There has to be more. What is the issue? What is the problem? Why can’t I experience Him that much?

I counsel you to carefully consider the case the Apostle Paul brought before the Corinthians, in the form of two questions

2 Corinthians 6:15-18 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God

Here lies the problem. Christ has no agreement with the devil. None whatsoever. A believer shares nothing with an unbeliever. None whatsoever. The temple of God cannot be used for idols.

YET, we ARE the temple of God. YET, we ARE guilty of placing idols in that temple. We ARE guilty of making deals with Satan while belonging to Christ. When interacting with unbelievers, we are not recognizable as Christians, so much we resemble them.

If you are honest with yourself, you know that at least some of this applies to you. Too comfortable you are with the enemy. We are comfortable with the enemy! But we also desire to experience Christ in greater measure.

This cannot be my friend. This cannot be. And unless we do something about it, our experience of Christ has little hope to go any deeper. We will have to satisfy ourselves with songs, teachings, and far too sporadic and rare experiences of Him, like shooting stars that disappear as fast as they appear.

The solution

2 Corinthians 6:16-18…as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 7:1 – Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

The promise is there…the Father says, I will welcome you, I will be a father to you. You will be sons and daughters to me. Now you may say, “I am already a son”, “I am already a daughter”. That is very true! But are you experiencing that relationship to its full extent? Do you feel and experience the closeness of Jesus, or of the Father, as a daughter does with her father? If you are like me, I think not. You may be a son, but you do not know your Father, for you have no relationship with Him.

Let us cleanse ourselves my friend, from everything that defile our body, and from everything that defile our spirit. What do we meditate on, what do we watch, what are our dreams, what activities do we partake in, what are our hobbies?

Unless we are serious about cleansing ourselves, there is no hope of a deeper experience of Jesus. You will not commune with Him. You will not recognize Him. You will not understand Him. You will run out of vocabulary to express your love for Him, and those words will be as empty as words can ever be.

He will not be swayed by our lukewarm love. He will not be swayed by our half-hearted consecration to Him. He will not be fooled when we prostitute ourselves in the dark of night.

2 Timothy 2:12-14 –
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

Dear Father. Forgive me. Yes, you have given me great and exceeding promises. I know that words are just words unless your Spirit utters them through my mouth. Give me your grace and fly to my rescue. For I have sinned, being too comfortable with the one who seeks to slay me, my enemy, Your enemy! Give me strength, give me strength in the Lord Jesus, to cleanse myself of all these things that I still take pleasure in, but which hurt my experience of Him. In the name of Jesus, I pray, not only for myself, but also my fellow readers. AMEN.

The Miracle of the New Birth: Am I Born Again?

Friends;

I pray to God in the name of the Lord Jesus, that the grace of His Son may be upon me to write unto you these few words on the miracle of the new birth. The miracle of being born again.

Many of us certainly believe that we are born again (or, born from above, or, born of the Spirit), for without this new birth one cannot be identified with Christ and has no hope of a future with God. But are you?

John 3:3,5,7Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”…5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”…7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

IT STARTS WITH “OUR” VIOLENT DEATH

The new birth is a miraculous act performed by God, whereby He first kills us, and buries us, and then bring us back to life.

Romans 6:3,4Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death…

The death by crucifixion that Jesus-Christ experienced is the best image given to show us how our new birth starts. It is an extremely violent act, whereby our whole being, our identity, who we are, is killed by crucifixion, with the same violence that Jesus experienced when He was crucified.

Romans 6:6…our old man is crucified with him…

The necessity of such a death results from the fact that we are utterly corrupted by sin, and therefore impossible to repair. Everything about us is corrupted, the most important of which being our minds, where everything about us originates.

Romans 6:6 – …Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

We are utterly corrupted by sin, having completely forgotten the reason we were created in the first place: To have a perpetual, vibrant and loving relationship with God, being in communion with Him, partaking into His activities, and enjoying everything He created for us. Therefore, we should be killed, so that a completely new “us” will be created: A man with a new mind, uncorrupted, untainted by sin. A man, who once again understands why he exists, why he was created.

THEN THE RESURRECTION COMES…

The miracle of the instantaneous yet violent death we are subjected to when God begins the process of our new birth, is only matched and surpassed by the miracle of our resurrection, where a new identity, which shares absolutely nothing with our former self is created.

2 Corinthians 5:17 …if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

Yet, in Romans 6, instead of equating the resurrection of Jesus to the fact that when He returns, in the future, we too will be resurrected, God instead ties Jesus’s resurrection to a much closer, present and very practical reality.

Romans 6:4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, JUST AS CHRIST WAS RAISED from the dead by the glory of the Father, WE TOO MIGHT WALK in newness of life.

To be born again is not a future, but a very present reality. And we are born again now so that now we can walk now completely differently than we did in the past.

The Christian walk, which only those who have experienced the death of Christ in their own selves can experience, is nothing short of a miracle, equivalent to nothing less than the fact that Christ was resurrected by the Spirit of God.

If you think Christ coming back to life was a miracle, then so is the Christian walk. It is nothing short of a miracle. The same Spirit that raised Jesus is the same Spirit that enables us to walk like Christ. It is a miracle than one can walk like Christ, and THIS IS PRECISELY what God is after when He creates you at the new birth.

My friend, when you confess that you are born again, I pray that you will understand what was done in you. You have been killed, re-created, and been given a new identity, and a new ability: To live by faith, freed from sin, fully able to live a miraculous life, one that testifies in the most solemn way, not only to your family, friends and coworkers, but also to all the spiritual powers, both angelic and demonic, that BEHOLD, A SON OF GOD IS BORN.

May the peace and grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

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

Our greatest challenge…Staying Awake!

Dear family of God;

May the peace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Allow me to submit to you that one of our greatest challenges is to stay awake. Spiritually awake.

1 Thessalonians 5:2,5 – …you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night…you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.

For some, waiting on the Lord and being vigilant is a vivid daily reality. Such as those who live in a dangerous country, especially where being a Christian is synonymous to living with the fear imprisonment or death. Or the very poor, who wakes up not knowing whether he will have something to eat that day. Or the chronically sick, whose disabilities are the constant struggles of their lives.

But for many, like many of us in “developed” countries like the USA, or the many of us who never have to worry about whether we will have something to eat, waiting on the Lord and being vigilant amount to little more than fighting our daily, personal desires of the flesh. And outside of our personal fight against sin – which we discussed previously – all is smooth sailing, every day. There is no danger of imprisonment, our churches are generally fine, modern Christian concerts from popular bands are typically sold out, and we are not persecuted simply for wearing a Christian T-shirt or a cross. Eating today is a non-issue: Should we eat organic or out…that is our challenge! Looks like we got the good deal…or did we?

We are like the guard of a castle where no threat ever occurs. Every day is the same, smooth and quiet. Staying awake IS one of our greatest challenges. Just staying awake. Our faith might be rotting away and we are completely unaware of it…we are slumbering, we are falling asleep. Our church is in cruise control, our favorite morning songs and radio casts are always at hand. But unaware to us, for we are asleep, our burning love and zeal for God, for our Lord Jesus, and for His Kingdom is surely becoming a thing of the past. Every day is the same, and it looks like it will always be like that.

But occasionally, here and there a tragedy will take place…a tragedy that reminds us there are more important things in life than what we have been focusing on. And we will jump from our sleep as if awaken with a bucket of water. But soon, very soon, our heavy eyelids will bring us right back to sleep.

My friends. We, you and me living in a country like this one, or with enough means to eat every day, or with generally good health, are the Christians who are the most in danger, those of us who have a life that looks much better than most. We are the ones in danger of being caught off-guard when the Master comes. But here is the advice from the Apostle:

1 Thessalonians 5:8,9 – But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have not been appointed by God to experience His wrath…so…let us not be found asleep, but sober…by making sure our faith is strong and genuine, our love is active and fervent, and our hope is alive!

May the Lord be with you;

In the name above all names, Jesus our Lord.

Amen.

Your daily fight…and Your way out!

To my brothers and sisters in Christ;

Allow me to utter some words of encouragement inspired by these two verses:

Romans 6:13,14Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Daily, you are experiencing the rage of sin in your life. Sin wages a merciless fight, which manifests itself in countless ways. Sin does not sleep. It causes you to do the wrong things, it discourages you to focus on the right things. It gives you energy to waste on what is not of God, and sucks all the energy you thought you had when it comes to serving God. That is sin, my friend, waging a merciless fight on you. You have the desire to do what’s right. You have the desire to respond wisely when you coworkers stab you in the back, you have the desire to be more like Jesus…but time and again…life, like a torrent, unleashes all its furry on you. It is sin waging a merciless fight on you.

BUT…do not believe the lie that you cannot do anything against it. Sin is not the most powerful entity inside your body…the Holy Spirit is. And while sin is a bully who acts out of fear that its true colors will be discovered (it has no power), the Holy Spirit is that TRUE power that counsels your mind in the most confident but also most gentle of ways. It is the ultimate power…the kind of power that can raise dead people…literally!

Remember this promise…For sin will have NO dominion over you.

So stand up my friend, and do not believe the lie. No, you do not like a life of sin…you actually hate it! Yes, you can overcome a sinful life. Yes, you have what it takes to serve God admirably. Do not believe what sin tells you. Sin is a lie, and it has been rendered completely powerless.

You have the Holy Spirit…and this is the truth…

2 Timothy 1:7…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

May you live victoriously by His Grace.

In His name. 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.