Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are several key elements which demand our attention:

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

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

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

Element 2: Christ Died For The Unbelievers Too!

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

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

In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul stated…

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

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

In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul stated…

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

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

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

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

The Celebration of Christmas May Not Be A Different Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Jesus Name. AMEN.

NO! My Friends, Christ is NOT There!

Friends;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 1:13 – Is Christ divided?…

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

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

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

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

In His Name. AMEN.

Were Not Ten Cleansed?

Dear Servants of Jesus-Christ;

May the peace, mercy and grace of God our Father, and of His Son Jesus-Christ, our Lord, be with you. Through God’s Spirit, I trust that I may exhort you to press on and continue to abound in good works, even when the beneficiaries of your good deeds do not express any gratitude toward God.

Luke 17 records such instance, where Jesus, in disappointment asked

Luke 17:17Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?

Let’s take a look at the context.

Luke 17:11-19On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

The response of the nine lepers is, unfortunately, not uncommon of those who receive the mercy and grace of God. They rejoice greatly indeed at the grace they have received, for they see their burden lifted. But their joy does not translate into God receiving any glory. At times, it is the messenger of God who is at fault, as he or she may seek glory for himself. But in the case above, it is the recipient who is not rendering to God what is due to Him. To the servants, this may be discouraging.

We see that Jesus said“Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”. As the perfect messenger of God, Jesus never sought glory for Himself, but for His Father, and by the grace of God, such ingratitude did not deter Him to continue to abound in the good works His Father had commissioned Him to perform.

As we honor Christ by serving others, we should adopt the same attitude. We should share the grace of God freely, while we lament on the reality that many who will receive this grace will not return and glorify God. Their newfound freedom will not translate into a God-honoring life.

We see in verse 15 that the one who returned praised God with a loud voice!

Here is something the servants of the Lord may learn. For it is evident that the leper who returned – as well as the other nine – knew that it was GOD who had extended His mercy to Him through Jesus. We too, we must ensure that the recipients of our good deeds are fully aware that the it is GOD, not us, extending His grace on them.

Here goes the first key to not only protecting ourselves from sinning by robbing God of His glory, but also to giving the recipients everything they need to give God His glory.

But we should refrain – in our desire to see God glorified – from adopting the carrot-and-the-stick approach, whereby we first “force” the needy to hear “the gospel preached” before his or her physical need is met. At best, this often results in hypocrisy, for the recipient knows that unless he publicly praises God first, he will not be freed from his burden.

A servant seeks to please His Master. Many will not return and give God glory, but simply move on and enjoy the grace they have received. We should not be discouraged. We should move forward, ever abounding in good works, for just as we see our Master working, we too, should be working.

May the Lord continue to empower you for the work of His Kingdom.

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.

Is the Spirit of the Lord Upon You?

To the Servants in God’s Kingdom;

You, who see yourself as a member of God’s Kingdom. You who see yourself as enlisted in God’s army, a co-laborer of the Lord, is the Spirit of the Lord upon you? You know much, you are convinced of much, you speak much, you discuss much about doctrine and truth, but is the Spirit of the Lord upon you?

Luke 4:18,19“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
    he has anointed me to tell
        the good news to the poor.
He has sent me to announce release to the prisoners
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to set oppressed people free,
19 and to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Listen to the reasons Jesus gave for God sending upon Him His Spirit. God sent His Spirit upon Him

Because He had anointed Him to proclaim the good news to the poor
Because He had sent Him to proclaim freedom to the captives
Because He had sent Him to give sight back to the blind
Because He had sent Him to deliver those that are broken in pieces
Because He had sent Him to announce that the acceptable time of God had arrived

Oh my friends, how are you, in your ministry, delivering and giving hope to those who have lost hope? How are you proclaiming the freedom that is found in Jesus to those who are mentally imprisoned? How are you opening the eyes of those who cannot see the light of the truth? How, my friend – you who see yourself as God’s servant – how are you proclaiming the good news? Do you see the fruits of your labor in the lives of others?

Do you recognize those who are poor in Spirit? In your ministry, you, servant of the Lord, are you wise as a serpent, yet innocent and pure as a dove?

Matthew 10:16 [ISV]  –…be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves

Or do you instead cause more harm than good? Do you crush the oppressed with the magnificence of the truth, or do you gently heal his wounds with it? Do you preach with your mouth, or with the Spirit? Do you crush the weak with the full weight of the truth, just because it is the truth?

John 16:12 [ISV] – I still have a lot to say to you, but you cannot bear it now.

Oh that the good news is a dreadful and destructive weapon in the hands of those who are not led by the Spirit. For they lack wisdom and discretion, being incapable of discerning the needs of the captives, the broken hearted and the blind.

The three friends of Job passionately and vehemently defended God, His majesty and sovereignty in the ears of Job. The verdict they receive from God was not what they expected

Job 42:7 – My anger is burning against you along with your two friends, since you haven’t spoken correctly about me, as did my servant Job.

Is the love of God reserved to those who are not yet believers, when we are trying to convert them? Do we turn then into monsters toward them once they become part of the fold, have received baptism, or did the sinner’s prayer? Where is our mercy, lovingkindness, patience and endurance toward our brethren, who, although they are now counted among us, are still struggling?

1 Thessalonians 2:7,8 [ISV] –… we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother tenderly caring for her own children. 8 We cared so deeply for you that we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but our very lives. That is how dear you were to us.

Many of us should ask ourselves this question: Is the Spirit of the Lord upon Me?

Be led by the Spirit, and not by yourself, and care for the brethren, for Jesus cares for you.

John 13:34 – I’m giving you a new commandment…JUST AS I LOVED YOU, you also should love one another. 

May the Lord be with you, to the glory of His Majesty, our Father in Heaven.

AMEN

BY THE SPIRIT, OR NOTHING

Friends;

May the Lord in His grace and mercy bless you abundantly in the name of His Son, Jesus-Christ, our Lord and Savior. As Children of God, we ought to understand our complete dependency on the Spirit of God, both for our own good, and to play our part, as intended, in the Body of the Christ.

The intent of this letter is simply to highlight how God wants us to be clear that outside of His Spirit, there is no nothing: There is No Body of Christ, there is No reconciliation, there is No power to work by His side, and there is No possibility to Love others like Jesus loved us.

THOSE WHO ARE PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST WERE ADDED THROUGH BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

There is one and only one way to become part of the body of Christ. GOD has to add you, and He does so by baptizing you with the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13 – For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

EACH MEMBER OF THE BODY HAS BEEN GRANTED ABILITIES, BY THAT SAME SPIRIT, TO BE AN EFFECTIVE AND CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF THE BODY

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 – To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Please note how distinctly devoid of natural (mental or physical) abilities this list is! Some of us are great speakers, some of us great singers, some of us great organizers, some of us great athletes, etc. And it is true that all of those abilities are ultimately granted by God, and can all be used to bless God’s people.

However, please note as well, that, just like the rain, God grants all those abilities to ANYONE! Believers AND unbelievers alike, God fearing people AND Devil worshippers!

But the abilities listed in 1 Corinthians 12 are in a different category. They are distinctly described as administered by the Spirit. And it is those gifts that are listed as given by the Spirit FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.

Our churches are replete with people of various natural talents, and we are blessed when one member uses his or her talents for God’s service. But those talents should not be mistaken for the gifts of Spirit, which, ALONE, are the necessary gifts for the proper functioning of the body. These natural talents, however good, are ultimately, of the flesh.

1 Corinthians 15:50 – I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

“JESUS IS LORD” CAN ONLY BE SAID IN THE SPIRIT 

1 Corinthians 12:3…no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

One ought to pause and meditate on the statement above, for it makes it abundantly clear that saying “JESUS is LORD” is well beyond the realm of proclaiming with our mouth, printing it on a shirt, or having it as a bumper sticker.

Let us all meditate on this: ONLY IN THE SPIRIT CAN ONE SAY THAT JESUS IS LORD

We can sing it in the most eloquent way, but that does not mean it was in the Spirit. One may feel deeply emotional when singing or saying it, yet it does not necessarily mean it was in the spirit, and therefore, it does not count.

TRUE WORSHIP IS ONLY POSSIBLE IN THE SPIRIT

John 4:23,24 – But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and THOSE WHO WORSHIP HIM MUST WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH.”

My friends, seek to better understand the Holy Spirit. We depend on Him for everything…from being born again, to being effective in ministry, to worshipping God. None of those is possible without the Spirit. Do not be blinded by natural abilities,  the elaborate stage of your worship service, or anything that is possible by natural abilities, for flesh and blood SHALL NOT INHERIT GOD’S KINGDOM.

In the Spirit, or nothing.

In Jesus’ Name.

AMEN

Do You Love?

Friends;

May the Father, in the name of Jesus-Christ, sanctifies me to write unto you these few words, that I may faithfully communicate His Gospel by which your souls are being saved. We ought to ask ourselves the question of whether we love.

One of the most unfortunate reality today is that Love means different things to different people. Hence, we feel free to express it as we see fit to ourselves. There is even greater and greater emphasis on “Self-Love”. Yet it needs not be this way, for God Himself has defined it, and to that one definition we should abide

1 John 4:8God is love

This three-words statement defines Love. Love is the permanent attribute of God. Love is the very essence of what God is. It is the defining character of God. And the prime manifestation of His character was in the sacrifice of His Own Son.

John 3:16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

It says, “For God SO loved the world…THAT He gave”.

This tells us therefore, that the ultimate expression of love is “sacrificial” giving. Not just giving, but sacrificial giving: Giving that comes at cost to self.

Returning now to 1 John 4:8, we see that the complete verse actually reads…

1 John 4:8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

If one does not experientially know what love is, if one does not experience sacrificial giving, then one does not know God.

This is a particularly strong statement from John. Unless you personally know what sacrificial giving is, you do not know God, for sacrificial giving is the very expression of what God is, as stated in John 3:16.

Not all giving requires a sacrifice, which is why giving is by itself not equal to love. Giving tithes and offering does not necessarily mean to love, because not all tithes and offerings are at cost to self. In the United States for example, giving may actually be beneficial monetarily since it may reduce how much one owes the Government in taxes.

It is also noteworthy that despite every things God did and continues to do to sustain us – how He always gives us enough air to breathe, food to eat, things to enjoy, etc. – none of those acts were used to express who He really is: Love. It is the giving that was undoubtedly sacrificial…the giving that was at greatest cost to Him that was used to show us what God really is.

So, do you love? Do you strive to love more?

I pray the Father of Lights, our God in heaven, that He teaches every one of us, to become more like Him. To love as He does.

In Jesus’ name. AMEN

Starving for Role Models

Dear Friends;

May the peace and mercy of God be with you. Role models. Oh that we could use some role models. Whether we attribute it to modern-day living, or to a more sinister cause such as the fact that the Spirit of the Anti-Christ is already at work, it is hard to argue that today, we hardly know people well-enough for them to serve as role models for us, or for us to serve as such for them.

Yet, it is by this Role Model template that the Holy Spirit of God moved in spectacular fashion in the early church, converting people by the masses and keeping them on the walk of faith. Consider the following text, in a letter that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy wrote to the Church members of Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 2: 1-12 – For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

They reminded the church members of the lifestyle they themselves had when there were among them. Earlier in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, we learn that those members once converted, became followers of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy. Here, we read the details of how those three gentlemen preached the word to them. Their preaching were not just words, but a combination of words and a lifestyle that aligned with those words.

How effective do you suppose is this form of preaching, where those you preach not only hear you, but can also see you in action, and acquaint themselves with the practical aspects of your preaching?

Paul says,

For you yourselves know that…

we never came with words of flattery

… we did not seek glory from people, whether from you or from others

… we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children

… we were ready to share with you our own selves

… we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you WHILE we proclaimed to you the gospel

… You are witnesses how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you

… you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God

The Thessalonians knew that all those things were true because they witnessed it. Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy lived right among them, providing the Thessalonians with the most effective demonstration and blueprint for what the Christians life looks like. This is in fact, effective preaching.

To the Corinthians, Paul says something similar

1 Corinthians 2:2,3 – …I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power

He says…“I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling”. I submit to you that the Corinthians also saw how Paul handled himself and exercised his faith in those moments, thereby providing them with powerful practical lessons that they could rely on. The ultimate purpose being…

1 Corinthians 2:4 – …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

We have to do a better job as being present for each other, that all may see how practically we walk in the Spirit. Much preaching without concrete evidence will only go so far, for the Spirit of God is a Spirit of Actions!

Do you consider yourself a faithful Christian – not a perfect one of course – then to whom do you evidently display yourself, so they may see you, know you, and learn from you?

Are you a great preacher? Do the people you preach – at least those who live in your city – know you just as much for your preaching as for your lifestyle? Or are the people left to suppose what that lifestyle may be?

We are indeed starving for role models. But it need not stay this way.

After all, wasn’t this the commandment of Christ…

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy showed us how exactly we ought to do it. Let us follow them.

In the name of Jesus, our LORD.

AMEN

Your Most Prized Possession

Children of the Kingdom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, the Lord can still be found.

In His name, may you receive these words.

AMEN