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

Does our righteousness exceed theirs?

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ;

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

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

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

The Scribes and Pharisees of our day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord be with you and me.

AMEN.

Examining Ourselves

Dear Readers;

May God, in the multitude of His mercies, and in His love and patience, bless you in abundance, giving you knowledge and discretion concerning His Son Jesus, the One He has appointed to be the mediator between Him and us, that we may have a hope which shall be made evident after this life.

The knowledge of Jesus that God gives, is not a knowledge “about” Jesus”, but the knowledge of Jesus Himself. It is not knowing about Jesus that transforms us, but instead it is knowing Jesus Himself that transforms us. One may know about Jesus and yet be as evil as evil a man can be. But cannot know Jesus and not be progressively changed into the image of Christ Himself.

Yet in the fast-paced, self-help, and self-centered world in which we live, we longer spend time to examine ourselves.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

But, as we see from the verse above, it is through self-examination that one may discover in which camp he falls regarding the faith. Do we know Jesus and are being transformed, or do we know about Jesus and are being deceived, hardly experiencing the transformative change that knowing Him personally affords?

Ephesians 5:15-17Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

The verse above from Ephesians echoes the one in Corinthians, that we have to examine ourselves. And its words have never been truer than they are now…that the days are evil!

All forms of social media, self-help books and seminars, platforms of all kinds where everyone is given center stage to proclaim their wisdom, these are harming us. For God has appointed 24 hours in a day, and more won’t be given.

It is as if we have made camp at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, eating of it and corrupting our minds further in the process. We earnestly seek to learn how the world works so we can thrive in it…and those who have figured out the “secret” of the successful life are held as heroes, being showcased to everyone’s admiration and envy. Yet God said…

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Such wisdom, dear friend – the one that seeks to understand how the world works so one can thrive in life – is not the wisdom of God, but the wisdom of the world. It is sensual and devilish.

We ought to pause and examine ourselves.

Where am I in my faith? How is my relationship with Jesus? What does God want from me? As a son, am I doing what I am supposed to be doing to honor my Father? Am I behaving in ways that demonstrates that I am my Father’s son? What does Jesus tell me? Where He is encouraging me? Where is He rebuking me? Am I listening? How often am I talking to Him? And what am I telling Him?

I counsel you in the name of the Lord Jesus, to slow down and examine yourselves; not as the world counsels you to do the same, but as God counsels. That you examine yourselves to see whether you are “in” the faith, knowing Jesus.   

May the Lord be with you and protect you. In Jesus name.

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.

Remembering Who Owns the Churches

Dear Friends;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nevertheless, note how the Apostles handled this matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Jesus Name. AMEN.

The Fear of the Lord

To my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, who, like me, have received the forgiveness of sins, having been washed in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, the Christ, and our Lord. My friends, there is a subtle, but dangerous sin that has infiltrated the church, that, by the Grace of God, I would like to bring your attention to, so that you may not fall into that snare of the devil. And it has to do with how you see God, and how you see Jesus.

The great evil and foolishness that has infiltrated the church is that we are seeing God less and less as our God, and more and more as our friend. Even more so with Jesus, since He is the One who came down to earth, and took the form of a man. We see Jesus and refer to Him less and less as our Lord and Master, and more and more as our friend.

Now, it is true that a friendship seems more genuine, more loving, and even more affectionate than a God-to-creature or a Master-to-slave relationship. However, allow me to counsel you that this is an extremely slippery slope which often leads to a great sin. It is the reason why NONE of the Apostles ever addressed our Lord Jesus that way, although He, Himself, called them His friends. No! Instead, they always referred to Him as Lord and Master and to themselves as servants or His slaves. And yet, they loved Him deeply! So love and a Master-to-servant relationship are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Matter of fact, this combination is precisely what Christianity is all about.

To be called by a superior a friend is a great honor. But to ever refer to that superior as your friend is pure foolishness and often arrogance. “The President is my friend!” Doesn’t that sound arrogant? Yes it does…because even if it is true, he is first and foremost your President. And your relationship with him is first dictated by that fact…that he is your President. And if you ever forget that fact, you will be reminded of it, whether gently or forcefully!

Now consider that fearing God, having the highest reverence toward God is the foundation of all wisdom and knowledge. Not SOME of it! The fear of the Lord is the foundation of all wisdom and knowledge, and it is God Himself, who gives those things.

Proverbs 1:7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 2:6…the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Why would we therefore replace that relationship with friendship and miss on wisdom and knowledge, and be called fools? Reverence does not characterize a friendship relationship. Though friendship emphasizes closeness, it also refers to equality. Reverence is not the hallmark of a friendship. No, quite the opposite! A friendship is a relationship that is often casual, and devoid of protocols. A friendship is where we see each other as equal and therefore the other does not deserve any more respect, any more consideration than I do. Failing to honor your engagement in a friendship relationship does not carry the same severity as failing to do it in a Master-slave or God-creature relationship. Passages like the one below are all over the scriptures to remind us of this most solemn truth. He is OUR God! And Jesus is OUR Lord!

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

It is a grave sin not to render to God and Jesus the reverence that is due to them.

Matthew 22:21…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

Matthew 22:37,38You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.

Ecclesiastes 5:4,5When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than you should vow and not pay.

As in many things we do which often appear to honor Jesus and yet dishonor Him, so it is when we consider Him less and less as Lord and more and more as friend.

Please dear brethren, let us no longer be guilty of such great a sin. JESUS IS LORD in heaven, and before Him, as men and women who count it the highest honor to be called his faithful servants, we bow.

LORD JESUS, may You receive our worship, and forgive us of this sin. For You are worthy of all Honor, for so it seemed good in the sight of Your Father, OUR God, that You be honored as He is.

In JESUS name. AMEN.

The Cost of False Hope

May the grace and mercy of God, and of His Son Jesus-Christ be upon you, as you read the lines of this letter. Today, allow me to share on the tragedy of relying on a false hope, a lie, which enslaves rather than frees the subject.

John 8:31,32So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

But what freedom was Jesus speaking of? Freedom from Sin, for Sin is a slave master

John 8:34,36Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

False hope finds its origin in a lie. Lie of a better life coming! Lie of a better season in store for you in the upcoming year (Hebrews 13:5, Philippians 4:11). Lie that living in Sin, while not recommended, is still acceptable because of the atoning blood of Jesus (1 John 3:6). Lie that lusting after the nice things of life is in alignment with God’s desire to bless His children with a life that is abundant “in the things the individual desires” (1 Peter 2:2, James 4:1-3). Lie that suffering is not the hallmark of the true Christian Walk (Philippians 1:29).

AND ALL OF THOSE LIES ARE FOUND IN THE MOUTH OF THOSE WHO PROCLAIM TO BE THE SERVANTS OF GOD (2 Peter 2:19).

But consider the following statistics in the United States: 75% of Americans identify themselves as Christians (source). Yet, according to the CDC, the rates of suicide increased by 25% since 1996, representing one of the Top 10 cause of death and it is increasing  (source).  A recent report from Barna concluded that the Gen Z are consumed by personal achievement, are far less family oriented and do not nearly consider religion as central to their identity than older generations (source). And there are many more disturbing facts…

But if we just took the 3 above and loosely place them in a Venn Diagram, there is no denying that those three facts intersect! Many of those who commit suicide must be Christians. Many of those who value personal achievement above everything else must be Christians. Many who value personal achievement, AND will commit suicide ARE Christians!

 

PREACHERS OF THE WORD…WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU SERVANTS OF THE LORD? Those of us who have been entrusted to teach the Gospel, and watch after the flock of God will have to answer to Him, for serving His people a lie rather than the truth. It is the power of sin that overcomes someone to the point of committing suicide. It is the power of sin that leads someone to value their personal ambitions rather than denying self as Christ commanded. Hence, how can we be free unless we are preached the TRUTH?!

Servants, why aren’t you serving the truth!? WHY AREN’T WE SEEING YOU CRYING ON THE PULPIT IN DESPERATION, AS THE PROPHETS OF OLD DID! Where is your urgency! Where is your desperation? Where is your intercession? Why aren’t you pleading with your church to repent? Why…why such a polished appearance, a choreographed service? Where are the tears! WHERE ARE THE TEARS OF ONE WHO IS AFRAID FOR THE FLOCK? Where is the truth, the Truth preached? Why can’t we hear it?

We are afraid to share the TRUTH of the Gospel, the source of true and lasting hope, perhaps for fear of not being loved by the people. For fear that they will no longer come to our Church. For fear that their donations will dwindle and kill our ministry. We promise them a new and better season coming for them, only feeding a hope which sooner (or worse, later) they will realize was based on a lie. We make them believe that they truly understand the scriptures and the grace of God while the fact is clearly the opposite!

PREACH THE WORD, PREACH THE WORD, you servants of the Lord! Every day, you are amassing for yourself the blood of God’s people.

Ezekiel 3:18 – “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.”

Yes, the individual has his own responsibility, but make no mistake, YOU, servant, will have to answer for your careless act. YOU will have to answer for your selfishness, slackness and hatred of the people! Feeding the flock…feeding the flock…feeding the flock…that is your duty! Would you spare your child vegetables because the child does not like the taste of it! Yet, this is what you are doing, and WORSE with the flock of Jesus!

Matthew 24:45-51“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

False hope is a tragedy! You, God’s people who are hearing this message…watch out for those unfaithful servants. Pray for yourself and your brethren! Go on your knees and beg the Father for your souls, that He may open your eyes to understand the scriptures, and send your way servants who are true to Him. For the truth is free for all who ask! Pray to receive the Holy Spirit in greater measure, and you shall know the truth, the source of true Hope, which shall free you from the power of Sin!

In the name above all names! JESUS, the CHRIST. AMEN

I Never Knew You: What Did Jesus Mean?

Dear friends;

May the grace and peace of God our Father, and of Jesus-Christ our Lord, be with you. One of the most famous, albeit controversial statement by Jesus is recorded in Matthew 7:21-23. The objective of this letter is to provide some light, by the grace of God, on what Jesus meant.

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

In this passage, Jesus gives in no uncertain terms the criteria for entering the Kingdom of Heaven. But if you think that you already know what those criteria (or that criterion) might be, then I plead with you that for a moment, you place that knowledge on the side, and meditate on this passage.

In the passage above, Jesus states that the only people who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven are those who are doing the Will of His Father (verse 22). This is as clear as a statement can ever come. But what is the Will of His Father?

If you look at the context, you will realize that Matthew 7:21-23 comes at the end of a long sermon that Jesus gave, commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount, which started two chapters earlier in Matthew 5:3. From Matthew 5 up to the passage above, Jesus taught the people precisely on the Will of His Father. He then confirmed, in his concluding remarks, that what He taught them is indeed the Will of His Father by stating.

Matthew 7:24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock

One MUST hear the words of Jesus AND do them TO enter the Kingdom BECAUSE what Jesus says IS the Will of His Father. Do you see the link?

Now, Jesus did not stop there in Matthew 7:21-23. He also said “I never knew you”. How are we to understand that statement? I submit to you that the first error one should avoid is to take that statement in isolation. Instead, one should consider the whole statement.

Matthew 7:23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Consider the following: If Jesus professes that He never knew us, then how does He know that we worked iniquity? This paradox alone should tell us that when Jesus tells us that He never knew us, He is not meaning it in the literal sense of the word, and that is, because He clearly indicates that He knows something about us…that we work iniquity. Jesus knows us very well actually, all of us! Those of us who work iniquity are very well known by Jesus indeed.

Therefore, irrespective of whatever experience you’ve had in your life with Him, the only conclusion I believe we can reach is that when Jesus says “I never knew you”, He simply means that He only identifies, He only relates, with those who do NOT work iniquity.

Although He knows everyone – He is Jesus – He only identifies with those who do the Will of His Father. These are who His friends are, these are those He knows and spend time with, and these are those He will gladly present and acknowledge to His Father on that day. 

It should be also noteworthy from the passage that Jesus did not say that those people who made these claims of doing many wonderful works…IN HIS NAME by the way…were lying. No…what disqualify them is that iniquity will be found in them. 

In other words, your good works (even if they are legitimate) do not make up for your evil deeds. Your good works and praise of Jesus are not some credits that you can use as a pass to disobey God. We may infer therefore, that one is prohibited access to the Kingdom of Heaven not because of his lack of good works (although good works are expected), but because iniquity is found in him. One who will be found to be a worker of iniquity, yet who did things in Jesus’ name (as in this passage) will be guilty of attempting to serve two masters, something that Jesus warned about, right here in this sermon.

Matthew 6:24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

It is a sobering realization that Jesus Himself says that many will be found in that situation, and therefore be denied access to the Kingdom. It is impossible to achieve “balance” between obeying God and serving the flesh.

A balance that makes us a “cool” Christian.

There is no balance with God. The flesh must die. God MUST be honored. The ONLY way to honor God is by obeying Him! Try to be a cool Christian, and you will find yourself denied access to the Kingdom.

Note as well that it is Christians who address Jesus as “Lord”. It is Christianity that acknowledges the Lordship of Jesus. Hence, many “Christians” will be denied access, because they were foolish into thinking that they could serve two masters.

Matthew 7:24,26Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock….26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand

How much more can Jesus warn you, my friend! How much more? When that day comes…where will you be? Let us strive to obey! To OBEY!

May the Lord Jesus work in our hearts, that we may obey His voice, to the Praise and Honor of His Father, the God of Heaven.

In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.