The Foolishness of the Spirit

Dear friends;

Greetings from our God and Father, and from our Lord, Jesus, the Christ. This letter is an updated version of an article I originally posted in July 2013, pertaining to the foolishness of the acts and ways of the Spirit. Yet, it is according to the Spirit of God, that Christians are commanded to be led.

WHAT DOES NATURE TEACH US?

Romans 1:20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…

I was at a zoo not too long ago where I took the picture of the tiger you see here. Thankfully, there was a “very” thick glass separating us. This tiger, like the crocodiles and the many other animals I saw that day has a strength that far exceeds mine. Without the glass separating us, I simply would not stand a chance in a physical combat (if there is even one to begin with). Yet I thought

Men were able to lock this tiger in a cage. Men also caged all the lions, the crocodiles, and even the elephants in that zoo. Some men (and women) did all this so that others can come and look at them“.

Then I thought, “what is it that we, human, have that allows us to dominate all these animals?” A mind of course! We can think, we can reason, they cannot.

Then I thought

“if only he could, I am sure this tiger would give up all its strength in a heartbeat just to get a piece of my mind”.

WHY? BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW STRONG HE IS, HIS POWER CANNOT BE COMPARED TO THE POWER OF MY MIND.

HOW MUCH MORE POWERFUL IS THE MIND COMPARED TO THE BODY?

Well, we can’t really tell because the mind and the body are on completely different scales, the mind being evidently on a far superior one. NO AMOUNT OF BODILY EXERCISE CAN DEVELOP A MIND. EITHER ONE HAS A MIND, OR ONE DOES NOT.

WELL, THINK OF THE SPIRIT! IT MUST AT LEAST THAT MUCH MORE SUPERIOR TO THE MIND

Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God is Spirit so His ways and thoughts are spiritual. The mind of a man is really what defines him (Proverbs 23:7), so his ways and thoughts are of his mind, his intellect. That is how he reasons. Here in Isaiah, we see that the ways of God, which are Spiritual are far superior to our ways, which are the ways of our mind.

Just like with bodily strength compared to the power of the mind, NO AMOUNT OF MIND EXERCISE WILL EVER DEVELOP A SPIRIT OR ATTAIN TO THE POWER THAT THE SPIRIT AFFORDS.

Now, as we will see with the two examples below, the ways of the spirit can be so different than the ways of the mind that actions that originate from the Spirit may appear downright foolish to the mind. That is how incapable the mind is in trying to understand the spirit.

ACTIONS OF THE SPIRIT

1 Corinthians 2:14But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Understanding the context of this verse, a natural man is one who does not operate with the Spirit of God. To the best of my understanding, by “natural man”, 1 Corinthians 2:14 refers to anyone who does not have the Spirit. The natural man is one who operates solely from his mind (or worse, his body). God says that such a man “cannot” accept the things of Spirit because they are foolishness to him. He “cannot” even understand them! Wow, what is so special about the Spirit that even the smartest among us cannot understand his things?? It is just the same as the tiger who cannot explain by its brute strength, how he found himself caged by humans.

SPITTING ON DIRT TO HEAL BLINDNESS

John 9:6When He (Jesus) had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

1) spitting on the ground, 2) making clay out of it, 3) applying that clay on someone’s eyes who is completely blind, and then 4) sending that person to go wash in some pool is hardly an acceptable recipe for healing blindness. This is an act of the Spirit. And for the mind, this is pure foolishness!

WALKING AND SHOUTING AS A MILITARY STRATEGY

Now the whole record of the battle of Jericho under the leadership of Joshua is a bit long (Joshua 6:1-27). But essentially, God instructs Joshua and his military officers to march around the city of Jericho for six days. And on the seventh day, they were supposed to march around the city seven times, blow the trumpet, and shout. The expected outcome? The wall of Jericho – a fortified city – was supposed to fall down flat! Well, Joshua and his men did it, and the wall did fall flat!

Joshua 6:20…the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.

This strategy continues to puzzle many a military pundit, simply because they are trying to explain by the brute strength of their intellect. But it was an act of the Spirit, not of the mind. And so are, the partying of the sea with Moses, Jesus walking on water, people being healed from Paul’s handkerchief, or Jesus feeding thousands of people starting with five fish and a piece of bread, and many more.

BUT PERHAPS THE MOST PUZZLING WAYS OF THE SPIRIT ARE FOUND WHEN CHRISTIANS ARE MIRACULOUSLY WILLING TO ENDURE BOTH MENTAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSES

2 Corinthians 6:2-10See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

To the rest of the world, suffering to this extent hardly makes any sense. We serve a God we cannot see, get instructions from Him to live selflessly, to suffer so other rejoice, and endure, sometime unto death, having a hope that our mind cannot grasp.

Ephesians 3:20…to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine

The most brilliant mind will still never understand the ways of the Spirit. As Christians, we are told to put on the mind of Christ, that is…to operate on a Spiritual level, not at the level of our mind.

Philippians 2:5…Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus

Then, and only then, can we effectively contribute our share in the great commission of reconciling people to God, of sharing the burden of our brothers and sisters, thereby honoring Christ.

Zechariah 4:6“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts…

It is futile for the tiger to think that he can accomplish with its physical strength what can only be accomplished with the mind. Likewise, it truly is futile for us to think that we can accomplish with the mind those things that can only be accomplished through the Spirit. We need the Spirit of God to accomplish the tasks God has given us. We need the spirit of God and we should dictate our own mind to subject itself to the immensely superior power of it! It is only then that we will see the acts of the Spirit. A mind that is subject to the spirit is a mind that acts upon the directives of the Spirit instead of its own directives. 

We may look very foolish at times to outsiders (Jesus certainly did when he spat on the ground), but Spiritually speaking, we would be moving mountains, raging blows to the Devil’s army, freeing those who are oppressed by it, with the freedom that only Christ can provide.

May His Name be praised. AMEN.

The Book of REVELATION

Dear friends, fellow Christians;

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus-Christ, and grace, mercy and peace from God the Father. I would like by God’s grace to bring your attention to the Book of Revelation, as far its main purpose. It is true that for most – if not all of us – Revelation is one difficult book. It is full of symbolism and the time dimension is used in ways that bind our minds. It speaks of a Dragon and Lake of fire, and a war of “Biblical” proportions. And it speaks of a pure river of Water of Life that is clear as crystal, of billions of angels, of a new heaven and a new earth, and of immortality.

And therefore, it attracts many, most of whom for the wrong reason. It has inspired countless movies, books, and stories. Promise to unveil the meanings of its many symbols and you are guaranteed to attract many.

But Revelation is no fairy tale. It is NOT addressed to everyone and its essential message is very clear.

WHAT IS THE BOOK OF REVELATION:

Revelation 1:1 [ISV] – This is the revelation of Jesus the Messiah, which God gave him to show his servants the things that must happen soon.

The Book of Revelation is a message that the Father gave to His Son, Jesus, to give to His Servants, regarding a number of things that are about to happen.

TO WHOM IS REVELATION ADDRESSED:

Revelation 1:3,4 – How blessed is the one who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy and obey what is written in it, for the time is near! 4 From John to the seven churches in Asia.

The Book of Revelation is a message from God TO THE CHURCHES. Hence, while anyone can read this Book, not everyone is blessed by it (some may actually be cursed from reading it), for it is 1) to the churches, and 2) one is blessed when one hear and obey what is written.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK:

As was said earlier, the purpose is to inform the churches about what is coming.

Revelation 1:1 [ISV] – This is the revelation of Jesus the Messiah, which God gave him to show his servants the things that must happen soon.

WHAT IS THE INTENT BEHIND THE PURPOSE:

Revelation 22:10-17 [ISV] – Then he told me, “Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy in this book, because the time is near. 11 Let the one who does what is evil continue to do what is evil. Let the filthy person continue to be filthy. Let the righteous person continue to do what is right. And let the holy person continue to be holy.”
12 “See! I am coming soon! My reward is with me to repay everyone according to his behavior. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
14 “How blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city! 15 Outside are dogs, sorcerers, immoral people, murderers, idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give this testimony to you for the churches. I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
Let everyone who hears this say, “Come!”
Let everyone who is thirsty come!

Let anyone who wants the water of life take it as a gift!

The intent of the Book is to give God’s people all the information they need, by means of powerful encouragement to those who need it, but also very solemn warnings and rebukes to those who must have it, to get their acts together before the Lord Jesus comes back.

Revelation 22:14 – “How blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city!

It is a call to members of the CHURCHES to wash their robes so that we may be given access to the tree of life and be allowed into the presence of God, for God will be IN the city.

Revelation 22:3 – There will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and the lamb will be in the city.

WHAT THE BOOK OF REVELATION IS NOT:

The Book of Revelation is NOT a Book to convert the unbelievers! Not to say that unbelievers cannot be brought to repentance through it, God knows. But please note of the fact that it is ADDRESSED TO churches (Revelation 1:4 and 22:16), also described as THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE A ROBE! (Revelation 22:14). And to them, the blessing is in WASHING THEIR ROBES (NOT wearing one, buying one, etc.).

Hence, it is a warning to repentance and obedience.

Brothers and sisters, think about it: God is speaking to us whom He count as His children. There is a reason he gives us such strong warnings. How long will we ignore His voice and make light of His invitation?

Revelation 22:17-19 – The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
Let everyone who hears this say, “Come!”
Let everyone who is thirsty come!
Let anyone who wants the water of life take it as a gift!

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy in this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will strike him with the plagues that are written in this book. 19 If anyone takes away any words from the book of this prophecy, God will take away his portion of the tree of life and the holy city that are described in this book.

Father, in the name of Jesus Your Holy Son, according to Your Own Grace, cause us to hear, understand and obey your voice and heed your warnings, that we may have right to your gift of life and eternity by your side. I pray not only for myself, but for my loved ones, for the readers, and all who call upon Jesus.

In the Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Do Not Lose the Good Ones

Dear friends;

By the grace of God, allow me to speak on a subject that has great relevance in the workplace, in your worship community and even in your personal life in general: Loosing the Good Ones.

You are most likely familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is what the Angels of God said to Abraham as they were going there…

Genesis 18:20,21The Lord also said, “How great is the disapproval of Sodom and Gomorrah! Their sin is so very serious! 21 I’m going down to see whether they’ve acted according to the protests that have reached me. If not, I wish to know.”

God was prepared to destroy them for their sins, but look at what the Angels also said to Abraham when he asked whether God will still destroy it they found first 50 righteous people in there (verse 24). Then 45 righteous (verse 28). Then 40 righteous (verse 29). Then 30 righteous (verse 30). Then 20 righteous  (verse 31)…Then 10 righteous…(verse 32). Their response: He will not destroy it!

Genesis 18:32 – “For the sake of those ten I won’t destroy it.”

BUT the angels found less than ten! They only found ONE!…and once Sodom and Gomorrah lost that one, their fate was sealed.

In your workplace, you lose people: Employees, and coworkers. In your life, you lose people: Friends, acquaintances, mentors, etc.  At your church, you lose people: Leaders, brothers and sister.

BUT, DO NOT LOSE THE GOOD ONES! DO NOT LOSE THE GOD FEARING MEN AND WOMEN, FOR THE BLESSINGS OF GOD FOLLOW THEM!

As long as they are in your midst, their blessings cover you. But once they are removed, there is no hope for you, your team or your church community. The only thing that awaits you is a downhill trend (certainly spiritually and morally, and may be even physically, financially, intellectually and much more).

So friends…Do Not Lose the Good Ones.

In Jesus’ name.

AMEN.

Prayer as a Sign of Faith

Dear brothers and sisters;

May God’s grace, peace and mercy be with you in abundance, in the Lord Jesus. We have reported previously (read here)  that this form of salutation is no mere formality, but a prayer that God gives you strength not only to hold onto your faith, but also power to proclaim the Gospel. To pray constantly is God’s Will for us, and to constantly pray for things that are according to His Will is one of the most authentic testimony of the health of our Faith.

Put it bluntly, if you have a weak or non-existent prayer life, it is a sure sign that either you have little faith or no faith at all.

Consider indeed the parable recorded in Luke 18, where Jesus sought to teach us that we should always pray, and not give up.

Luke 18:1-8Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray all the time and never give up. 2 He said, “In a city there was a judge who didn’t fear God or respect people. 3 In that city there was also a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while the judge refused. But later, he told himself, ‘I don’t fear God or respect people, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice. Otherwise, she will keep coming and wear me out.’” 

6 Then the Lord added, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says. 7 Won’t God grant his chosen people justice when they cry out to him day and night? Is he slow to help them? 8 I tell you, he will give them justice quickly.

Jesus illustrated constant prayer by speaking of a widow who kept bothering a judge to grant her justice against her adversary, although the judge kept ignoring her request. He then indicated that this judge, as unrighteous as he is, will eventually grant her request because of her persistence.

Then, as was often His custom, He invited us to consider how much more therefore God would answer the valid requests of His people who pray to Him daily.

But then He asked a question:

Luke 18:8…But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

What is the meaning of this question? What is the link between faith and prayer if not that constant prayer is the very proof that one still has faith, and has not given up?

JESUS ASKED:

WHEN I COME BACK, WILL I FIND FAITH…WILL I FIND PEOPLE WHO STILL PRAY CONSTANTLY? WILL I FIND PEOPLE WHO STILL BELIEVE THAT I HEAR THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS, AND DO ANSWER?

The widow in the parable could not have come back again and again to the judge is she was not intimately convinced that he could do, AND was the only person qualified to do something about her case.

Do our prayers carry the same conviction? Or do we begin to look for alternatives when we think that the answer is delayed? Do we now begin to think that someone else may be able to answer our request? Perhaps, as opposed to the widow, we may decide to take matters in our own hands, rather than returning again and again to the only one with the power and authority to render justice.

Our prayer life is a sure measure of the health of our faith. Men and women of strong faith always have a strong prayer life, and men and women of weak faith always have a weak prayer life.

Therefore, the Lord permitting, allow me to counsel you with these few words of wisdom: If you have weak prayer life, your faith is weak. Then, in those few occasions when you do pray, pray that God will give you more faith. For if your faith grows, so will your prayer life.

May the Lord Jesus be with you.

AMEN.

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

The Need for Grace, Mercy and Peace

Dear Saints and faithful in Christ;

I pray that God’s peace, mercy and grace be with you in abundance, in the name of the Lord Jesus. These my friends, are not mere words of salutation, but the very means of God by which we find the strength not only to hold onto our faith, and to continuously grow in it, but also the power to proclaim the Gospel and exercise our ministries.

Growing in faith and putting our spiritual gifts to use can be and often are painful experiences. Paul, to the Philippians said

Philippians 1:12-14 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

There is nothing pleasant about suffering. There is nothing pleasant about being incarcerated, let alone when you are innocent! Yet, the process of sanctification and advancement of the Kingdom, the process by which God encourages other brothers and sisters in Christ to rise to the full use of their God-given gifts, is often extremely painful to the one He works through.

Hence we need His peace, we need His mercy, and we need His grace in abundance. For we need strength when we are weakened, we need His mercy when in frustration we sin against Him, and we need His peace when we feel that we are about to lose hope and start envying those who have a much easier life.

Psalms 73:2,3…my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

But just like in the case of Paul, we too can hope not only to understand why God is allowing us to go through these difficult paths, but also to begin to see the fruits of His works through us. Paul said…

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel…”

God granted to Paul to see the outcomes of his sufferings. We too can hope for the same. Let us therefore fully embrace His grace, mercy and peace toward us. Let us ask for those in abundance that we may find comfort in the midst of our challenges, while at the same time continuing to grow in faith, being progressively transformed into the image of Christ Himself.

To the One who loves us with an unfailing love. In His name, JESUS.

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