Dead Churches: Can The Bones Live?

My fellow brethren;

May the God of all comfort be with you in the name of our Lord Jesus, the Christ. Allow me to exhort you to standup for your “home” church, especially if it is evident that it has gone astray.

Whether you attend a megachurch, a small church of only 50 members or a home church of only 6, there is a bond which exists between you and that community. It is the environment you at one point, may have regarded as your place of spiritual nourishment, your spiritual oasis. But as with many, you might have found out that little of that has materialized. You attend a sermon but still leave empty. You are hungry, and yet not fed. You look around you and the conversations hardly point to Christ and the edification of one another in the body.

If you are among those who are hungry for the Word of God, you may resort to reading some other pastors, or visiting their YouTube channel. To you, Children of the Kingdom who are hungry, to you Brothers and Sisters who are disappointed with your church or your Pastors, allow me to share an exhortation around this question: Can the Bones Live?

God asked this question to Ezekiel, after placing him right in the midst of a valley that was full of dried bones.

Ezekiel 37:1-3The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”

Later on, God explains to Ezekiel what this all meant. The bones in that context represented the whole house of Israel, dead and in the grave, without hope

Ezekiel 37:11Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’

But before giving the meaning, God told Ezekiel to prophesy unto the bones that they may live!

Ezekiel 37: 3-6And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

And so Ezekiel did as commanded, and life was brought back to the bones…as only the Word of God can! (Ezekiel 37:7-10). The sequence of events is particularly noteworthy: First the bones joined together, each bone to its bone, then the sinews and the flesh came, then the skin. At this point, we had gone from dried bones, to complete human bodies, but still dead. After that, Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy again to the wind, so that those bodies could have breath.

In many respect, those dried bones could be your church, your small home group. Spiritually lifeless! But may I bring to your attention that if you have been granted by God to recognize the true state of your Church, then Grace has been poured on you, and you are called to react. You may look at your church and answer God like Ezekiel…Lord, You know those bones can’t live…my Church is dead and there is no hope!

But my friend, I exhort you to stand before God and choose to intercede for your church, as Ezekiel prophesied to the bones! Can the bones live, God Asked! The answer is YES, YES the bones can live! By the WORD OF GOD and power of the HOLY SPIRIT will the bones live. By them your church will be resurrected, if you will only stand before God!

Ezekiel 37:14I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live

My friend, the life of a church is through the Holy Spirit. Without it, the church is dead. But is there a man or woman in that church who has been granted grace to see the true state of that church, so that he or she may intercede to the Father that that Church may live!

The Lord Jesus, in the Book of Revelation, declared the Church in Sardis DEAD!

Revelation 3:1“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

Yet, look at the promise He gave them…they can be alive again, as if they were NEVER DEAD!

Revelation 3:5The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

That is the mercy, the power, the love and the grace of our Lord Jesus, and of His Father. Can the bones live!? Can they live? YES! YES! They can! But Who…WHO shall stand for his people!? WHO will stand for his brethren? WHO will call on the Holy Spirit to return just like Ezekiel prophesied unto the wind? Who will ask for forgiveness for his people? I hope my brethren that you will be one of them!

The Father of light takes no pleasure in His people perishing! You church may be ransacked by demons, spiritually blind, deaf and simply dead. Satan has clearly gotten victory over it and your brethren, to the point that your church has become his favorite playground. But will you, man or woman of God stand like Ezekiel that the Holy Spirit returns and takes back that which is His. Will you stand that God will grant unto your pastor, your friends, your brethren, a repentant heart as in Sardis, that life may be brought back? I pray the Father in Heaven in the Lord Jesus that you will.

CAN THE BONES LIVE?…YES, FATHER, BY YOU, BY YOUR WORD, THEY WILL!

In the name of our Lord Jesus, may His Word stand.

AMEN.

The Word of God as a Daily Fix

Dear friends;

May the grace and peace of God be with you in our Lord Jesus-Christ.

In a time where the Bible is more accessible than it has ever been, where there are hundredths of online devotionals and Bible readying plans, the paradox is that there is very little evidence that our understanding of God’s Will has grown, and that our lives have changed.

Evil is more rampant than it has ever been. Greed has reached fever pitch and there are studies which show a troubling phenomenon: there is no statistical difference in behavior between Christians and non-Christians.

Very strange!

Look at how the Book of Psalms opens:

Psalms 1:1,2 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

I submit to you that one of the biggest mistake we make is when we treat the Word of God as a daily fix! Just like a cup of coffee. And unfortunately, the many Christians radios, the Bible plans that ever devise new ways to learn the Bible in ways that will suit YOU, are contributing to this problem.

We read and listen to devotionals, we go through Bible plans, we listen to our favorite Christian radio station, but we do not MEDITATE on those Words! The Word is just a daily fix.

But the blessing comes to those who MEDITATE, those who pause, those who reflect, those who pray before and after reading and hearing, those who ask for spiritual discernment to judge what they read and hear.

And so we found ourselves in a perplexed state…God has made His Word abundantly available…and yet man continues to sink in darkness.

My friend, I exhort you to meditate on the Word of God. Meditate. The Word of God is not your daily fix, for God will not allow His name to be mocked. Do not sing for the sake of singing, read for the sake of reading or listen for the sake of listening. MEDITATE. MEDITATE.

God’s grace has much to offer…today is the time for you and me to seize it.

In the Lord Jesus’ Name.

AMEN

Why Does Grace Save Through Faith?

To my brethren who have been called to be saints;

May the Grace, mercy and peace from God, our Father, and from Christ-Jesus our Lord be with you. We live in a time where there seems to be a sudden reawakening of the churches to the unmerited, divine favor of God, otherwise known as Grace.

Grace is everywhere now. Every congregation would like to be known as being in the Grace of God. They rename themselves to reflect it, revise their mission statements to highlight the unmerited, divine favor of God. Grace is like our newfound friend, we cannot get enough of it. Every day it seems, a new song is released to celebrate that Grace of God. A Youth conference here, a concert there, and yet another T-Shirt. Oh that God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son to die for me! It is not about what I have done, or will ever do, but about what He (Jesus) has done. Who can resist Grace? Looking around, it seems that we love it, and cannot get enough of it. Grace seems to have no limit, able to save even the worst of sinners, promising them glory with Jesus, for God knows their name. We have a place in heaven, by God’s side, and that is all thanks to His Grace.

But the very same cornerstone verse that speaks of the saving power of that Grace of God throws in…a wrench…

Ephesians 2:8,9For by Grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

In all its portrayed all-encompassing power and glory, Grace seems to have a seriously limiting factor in its ability to save us…it can only save us through faith. Why? Why didn’t the passage say… “For by Grace you have been saved”, period! No, it says… “For by Grace you have been saved through faith”. It seems clear that unless faith is there, the Grace we have fallen so much in love with simply can’t save us. But why? Why is it so?

The Grace of God saves through Faith because Jesus HAS TO BE Glorified

We understand that the faith in question is faith in Jesus-Christ.

Acts 20:20-22I [Paul] did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

It seems therefore that it is by God’s Own design that His unmerited favor (His Grace) can only be accessed (for salvation) by those who have faith in His Son. The love of the Father for His Son is such that unless one honors His Him (the Son), one cannot experience His saving Grace. Having faith in Jesus is how we honor Him (Acts 4:12). Having faith in Jesus is how we submit to His Lordship (Luke 6:36, James 2:1). Elsewhere (Hebrews 11:6), God also makes it clear that it is impossible to please Him without faith. Unless one honors the Son, one cannot benefit from the saving power of that Grace.

Yet, there is also a very practical aspect to why Grace only saves through faith, and what it means to have faith in Jesus. The answer lies (at least in part) into HOW Grace saves through faith.

Grace saves us through what it teaches

Titus 2:11For the Grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age

The Grace of God does not manifest itself through some kind of feel-good sensation or divinely appointed fragrance that God has poured over the earth. No! The Grace of God manifests itself through a specific message that not only informs us, but also teaches us to renounce our current lifestyle. And when we read Titus 2:11 carefully, we see that what Grace trains us in, is in nothing else than living the very lifestyle that Jesus Himself taught us to live.

Faith in Jesus therefore, in the context of salvation, is believing and accepting the message and training of Grace. One must believe in the message of Grace to be saved by it. In other words, one must believe that he must renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. One must believe that he should live self-controlled, upright and godly lives today! AND one must believe that Grace HAS the ability to train him to become such a person!

Recognizing that by their own effort, they could never be saved, the disciples asked Jesus in despair…

“Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25). How did Jesus respond? “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” What did He mean? Well, if we look at Titus 2 again…He meant that we will have the best teacher to get us there…we will be taught how to be holy, and we should believe in that teaching! And if we do, we will see the results that are otherwise impossible for man to achieve. The question is…do we believe Jesus when He says it? Who can transform us but God Himself? Do we believe that if we follow the training of Grace, it will produce the intended results? This is what it means to believe in Jesus, without which, even Grace can’t save us, for we would not believe its message, let alone follow its training.

My friend. I exhort you to pray, and to pray in earnest. If you feel that you have been missing on this training from Grace, either because of not understanding the scriptures, not being properly taught at your church or whatever other reason, pray…pray my friend! God, your Father, will hear you. He will hear your imperfect, but honest and sincere prayer. And He knows how to give good gifts (Matthew 7:11). He will not ignore such a request.

May the Lord Jesus be glorified in our lives. AMEN.

The Joy of Living Sanctified

To my brethren in the Lord;

May the grace and peace from our Father in heaven and from our Lord, Jesus-Christ, be with you. If my Lord Jesus will permit, it is my prayer that through these few words, you will be convicted to earnestly pursue holiness, for in it we find the pure joy that comes from living sanctified, freed from the power of sin.

The joy that we experience from living sanctified comes in great measure each time we get to see the extent to which sin has truly been rendered powerless in our personal lives. Here are two examples from the scriptures which illustrate this point.

2 Corinthians 8:1-3 –  We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

How could the Macedonians be so joyful while being severely tested and extremely poor? Where did that joy comes from? It came from living sanctified. Normally, you would not expect joy in the midst of a severe test, let alone while also living in extreme poverty. In those circumstances, sin typically rages in our lives: envy, jealousy, greed, bitterness, hatred for those who have much, etc. all typically erupt and consume us in such circumstances. But look at the Macedonians! They were joyful! They were abundantly joyful! Sin truly had no power over them, to consume them. And the Macedonians were not unique, for we see for instance Peter speaking in similar ways of those he was writing to in 1 Peter 1:8.

In 2 Corinthians 7:4, Paul stated “In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy”. What was the source of that joy? It came from sin having lost its power in their lives, so that even in all their afflictions, sin, with all its temptations, could not overcome them. No, their minds were clear and focused on the big reward…the lives of the Corinthians. Sin could not convince them that the reward was not all that great after all, and that they should simply save themselves from all this unnecessary pain.

You, my friend, can experience the same joy today

The joy that comes from living sanctified is a tangible one. The things that you used to aspire to slowly lose their importance. The bitterness that you have been harboring, for whatever reasons and perhaps for years, starts fading. Those things that you could not resist in the past (extreme drinking, indecent behavior, fornication, pride, etc.), you find yourself conquering them time and time again. Ohhh the unspeakable joy that emanates from deep within when your very eyes see sin defeated in your life, lying flat on the floor rather than ruling your heart, mind and body as in the days of old. A new man you are becoming, a new woman, a new creature entirely indeed (2 Corinthians 5:17).

What we are talking about here is not to be confused with the old adage of becoming wiser as we grow older. Sin is age-agnostic. Nooooo my friend, what we are talking about is the tangible power of the Holy Spirit in your life. We are talking about Romans 6:22 becoming a vivid reality that you can see, touch, smell, taste and hear everyday.

Romans 6:22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

That joy my friend is the fragrance of freedom, the aroma of the true freedom that Jesus gave you, for He declared Himself… I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:34, 36).

No wonder even the gates of hell cannot prevail against those who continually pursue holiness. And no wonder their joy is an unshakable joy, for it is the joy of the victory of sin, the sweet aroma of pure freedom, permeating every aspect of their own lives, even in the deepest of afflictions.

Dear brethren, I pray that you will be provoked to grab hold of the true freedom that has been purchased for you, and experience the unparalleled joy of living sanctified.

Grace to you, from my Father in heaven and yours, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Fear of the New Day

To my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus

May the grace and peace of God our Father, and of Jesus our Lord be with you, as you read and hear the words of this letter. Allow me to exhort you on not being afraid of what the day may bring. Psalms 118:5,6 reads

Psalms 118:5,6Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. 6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Generally, we are afraid because what may come is not what we desire. If we just had some medical tests performed because some strange mass was discovered in our body, we are afraid that the test results will show that the mass in question is cancerous. If we just landed a first job interview after a long period of unemployment, we are afraid that we might not get an offer. Fear feeds on the fact that there are outcomes that we desire and others that we do not.

Fear of the unknown is a natural feeling, for it is the product of us being sinful human. Not just human, but sinful human. And therefore, it is accepted as the norm. The first time we encounter fear in the Bible is right after Adam and Eve sinned. Once sin entered them, they experienced fear. Listen to Adam answering God, when he heard Him coming.

Genesis 3:10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

Therefore, fear feels natural, because it has been with us since the very first man, Adam. But while fear is IN us, it is NOT OF us. Fear is of Sin! Now look at what God did. He tells us that He has given you and me a Spirit, and He wants us to know that one key aspect of that Spirit is that He is NOT a Spirit of fear.

1 Timothy 1:6,7For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God,…, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Do not be afraid of the outcome, not matter how dreadful it is. But if we go by what we have just read, we also understand that fear cannot simply be wished away. Fear is defeated when one relies on the Spirit that God gave us. That is the only way fear will be eradicated in our lives. This is the case because that Spirit will convict our heart that all things works for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28). Suffering, pain and undesirable outcomes can all come, but the person who walks by the Spirit, the person who loves God will be able to walk without fear, for he or she will be convinced that everything is for his or her good, although it may not appear so at the time.

Therefore my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, hear, HEAR the words of God, for this is how you will be able to believe them. Hear the words of God, when He says that as opposed to the rest of the world, you have been given a way out of fear, a Spirit, not of fear, but of power, love and self-control. In all things, good and bad, exercise yourself to giving glory to God for He cares for you. He cares for you individually as His child.

Trust Him, Hear Him, Pray to Him, Read Him, continuously, and you will find yourself walking powerfully in the Spirit, and seeing fear, the weapon of sin, gradually defeated in your life.

In the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

 

 

Have the Churches Lost their Focus?

To all my brethren in Christ, called to be saints;

Grace, mercy and peace from our God, our Father, and from Jesus, our Lord, Savior and King. In this long letter, which ends in an appeal to our church leaders, I would like to submit to you that our churches should not be considering Evangelism to be their core function. Instead, their primary function should be to ensure that we, their members, grow in the Spirit, and that we stay spiritually clean, since Jesus, our Lord cleansed us with His own blood, and freed us from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13).

The scriptural passage in Matthew that is used often to support the idea that one of the (if not “the”) primary function(s) of our churches should be to evangelize, is the commission message that Jesus, after His resurrection, gave to His disciples:

Matthew 28:18-20And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Because of what Jesus said above, most churches today feel obligated to have an “outreach ministry”, whether locally in their community, or even abroad, where they will organize missionary trips in which some of their members will travel sometimes thousands of miles to “preach” the Good News.

But have you ever wondered how this practice of “outreach” that is so prevalent today aligns itself with the practices of the early churches?

Where is the Outreach?

Consider all the following letters, in fact all the epistles: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. These letters are addressed either to a church (a group of brethren), or a leader of a church. We shall address Revelation after.

These letters are outstandingly devoid of passages where the brethren are exhorted to evangelize. Can you, for instance, find a passage in any of these letters where the authors (Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude) went so much as even raising the importance of the brethren embarking on some outreach ministry? Can you think of a passage in any of these letters where the authors felt the need to reprimand the brethren for not doing outreach?

If outreach, the reaching of the “lost”, should be one of the key functions of a church, then why are the Apostles of Jesus not addressing this issue with the early churches? In everything they raised in their letters, they either 1) encouraged the brethren to do even more of what they were doing right (1 Thessalonians 4:1), 2) exhorted them to persevere in their sufferings (1 Peter 2:20-22), or 3) reprimanded them for either slacking in their walk or for being completely off-mark (Galatians 5:7). But WHERE, WHERE do we read them speak of outreach, of going into town to reach others, or of traveling long distances to spread the good news?

In addition, consider the letter that our Lord Jesus addressed to the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation. In His address, Jesus did a number of things in each church: 1) He acknowledged what they were doing right (Revelation 2:2,3), 2) He pointed out the issue(s) He had with them (Revelation 2:14,15), 3) He counselled them on what they should do to correct the wrong (Revelation 3:3), and 4) He made a promise to anyone who would listen, whom He called, the overcomers (Revelation 3:21).

We should find it peculiar that whether as a commendation, or even a rebuke, in none of the churches does Jesus bring the subject of outreach, or evangelism. If some of the seven churches were great at evangelizing, we do not see Jesus acknowledging it, and if some of them were worst at outreaching, we do not see Jesus addressing this issue either! How is it therefore that churches today consider outreach to be one of their most essential functions when neither Jesus nor any of His disciples seemed to dwell on it when caring for the early church members? Why is there such a contrast on the subject when we compare Jesus and His Apostles on one hand, and on the other, many of our church leaders today? Rather than focusing on outreach, what do we instead see our Lord and His Apostles to be focused on?

Before addressing this last question, two facts are worth mentioning:

1) The scripture instructs us that it is God, not us, who adds to the Church those who will be saved. It is by the Will of GOD, not of man, that men are saved

Acts 2:47And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

John 1:12,13But to all who…believed in his name, he [JESUS] gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

2) Evangelists are but one of several groups of people in God’s arsenal of servants

Ephesians 4:11,12And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ

Now, I am certainly not suggesting in any way, shape or form that evangelism is unnecessary. Matter of fact, it is so necessary that, as we just saw, God has Evangelists as a special category of servants. However, just as not everyone has been called and gifted to be an Apostle, not everyone has been called or gifted to be an Evangelist. Hence, what I am suggesting is that the idea that evangelism should be one of the core function of each church has no scriptural basis.

What did Jesus and His Apostles focus on?

Returning now to our last question, if we do not see either Jesus or His Apostles focusing on outreach, what do we see them focusing on instead? What seemed to be their priority when caring for the church?

Time and again, and returning to all the letters we mentioned earlier, we see that the focus of the Apostles was on what we would label “spiritual purity” (the putting to death of that which is earthly) and spiritual growth (the putting on of that which is heavenly) in the brethren, the members of the churches.

2 Corinthians 6:14Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Colossians 3:5,8,9Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.

2 Peter 1:5-8For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Church Leadership:

Furthermore, we see the same focus when we look at the criteria that the Apostle Paul gave to Timothy (1 Timothy 3) for the appointment of church leadership. Those criteria centered around the leader being a model that can be imitated by the church members, and on his ability to truly care for the flock. But nowhere do we see Paul requiring such a person to have made his mark in outreach efforts, or to be effective as an outreach minister. Paul simply made absolutely no reference to outreach when it comes to what should be the focus of good leadership. The focus of the leader should be toward the flock he has been entrusted with.

Churches in Revelation:

Lastly, we also see the same focus on the members’ spiritual purity and growth when Jesus addressed the seven churches in the book of Revelation. The church at Ephesus had abandoned its first love (which we understand to be His affectionate love for Jesus). The church at Pergamos was tolerating false doctrines within its midst. The church at Thyatira was also allowing false doctrine to persist within its midst. The church of Sardis had completely slacked to the point of death. And the Laodiceans were no longer hotly zealous for God, yet they thought they were at the pinnacle of where a church should be. All these issues were matters that were “internal” to the churches. They were matter of individual personal growth, as well as spiritual purity and sound doctrine within the church.

And such were also the commendations of Jesus, which were matters that looked inward, and not outward (as would be the case with “outreach”). For instance, the Ephesians were commended for their labor for Jesus, and for successfully identifying false Apostles within their midst and casting them out. Those in Pergamos were commended for staying faithful even in the face of martyrdom. And Philadelphia was commended for keeping the faith, and was told to hold fast that which it had (and so were also told some in Thyatira).

Conclusion:

I submit to you that it results from the above that the primary focus of any church, any group of brethren should be directed “inward”, toward “itself”. Evangelizing, outreach should NOT be the primary focus of the church. God did appoint SOME to be evangelists. They will do their part, and the rest of us should do ours. It is true that with today’s technology, a Pastor in the United States could be bringing the Gospel to someone in the remote confine of India. But the flock, the brethren should be the focus, not the “so-called” lost. There are Evangelists for that, and they will by the grace of God do their tasks. Those who read this letter and have been gifted to evangelize should by the Holy Spirit continue to strive to put to good use the gift that has been given to them. However, for the rest, and particularly for the church leaders, their focus should be directed toward the flock that God has given them. They should not be focusing on those who are outside, and whom God has not given to them! By imitating Jesus Himself and His Apostles, our church leaders will find themselves spending all their energy in caring for the portion of the flock entrusted to them, by doing everything possible by the help of the Holy Spirit to ensure that their members continuously grow spiritually and maintain themselves spiritually pure. Should God decide to add some sheep to that pastor or teacher, so be it, and may that Pastor or teacher be counted of double honor for it. But until then, his focus should be leading to green pastures the flock that has been entrusted to him.

Hence the plea to the vast majority of our pastors and teachers: Please shift your focus away from evangelism and direct it instead toward the flock you have been entrusted with. You will have more time to feed the flock so that it may grow and mature, in such a way that it will not be carried away by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14), or continue to be easily entangled by sin (Hebrews 12:1). I believe that such inward focus lines up more accurately with Christ and the church fathers. It is the Father, not you, who adds to the Church. And it is the Father (not, you, yourself) who prunes you so that you may bear more fruits. Be therefore diligent with what God has given you, and He shall prune you so that you may bear even more fruits, either by giving you more people, or by some other means.

May the grace of God be with all of us. In the name of Jesus-Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

Easter…It is More Blessed to Receive

My dear brothers and sisters in God’s Kingdom;

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

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

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

Remember the exchange between Jesus and Marta.

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

But look at how Jesus replied:

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Easter. 😊

Amen.

Start praying for bigger things…

Dear Children of the Kingdom;

May the grace, mercy and peace of Jesus be with you. As we enter the popular week-end of Easter, with all its festivities and often elaborate church performances, allow me to focus your attention on a more humble, but far more substantial act: Prayer. Prayer is your lifeline to Jesus. Today, I would like to exhort you to make full use of prayer, moving beyond the elementary needs we so often express to God through it. Among those are the need for good health for us and our families, prosperity in all things, and safety.

If your prayers are limited to those elementary things, then you are missing a great deal about what prayer can, and was always meant to provide.

Look at what the Apostle Paul said about Himself and Timothy to the Colossians:

Colossians 1:9,10 – And so, from the day we heard [of your love in the Spirit], we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

What a powerful confession. Paul and Timothy prayed constantly for the Colossians, not for their families, jobs, health, etc. but so that they might filled with the knowledge of God’s will so that they would be able to walk worthy of Him by bearing all the fruits that Jesus and His Father so long for.

You see, this is making full use of what prayer is supposed to be about…Father, cause me to grow in You, that I may fully understand Your Will, so that I will be bearing all of those fruits You so desire!

The secret of a deep relationship with Christ, the secret for abounding in all those fruits Jesus look for, is prayer. It is not your many acts of charity, it is not your bible study, it is not your observance of the Sabbath, it is not your tithing, and it might not even be what role you will play at your church’s Easter performance. Any of those things could be fine. But they amount to nothing unless you have a real relationship with the One who is our very lifeline…Jesus. And not just prayer, but what you pray for, is the greatest instrument yet given to us to grow in that intimate relationship. For that kind of prayer can only be made by a heart that really loves.

Does not the word say…

1 Corinthians 13:1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Do not be satisfied with where you are in your spiritual journey. Instead, continue to strive to know Your Lord more, to know the Father more. Pray for bigger things. I say, Pray! Seek bigger things, spiritual and eternal things. Can you imagine for a minute the joy of God our Father when He hears such prayers? Can you imagine the joy of our Lord Jesus when He hears that what you really want is to be just like Him and spent time with Him?  As you first seek the Kingdom of God, did not Jesus promise that all your needs will be met (Matthew 6:33)?

As we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus this Easter, let us strive to honor Him, not just with our words and performances, but with our heart.

May you therefore be encouraged to start praying for bigger things…

May Jesus be glorified in our lives, today and forever.

Amen.

Our greatest challenge…Staying Awake!

Dear family of God;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May the Lord be with you;

In the name above all names, Jesus our Lord.

Amen.