Be United (In Love) / Be Imitators of Christ

coronavirus-china-hospital-united-build

These guys finishing the hospital in a matter of days reminds me of the Tower of Babel and what man can do together when united. Lots of people have figured it out. You’ll often hear there’s no “I” in team. Speaking of which you may have heard of United Airlines, Manchester United, United Health Care…to name a few.

When there is some conflict in my life, I am propelled to find a resolution because there are two things that are very dear to me, probably my most important “ambitions”, if I can call them that.

  1. To imitate Christ
  2. To hear from God

I like to speak often on the subject of love because of the examples God illustrated throughout the Bible. And I want to imitate Godly love as much as I can while on earth. The Bible says the greatest of these is love, and that God is love (1 John 4:8). God is holy (Revelation 4:8, 1 Samuel 2:2). I cannot imitate Christ in His holiness and ignore His mercy, ignore His long suffering etc. Then I would have no holiness at all (James 2:10). In my understanding, they are all involved with one another; God’s holiness, love, mercy, long suffering, justice (Galatians 5:22-23)… You try to keep from sin and forget to show others mercy and love without prejudice, can make you come across as self-righteous (Luke 18:11). We all know how God spoke to self-righteous people, particularly in the New Testament. See John 8:44. Yikes.

I am convinced that harboring ill against people in our lives is one of the quickest way to our own down fall. God told us specifically if we have something against our brother to go solve that issue first then come back to the altar (Matthew 5:23-24). That would seem that such emotions can hinder our interaction with God. And if we fail to follow that command then how can we do what He is about to say next? Or at least do it with a peace of mind without the anxiety/concerns of the broken relationship. You might say easy to say. Of course it is easy to say but hard to do. Easy to say that I want to build a company, but building one is very hard to do. Anything worthwhile hardly ever comes easy or without cost (2 Samuel 24:24). Except for the free gift of salvation to us. Except for Jesus, it costed Him a lot. So still, costly.

I sort of made it my business to pursue peace, even when the other person appears wrong or is wrong. It isn’t my job to punish anyone (Romans 12:17-19). I can let them know they have hurt me and pray for God’s strength to move on. After all, as long as l am here in this body, I will from time to time fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). And I will in turn need the other person to show me mercy. Don’t wait for an apology. I know, it is rough. When someone hurts us, we want them to come make the first move. But they may never. Our part is to protect our relationship with God at all costs; protect what He has blessed us with from being stolen from the enemy. Strife makes us more susceptible to sin. Sin can lead to a foothold, and a foothold can lead to a stronghold (Solomon 2:15). Let other people be responsible for their part. Don’t let your part be dependent on someone else first fulfilling their part. I am not talking about “forgiving and forgetting” in a situation like this. I am just talking about forgiving. Forgetting part has to do with trust. And trust once broken can only be rebuilt when both parties do their part. At least so it appears to me, as we do not have the ability to read hearts and unless we see a different pattern of actions  or attitude from the one who wronged us, trust is very hard to regain. But we can forgive and we ought to in fact. Joseph forgave his brothers (Genesis 50:20). Jesus forgave us.

Once we have done our part, God gives us the peace to move on even if the other person still hasn’t made amends (Matthew 10:14). But we will never get that peace unless we complete our part.

The more each of us strive for protecting our relationship with God by doing our part to live peaceably and so keeping with our quest to imitate Him, the more unity we can attain. The more unity we attain, the more we can do together for each other, and for others “outside our circle” who also need help. We can build/sustain our “hospital”, the Church, faster when we are united in thought and purpose; when we are united in love. And love isn’t just saying ‘I love you’, or giving gifts when times are good. Love involves sacrifice. And a relentless pursuit to bring about healing, even when the coughs of sickness seek to devour, kill and destroy. The sickness may have been brought about by bad diets, and an appetite for what may not be good. But get the hospital up and running anyways. Pursue peace, healing, forgiveness and in doing so, fulfill the ultimate purpose in being imitators of Christ.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God” – Ephesians 5:1-2

“For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” – Colossians 2:1-3

 

Consider Your Eternity.

kobe-bryant

I don’t watch a lot of sports. I am aware of some of the stars through the tele, internet and even through my elder brother.

I was wondering what was the purpose of Kobe’s death at this very time. We are all appointed to die and then a judgment (Hebrews 9:27). But what was the point? It occurred to me that because he was so popular it must be because through it, people will consider eternity. There’s tragedy in various parts of the world. When tragedy occurs in what’s important to us, it’s more than likely to cause us to think deeply. If one tragedy doesn’t affect us, another most definitely will. We’re all going to die at some point. In Kobe’s, what seems to us early death, he’s still going out with a final grand act. If I may say so.

May God comfort all those who are mourning because of his death and the death of the others on the chopper with him, as well as others who are mourning/hurting for other reasons in life. And may that grief drive us closer to Christ or into a relationship with Him. At the end of the day, the most important legacy we can make for ourselves is the one which drives the question “what did you do with Christ?”. Hopefully the answer that will be given based on our fruits and the confessions of our mouths is “(S)He lived for Christ”.

I am not going to get deep into the why Jesus over other faiths debate. I think it is obvious that it’s either Jesus or nothing at this point. No other faith is as attacked and ridiculed as Christianity. One might say that’s because it is the most popular faith in the world, but it is attacked in regions where it is not even popular. It is attacked in television shows, in real life, and on a daily basis. Satan doesn’t spend time fighting what’s false. He’s not going to fight against his own projects. They are distractions, filled with confusion. If he gets you caught in one of them, then his purpose fulfilled.
So don’t get caught up in the distractions.

Consider your eternity. Consider Christ. And if you have already done those, good for you. Keep on with the upward press towards the goal of that high calling in the one and only Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s not easy, but more than worth it!

It’s Not Normal

Meshach-kitten

A family pet kitten called Meshach died today. My brother was out washing his car and she followed him out. Because he was there she assumed all was well. She let her guard down and trusted the world. Unfortunately, because the world is not operating according to God’s original plan, she got killed by a neighbor’s dog.
Sometimes, we let our guards down too. We lack the discernment to see that some things are not our friends, and not there to build us up, but to tear us down, steal from us, kill and destroy us. I am guilty of this, and still healing from wounds caused by poor and sometimes sinful decision making. I’ve acknowledged this, and looking forward to God’s help in rebuilding me, restoring me better than the former, returning to me everything stolen and everything I foolishly, like Esau gave away. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, trust not the world, nor the things in this world.

“And I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, and the consuming locust, and the cutting locust, My great army which I sent among you.” – Joel 2:25

What does that look like?

1. It looks like daily prayer. Daily listening to God. You can be anywhere: driving, bathing, doing domestic chores; it doesn’t matter, talk to God daily, and often. Be open with every emotion, and let Him know when you feel wronged and when you have done wrong.
“Never stop praying.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
“Leave your troubles with the LORD, and He will defend you; He never lets honest people be defeated.” – Psalm 55:22

2.After you’ve come to God letting Him know what’s on your mind (He of course already knows what the problems are, we just put our faith in action when we talk to Him), don’t stop there. Use scripture related to your case so as to focus on God’s promises, instead of the problem. The Bible says that we can remind God of His promises. This shows that we are not focusing on the problems but the faithfulness of His Word to heal, comfort and deliver us. See this list: http://reapwhatyousow.org/remind-god/

3. Always thank and praise God for who He is. The world is full of pain. But that’s not God’s fault. He didn’t want it this way. Even in the storm, He is still the Good God, our Good Good Father. Besides, praise is also a powerful weapon which confuses the enemy. When we are going through hard times and we choose to worship Jesus, this is especially annoying to Satan, because he wants to keep us in a pit of despair.

“In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

4. Listen. Practice listening to God. He speaks in various ways, but always in alignment with His Word. He may speak as a still small voice, through a friend, even maybe a non-friend, through a song, through dreams, through an event or occasion and the list goes on. Don’t limit how you should hear Him. He’s creative and purposeful. He knows just what we need, and when we need it. So trust Him.

“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.” – Psalm 85:8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”- Proverbs 3:5-6

It’s not normal the heartaches of the world, because it is not part of God’s original design. Sin brought pain and death. It is up to us, with God’s grace to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not let our guards down. The enemy is very persistent, and we must be violent in prayer. We must keep a constant flow of communication with God. Then when He instructs through whatever way, we need to trust and obey. He’s coming back again, so this struggle is only for a moment until we see Jesus again on His second return.

Be very blessed indeed.

———

In loving memory of my cat Meshach. Rest in peace where ever is that place God takes His animals. If there is one…God knows. But I know that you Mesh, are in no more pain.

For the Glory of God

remain at the cross

Our actions generates celebrations from one of two kingdoms. “Do things for the glory of God” is not for God’s benefit, as God is already all sufficient. Operating for His glory is a benefit to us. When we do or say something that His kingdom can rejoice in, we welcome Psalm 91:11 in our lives.

On the contrary, when we do or say something that the enemy and his kingdom can rejoice in, we reject God, and join the company of the enemy and his bandwagon.This saddens God because He knows the enemy has nothing but death to offer us. And God’s desire for us is to have life through Him the life giver, and have that life in abundance.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Consult God First

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There was a brother in Christ who told me that whenever his daughter would come to him with issues, he’d ask her if she had first talked to God. If she’d say no, he’d tell her go talk to God first then come back to him after. The earthly father was teaching something crucial here, “the principle of God first”.

There is so much anger and malice I’m reading these days that it is clear some of us aren’t following that principle. Particularly because the words spoken/written are contrary to the Word of God.

What part of pray for your leaders do believers not understand? What part of put away anger and malice is confusing? Our feelings are not always facts. Angry at your leader? Don’t like him/her? Pray for them. If you are a believer in Christ, it is your duty to represent the Lord as He calls us to. Nothing more shameful than believers acting worse than those in the world.

1 Timothy 2:1-3
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior…

Ephesians 4:31
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

This works in all cases. We need to consult God first in our lives. We can end up in all sorts of trouble otherwise and end up saying things that we only regret later on. Let’s take a page from Nehemiah from chapter 2. Notice when the king (who had reasonable authority to grant Nehemiah’s request) asked Nehemiah what he wanted, Nehemiah prayed to God before responding. Urge us (myself most definitely included) to do the same. Amen.

Nehemiah 2:4-5
Then the king said to me, “What do you request?”
So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”

Struggle

struggle-d

 

Struggle. We all have our seasons. If you’re a believer in Christ and find yourself discouraged remember that you’re not alone. There are several reasons why we each find ourselves in this place:

1. Sometimes it is actually not anything we have done wrong. The devil came after even Jesus, surely he will come after followers of Jesus. In these times, we just need to speak the Word against whatever accusations the enemy is speaking out against us.

2. Sometimes we are doing all sorts of things for God (taking care of others/ministry), but not taking timeout to be with God Himself. Martha, Martha, go sit at the feet of Jesus.

3. The pressures of life get to us. We worry, we fear and we want to walk by sight, as the unknown plunders away at our faith. In these times, we need to look back at the character of God. Check out His miracles (up to what He is doing today), study His universe. Think about it, God spoke great balls of fire into existence! On a personal level He heals sickness, warns us of danger etc; His mighty works are too numerous to mention. We need to remember that when we have Jesus in our boat we have nothing to worry about.

4. Sometimes we are engaged in activities, like listening to certain kinds music, watching certain movies etc that may be permissible but not beneficial. What we deposit is what we are able to withdraw. Put that stuff down and return to a heart of worship.

5. And sometimes, we are just in plain sin. If it is habitual, encourage us to speak to at-least one mature believer in Christ about it. When we shed light on what we do in the dark, the enemy loses that foothold of strength he has in darkness.
Regardless the reason, God is faithful, He cares and will complete the good work He begun in us. Living for Christ is a daily thing. Yesterday’s manna is yesterday’s manna. Not because we prayed 15 minutes yesterday means we can run on yesterday’s prayer.
Anyhow, let’s pray for one another and cover one another. 🙂

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16

The heart of the enemy is no match for the love of God

heart of loveThanking God for another opportunity to share Him. Read an article where a man took out rage on a 2 year old boy and punched him so hard the child died of internal bleeding. Saw later a video of a man burning the face of a cat with welding fire. Wickedness to the core. Truly traumatized by what I saw/read.

These kinds of acts show the kind of heart the devil has. God is angry at sin as He sees how depraved it makes us, it hurts us. All of creation mourns since that first Fall, and we have been on a downward spiral ever since. If you don’t know Jesus, give your life over to Him today. He loves us very much and died to save us from such depravity. He asks you to trust Him today. Spending an eternity with the alternative is indescribable. Turn to Christ today and be free from the wages of sin.

I know some of us have a lot of questions for God, but how many of us can say that we become friends with someone after knowing everything about them? We first enter a relationship with the person and get to know them along the way through a personal relationship. Same thing with our relationship with God. Get into a personal relationship with Him. See that truly He is good. And He has a plan for mankind; He will one day make all things new. What a wonderful promise; what a wonderful God.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Holy, Loving Immutable God

unchangingI was watching a video where an atheist was questioning a preacher on why Jesus had to die on the cross. He apparently didn’t like God’s plan of redemption. In his own “wisdom”, he was suggesting alternative way for how God could have dealt with our sin.  The preacher responded to his questions by iterating “Jesus died for your sins, you either believe or not.” The answer was not good enough for the unbeliever however, and he accused the preacher of not knowing what he believed. The channel where the video was hosted was also filled with comments against the preacher.

One of the comments: “Typical. Christians refuse to answer the hard questions.”

That statement is fallacious, and applies a broad brush on Christians as a whole. There are multiple reasons why some believers do not engage in certain discussions. As one example, some find that getting into long debates strays from the real issue of “to believe or not to believe” in Christ.

Anyhow, the answer to the atheist’s question is simple. God rules according to His own nature. He is holy, truth, life, merciful and love, plus all other characteristics of goodness, so is He. Another thing about God’s nature is that it is immutable. Since His ways do not change, sin can never enter His presence. After the Fall (accounted in Genesis), we are all now born into sin. Since sin is contrary to God, contrary to life (remember God is the Life), then sinners are in the position of death. The Bible also says we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), so none can claim to be sinless. Jesus simply had to come because He is the source life, and He needed to rescue us from death. There is no other way. Someone had to go into the place of death. God had to carry out justice. God’s standard is perfection as He is perfect. Since we have all sinned, a perfect substitute had to redeem us. That is why in the Old Testament God required a lamb without blemish. We could never self attain our own salvation by thinking our idea for salvation is better than God’s because we are blemished. We cannot use self efforts for salvation because our works are blemished, as we are blemished.

It is therefore not and never will be a case of God saying “hey, no hard feelings about your sin.” Because if sin does not lead to death, and we can maintain perfect fellowship with God in sin, then God’s nature is not what is said of Him. Jesus Christ came to the cross on our behalf because we have already placed ourselves in the position of death, and to redeem us from death, life had to come. Jesus is life. Through the cross, God’s attributes were in full display, His holiness, His graciousness, His love, His mercy…His immutable unchanging nature all showed who He is, God Almighty. If we say we want God to do contrary to all of these, then it is not God we want, but wickedness, a god who changes his mind whenever, a god of injustice, and a god who has no absolute standard of truth. Fortunately, God is God, and will never fit into all the little boxes that wretched human beings want Him to fit into. The fact of the matter is, even after all this is said, people will still choose to reject the Gospel, unless they humble themselves and seek God without a “I know more than you mentality”.

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4

They are blinded because they are in the realm of death, satan’s realm. Unless we repent and walk into the realm of life, on the side of Christ, we will remain blinded by the enemy.

I hope this answer blesses someone today. Glory to God that He does not change. Hallelujah! His justice is always correct.

Psalm 19 – The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;

Simple Logic

Jesus is God. (John 1, John 8:58)

God is Life. (Deuteronomy 30:19, John 14:6)

God is holy, set-apart and sinless. (Isaih 6:3, 2 Corinthians 5:21, James 1:13)

Therefore, when we sin, we remove ourselves from the presence of God.

If we die in that state, having not repented and asked God for forgiveness, we reject life itself.

It is no wonder the penalty of sin is death, since the absence of life is death.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

#JesusSaves #simpleLogic

Don’t mention it

About to step into one of those “off limits”/ “hard to swallow” discussions again. Having seen this video this morning, felt convicted to encourage friends to read the Word of God for yourselves. The Bible is very clear that there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved but by the name of Jesus. We don’t need additional mediators, we don’t need to pray to dead saints, there is direct access to God. (Acts 4:12, Hebrews 4:16, 1 Timothy 2:5)

We are all created by God, but not everyone is part of the Family of God. Being a child of God is upon receiving Christ, as the verse below (and more like it) clearly states.
“But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” – John 1:12

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” – 1 John 5:12

Believing in love doesn’t mean we must accept someone else’s worldview. One can still love and have different convictions. The video below tells of a very false and dangerous gospel, seasoned with some truths so that it “sells”.

“How then can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?” – Romans 10:14

All roads lead to God in judgement but not all roads lead to Heaven. On that day, we will either hear one of the two “welcome, faithful servant” OR “depart from Me, I never knew you”.

Don’t follow the crowd in exchange for your eternity. Not because everyone is doing something, doesn’t mean it’s right. Help us Jesus.
Know Jesus, know eternal life. Be very blessed.