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Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Quiet and Peaceable Life

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)
 
Have you ever wondered where God is when you’re going through hard trials and nothing that you’ve tried seemed to workout just right? Well, let me just share something with you. God loves you and He's “a very present help” (Ps 46:1); He's the answer to a hurting people.
 
He said, “if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2Chron. 7:14).
 
Let’s face it, all that God requires of us is that we:
  1. Humble ourselves
  2. Pray and seek His face
  3. Turn from our wicked ways
It’s a matter of our Faith working for us and God’s Grace and Mercy doing the rest. God said that if we do our part then it’s up to Him to do the rest. He will:
  1. Hear from heaven
  2. Forgive our sins and
  3. Restore our land
It’s that simple, our country urgently needs restoring. It needs restoration Politically, Economically, Socially and Spiritually. The Lord says that His eyes will be open and His ears attentive to every prayer (2Chron. 7:15).
 
So, why are we not getting results? Why are our youths slain in the streets or being incarcerated in juvenile detention? Why are so many people held captivates by drugs? Why are there so many broken families? It’s because of sin. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6) living in sin.

Many in our country today have forgotten this fundamental truth, “Sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). God will not exalt a nation that is steeped in sin! Time and again Israel, in the Bible, would turn from God and turn to sin, and God would allow reproach to come against them. How dare we think that it will be any different with us? God will not bless sin. The word of God tells us, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

As a nation, “we’ve become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and in our time of plenty” (Deut. 8: 11-14), we’ve shut God out of our lives, our homes, our schools, government, work and even some of our churches. We’re on the very verge of becoming a secular society, one that forgets God.
 
The nation that forgets God, forgets itself when it turns away from the ideals and foundation on which it was built. What right then has it to be a people, if it doesn’t have its origin and hope in God?
 
A nation that forgets God will not prosper (Deut. 8:1-2); but God hasn’t cast us off. He’s pleading for us to repent and return to Him, so that He can begin the process of restoration.
 
God has called us to intercede. He has commanded us to pray for leaders and those in authority, instead of joining unbelievers to speak disrespectfully about them. He has given us His word, His power, His name, His authority, His faith. We have all the tools necessary to pray an “effectual fervent prayer” (Jam. 5:16) for our government and its leaders.
 
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings,
and for all that are in authority;
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1Timothy 2:1-2).
 
That verse is clear, isn’t it? The instruction is plain. Yet even in these tumultuous days when our nation is so desperately in need of God’s guidance, most people doesn’t do what that verse commands.
 
Why not? I believe it’s because most of us are overwhelmed by the problems we see around us. “How could my prayers make a dent in the national debt?” we think. “How could my faith affect foreign policy?”
 
In other words, we fail to pray because we fail to realize just how powerfully our prayers can affect this country. We fail to realize that faith can move mountains. We fail to realize that there is nothing that is too hard or difficult for our God.
 
It’s time we caught hold of that fact. It’s time we realized that if we’d just be obedient to 1Timothy 2:1-2, there’s no council of any kind on earth, no king, no president, no congress, nothing that could stop, hinder or overthrow God’s purpose for His people.
 
Church, I urge you to intercede. It’s our responsibility as believers to get involved in the affairs of our country. God wants to bless this great nation of ours, and the only way He’s going to get it, is through you and me.
 
Let us endeavor to pray for this nation everyday, and never again underestimate the world-changing power of our prayers. So, let the healing begins!
 
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen (Eph. 3:20).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Laying Claim to Our Inheritance

Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1John 3:1 AKJV)
 
Consider the incredible love wherewith the Father has favored us to be called "sons of God," and it’s not just what we are called, but what we are.
 
As a result of the “new birth” we’ve been born into a royal family. The King of kings has adopted us into His family, and now we enjoy all the rights and privileges associated with royalty. We have received a royal inheritance having being predestined “that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Eph. 1:12).
 
Our inheritance as children of God, and believers in Jesus Christ and His word is a treasure of extensive value. Interestingly, not only is our inheritance a treasure, but we’ve been set apart as holy to the LORD our God, and He has chosen us to be His own special treasure from all the nations of the earth (Deut. 14:2).
 
Indeed, God has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings (abundant life, victory over the enemy, hope, faith, peace, joy, the Holy Spirit) in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). What a promise! It has already happened. We’re already blessed, and each of God’s promises is a particular treasure in the inheritance we’ve received from Him.
 
In his letter to the Church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul made this statement “the love of Christ constraints us” (2Cor. 5:14). The love which we have in our hearts restrains us from doing ungodly things which otherwise we might do. We refrain from doing those things not because we’re afraid to do them, but because we love Christ too much to do them.
 
This love that constrains us isn’t our love for Christ, but rather, it’s Christ's love for us. We’re restrained from doing evil things, because of that unspeakable love which Christ manifested when He died for us on the cross at Calvary.
 
Therefore, “what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2Pet. 3:11). In 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, Paul admonishes believers to avoid Sexual Sin. He said, “Don't you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who:
  1. Indulge in sexual sin, or
  2. Worship idols, or
  3. Commit adultery, or
  4. Are male prostitutes, or
  5. Practice homosexuality, or
  6. Are thieves, or
  7. Greedy people, or
  8. Drunkards, or
  9. Are abusive, or
  10. Cheat people
None of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. There was a time when some of you were just like that (Paul said); but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you...
 
Our bodies were not made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. 14And God will raise our bodies from the dead by His marvelous power, just as He raised our Lord from the dead.
 
15Don't you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which belongs to Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16And don't you know that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, "The two are united into one." 17But the person who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
 
18Run away from sexual sin! No other sin, as clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19Or don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
 
“But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it” (1Cor. 10:13 NLT).
 
Therefore, now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and expletives (dirty language). Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds and have put on the new nature, which is in Christ Jesus (Col. 3:8-9 paraphrased).
 
Since God chose us to be the holy people He loves, we must clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; making allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends us. Remember, the Lord forgave us, so we must forgive others. Above all, let us clothe ourselves with love, which binds us all together in Christ with cords that cannot be broken.
 
Our salvation was purchased at Calvary with the precious blood of Jesus. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1Pet. 1:18-20).
 
There’s nothing that satan, sin or sickness can bring against us that the blood of Jesus hasn’t already made provision for. When satan tempts us to do wrong we can plea the blood against him. Our redemption is in the blood!
 
The blood is God's answer to, and our covering against, everything that satan throws at us. We can be confident, God has made certain, that the blood of Jesus has enough authority and power to meet all mankind's needs, and defeat the enemy of our souls.
 
So, whenever we go in the presence of God to present our need, we can take comfort in the fact that the blood of Jesus is the answer. Therefore, let us as sons of God, lay claim on our inheritance in Christ through the blood.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Danger of Criticism

As Christians we’re instructed by the word of God to always “pray for each another” (Jam. 5:16), “support the weak” (1Thes.5:14), and “encourage one another” (1Thes. 5:11) in the faith. But ever so often we hear of strife amongst believers, as if we’re enemies, and believers taking each other to the courts.

A Matter of Unforgiveness
The Apostle Paul in his writing to the Corinthians admonished believers to discontinue these practices (1Cor. 6:1-8). He stated that Christians should forgive each other and reconcile their differences, rather than taking their problems through the secular court system.

The church has divine authority (1Cor. 6:3) to judge these matters, which are manifestations of the flesh warring against the spirit in the lives of carnal Christians (Rom. 8:5-8). Therefore, we must be willing to forgive because if we don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us (Matt. 6:15).

Jesus, recognizing the destructive power of strife said, “Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matt. 12:25). In other-words, a kingdom or family can prosper only by living in harmony; for “where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (Jam. 3:16).

A Matter Concerning Choice of Food
Yet again, the Apostle Paul in his writing to the Romans made it very clear in chapter 14, that we should accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. Such as, one person believes it’s alright to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables.

Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t; and those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them, because they gave thanks to God before eating.

If we would take some time to examine our actions and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, we would find it easier to follow the Holy Spirit’s bidding as He alerts us when we’re criticizing to the point of condemning someone for whom Christ died.

Nevertheless, who are we to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let Him judge whether they are right or wrong. Jesus warns us against judging (Luke 6:37), and encourages us to forgive others because He wants us to build healthy, enduring relationships that honors God.

A Matter Concerning Honor
Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor God. Therefore, while we live, our lifestyle should be to honor the Lord; but if we die, our lives should nevertheless honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again, for this very purpose, to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.  
  • So why do Christians condemn another believer?
  • Why do they look down on another believer?
 It is because the enemy’s plan is to Steal, Kill and Destroy (John 10:10); to prey on the weak by sowing seeds of discord among the believers to have them preoccupied with putting out fires.

The devil does this simply by creating internal conflict between believers through spreading rumors, gossips, and false accusations. His aim is to weaken the witness of the believers and the effectiveness of the church in the community. But the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18). The devil is already defeated! Jesus defeated him at Calvary, Hallelujah.

A Matter Concerning the Kingdom
Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. The Scriptures say, “As surely as I live,” says the LORD,”every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God” (Rom. 14:11).

Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s forgive and stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that we’ll not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

“The Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). If we serve Christ with this attitude, we’ll please God, and others will approve of us, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and endeavor to build each other up.

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