January 2017

Suffering For Christ

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22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. (2 Corinthians 11:22-23 NKJV)

 

Before his conversion, Paul caused others to suffer greatly but ever since he became a Christian he suffered so much for Christ's name (Acts 9:16). 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 lists some of the sufferings Paul went through, however it was not a complete list, because when we study 2 Corinthians 4 and the book of Acts, we will find more of his sufferings. And yet in 2 Corinthians 11:28 despite all the sufferings he endured, Paul said, “besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.


A Bondservant Of Jesus Christ

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Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you (Jude 1:1-2 NKJV)

 

Doulos is the Greek word for slave.  Jude (or Judas but not Iscariot) clarifies right after he says that he is a bondservant of Jesus Christ that he too is the brother of James, brothers of Jesus (Matthew 13:55). Jude named himself by choice a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Why does it appear so important for Jude to start his epistle by calling himself a bondservant of Jesus Christ? Is it a title behind his name? Or is it a statement he freely made to let all his readers know who he is? Why is this "bondservant" thing so important that Jude begins his epistle declaring who he is in Christ?

Knowledge Is Responsibility

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But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk (Luke 12:45 NKJV).

 

Luke 12:45-48 is about a master who hires a dependable and full of common sense manager hoping that his manager would do what he wants with such responsibility. In this story, Luke tells us his readers that this manager knows exactly what his master wants but he ignores it. Right here we see that the problem is not that he does not know what his master wants, he does not do what he knows. And thus making him an irresponsible manager. The Bible basically tells us if the servant knows what his master wants and yet he ignores it or he plans not to do according to his master's instruction, he will have severe consequences for his ignorance. But if he does a poor job because he does not really know what his master wants, he will still get consequences but not as severe as he who knew but ignored the will of his master.

The Preeminence Of Jesus Christ

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The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge (Psalm 19:1-2 NKJV)


The Psalmist reveals to us that even heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Another way of saying it, nature reveals to us that there is God in heaven and God speaks to us in nature. Our family loves nature, we love to watch sunset and walk along the beach. As for me, I love to sit at the beach listening to the sound waves for hours at sunset and I love to see the raging streams. God speaks to us through nature and I have no problem with that but one thing nature cannot do and that is, nature cannot tell us how much God loves us.

 

How Close Can You Approach Heaven And Yet Be But Almost A Christian?

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For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).

 

The majority of the people living on this planet earth from since the beginning of the world trying their best to get to know God by deeds, trying to please God whom they never knew by deeds, trying to worship God without having a need to build a relationship with Him but by deeds. God, the Creator of heaven and earth initiated to reach out to us sinners by sending His only Son dying on the cross to pay the penalty of those who believe in Him. God in Jesus Christ revealed His heart to us, sinners, that deeds could not save us, deeds could not make us righteous.

The Challenge To Make A Difference

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44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45 NKJV).

 

In His teaching, Jesus does the opposite of what the world is teaching. The statement that follows "but" in verse 44 does the opposite of what is taught in verse 43, "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." These are the Words of Jesus Christ! If we see the things of God through our eyes and try to interpret the way we see the things of God our way, we will twist everything we see, we will twist the truth to fit our needs. The only thing that enables us to see the things of God is if we see His things through His eyes and let the Bible interpret the Bible.

Trust In The Lord

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)


Do you still remember the story of "Israel Crosses The Jordan" in Joshua 3 and 4? In Joshua 3:4, Joshua gives the children of Israel a very clear instruction, Joshua wants the children of Israel to keep a distance between them and the Ark about a half mile. The children of Israel must keep their eyes on the Ark and wherever the Ark goes, the children of Israel must follow its direction. The Ark speaks about the presence of God and as Joshua instructs the children of Israel, we too shall not run out ahead of the Lord, we must stay back behind Him and follow the very direction He goes if we do not want to get lost. One thing we need to bear in mind, we shall not lean on our own understanding but to follow Him from behind.

Dare To Be Different

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44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (Matthew 5:44-46 NKJV)


When I was about ten years old, my mother was slandered so heavily causing her to be so depressed and sick. Despite all what she experienced, she never once talked about the person that slandered her. Her teaching though she was not a Christian at that time was consistent with the Bible when she told me "Revenge is the Lord's" and "Our portion is to bless those who persecute us". My mother did not play a victim nor did she look for empathy from others for the circumstances she went through. What a mighty woman that she was, a woman who did not live according to the ideal, which is an illusion,  but according to the law of God that was written in her heart.

Walking In Love

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11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:11-13 NKJV)


Words, actions, and attitudes are the three components, which cannot be separated if we want to walk in love. Walking in love requires us to be sensitive to our conscience. Do we pay attention to people in our surroundings? Do we take into consideration when we eat certain food that our brothers or sisters in Christ may not have the knowledge that we have and our attitude may wound their weak conscience? And shall the food that we eat because of our knowledge about that food perish the weak brother who does not have the knowledge that we have? How can we call our attitude "walking in love"?