7 SIGNS OF A LIFE THAT C.A.R.E.S

7 SIGNS OF A LIFE THAT C.A.R.E.S

C.A.R.E. is defined as:

Being Connected to the Divine Source

Making use of the Access to the Diving Source

Being Ready to accept the blessings that are available from the Divine Source

Being Engaged in leading a life that is pleasing to the Divine Source.

 

  1. The life that CAREs has a vibrant Prayer life

The life that CAREs has a deep-seated belief that prayer is effective. Its conviction is boosted by evidence from its own life, cases from the Scriptures and from the experiences of others.

It has great confidence in approaching God passionately and frequently.

It embraces 1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

The life that CAREs prays about its personal hopes, its fears and its aspirations. It asks for relief from illness; seeks guidance with critical decisions and begs for safe-keeping.

It is note-worthy that the life that CAREs has a 360 degree approach to prayer. It prays for family, friends, colleagues, neighbours. It includes its community and takes a world view into consideration in its prayers. It asks for reconciliation with those with whom it is in conflict. It prays that God will straighten the path of those who have gone astray and that evil doers will be brought to repentance.

It invites God to intervene to make His will for our collective lives come to fruition.

 

  1. The life that CAREs is its brother’s keeper

The life that CAREs has a sensitive antenna. It is somehow aware of what is going on in the lives of others. It has an uncanny way of remembering things that are important to others.

It surprises you with a call …just when you needed it. It recognizes that your lips are turned down and not up with your usual radiant smile.

The life that CAREs is in the know in respect of what is happening in the lives of others. It shares updates and is able to rally support when needed.

The life that CAREs embraces the call of Galatians 6:2 – Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

It manifests Eph 4: 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another……..

It shows concern for others and wants the best for them even to the extent of making personal sacrifices:

Phil 2: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 

 

  1. The life that CAREs is generous

The life that CAREs relishes the opportunity to assist others. It looks outward. It has palms that are more often turned down in giving that up in receiving.

It gives freely of its time and resources. It accepts 2 Cor 9 to be real to it and acts accordingly in its generosity.

2 Cor 9: 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

 

The life that CAREs is sensitive to the needs of those that are challenged by their circumstances.

Matt 25: 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

The generosity of spirit goes beyond the material giving of resources. The life that CAREs has a forgiving heart. It is long-suffering. It is not so smart as to find hidden insults and disrespects in everything that others say and do.

1 Cor 3: 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[a];

 

  1. The life that CAREs allows joy to be manifest in it

The life that CAREs is not spared life challenges. It is not immune to illness, conflict, financial and other woes.

However, the life that CAREs fiercely protects its JOY. It refuses to let any of life’s problems to steal its Joy.

Phil 4: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

That inner peace that is the blessing that those who are in Christ receive is the secret to joyfulness and being able to rejoice in the face of adversity.

The life that CAREs is a model of calm assurance when the storms of life assail.

 

  1. The life that CAREs trains the “prompter” in its head

The life that CAREs relates to the fact its thoughts, words and deeds are inspired by the equivalent of a teleprompter in its head.

The teleprompter presents words that it might say. It can opt not to say those words. It realizes that the teleprompter develops prompts that it thinks reflects what the life that CAREs would want to say.

The teleprompter is not infallible and will produce prompts that are not in keeping with what the life wants. The life that CAREs spends time training its teleprompter.

It conducts the training through deep meditation and constant affirmation of what it wants to express. By constantly working to renew its mind, it trains its teleprompter and gradually eliminates undesirable prompts. The process also encourages the presentation of prompts that are aligned to its principles.

The danger with an untrained teleprompter is that an undesirable prompt might be used in a moment of distraction. This reflected in those “I feel like biting my tongue” moments.

James 3: We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

The ability to bring its teleprompter under increasing control is a hallmark of a life that CAREs.

James highlights the magnitude of the task of getting your teleprompter to produce the prompts that ought to reflect your life in Christ. The teleprompter is actually caught up in a battle for your mid. It receives contradictory instructions based on the remnant of self that is still alive.

James 3: All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

But there is hope:

James 1: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

There is a distinction between man-made, earthly wisdom and the wisdom that comes from heaven. The life that CAREs educates its teleprompter with respect to the differences.

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

  1. The life that CAREs is willing to share its faith

The life that CAREs is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. It is not shy in identifying its commitment to living a life that is obedient to God and His commands. This intention to serve God is expressed in word and in deed in the family, at school, in the workplace among friends and indeed, among any one with whom the life that CAREs makes contact.

1 Peter 3: 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

The life that CAREs is evangelical. It has the message of salvation to share and does it. The life that CAREs is conscious that all of mankind have sinned. It knows that there is a price for sin – the second death. It knows that unless it presents the sacrifice of Christ as the only cure for sin many souls will be lost.

It is deeply aware that many well-meaning souls are being lost daily because of ignorance, procrastination and false doctrine. The life that CAREs sets about sharing the truth to family members, friends, colleagues, neighbours and those with whom it comes in contact.

 

  1. The life that CAREs makes its calling and election sure

The life that CAREs understands that this present life is a way station. We are here for a little while. It is concerned about ensuring that the next phase in its journey goes well. It prepares itself for its existence in this life and the next.

2 Peter 1: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is near-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[a] make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Remember, the life that CAREs is first of all connected to the Divine Source. In order achieve that you must access Him through Jesus Christ. The access through Christ involves believing that we are under the sentence of death because of our sins.

We must accept that Christ paid the price for our sins when He died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead. The price He paid is applied to our debt when we confess Him as Lord and decide to pursue a life that follows the principles laid out in the Bible, including being immersed in watery baptism for the removal of our sins.

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Let 2015 Be The Year To C.A.R.E.

2015 the Year to C.A.R.E.

2014 might have been a dry and thirsty period for you.

You may have had health issues. Many have been impacted by Chik-V and are still suffering from its ill effects. Some of you may be contending with other nagging and persistent health issues.

Others among you may have been experiencing financial challenges. Your expenses consistently outstrip your income. Money worries is your constant companion.

You may have mounting debt that you are unable to contain and settle.

It may be that you fear that your future sources of income may be threatened.

2014 might have represented a cross-roads with respect to your career. You might feel stuck and at a dead end. Others might actually be out of a job and unsure about how soon they will find one.

The great news is that 2015 offers a solution for whatever “dry and thirsty” condition you have been experiencing. However, your #1 priority must be to get connected to the source.

I want to share some thoughts on the subject “2015 – the Year to C.A.R.E.”

C.A.R.E. represents CONNECTION, ACCESS, READINESS, and ENGAGEMENT

Let 2015 be a year that as your #1 priority you get connected to the source of all good things.
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Check also Deut 28:1 -3

God is the source of solutions. He is able. God can provide answers to the challenges you faced in 2014. The key is that you need to get connected to the source. You need to be in Christ to access “every spiritual blessing”.
To be in Christ you must believe that there is a God who created us and has a plan for our souls. (Romans 3:21 -23; Hebrews 11:6)

You must believe that there is a God who has a plan for us. You must appreciate the sacrifice that Christ made for us to be reconciled with God. That should cause you to regret the life outside of Christ that you lived and commit to living in obedience to God. Luke 13:2

You must also make the confession “Jesus Christ is Lord”. Phil 2:11 This is a public declaration of our belief that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and that God raised Him from the dead after He paid the price for our sins. Rom 10: 8-10

We must then be baptized for the removal of our sins.
Gal 3: 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

At that point you have put on Christ and you are in Christ. Many opportunities are now opened to you. One is that you are added to His Church. There you are able to access the exclusive blessings that are in Christ.

You are now CONNECTED.

Some people gave their lives to Christ at some point but are not accessing the full benefits that flow from that relationship. They have lost touch with Christ and His influence is not manifest in their lives.
Let 2015 be a year of ACCESS.

Christ invites us in Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Prayer is a very powerful tool. It acts as the plumbing through which the blessings of God may be channeled into our daily existence.

2015 should be a year in which we dramatically deepen our prayer lives. Let us pray often and fervently for others, for our projects and for God’s continued guidance and protection.

Some people prepare themselves for blessings. They open their minds to unending possibilities.
On the other hand, others seem to be so unprepared. They do not appear to be ready for what access to the source could mean for them.

Let 2015 be a year for READINESS. Let us prepare to maximize the benefits that are available to us as baptized followers of Christ.

Let us pray fervently and without ceasing. James 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 5: 17-18

Let us draw on the examples of how God has delivered people out of the crises and opened unbelievable opportunities for others.

Our path to Readiness must also include focus on our personal development. We need to put serious effort in upgrading and honing our talents. Critically, we can seek guidance to expand our range of talents. There are loads of needs to be met. Will you commit to preparing yourself to being better equipped to be of service to others?

Ephesians 4: 11 – 16 speaks to the importance of each of us maturing and being ready to play our part.
There is one more imperative that is required if 2015 is to be markedly better than 2014.

The requirement is ENGAGEMENT. We need to be engaged.

For many of us, 2014 was a year in which we turned the pages of the calendar. There was no major advance to celebrate. No outstanding achievement. We just moved slowly along with the tide.
Let 2015 be different.

  • Let us commit right now to being actively engaged in projects and activities that have the capacity to effect positive change.
  • Let us strive to be transform our lives in 2015.
  • Let us determine that we will cast our careers in a new and refreshing light.
  • Let us resolve to get a grip on our finances.
  • Let us refuse to be overwhelmed by money worries in 2015.
  • Let 2015 be a year in which we let others feel our presence.
  • Let us be there for family member, church brethren, neighbor or co-worker.
  • Let us make a difference in someone’s life in 2015. Let us be outward looking and value others above ourselves.

Philippians 2: 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

As we C.A.R.E. in 2015, is there a role that you can play in the church?

  • What is it that you can do to help this congregation grow and mature into what God would have us to be?
  • Will you shine your light in areas that you left in the dark in 2014?
  • Is there someone waiting for you to play the role of Phillip to the Eunuch?
  • Will you seek to be more engaging through your Internet/Social Media presence?
  • What about your family life? Is there is a missed opportunity waiting for you to accept the challenge to make a difference?

As you encounter others in the world of work, will you pause to take new meaning from your conversations?

Will you allow yourself to see others as souls who may have a need that you can fill?

Let us all sprout sensitive antennas in 2015. Let us shake off apathy and be fully turned on and engaged.

Ephesians 6: 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

Colossians 3: 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Let 2015…be the year in which we C.A.R.E.

We ensure that we have a strong and secure CONNECTION to God…the Source. We put on Christ in baptism and gain ACCESS to the spiritual blessings that are in Jesus. We accept Christ’s invitation to ask, seek and knock to open doors of opportunity.
In preparation for the outflows from our asking, we work hard on our READINESS. We learn more about God and His work through the ages. We hone our talents and commit to being the very best that we can be.

Finally, we make a difference through our ENGAGEMENT. We make our presence felt and impact the lives of those inside and outside of the church. We touch the lives of family members and co-workers more positively in 2015.
We see souls with potential needs that we can supply.

God bless you!

What Will Be Different In 2014?

What Will Be Different in 2014?

Over the next 12 months is the major difference in your life going to be the fact that you look at a calendar with a 4 at the end of the year and not a 3?

Will the most significant change be that you write 14 instead of 13 on your cheques or documents?
My aim is to challenge you to ensure that the coming months are more than a turning of calendar pages and a changing of a number.

Our Duty
Solomon sums up a potentially depressing review of life by pointing to how meaningless life is without the centrality of God in our lives. Indeed, he makes it clear that our whole duty is to fear God and keep His commandments.

Ecclesiastes 12:13
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Is it then reasonable to ensure that in 2014 we do everything to give God centre place in our lives?
As we chart our course and make our plans, is it not wise for us to start first with identifying what is it that God would have us to do?

Should we not immediately dismiss plans that have the potential to put us in conflict with the principles of Godly living?

Here is a serious consideration:

The whole duty really means that this is our job description. It is THE assignment that we are required to complete.
When you look at what you did in 2013:
• Are you satisfied with your performance on the job?
• Are you at a place where you can’t imagine how you could have done a better job?
• If there is any room for improvement, commit now to working on fixing that in 2014.

The first place to start is with the issue of focus…. with the tuning of our minds.

In 2014, we must be constantly mindful of the need to be respectful and in awe of God. We must face up to our responsibility to be always doing His will.

We must see ourselves as being immersed in a mission. This is not about Sunday worship or our moments of personal devotion. Our every waking moment must be guided by our sole duty….doing the will of God.
With that mindset, we will be more resilient in the face of temptation. We will also get to the point where we have a desire to channel more energy and resources into things that are above.

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Getting trapped in the rat race of the world will become more meaningless in our sight.

Let 2014 be different. Let us commit to taking more seriously the call to discharge your whole duty.
Decide now to spend more time thinking about God and having His will become more apparent in your life in 2014.

Study
In order to let God’s will be manifested in our lives, we need to know what His will is in fact.
One critical difference in 2014 must be a commitment to learning more about who God has revealed Himself to be in the Scriptures.

We need to commit to internalizing His precepts and promises.

We need to buckle down to the task of understanding and displaying the mindset that Christ wants us to have.

Developing Christ-like thinking requires devotion to regular study and discourse with others. Commit in 2014 to be more involved in personal and group study of the Bible.

Let us follow the example of the Bereans and commit to significantly increasing our knowledge and application of the doctrines and teaching of Christ in 2014. (Acts 17:11)

Great Commission
Even as we step up our own focus on God and studying His will for our lives, we must pay closer attention to the commission that has been given to us.

We have been commanded to take to the world the message of sin, its wages and the pardon for sin that is available.

Matt 28: 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

As you reflect on 2013, are you comfortable with the role you have played in carrying out the “great commission”?

Will you right now, right here make a commitment to sharing the Gospel message in 2014?

Will you make every effort to better prepare yourself to effectively defend the faith (Jude) and to share with others how God is blessing your life?

Here is a practical action that I invite you to take on board in 2014:

We speak a lot about “inviting your neighbour”. The focus has been to get them to come to a worship service or Bible study.

I suggest that we add a twist to “invite your neighbour” in 2014.

Invite one or two of your neighbours or colleagues for a simple “getting to know you better” session.

This should ideally be in your home but if that is not convenient, you can go to a not too crowded, low cost location.

The objective of this session is not to conduct a Bible study or to present a message. The aim is merely to build a bond.

We are committed to friendship evangelism. Without friends the plan cannot even get started.

Let 2014 be a year in which we work seriously on developing and rekindling strong friendships.

Let us set about catching up with friends with whom we have been out of touch.

Critically, let us reach out in friendship to members of the body who have been missing.

Brother’s Keeper
As we look outside of ourselves to others, 2014 should be a year in which you take more seriously the call to be your brother’s keeper.

There is a desperate need for mentoring today. Family units are not what they need to be and a lot of the guidance and support that should be offered by families is in fact missing.

We invite you to implement another practical solution in 2014.

We encourage you to commit to passing on a skill, wise counsel or a personal experience to at least one additional person in 2014.

If you are handy in the kitchen, why not invite a small group over to show them how to prepare one of your favourite dishes?

If you are good at handicraft, why not pass on some of your skills and share your interest with others?

If you are able to provide wise counsel or encouragement to others, why not take the time to share insights with others?

If you feel that you have nothing worth sharing, give a listening ear. Make yourself available to simply listen.

2014 is the year in which you are going to set out to impact the lives of others in meaningful and lasting ways.

Daily walk
As we reflect on practical factors impacting lives, we also need to turn the spotlight on non-spiritual yet vitally important components of our daily walk in 2014.

The first consideration is the treatment and care of “God’s temple.”

2 Corinthians 6:16
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Our health is central to the experiences that we encounter in life.

Good health is a blessing that we celebrate with unbounded joy. Ill health is a challenge that darkens our outlook and burdens our minds.

Consequently, in 2014 we must commit to paying closer attention and discipline to our diet, our exercise regimes and our thought processes.

Will you commit today to eating right in 2014? Will you be more disciplined with respect to what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat? Will you do this consistently throughout the year?

Will you commit to a regime of regular exercise or physical activity?

Will you commit to freeing your mind from the stress-inducing thoughts that are endangering your health?

Will you engage in the kind of positive thinking that is a platform for healthy living?

Finance
Talk about money tends to get some Christians nervous. The misunderstanding about wealth is widespread among the brotherhood and many of us are ill-informed about financial matters.

Yet, money matters are central to so many of the challenges, conflicts, distractions and even temptations that we face.

In 2014, let us get awake to the importance of wealth management in our lives.
Let us commit to learning more about how to acquire, manage and appropriately use wealth.

Generosity Encouraged
2 Corinthians 9:

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Let us forsake the notion that wealth is taboo.

Commit now to stepping forward to use the talents that God has given us to create and use wealth in His service.

Outreach

Let us now take on the perspective of the congregation.

• What is going to be different in 2014 for the congregation?
• Will there be growth in membership?
• Will the members be more grounded doctrinally?
• What will change the culture with respect to a consistent commitment to evangelism?
• What is going to cause us to be more attentive to the needs of brethren and those in need?
• Is this the year in which we achieve stronger bonds among members?

Then let us also look beyond our congregation to the wider society.

Is 2014 the year in which we stop moaning in our private circles about the decaying society and step forward and make a practical difference?

Could you be so moved to write a letter to the media or make a post on Facebook about an issue that runs counter to a firmly held principle?

Would you raise objections to inappropriate behaviour wherever you are planted?

Would you be willing to go against the tide and redirect naysayers to positive thinking?

Will you commit even now to resist with every cell of your body the consistent drive to remove God from the public sphere?

Year of salvation
If you have not followed the plan of salvation as outlined in the Bible, let 2014 be the year of your salvation.
If you are a Christian – repentant sinner, who has confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and been baptized for the removal of your sins – then let 2014 be the year in which you are influential in bringing at least one person to Christ.

The Plan of Salvation:
A review of all the conversions in the New Testament and supporting passages point to the following process for putting on Christ:

You must hear the good news of Jesus, His atoning sacrifice for your sins and His resurrection.

Romans 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

You must also believe the good news.

Heb 11: 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith is not enough. We are called to act on our belief and to make a decision to no longer let sin reign in our lives but to seek to live in obedience to God. This is the very important act of repentance.

Luke 13: 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

You then have to confess Jesus as Lord. This is a public declaration of your belief that Jesus is the Son of the Living God:

Rom 10: 8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Another major step is that you must be baptized for the removal of our sins. This is a step that is either left out completely or is comprised in attempts to make salvation more convenient.

Gal 3:26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

1 Peter 3: 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

At that point you have put on Christ and you are in Christ. Many opportunities are now opened to you. One is that you are added to His Church. There you are able to access the exclusive blessings that are in Christ. You have now met the requirements to be called a Christian.

Baptism comes from the Greek baptizo which means to immerse. Sprinkling is not the same as immersion. We have to ask if God who is fussy about the kind of fire that is used to light sacrifices to Him and who will punish one of His leaders for using a tried and proven method to get water for his people will notice the difference. Is it worth it to take the chance? Why not just do what He commands, however childish and petty it may appear to our human minds?

Baptism is also for the remission of sins. Therefore, baptizing infants who are without sin does not appear to fit the pattern laid down for us in the New Testament.

If you are accessing this information and you are in any doubt about whether you are in Christ, do not delay, do something about it now.

If you have questions as to whether the process for putting on Christ that you have gone through is in keeping with what I have just outlined, make a commitment to investigate your status fully. We are willing to go respond to any questions you may have.

If you have not been immersed for the remission/removal of your sins, then I urge you to do so before it is eternally too late.

Why Jesus

Why Jesus?

1.      Why Jesus? He Makes Sense Out of Nonsense

A man cuts down a tree, uses a part of it to create a “god” and sets aside the remainder to cook the meal that his created “god” will provide for him.

Today, we laugh at that as the nonsense that we associate with primitive minds.

Yet, celebrated lyrical icon Bob Marley declares in the anthem “Get up, Stand Up” …

“We sick an tired of-a your ism-skism game – Dyin n goin to heaven in-a jesus name, lord. We know when we understand: Almighty God is a living man. You can fool some people sometimes, But you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Marley and the Rastafarian movement have moved the game up one notch from wood to human flesh and blood. They look to man who has no idea about the source of his first, last or next breath to guide, protect and provide for them.

So, some dismiss that set as being intellectually unsophisticated. The intellectually sophisticated do not need the drug that religion is to navigate through life.

They replace the ‘wood god’ and ‘man god’ with the idea that life is just one big accident. There is no intelligent design to be respected as the Source and to be revered and respected as God.

Knowing what we know about life, what we see about us, what our experience has taught us – does any of the above explanations provide a sensible answer about how this game of life came into being?

Can you reasonably expect that Ras Tafari –  whose rotted remains lie in the earth – can respond to your prayers? Can Jah really “Guide”?  Does Jah really “Know”?

Would you believe that it is by mere accident that the earth and the sun coordinate their movements so that they have not missed a sunrise or sunset for thousands of years?

Would you then also believe that there was an accident last month on the highway and out of it emerged a highly sophisticated space craft with a power source that is unknown to man but with the capacity to go to the moon in six hours?  Check google….

On the other hand, Jesus states clearly that He has been there from the beginning and knows exactly how it was designed and created.

John 8: 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!

John 8: 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.

John 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” 

Jesus clearly states that He has the answers to our questions. He knows the truth.

The wood has not yet been able to make any claims. Selassie disclaimed divinity. The intellectuals create theories that are less rational the worshipping wooden idols. At least they could be seen. It is hard to “see” the logic in the arguments of our intellectuals.

1 Cor 1: 20 Where is the wise person?Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signsand Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified:a stumbling blockto Jews and foolishnessto Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishnessof God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weaknessof God is stronger than human strength.

2.      Why Jesus? He Answers Our Questions

Jesus and His Apostle’s who carried and reinforced His teachings give us clear answers to questions that have occupied the minds of humans throughout the ages.

What is this game of life about?

How do I know when I win?

What are the rewards for winning?

What are my chances of winning?

What are the rules?

Is there a winning strategy?

Marley expresses a philosophy that is embraced by the intellectual unbelievers:

“But if you know what life is worth, You will look for yours on earth:”

This view is that the game of live is entirely about what happens during our brief stay here on earth.

On the other hand, the Christ-anchored philosophy highlights the misery and hopelessness that is ours if everything is confined to this life on earth. (1 Cor 15:19)

Removal of intelligent design from life takes away its meaning.

If we remove the rules and objectives governing Scrabble or Monopoly or Football then they lose their meaning. Anyone could come up with their own rules and the end – confusion.

That is what we have when we remove Divine Intelligence from life – confusion.

The Christian understanding of the game of life is the clearest and most logical.

The game was conceived and created by God…..the bearer of the intelligent design that is the source of the jaw-dropping complexities and creativity that is common place in nature.

The concept of God is in itself complex but Christians understand that there is a God-head of three Divine Beings – God (the Father), Jesus (the Son) and the Holy Spirit (the Counsellor).

God – not an accidental explosion of non-existent materials – created the universe. How He did it and how we choose to explain how it could have been done – using our limited scientific knowledge – is irrelevant.  Nothing about the order and the description of the creation process has been discredited by scientific research.

God states that He created man. His grand design was that man would spend eternity with Him. The concept of life being confined to our life on earth is flawed.

Gen 1:26 – 28 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 

Man has a soul that outlives his body. The soul never dies.

God is a spirit and so any image of God in us must be in spiritual form – our souls.

Our souls are of critical importance

God is particularly interested in our souls.

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The soul is more than our physical parts.

Our souls are far more important that our bodies.

 “Soul” occurs 458 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

Our souls are to be treasured and are beyond the reach of man.

Matt 10: 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

What we do here in this life on earth determines what happens to our souls when our physical bodies die.

Matt 16: 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come  in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

This is the most credible reason why it would make sense for us not to look out for our own benefit at the expense of others.

If we are playing a game without objective rules and nothing matters outside of the game, why would I not play in a way that suits me?

If there are 10 of us and 10 pieces of chicken in the buffet, why would I not go to the front of the line and take 3 pieces?

Jesus gives us a compelling reason.

We are advised that if we play the game of life right we will be rewarded. Our reward is differential treatment of our souls after we leave this physical body. If we play the game poorly we are condemned to eternal torment.

Jesus goes further by giving us the simple strategy for winning the game:

Matt 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

That is why it makes sense to put the common good above our selfish desires.

Matt 16: 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

This respect for a higher authority, rules and rewards is the most credible reason for doing good.

The description of a carefully designed, ongoing game with well documented guidelines and rewards and punishment gives us clarity as to how to go through life.

We understand the why, the what and the how.

 

The Why:

We were created to fit into God’s carefully designed plan. We have one guiding principle to follow:

The key principle is the need for man to do the will of God. That is our duty.

Ecc 12:13  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.  14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

We messed up through Adam’s failure to be obedient.

Rom 5:18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people,so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one manthe many were made sinners,so also through the obedienceof the one man the many will be made righteous.

 

3.      Why Jesus? He saves us our souls

Acts 4: 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

What must WE do to save our souls?

1. Hear the Word – the Gospel

John 6: 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Rom 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

What must we do to save our souls?

2. Believe

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

 What must we do to save our souls?

3. Repent

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.

Luke 13: 1 Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

 

 What must we do to save our souls?

4. Confess Jesus is Lord

Matt 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 What must we do to save our souls?

5.  Be baptized for the remission of your sins

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

1 Pet 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  What must we do to save our souls?

6. Remain in Christ

John 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 Pet 2: 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

4.      Why Jesus? He provides solutions to our problems in this life

Now that you are in Christ, the amazing rewards are open to you.

Is 59: 1.Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Eph 1: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,who has blessed us in the heavenly realmswith every spiritual blessing in Christ.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This is the Father who says:

Jer 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there any thing too hard for me?

 

Why Jesus?

Because it makes SENSE!

Back to School Parables

Back to School Parables

1. Parable of the unproductive school

There was a school that was fully staffed and had adequate resources. However, year after year none of their students were successful in external examinations. This situation was brought to the attention of the highest authority who initiated an immediate investigation.

The Principal blamed the teachers and the teachers blamed the Principal and gave numerous reasons for the continued failure. The authorities became frustrated with the whole situation and decided to close the school with the aim to start anew with a totally new team.

2. Parable of the wayward teaching staff

Over time, parents became concerned about the example that the teachers was setting for their children at a popular school. A student who needed to go to the staff room late one afternoon found 2 teachers in a compromising position. Another student who lived close to one of the teachers was shocked at what was going on at the teacher’s home.

The reports of unprofessional conduct and unseemly behaviour grew steadily.
Yet, these teachers had a reputation for being harsh with their disciplining of students. They came down hard on the slightest hint of misbehaviour, refused to listen to explanations and showed no mercy. They demanded the highest level of discipline and behaviour from the students.

3. Parable of the unprepared teacher

There was a teacher that was responsible for preparing students for external exams. However, despite being in the post for some time, it was clear that he had not mastered the subject. He could not answer questions that were posed by students. He had great difficulty explaining important concepts. He did seem to even know what the syllabus covered.

Students lost confidence in him. They were reluctant to accept that what he said was really so and they tuned out during his classes. They started to seek other sources of information.

4. Parable of the misguided student

There was a student who started out by getting good grades. His parents and colleagues praised his academic prowess. This caused him to become overconfident. He stopped listening to his teachers and questioned everything that they did. It seemed that nothing that those in charge did could be right in his eyes. He always had a complaint or figured that things should have been done differently.

Gradually his grades began to slide and in the final analysis he was not able to successfully complete his external examinations.

5. Parable of the absentee student

There was a student that was duly registered for classes. When the report cards for the term were being prepared, the teacher noted that the student was absent almost as much as she was in class.

On reflection, the teacher noted that the same student did not participate actively in class. She just came sat and left. In fact, the teacher felt that there was almost no difference whether she attended class or not.

Also, while others would participate in other activities of the school this student was never available for those events.

6. Parable of the wise student

There was a student who got an opportunity to escape from really bad personal circumstances. He was fortunate to get into a very good school that achieved excellent results.

Mindful of the chance to put his past behind him and to secure a bright future, he listened keenly to the instructions that he was given. He studied diligently and took care to ensure that he was obedient.

He resisted all distractions and moved steadfastly to the ultimate goal of getting his external certification. There was much joy when he completed the journey and stepped forward to claim his award.

1. A. Parable of the unproductive school – explained

You may recall that this was a school that was fully staffed and had adequate resources. However, year after year none of their students were successful in external examinations. This situation was brought to the attention of the highest authority who initiated an immediate investigation.

The Principal blamed the teachers and the teachers blamed the Principal and gave numerous reasons for the continued failure. The authorities became frustrated with the whole situation and decided to close the school with the aim to start anew with a totally new team.

The school is the congregation that has members, a place to worship Bibles and hymnals. They meet and worship but there are never any new disciples.

Mark 16: 15 15He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Baptisms are not in evidence and consequently they are not adding to the number of the saved. Discussions abound as to who is to blame and what needs to be done. Everyone points to someone else. In the final analysis, God loses patience with the entire body.

Rev 3:1″To the angel[a] of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits[b]of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

2. A. Parable of the wayward teaching staff – explained

You will recall that the teachers were behaving unprofessionally and unsatisfactorily while holding the students to the highest standard of behaviour. They showed no mercy and came down hard on the students with draconian punishment.

The teachers represent those who are in the church but are failing to live up to its principles. They take pleasure in engaging in sinful behaviour in private while being pious in public. They are quick to condemn those who are not in the church and are ready to call down judgement on them.

Yet, their own lives cannot bear scrutiny. They give the church a bad name and lead people to believe that all Christians are hypocrites who live by double standards and are devoid of mercy.

Mat 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

3. A. Parable of the unprepared teacher – explained

You may recall that there was a teacher that was responsible for preparing students for external exams. However, despite being in the post for some time, it was clear that he had not mastered the subject. Students lost confidence in him. They were reluctant to accept that what he said was really so and they tuned out during his classes. They started to seek other sources of information.

This teacher represents the Christians who have been in the church for some time. Yet, they continue to be babes in the Faith. They are not able to explain what it is that they believe and why they believe it.

They are unable to answer frequently asked questions from those to whom they are charged to guide to Christ. Soon those seekers turn to other sources for information and run the risk of being misled and guided to eternal damnation.

Heb 5:12 Warning Against Falling Away
11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

4. A. Parable of the misguided student – explained

Recapping, this student became overconfident and stopped listening to his teachers and questioned everything that they did. It seemed that nothing that those in charge did could be right in his eyes. He always had a complaint or figured that things should have been done differently.

Gradually his grades began to slide and in the final analysis he was not able to successfully complete his external examinations.
This student represents some members of the church. They get to a point where they believe that they know more than those who are charged with leadership. They find fault with every move that is made and think that things should be done some other way.

They resist every initiative and strive to impose their will on the group. There is a better way they say, and I know the better way. They are disruptive and add little value to the group despite their protestations.

Ultimately, they get frustrated and their commitment wanes until in the final analysis they lose their souls.

Apostle Paul’ s challenges with the Corinthian church is an example of this type of behaviour. Read 2 Corinthians to see the kinds of issues that Paul had to address.
Think also of the potentially strong brother or sister who after a good start has fallen away because they could not get their own way. Think also of those members who hop from one congregation to another as soon as their views are not accepted.

5. A. Parable of the absentee student – explained

The story here is of a student that was duly registered for classes. However, she was absent almost as much as she was in class. Even when she did come to class she did not participate actively. She just came sat and left. Also, while others would participate in other activities of the school this student was never available for those events.

This student represents a high percentage of church members. Their attendance record is atrocious. They claim that they are members of the body but they show up when they feel like it and play no meaningful role in the mission of the church.

Even when they do come, they are like virtual zombies. They go through the motions and cannot wait to slip away until weeks after they come by to salve their consciences and keep up appearances. There is little point in discussing their attendance with them as they are quick to be defensive about it and ready to use that as an excuse for staying away.

As with the absentee student, we are left to wonder what results this type of church member will get in the final examination.

6. A. Parable of the wise student – explained

To recap, there was a student who got an opportunity to escape from really bad personal circumstances. He was fortunate to get into a very good school that achieved excellent results.

Mindful of the chance to put his past behind him and to secure a bright future, he did all that was required of him.

He resisted all distractions and moved steadfastly to the ultimate goal of getting his external certification. There was much joy when he completed the journey and stepped forward to claim his award.

This student represents the individual who is trapped in a life of sin. Sin has enslaved them and their life is without hope. A dutiful Christian invites him to worship and he sees the light. He sees that a great opportunity has been opened to him to have his live transformed.

He learned that in order to be saved from his life of sin he needed to follow a carefully laid out plan.

He had to take care to understand and follow each of the 6 steps:

What must WE do to save our souls?
1. Hear the Word – the Gospel

John 6: 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

2. Believe

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

3. Repent

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.

Luke 13: 1 Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

4. Confess Jesus is Lord

Matt 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

5. Be baptized for the remission of your sins

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
1 Pet 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

6. Remain in Christ

John 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 Pet 2: 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

Put me to the test

Put me to the test

Robbing God
Malachi 3: 6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

What is highlighted here is the short-sightedness of man. Here it is they are withholding from God what is required of them on the assumption that they will be better off. They think that their net worth will increase by holding back on their giving.

God almost mockingly points to their lack of vision. They saw giving tithes and offering from their existing wealth as a drain on their resources. God is saying that far from being a cost to them, giving Him his full due is by far the best investment that they can make.

One message from this is that giving to God is not to be seen as a cost or a burden to the giver. Sometimes we talk about sacrificial giving in relation to our offering to God. But is that not really a mistaken concept?

Suppose there was such a thing as a money tree that grew by simply planting seeds and watering them. Suppose also there is no limit and the supply of seeds and anyone can have as many money trees as they wish.

What would you call the actions of someone who plants the money tree seeds and waters them? A sacrifice? Is that person making a sacrifice or making a wise investment?

Well, no money tree can compare to the value of what we will get when God throws open the floodgates of heaven and pours out so much blessing that we will not have room enough for it.

To take this a little further, God is in effect saying stop thinking in terms of what you have now. When you honour your obligations to Me the entire picture changes.

Stop being concerned about the depletion of your barn. You real concern is that you are going to need a bigger barn as long as you honour your obligations and do not hold back what is mine.

So we should not focus on what we have left now after we give to God what our hearts lead us to give. We can be assured that once we do not sow sparingly then whatever we had before will be multiplied.

2 Corinthians 9:6
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

This applies not only to our giving material gifts but also the giving of ourselves totally. If we devote our entire life to God we can expect to be rewarded with a much better life than we had. And that is what is promised to the Christian.

Romans 12 Living Sacrifices
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Also 2 Cor 4:
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Ephesians 4:
Living as Children of Light
17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Devotion of self or material things to God never takes away it always adds. When we think of giving back to God what is really His we must think Addition and not Subtraction.

Another thought from Malachi relates to the phrase “Test me in this.”

When we think of a test we usually have thoughts of a stern examination – something challenging. We almost feel like we would have wasted time if the test was so simple that it did not really require much effort on the part of the person being tested.

So I get a sense that God is saying: “Challenge Me! Give me something that you consider hard to do. Say to Me, OK God see if You can match that!”

The picture that I take away is that if we give 100% with no holding back then God will recognize it and take up the challenge to show what He can do for us in return.

So the closer we get to devoting 100% to our giving and our living the more challenging the test. But God is up for the challenge and He is saying “Bring it on!”

The only caution in this is that we need to then watch out for falling objects. The promise is that the floodgates of heaven will be opened to pour down blessings on us.

What an amazing concept. You are invited to enter a contest in which the more you lose the better off you are.

So you are challenging God to a duel. You are going to give Him your best and see if He can match that. His best is going to so overwhelm you with blessings that it will be declared a no-contest. But having lost the contest you walk away – well, not walk away because it will be too much – but you will have added untold blessings to your life.

I like that kind of contest. I want to take up the challenge of putting God to the test. I want to give Him of my best without holding back.

If want to think Addition and not Subtraction in my dealings with God.

I want to avoid being limited in my thinking by the size of my existing barn and to open my thoughts to what my actions should be with a barn that is many times larger.

That means that my thoughts and my prayers and my actions are not mired by the ”realities” of “…..my light and momentary troubles. …… So I fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:17

Finally, there is another kind to testing of God that takes place among humans.

Psalm 95:8 -11/Heb 3:8-11
….do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.” 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.”

1. Nothing is more offensive to God than disbelief of his promise and despair of the performance of it because of some difficulties that seem to lie in the way.

2. The more experience we have had of the power and goodness of God the greater is our sin if we distrust him. What, to tempt him in the wilderness, where we live upon him! This is as ungrateful as it is absurd and unreasonable. (Matthew Henry)

Are we being ungrateful, absurd and unreasonable with respect to how we view God and His promises?

Are we guilty of holding back because of lingering doubts?

Are we failing to answer a call to service out of some imagined fear or doubt?

Are we limiting our thinking to the existing size of our barn rather than putting in our 100% in the expectation that God will not only match it but will cause us to have to find bigger barns?

This is the call today: Give your all. Do not hold back in giving to God. Then get a helmet and watch out for falling blessings that will be poured out from heaven on you.

To access these blessings you need to be in Christ. To be in Christ you should have completed these steps:
What must WE do to save our souls?

1. Hear the Word – the Gospel
John 6: 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

2. Believe
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

3. Repent
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.
Luke 13: 1 Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

4. Confess Jesus is Lord
Matt 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

5. Be baptized for the remission of your sins
Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
1 Pet 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

6. Remain in Christ
John 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
1 Pet 2: 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

Notes on Motes

Notes on Motes

Matt 7:
3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Today, we present 4 points in relation to Motes. The NIV speaks of a speck.

Point #1: A mote or speck in the eye is irritating and needs to be removed.

We all know how uncomfortable even an eyelash is in our eye. The eye is not very tolerant of things that do not belong there.

This is the perspective that Christians should have of sin. Christians should view sin as an irritant and be as uncomfortable with sin as the eye is with a mote or speck in it.

Our discomfort should be so pressing and urgent that we will not stop until we remove the source of the offence. Yet, we all know about the concept of the besetting sin. (A wrong that keeps repeating itself in our life.)

In some instances, it is almost as if we have resigned ourselves to living with this problem. Yet, who among us is willing to ignore the mote in our eye and accept it as part of our reality?

The call today is for us to be intolerant of sin in our lives in the same way that we refuse to leave a speck in our eye. We should spare no effort to remove the offending behaviour from our conduct.

Sin is irritating not only to the individual but to God and the church. A speck in the eye distracts our whole being. The problem is not restricted to just the eye. Similarly, sin in a Christian’s life has wider relevance.

It has impact on the church and on others. It also has implications for the relations of the body to God. It has been shown to block God’s blessing on His people and to invite His wrath.

Joshua 7:
10 The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.


Point #2: The mote is not easily detected by others

A speck in your eye is not readily seen by onlookers. For a similar reason, sin in a Christian’s life is often missed by brethren. This limits the pressure on the individual to remove the sin and some Christians continue in sin while remaining in the fellowship.

One important consideration is that our level of discomfort with a speck in our eye is not reduced because those looking on do not see it. It is irritating to us and we have the urge to remove it even though it is not visible.

That is the philosophy that we must adopt as Christians. However, well hidden we consider our sin to be, it must annoy us to the point where we do not stop until we remove it from our lives.

It helps to remember that while human eyes may not detect the sin, God knows everything and is fully aware of even our most secret of sins.

Point #3: To detect the speck in our life we only need to look at what we think we see in the eyes of others

Sometimes we are not certain about the substance that is in our eye. We sense that all is not well but we cannot pinpoint exactly what is the source. We are also hard pressed to prevent the invasion of our eye if we have are unable to readily identify potential contaminants.

One way of identifying areas of vulnerability in our lives is to carefully review the lists of faults that we are quick to point out in others. There is strong evidence to indicate that we tend to be passionate and alert to defects that that appear in the life of others when we ourselves are guilty of them.

Romans 2
God’s Righteous Judgment
1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.

The mixture of denial and disappointment prompts us to see the flaw in others. The twin factors of denial and disappointment also has the tendency to make us less patient and tolerant with others. We are quick to correct, criticize and chastise.

So my message is for us to reflect in the things that upset us in the behaviour of others. Look at the things that we are critical about. The exercise might give us some insight into where we are vulnerable.

By looking at the motes that we readily see, maybe we can identify some potential beams that are growing in us.

Point #4: An effective way of getting a speck out of our eye is to flush it out

The equivalent of a water flush for the eye is the blood of Christ in the life of an individual.

1 John 1:
5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

What must WE do to flush our lives with the blood of Christ?

Hear the Word – the Gospel
John 6: 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Believe
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins
.

Repent
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.
Luke 13: 1 Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

Confess Jesus is Lord
Matt 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Be baptized for the remission of your sins
Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
1 Pet 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Remain in Christ and walk in the light
John 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
1 Pet 2: 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.