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I, THE COLT

Maybe you’ve sung the song:

“I give myself away, so you can use me…

I’m not my own; to you I belong; I give myself, I give myself away…”

How sincere you are about what you say to God through those words, determines the extent of your commitment to Him and His Kingdom. Hence the problem with most believers: Most of us don’t actually understand what commitment to God and His kingdom truly means, which is why so few of us are as committed as we ought to be.

I’ll never forget the day it dawned on me what ‘belonging to God’ actually means: That it means I do not belong to myself, but to God. That as a believer in God, my life is not mine to live as I please, but in the way God wants me to live it. That no one in my life – not even my wife – comes first, but God. That where I live in this world, what job I do, all sorts of big and small decisions that I make, must be made according to His expressed will for my life. That He owns me. That I was made for His pleasure only, and must, therefore, have one goal only in life: To fulfill the purpose for which He sent me to this world!

The story of the colt that Jesus rode into Jerusalem offers a valuable insight into what commitment to service in the kingdom must be like. Please refer to Mark 11:1-10 for the story. Here are some valuable lessons from this story:

1. Only one way to go for a believer

Mark 11:4 tells us that the colt was tied a place where “two roads met”. This means that it was tied at a crossroads, and could, therefore, have been taken into any of four different directions by its owner. But because it was untied for the Master’s use, it was taken in the direction where the Master was.

The same way the colt was untied – set free from use of its former master – and brought to the Lord Jesus for His use, so are we saved – set free from our previous master the devil – and brought to the Lord Jesus for His exclusive use. Of the four directions that the colt could have been taken into, there was only one which could lead it to where the Lord Jesus was waiting for it. Therefore, the moment an individual gives his life to Jesus, he literally finds himself at a crossroads where he has a crucial decision to make: Where do I go from here? Am I ready to leave all the other choices that life is offering me, and take the one direction that would lead me to where the Master is waiting for me? If the believer truly has given his life to Jesus, then he will decide to abandon all other roads and follow the one that leads to Jesus, so that he can offer himself to Jesus and say ‘ here am I, Lord, ride on me. I’m all yours to do your will only, for the rest of my days.’ That’s what it means to give one’s life to Jesus.

2. The way of the Lord

So the colt was brought to the Lord to ride on. From that point on, it went only where the Master would have it go, and did only what the Master would have it do. It carried whatever load the Master would have it carry. So must a believer commit to living his life only the way the Lord would have him live it; go only where the Lord would have him go in life; see, think, and do things in one way only: The way of the Lord! Meaning, the way of righteousness and holiness; the way of absolute obedience to the word of God, as expressed in the Bible, and as He might specifically express it to us individually. It means not following the world’s ways of seeing, understanding, and doing things. But rather, to see, understand and do things according to the ways that the Holy Spirit of our Master leads us to. This is why we must always pray about what to do in every situation, and once we know what direction the Lord would have us go, we must follow that way by faith in He who told us to go that way.

3. It’s an ongoing commitment

Lucky for the colt, it’s in its nature to be obedient to its master. But for the fact that God gave us humans free will, we find it harder to stay committed to doing things the Lord’s ways only. Thus, we find ourselves having to renew our commitment on a daily basis, because we will keep on coming to crossroads where we will need to decide which way forward. Every day we find ourselves in situations that call for us to decide what we’re going to do, or how we’re going to do things. Do we do it the way of the world or the way of God? Is there a specific way the Lord is telling us to do something, but we’d rather not do it that way?

Staying committed is not easy! This is why spending time with the Lord in prayer on a regular basis is indispensable to a believer! If the Lord Jesus had needed to ceaselessly spend time with the father in prayer every night to refresh and strengthen His commitment to the Father, how much more we who are born of sinful nature! One of the greatest things the Lord did for me is that He taught me the importance and indispensability of having a prayer life! A serious believer must learn to spend hours in prayer daily!

4. It pays!

Imagine that as a colt is carrying its master around, it sees other colts that look like they’re better off. So are we often tempted to believe that unbelievers or the uncommitted believers have it so much better than us in life. We’re tempted to believe that the master they’re serving is treating them so much better than the Lord is treating us. We look at the rough roads that He rides on, meaning how difficult the task he has assigned unto us is, and we want to grumble and quit. Christianity is not easy! It was never meant to be easy. We have a mortal enemy in the devil who wants to see us fail; so he will throw serious hardship at us to try to get us to kick the Lord off our back and take him (the devil) back on our backs. Christianity is about getting freed from the devil’s yoke and taking on the Lord’s own yoke. But as the Lord tells us in Matthew 11:30 “…My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

So we have a choice: serve Satan and gain whatever he offers in reward, or serve Jesus and gain what He offers in reward. Again we learn a powerful lesson on this from the colt: It got to enjoy the Lord’s glory!

Mark 11:7 says “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.”

Before the Lord sat on the colt, people placed their garments on the colt; and as the Lord started riding the colt, the people laid out their garments and tree branches on the ground. This is an honor that the people meant to give to the Lord, but it was the colt that received the good treatment. The colt it was that was dressed up with people’s garments, and the colt is was that got to walk on people’s garments and on the branches.

That is exactly how it is: When we set out to make ourselves useful to the Lord, people come to our help by making various form of contribution to the work we’re doing. They do it for the Lord, but we’re the ones who get to enjoy their kind gestures. Also, just as the colt got to walk on the laid out branches, the feet of God’s servant get to thread on grounds that they might otherwise never tread on. Men and women of God get invited before heads of state, the rich and powerful, and all manner of influential people. The work they do for the Lord opens great doors unto them, and cause their feet to enter important places. And finally, the best reward of all: For choosing to carry the Lord here on earth, we will get to walk on streets of gold in heaven for eternity!

5. The mandate!

One of the biggest handicaps Christianity has suffered from is the fact that most believers don’t understand that by joining the body of Christ, they actually joined a task force in which everyone has a role to play. They believe that only the members of the clergy are supposed to minister to others in the name of the Lord. But the fact is that just as every single piece of organ in a human body has a very critical role that it is there to play, so does every saved individual have a very critical role to play in the body of our Lord. EVERY SINGLE BELIEVER MUST AVAIL HIM OR HERSELF TO BE RIDEN BY THE LORD TO CARRY OUT HIS WORK! There is a way for every single believer to be of great and significant use to the Lord. We just need to discover what the Lord has in mind for us individually.

So brethren, understand the reason for which you were saved: To be reconciled to God as His child and brought back into His kingdom, where you once again become a KING AND PRIEST unto Him! (see Revelation 1:5-6)

Have you ever seen a king who is not busy ruling over all that he surveys? Or a priest who is not busy ministering to people? Unfortunately, Christianity is full of such people. This is why every believer must discover the way that God has ordained and ordered for him/her to play his/her role as a king/queen and priest of God in this world!

Allow yourself to be a colt unto the Lord! Allow Him to ride on you through the rugged and hard roads of this world as He uses you to carry out His divine works in this world, and watch Him reward you for it here on earth and in heaven for eternity!

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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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LET GOD BE GOD IN AND THROUGH YOU!

Once when the Lord Jesus needed to pay His taxes, neither He nor any of his disciples had any money. So He sent Peter to catch a fish and get the needed coin out of the fish’s mouth. (See Matthew 17:27 for the story.) God could have provided the money for the Lord Jesus by some other means, but He chose to do it in this manner. Did it matter to Jesus how He got the money? No. What mattered was that God-The-Father provided.

The secret to the Lord Jesus’ success on earth is simply that He lived by a strict obedience to every command that He received from God-the Father. He observed a strict obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He told us so Himself in passages such as:

  • John 12:49: “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken”
  • John 14:10: “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”
  • John 14:24: “Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
  • John 14:26: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
  • And Hebrews 2:10-13 quotes the Lord saying “…Even I live by placing my trust in God.” (MSG)

Therefore, in order to be as successful as the Lord Jesus was in His walk on earth, all a believer needs to do is to develop the same strict discipline of obeying, trusting in, and depending on God, that Jesus Himself had lived by.

You may read that last statement and say ‘that’s all it takes?’ And you’d be right in wondering if I’m not being too simplistic, but the simple fact is that walking with God is as simple as it is hard to do. The rules for a successful walk with God are very simple, though not easy to follow. Hence the sad state of Christianity today.

Here are the rules:

  • Believe in Christ and receive Him as your Lord and savior.
  • Give your life to Him. Meaning, submit your life – everything that makes up your life; everything that you are; everything that you own – under His leadership.
  • Consider Him to be your Master. Meaning that He owns you, and you live for one reason only: To serve Him. To do His will.
  • Depend on Him for everything in life. Meaning: look to Him for every form of need you could possibly have in this world; look to Him for protection; look to him guidance.
  • Obey EVERY instruction and command you receive from Him.
  • Comply to His rules for holiness.

Do this faithfully and flawlessly, and YOU WILL succeed as a follower of Christ and WILL see the manifestations of His presence and power in your life! Failure to faithfully and fully observe these rules is the single reason that most believers, especially pastors and ministers, do not adequately represent God in their lives and ministries the way Jesus did.

The first 3 of the Lord Jesus’ statements quoted above say it all: In those statements, He let us understand that He wasn’t just here on His own, but rather that He was ‘inside’ the Father. Meaning that as people saw Him, there was an invisible being that was there as well, but that they were not seeing: The Father. So He was saying that the Father is the main Person who is there, and He Himself is inside the Father. The point is that the work that Jesus came to do, it was the Father who really came to do the work, but He used Jesus to do it. So everything Jesus did, and every word He ever spoke, He did it all because the Father is the one who wanted to do and say those things, but He did it all through Jesus by using Jesus’ mouth and body.

So Jesus TOTALLY availed Himself to be used by God for God to do the things that God wanted to do in this world. Therefore, as long as Jesus followed every command that He received from God by doing everything that God told Him to do, and by speaking everything that God wanted Him to speak, God was able to be God through Jesus!

Brethren, THIS IS ALL that God is asking from us: For us to avail ourselves to be used by Him in the same manner that Jesus did! IT IS THOSE WHO SUCCEED AT THIS WHO TRULY REPRENSENT AND ENJOY CHRISTIANITY, because they get to enjoy the move of God in their lives! The single reason the power of God is not seen through the lives of believers the way it ought to be seen, is the fact that too few of us are willing to pay the price of submitting our lives unto God the way Christ did.

Too many of us let the ways of this world guide our decisions in life because too few of us understand the fact that once saved, we became kings and priests of God-Most-High!

Revelation 1:5-6  tells us:  “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

God in heaven is King and Priest over the whole universe. And on earth He uses believers to perform His kingly and priestly work. So He saves people and uses them to rule as King, and to minister as Priest in this world. Jesus came to show us how this works. He walked about this earth allowing God to rule as King through Him, and to minister to people as Priest through Him. Meaning that Jesus was king and priest in this world only as a representative of God, who is the main King and Priest. And He was able to flawlessly represent God because He flawlessly followed God’s instructions on what to do as King and as Priest. All the people that are suffering in this world, God sees their sufferings and as a Priest He wants to minister His healing, deliverance, empowerment, and blessings unto them. And as the King of this world that He created, He wants to rule over the affairs of this world. He does all that thru people, as He did through Jesus.

So you that are reading this right now, understand this powerful fact: God wants to rule as King and to minister as Priest in this world through you. That’s why He saved you and called you His own. Look closely at the lives of the successful men and women of God that you know, and you will see that the one thing they have in common is their dedication to being used by God in the ways that He wants to use them! They try more than the average believer to live by God’s laws and will for their lives. As they do this they allow God to be God in and through their lives, hence the manifestation of His presence and power in and through their lives!

I have great news for you: This great God is no respecter of persons! He is a respecter of His own principles only! And His principles are that ANYONE who obediently avails himself to be used by God will not be cast away, but will be used indeed! The powerful men and women of God that you know are simply people who decided that they would be as obedient as possible, and that they would serve God as obediently as possible, and God responded to their acts of obedience the same way He responded to Jesus’ own acts of obedience. So He is anxiously waiting for you to give Him the chance to prove Himself mighty in and through your life, for others to see and pursue after you in their quest for God, just as you are currently pursuing those successful men and women of God, and just as the crowds pursued Jesus.

So I encourage you to decide today to do the same as they did:

  • Determine to be that great servant that God expect you to be unto Him.
  • Determine to walk in His holiness.
  • Determine that you will absolutely trust in Him and rely on Him for everything in life!
  • Determine to obey every instruction and command you receive from Him.
  • Determine to submit yourself to His guidance, and to live ONLY that life that He wants for you.
  • Determine to abandon whatever you’re doing and to do only whatever He tells you to do. (He may not necessarily tell you to leave what you’re currently doing, but you need to submit it under His leadership and involve Him in it and follow His directions and how to do it.)
  • Determine to consult Him in EVERYTHING you do
  • If you’re a minister, NEVER do anything without consulting Him. The church belongs to Him. Never to you. He called you to use you to build His church, not your church. How would you then make any decisions concerning His church without seeking His consent first?
  • Determine to  ALWAYS do as He has commanded, NO MATTER how difficult the command may be to keep!

Do this and watch Him transform your life into the masterpiece that He had purposed for it to be, to His glory!!!

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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THE INCOMPATIBILITY OF CHRISTIANITY AND HOMOSEXUALITY

The purpose of Christianity is for it to be an avenue for sinful men and women to come and get reconciled to a holy God. Therefore, just as hospitals are places where the sick are to go and get help to get better, the Church is a place where sinners can go and get help from the Lord Jesus to overcome their sins. It’s a place where those who recognize God and Jesus as their Savior and Master, congregate with one another to worship God, learn from one another, and grow together in God.
 
One fundamental aspect of Christianity is that it is not a democracy! Rather it is a kingdom where God is King, and where He rules by His own set of laws, which He spelled out in the Bible. Therefore, anyone who wishes to belong to Christianity MUST adhere to God’s laws, as stated in the Bible. You don’t have to be a Christian; but if you so choose, then you must determine to abide by God’s laws.

For this reason Christianity is a faith based on repentance from sin, and repentance itself is based on agreement. I repented from my sinful ways and chose to follow God’s ways, because when I discovered His ways, I agreed with Him that my ways were wrong, and that I needed to forsake them and follow His holy ways. Therefore, as a Christian, I endeavor now to live by God’s ways, as revealed in the Bible.

Hence the problem with homosexuality in the Church, which stems from the fact that some homosexuals who would like to follow God have refused to agree with God’s expressed view that homosexuality is evil, and that they need to repent from it, and stop indulging in it. Rather they want to be accepted as ‘homosexual Christians’.

To non-Christians this seems like a legitimate demand, hence their belief that the Church is being unfairly intolerant of homosexuals. But the fact is that homosexuals ARE welcome in the church. The church IS for such sinners. It’s just that instead of them to come to church to get help with their condition, they want to impose their evil practices on the Church.

Let me be blunt about this: There can’t be such a thing as a ‘Christian homosexual’, just as there can’t be a Christian thief, or a Christian wife-beater. These are all unacceptable behaviors that we expect anyone with such issues to come into the Church to seek help with. The problem, therefore, is that when homosexuals come into the Church and demand to be left alone as they are, they are in fact asking that the will of God concerning homosexuality be ignored, and that they be allowed to continue in their evil ways. 

The Church is for people who have recognized that they have a problem that they need the Lord Jesus to help them with. Just as the sick are expected to get well in hospitals, so are sinners who come into the Church expected to drop their sinful habits, and become righteous people who endeavor to abide by God’s ways. Therefore, homosexual and proud of it, and unwilling to change? That’s fine. Just stay out of the Church of our Lord Jesus-Christ. That’s all we’re asking.

Yes, everyone in the Church, including the pastors, is still battling one sinful habit or the other. But they have agreed that they have a problem with sin, and they are working on changing their ways to be conformed to the ways of God. Like a sick person who goes to the hospital to get well, we go to church to get help to overcome sin and become holy before our God.

WHAT IS EXPECTED OF THE CHURCH?

The Church must treat the sin of homosexuality the way it treats any other sin. The notion of being ‘tolerant’ of homosexuality has been misconstrued by so many folks, believers and unbelievers alike. A pastor who thinks that being tolerant of homosexuals means teaching that it is alright to be homosexual is not a Christian pastor – a Christian pastor bases his teachings strictly on the word of God. Not telling a gay person the truth about the way God feels about their lifestyle is not love or tolerance, but murder. The sin of homosexuality is one baggage he or she simply cannot carry into heaven.

And a pastor who refuses to admit homosexuals into his church does not understand his calling, which is to bring all sinners into the church and show them the way to freedom from sin.

Being tolerant of gays simply means accepting them the way we accept everyone else. The doors of the Church are open to all men from all walks of life. But the ultimate goal and purpose of the Church is for it to be a place where people come to reconcile with their Maker, and the way to do this is to lovingly bow to His will and seek after His holy ways. To love God is to hate sin! Anyone who wishes to remain in any type of sin has no place in Christianity.

When we discover that a brother or sister is still actively involved in some type of sinful behavior, we lovingly call them to order. So when we discover that a brother or sister who is homosexual has not only refused to change his or her views on homosexuality, but is actively flaunting the lifestyle, and trying to make a case that he or she has the right to be a ‘Christian homosexual’, of course we have a problem. It’s like an individual with any other sinful habit, say a wife-beater, or a thief, who comes into the church and tries to make a case that it is all right to be a wife-beater or a thief. You would see the same kind of spirited rebuke from the Church against any group that tries to claim that it is alright to engage in any other type of activity that the Bible has declared to be sinful.

This is why the two fundamental reasons that the Church has a problem with homosexuals are:

1. They are the only group of sinners demanding to be allowed to indulge in their sin.
2. They actively seek to change the Church’s views and stance on the issue of homosexuality.

You don’t hear of thieves or fornicators or any other type of sinners who demand that the Church change its views and stance on their type of sinful practice. But homosexuals do. They have actively mounted a fight to get the Church to embrace homosexuality, and they’ve been using all kinds of vile attacks and intimidating means to get their ways. Ironically, this fact alone totally discredits their stance, because it reveals the very evil and mean spirit behind homosexuality. Only the spiritually-blind can fail to see the homosexual attack on Christianity for what it is: An attack from the pit of hell to destroy the Church at its very foundation!

GOD’S CASE AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY

Here’s what’s fundamentally wrong about homosexuality in God’s eyes:

Genesis 1:26-27 says: “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.(NIV)

You see, brethren, when God created man, He also created the woman at the same time, with the woman hidden inside the man. So though the man was alone until the time when God brought the woman out of him, he wasn’t alone in God’s eyes. God always saw the man and the woman united as one when He looked at the man.

Fast-forward to Genesis 2, where God ‘formed’ both the man and woman. To some, Genesis 2 simply retells the story already told in Genesis 1. No!!! To understand the difference between what God did in Gen 1 and 2, one must understand the difference between ‘creating’ and ‘forming’. You create something out of nothing; but you ‘form’ something by using things that already exist.

Thus, in Genesis 1 God created man out of the blue by multiplying His very self into another being that looked and behaved just like Himself. And since God is Spirit, then the man that God created was a spirit – that’s what it means that He created man in His own image. So in Gen 1, God created the spirit of the man and the woman, with the woman’s own spirit being inside the man’s spirit.

Then in Genesis 2:7 we are told how God now took some dust from the ground – which already existed – and ‘formed’ the body of the man. This is why the body dies and goes back to dust, but the spirit never dies.

So in Gen 1, God created the main part of the man and woman that matters: Their spirits. Then in Gen 2, He took dust and molded a physical body over their spirits, so they can be able to dwell in a physical earth.

As we can see from the Gen 2 narration, the woman was still inside of man even after man was given a physical body, and he carried her around inside of him until God decided to bring the woman out and give her her own physical body (Gen 2:21-25). It was only at that point that they became two separate entities here on earth, BUT IN GOD’S EYES, THEY WERE ALWAYS ONE! Notice that when God gave the woman her own body, he didn’t just scoop dust from the ground to form her body, but he used a piece of the man’s own body to form her body. This signifies a spiritual bridge that preserved the concept of the man and woman being of one flesh!

This kind of union is God’s intent and purpose for men and women, and that is why right after God separated them into two people, we read: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, NIV)

It’s crucial to understand this: There’s a serious spiritual phenomenon that occurs during sexual intercourse. The parties involves LITERALLY become one spiritually! In the realm of the spirit the two beings become one. This is why God intends for sexual intercourse to be strictly between a man and a woman who have been united in holy matrimony. If it is between a man and a woman united by holy matrimony, it is the most beautiful thing for God to behold!!! Otherwise, it is evil in His sight! This is why a healthy sexual relationship is crucial in a marriage. During intercourse, the man and the woman complete one another and exchange virtues.

There’s a story about a young man who let his curiosity about sex lead him to having sex with the family dog, just to see what sex feels like. Unfortunately for him, as he and the dog united spiritually, some of the dog’s personality got transferred to him. One day, as the boy sat down to take a very important exam at school, he suddenly started to bark like a dog. That’s all he could do at that time. They thought he had gone mad and sent him out of the exam room. At home, he confessed what he had done, and the parents sought spiritually help for him.

The point of all this is that sexual intercourse is something that God designed for a man and his woman to enjoy together and through it strengthen their union and get to know each other better. It is not something that He takes lightly!

It is crucial to understand what I’ve explained here in order to understand the way God feels about the idea same-sex relationship. IT GOES AGAINST HIS INTENT AND PURPOSE!!! I can’t emphasize any more the idea that God can never accept the idea of two men or two women uniting together as one both in sexual intercourse and in matrimony. HE CAN NEVER ACCEPT SUCH MATRIMONY AS HOLY. It goes against everything He intended! It is a lie from Satan that God is okay with it!!!

Think about it: when God created man, MAN AND WOMAN CREATED HE THEM! You want to tell me that God very specifically designed the concept of man as a being that came with his woman inside of him, just to now accept the idea of a man and some other man, or a woman and some other woman, together? Such unions are abomination in God’s sight!!! This is what so disgusted Him about the people of Sodom and Gomorrah that He sent fire to destroy them!

THERE IS HELP!

The notion that homosexuality is not a curable habit? Another lie from the pit of hell! There is power in Jesus-Christ to save human beings from every type of sin! Just ask the people at such ministries as http://www.SBMinistries.org. The Lord is doing wonders in the lives of homosexuals who are willing to recognize that they have a problem, and are willing to work with Him to have a change of life. That’s what Christianity is all about.

I enjoyed reading an article recently in CHARISMA magazine, about a lesbian who went to a church service with her partner with the intention of provoking the congregation with their lifestyle. But once she got there, God literally ‘arrested’ her and delivered her from the habit. They had thought that the church folk would be mean towards them, but what they received was pure love and indifference. This made one of them curious about Christians because she had only heard about how mean they are towards gays. So she decided to visit again, and began to read the Bible. Soon she discovered that her lifestyle truly offends God, and decided to allow Him to make a change in her. She is now free to live the way God intended for her to live, and is sharing her story to help deliver other gays.

WHAT TO DO

Outside the Church, the law of the land rules. So be sure to abide by the existing laws concerning the treatment of gay folks. And within the Church, we have an obligation to preserve the purity and holiness of the Church. This means that we must follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and lovingly teach the truth about the way God feels about homosexuality. As believers we are to love the sinner while hating the sin. NEVER HATE A PERSON for any reason, and certainly not for being gay. But do hate the sin in their lives, and pray that they would be delivered from it, that they might be able to make heaven. Relate freely and gladly with them as you would with anybody, and apply godly wisdom if you ever wish to minister to them on the issue.

God bless you.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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ON THE ISSUE OF ALCOHOL COSUMPTION BY BELIEVERS…

Should a Christian drink any beverage with alcohol in it? What does the Bible actually say about this issue?

We believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word, in which He reveals a great deal of who He is, who men are to Him, and how He expects men to relate to Him. In the Bible, He makes some of His feelings and will about certain issues very clear, and on other issues, a bit of understanding that is born of spiritual revelation and guidance, is required to know what God actually expects from His followers.

The issue of whether Christians should consume alcoholic beverages is one that has been debated since the beginning of Christianity and will continue to be debated till our Lord comes back! Various stands have been vigorously and religiously (pun intended) taken on this issue which have, for the most part, left believers and non-believers more confused than enlightened on what is actually expected of believers in Christ concerning alcohol intake. The following is my humble take on the issue…

  1. MY CASE FOR ALCOHOL CONSUPTION BY BELIEVERS

Let’s be clear about one fact: There isn’t a single place where the Bible states that alcohol intake is forbidden to God’s followers. So based on this, Christianity does not forbid alcohol intake. Any church that teaches that Christianity forbids it, is playing religion, pure and simple! I know of one particular denomination that forbids beer drinking, but allows any other type of alcoholic beverage. How can anyone not be confused by such an inconsistent and hypocritical stance on the issue?

Here’s something the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 11:18-19, when comparing Himself to John-the-Baptist:  “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon. 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” (NIV)

So let’s analyze this statement with a clear and unbiased mind: We know that John-the-Baptist maintained some very strict rules about his lifestyle which, no doubt, included abstaining from alcoholic beverages.

On the other hand we know that tax collectors and sinners do not shy from alcoholic beverages. So what they drank in the Lord’s presence must have been alcoholic. And we also know that ‘drunkard’ means one thing: A drunken individual!

So in that statement, the Lord Jesus clearly said: John-the-Baptist didn’t drink, and you thought he was strange for that. I came and I hung out with people who drank alcoholic beverage, and you call me a drunk.

Many pastors try to explain that what Jesus drank was ‘new wine’; the unfermented non-alcoholic kind of wine. But I beg to differ because if the Lord only drank non-alcoholic new wine, He would not have complained about people thinking of Him as a drunkard. He would have simply pointed out that what He drank wasn’t even alcoholic. (And if He didn’t even drink any kind of wine, but drank only water, He would have made that clear as well.) BUT HE CLEARLY DID NOT DEFEND THE CHARGE. He was only astonished at how inconsistent and hypocritical the people could be.

So whether the Lord Jesus consumed alcoholic beverages or not, He clearly never condemned it.

Neither does the apostle Paul, whose advice to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 has been a ‘lifesaver’ to those in the Church who believe they ought to be allowed to indulge alcohol. They will religiously remind anyone that Paul told Timothy “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (NIV) You’d be amazed how many believers out there claim to have stomach issues so they can stand on this advice to quench their thirst for alcohol. It shouldn’t have to be so.

Here are perhaps, the most compelling statements made by the Lord Jesus and Apostle Paul, which make alcohol consumption by a believer not sinful:

Jesus said in Mark 7:14-23 “…“Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) 20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (NIV)

And Paul said in Romans 14:20 “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.” (NIV)

The bible makes it clear in these two passages that all foods INCLUDING alcoholic beverages are ‘clean’ before God, meaning acceptable to Him for consumption. ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE IS GOING AGAINST THE EXPRESS WORD OF GOD!

What we do see a lot of in the Scripture, is God’s contempt for heavy drinking and drunkenness. The book of Proverbs, for instance is full of rebuke of the practice. Isaiah 5:22 says ” Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink” (KJV). We know that anything done in excess can be bad. Therefore, God expects that anyone who consumes alcohol must do so wisely and with measure.

Consider this fact: A lot of the foods we eat contain trace amounts of alcohol. Do we sin because we ate such foods? NO! Understand something: It’s either sinful in God’s eyes or it’s not. No middle ground! God does not play with sin! If something is sinful, there’s no circumstance in which he would consider it okay to engage in such a thing. So if alcohol consumption is sinful, there’s no way Apostle Paul would have advised Timothy to touch it. Let us stop playing religion with this issue and teach the truth: Nothing that is ingested as food – alcoholic beverage, rum cake, dishes cooked with alcohol, foods that naturally contain alcohol – is sinful before God. What is sinful is the evil that proceed out of us – out of our hearts, minds, mouths, actions!

2.  MY CASE AGAISNT ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION BY BELIEVERS 

By His declaration in Mark 7:14-23 the Lord set us free and we are free to eat and drink what we want. What is expected from us is to exercise this freedom in a wise and godly manner. Therefore, the reason a believer ought to consider abstaining from alcohol consumption is that it can cause a lot of harm to the Body of Christ in so many different ways, namely:

  • Offending people
  • Bringing shame and reproach to a believer
  • Hinder a believer’s walk with, and growth in, the Lord.

a. Offending people:

Paul’s statement in Romans 14:20 (quoted above) says it all: The very purpose for which he made that statement was to encourage the Christian brethren who consumed alcohol to abstain from alcohol consumption because doing so was causing problems for some other believers who felt that it was wrong.

This brings up reason #1 for a believer to abstain from alcohol consumption: Stay away from it because your drinking might be a problem for those around you – believers and unbelievers – who believe it’s wrong for a believer to drink alcohol. You will agree with me that most unbelievers expect that believers should abstain from alcohol consumption! Many believers have left the church because they could not stand what they perceived to be ‘hypocrisy’ from their fellow believers. And many unbelievers have found it hard to accept the Lord because they feel that the church is one very hypocritical place.

So out of love for God, Jesus and your fellow men, you ought to do the right thing and give up alcohol consumption because you do not want to:

  • Offend anyone
  • Cause anyone to sin in their heart
  • Be a stumbling block to anyone

Consider it as part of your sacrifice unto God as a believer who loves Him and wishes to do only things that will benefit His church, and nothing that would cause harm to her.

b. Bring shame and reproach to a believer:

In advising both Timothy and Titus as church leaders, Paul taught them that:

  • “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach…” (1 Timothy 3:2, KJV)
  • “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.” (1 Timothy 3:11, KJV)
  • ” For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate…” (Titus 1:7-8, KJV)
  • “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world…” (Titus 2:11-12, KJV)

Even in the secular world, certain positions require that the holders thereof refrain from any kind of behavior that would bring reproach to them and, consequently, to their position. There’s even an expression: ‘sober as a judge’! By virtue of their exalted position, judges are to be without reproach! This is ever more true with Christians! A drunken believer, or worse yet, a drunken leader in the church, can never be a good thing. They can only bring shame and reproach to the church. The passages quoted above cover ALL BELIEVERS: The bishops (referring to the leaders and anyone in a high position within the church), their wives (referring to women), and  “ALL MEN” (see Titus 2:11), referring to EVERYONE who considers himself a believer, not just those in leading positions.

And as we can see in 1 Timothy 3:2, a bishop must be … “apt to teach”. How is a believer going to be teaching people the word of God while drunk? He would only incur shame and reproach. Therefore, in order to ALWAYS be ready and ‘apt’ to teach the word of God, a bishop must NEVER be drunk.

c. Hinder a believer’s walk with, and growth in, the Lord:

Alcohol impairs. It impairs a lot of things in a man: his mind, his senses, his spirit, his speech, his vision, his motor skills… This can cause – and it does cause – a lot of problems for a believer who seeks to walk with God. And if a believer cannot walk with God, he cannot grow in God.

Here are some other advices given by the spiritual giants from whom we learn how to walk with the Lord:

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:6: “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (KJV throughout)
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:8: “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
  • 1 Peter 4:7: “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
  • 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” 

As someone who wakes up in the middle of the night to spend hours in prayer on a daily basis, I can tell you that prayer is indispensable for a successful walk with the Lord and for spiritual growth! I can also tell you, as someone who used to get seriously drunk, that you can’t spend time in prayer while drunk! Notice all the crucial advice given to us believers by  Apostles Paul and Peter:

  • Do not sleep, but watch
  • Put on the breastplate of faith and helmet of salvation
  • Watch and pray
  • Be vigilant; or be devoured by the devil

These are all indispensable actions that a believer MUST CONSTANTLY take in order to succeed as a follower of Christ, and for every one of these actions to be successfully executed, we must be sober! Think about this:

  • You can’t go before God all drunk or at least intoxicated and expect to get into his holy presence.
  • With the alcohol numbing your senses, how do you expect to communicate with God?

So if you can’t spend time with the Lord in prayer because you’re drunk all the time, how do you expect to grow in Him?

And if your argument is that you’re not always drunk, well here’s the problem: During those times when you are drunk or at least intoxicated to a degree, you could fall into all kinds of troubles that can affect your standing as a Christian. 1Peter 5:8 addresses this: Your enemy the devil will be watching for those moments when you’re spiritually weak from drunkenness or even mild intoxication, to attack you in some way!

I could go on and on about reasons for a believer to abstain from alcohol as a matter of spiritual duty, but anyone reading this ought to have gotten the point by now.

It’s a matter of wisdom. Note that in none of the passages quoted above did the Apostles command anyone to not drink at all. They only advised – very strongly – to be sober! To me, personally, being sober means to not be even remotely intoxicated. Totally alcohol-free! To another, it may mean a glass a wine, no more. I don’t know what it means to you, dear reader. Even if the Lord Jesus did consume alcohol in those times when He dined with alcohol drinkers, the fact remains that He did not go around drinking and getting drunk. So even if it was that He drank some, I know that He was wise and strong enough to know how little He ought to take. And that’s the problem with the rest of us. We seldom know our limits, and often end up getting very intoxicated, which then brings a world of shame to us and to the church. As we know, the Lord prayed EVERY NIGHT! So it’s clear that on those occasions when He dined with alcohol, He made sure that He took very little if any, so as to be sober and ready to spend time with the Father later in the night. And we know that He was ALWAYS ready to teach. So even if He drank at all, it would be in such an insignificant amount that it wouldn’t have any effect on Him at all.

In my case, the Lord advised me to completely stay away from alcohol! God knows me, and knows that I’m not the type of person to have one or two bottles of beer and call it the day or night. In fact, the words of Isaiah 5:22 quoted earlier, used to refer to me. I was known for a mixture called Black & Tan, which was a  mixture of dark ale and regular beer. Needless to say, it was a powerful mixture. For this reason the Lord didn’t just advise, but ordered me to entirely stay away from the substance. And He did a great miracle for me and enabled me to give up alcohol cold turkey!

Therefore, I’ll close with this:

  1. If you know in your spirit that the Lord is prompting you to abstain from alcohol, do so! Because even though alcohol consumption is not sinful in itself, anyone who’s been ordered – or feels led – to abstain from it would be committing the sin of disobedience if he still indulged in it.
  2. Even if you haven’t received any command from the Lord to totally abstain from alcohol, and you do drink regularly, there might be an occasion when He might want you to abstain, and order you to abstain. It might be for any reason, which He might reveal to you or not. He sees and knows things that we don’t. Examples: It may be because there’s someone around who might get offended by your drinking at that very moment. You don’t know this, but the Lord does. You might be getting pulled over by the police in a routine traffic stop later on after you’ve left the place where you are about to drink. The Lord knows this and is trying to keep you out of jail. He may be wanting you to share His word with someone some time later, or in that very place where you are, so He needs you to stay clean and sober for the task ahead.

This is why my personal advice to anyone who seeks to honor God with his own life is to totally stay away from alcohol. The detrimental effects of alcohol consumption to a Christian far outweigh whatever benefits he may gain from it.

May God grant us the grace to always do the right thing in our walk with Him here on earth, and in our race to be with Him in heaven FOR ETERNITY!

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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WHAT DO YOU WANT, AND HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT IT?

Stray dogs have no home and must, therefore, fend for themselves by visiting dumpsters. Now imagine a stray dog that has decided that it will only eat from the best dumpsters, no matter how hard it may be for it to do so, and has found a rich man’s house whose dumpsters are full of exotic food leftovers, ie. $100/lb steaks imported from Japan, lobster flown in from Maine, caviar from Russia, desserts from Paris, etc… But rich neighborhoods don’t usually tolerate stray animals; so the dog takes a huge risk by venturing there. The rich man’s servants are sure to kick, spit on, and verbally abuse the dog when they see it hanging around the back of the house near the dumpsters. But the dog knows what it wants, and is willing to put up with it all!

So while most of this dog’s friends go to the easy dumpsters, it goes to the better, though more dangerous, ones, and ends up looking better than them because it eats better food! Because you see, the leftovers of a $100/lb steak still carry pieces of the $100/lb steak. The leftovers of lobster from Maine still carry pieces of that succulent lobster. And the leftover from the Parisian cake still carries all the heavenly goodness of the original cake. So by eating all this better food, the dog looks better than the rest!

ONE OF THE BIGGEST HINDRANCES TO THE SUCCESS OF CHRISTIANITY AS A FAITH IN THIS WORLD is that its followers have not learned to do what it takes to become who God has in mind for them to be! We all want the blessings promised in the Word of God, but we are far too unwilling to pay the price for those blessings.

During Jesus’ time, there was a woman who knew what she wanted for her daughter, and was willing to pay whatever price in order to get it. Here’s her story, as told in Matthew 15:21-28:

“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”  (NIV)

The divine plan for the salvation of mankind was that Jesus would bring it to the Jews first, then make it available for all other peoples after His death and resurrection. Therefore, He concentrated His ministry on the Jews only. But here came a woman who was not of Jewish descent, and who needed healing for her daughter. And she came to the Lord to ask of Him divine healing, which, at that time, was exclusively reserved for the Jews. And in order to remind her of this, the Lord gave an analogy in which He basically likened the woman to a dog. But the woman reacted to the insult by agreeing with it, and made a plea for JUST A CRUMB of the thing she needed.

If every believer in this world learned how to attract even just a crumb of the Lord’s power in their lives, Christianity would be so much more effective than it has been, because the power of the God that Christians call upon would be so much more evident in their lives! And this evidence would validate Christianity as not just a religion, but as the place to find the one true God who is real, and who does great and mighty things in the lives of those who believe in Him!

The point of the story of the stray dog is that good things do not come easy! And since the things that come from God are the BEST OF THE BEST, they couldn’t possibly be expected to come easy! With this understanding, every believer ought to determined himself to do whatever it’ll take for him to obtain what he needs from the Lord. All over the Bible we see stories that teach us that there are prices to pay to get the results we need in life! The Canaanite woman in this story had to put up with being called a dog in order to receive the healing for her daughter! The stray dog had to put up with all manner of abuse and beating in order to eat the better food that it desired! Hannah, the mother of the great prophet Samuel, had to put up with being called a drunk by the high priest in order to receive Samuel! Blind Bartimeaus had to put up with insults from the crowd in order to get the Lord Jesus’ attention and get Him to heal his blindness.

Here’s a story I love to tell of a young woman who desired to change her life from one of poverty and lack, to one of prosperity and abundance. When she heard about the principle of sowing and reaping, she decided to sow her meager salary for the next 6 month. So the next time she got paid, she faithfully took her entire salary to church and sowed it. She did the same with her next 5 paychecks. Was this easy for her to do? NO!!! She got kicked out of her apartment for her inability to pay her rent, and had to move in with friends. Feeding herself and affording the basic things a person needs in life obviously became a serious issue for her as well. She had to endure abuse and insults from people who thought she was stupid and crazy to take her entire salary and give to the church – for 6 months!

Sometime after she did this, the chief of the community where she lived heard about what she did and decided to honor her actions by giving her a parcel of land. Then shortly after this, the representatives of a big multinational company came to that community to buy a piece of land on which to build a factory. The woman’s land happened to be exactly where they wanted, and they bought it for a very substantial sum. The woman invested the money into a business deal that made her a millionaire. This is how the young woman went from being a poor office worker to becoming a millionaire.

So I ask you, dear brethren, what do you want in this life, and how badly do you want it??? Badly enough to put up with the tough price that you might have to pay in order to get it? The Lord Jesus made this one thing clear to us in Luke 14:28, where He said “…for which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (KJV)

Some of the major things that prevents people from doing what it takes to follow divine principles are: lack of knowledge, fear, indiscipline, carelessness, spiritual weakness, etc…
– Lack of knowledge of what to do. So many churches do not teach the divine principles that are hidden throughout the Scriptures. If that young lady had never heard of the principle of sowing and reaping, she would not have tried it. This is why the Lord lamented in Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (KJV)
– The fear of the hardship that comes with doing what it takes; the fear of what people might say…
– Indiscipline, which prevents those who do know of the principles, from properly following the principles, and seeing the results.
– Carelessness of those who don’t care about the way their lives reflect on God. They don’t understand that their lives must give glory to God, and so they don’t care to put to work the divine principles which would help to conform their lives to that which would give glory to God. and because they don’t care, they don’t hate their life situations enough to want to do what needs to be done to change it.
– Spiritual weakness, that prevents so many believers from tackling tough spiritual issues. Under this category come factors such as weakness in prayer, in fasting, in the study of the Word, etc… WITHOUT SPIRITUAL ENABLEMENT FROM GOD, a believer cannot live victoriously in this world!!!

So once again, I ask you, what do you want, and how badly do you want it? Badly enough to determine in your heart and mind that nothing, not the fear of hardship, of humiliation, of pain, of uncertainty, of having to wait on God’s time, of going on long fasts, of praying for long hours, will stop you from doing what you need to do in order to see a change in your life? I hope so! And I pray that our good Lord would pour His grace upon you to help you do what it takes to get what you need, to His glory!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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YOU ARE GOD’S LOVE LETTER TO THE WORLD!

Over the years in ministry, the Apostle Paul had begotten many sons and daughters in Christ. Among them were Philemon and Onesimus. Onesimus was Philemon’s slave, but he ran away from Philemon, and in his flight he ran into Paul, became saved, and became useful to Paul and very dear to him as a spiritual son.
And as it happened, Philemon was Paul’s spiritual son as well.

Paul would have loved to keep Onesimus, but had to do the right thing and return him to Philemon. But knowing how angry Philemon must be with Onesimus, Paul decided to write a letter to Philemon about Onesimus.

POINT #1:
In his running, Onesimus ran into Christ, who transformed him into a better person.
His name means ‘useful’, but as a slave he had been useless to the point where he even ran away. But after finding Christ, he became a useful person! He now could fulfill his destiny as a ‘useful’ person.

=> LESSON: Like Onesimus when he ran away, we are all runaway slaves: Running from the devil and from all manner of issues that we need to rid ourselves of!
And like him we ran until we found Christ, who now gave us the power to go back and face our slave masters and become free from them!
Some of us are running right now! Running from sin, from your background, from bad associations, from what people think about you… You’re running because you don’t want to be a part of those associations anymore; you don’t want to be known by your background anymore; you don’t want to dwell in that sin any more…
CHRIST, who turned Onesimus’ destiny around and restored it into what it was supposed to be, will turn yours around for good as well!!!

POINT #2:
In the letter Paul basically put Philemon in a dilemma where Philemon couldn’t really do to Onesimus what he might have wanted to do him because in the letter Paul pointed out to Philemon that even though Onesimus was once his slave, he is now his brother (in Christ)!
So Paul put Philemon in a situation where his Christianity was tested!
He told him: Yes, I know he did you wrong; and he might have even done something that cost you money. WHATEVER it was, I’ll pay for it. Just forgive him and take him back AS YOUR BROTHER!

=> LESSON: Every now and then we find ourselves in situations where our Christianity is tested in so many areas. In this story we see 3 main areas:
1. FORGIVENESS: When we find ourselves confronted with the need to forgive someone who did us wrong in a big way. ESPECIALLY if that person is now a brother or sister in Christ! Either way, we must forgive them and move on!
THIS IS GOD WORKING ON YOU TO HELP YOU RID YOURSELF OF A BAGGAGE THAT YOU SIMPLY CANNOT CARRY AROUND AS A BELIEVER WHILE HERE ON EARTH, AND CANNOT CARRY INTO HEAVEN WHEN YOU DIE!
Also when you’re asking God for mercy and second chances, He’ll remind you, or put you in a situation where you need to forgive and give someone else a second chance, as a seed for you to sow into the request that you yourself are making of Him for a second chance.
2. BROTHERLY LOVE: Onesimus used to be Philemon’s slave. But now he was Philemon’s brother in Christ. Would Philemon still only see him as a slave, or would he accept him as a brother?
=> As Christians, do we still hold people captive to the way we used to know them? Do we still just see the former prostitute for who she used to be, or do we now see a sister in Christ, blood-washed like ourselves, and called into the same glorious light, freed by Christ to become a great person! Do we go around feeling holier than others, instead of humbly recognizing that we are all saved by grace?
3. FREEDOM IN CHRIST: Philemon ran the risk of jeopardizing his relationship with Paul AND WITH GOD, if he failed to forgive and accept Onesimus! So by forgiving and setting Onesimus free, he would have done the right thing by God and would have not only been setting Onesimus free, but he’d be setting himself free as well before God.
=>By forgiving someone, it is not just that person that you would be setting free. It is you yourself as well! Because as long as you refuse to set that person free in your heart, you are chaining your own self to the sin of unforgiveness and rebellion against the will of God.

POINT #3:
Why did Onesimus run from Philemon? Because he felt that he was better than being a slave! And you will agree with him that he was indeed destined to be greater in life than he could ever have been as a slave! HE COULD NOT have fulfilled his destiny if he had remained captive to Philemon!

=> LESSON: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE GOT TO RUN FROM WHAT’S HOLDING YOU CAPTIVE IN ORDER FOR YOU TO MAKE IT IN LIFE!
===> Paul himself acknowledged this to Philemon:
“15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.” (Philemon 15-16, NASB)

Note that I said ‘sometimes’. Because we don’t always have to run from every tough situation we find ourselves in. After Joseph was sold to Potiphar as a slave, he could have run away and run home to his father. But he did not need to run from Potiphar to fulfill his destiny. In fact he had to stay there in order to do so. BUT HE HAD TO RUN FROM THE CAPTIVITY THAT HIS JEALOUS BROTHERS WANTED TO KEEP HIM IN!

So we always have to be careful to know what’s ‘good’ captivity, and what’s bad captivity. Good captivity is when God Himself puts us in situations that we hate, and from which we might wish to be freed from. So be careful about wanting to escape from tough and unpleasant situations. If it’s God who’s keeping you there, STAY! Stay there and grow spiritually by patiently learning the lessons that He seeks to teach you by placing you in that situation. But if the captivity is of the devil, or of people who don’t want your progress in life, the first chance of escape that you find, RUN!!!

SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO RUN FROM WHERE YOU CAME FROM! Because the people there will forever want to hold you captive to how they know you.
YOU NEED TO RUN FROM BAD INFLUENCES; FROM BAD FRIENDS, from those people who want to forever hold you captive to the kind of friends you all used to be together, and keep on doing the foolish things you used to do together.
YOU NEED TO RUN FROM BAD BOSSES who have been limiting you, who do not see your potential, and have no plans to help you grow in your career!
This is why when you become a believer, it’s imperative that you change your entourage! That you change the friends you keep! Stay away from those who would tempt you to keep on sinning. From those who can hinder your spiritual growth. From those who can hinder you from fulfilling your God-assigned destiny in Christ!

SO RUN AWAY! FROM ANYTHING OR ANYBODY THAT SEEKS TO HOLD YOU CAPTIVE TO THE WAY YOU USED TO BE, THAT SEEKS TO KEEP ON LIMITTING YOU! There’s greatness in you that needs to come out, and you need to carry that greatness and run to where you can be free to develop that greatness and be great for God!!!

Remember what Paul told Philemon in verses 15 and 16. Onesimus needed to get away from Philemon, who was limiting him as a human being, in order for him to go and become somebody better, who could be far more useful not only to Philemon, but to God and the Church as well!
Likewise we all need to get away from the people who limit and hinder us, so that after we have gone and grown in the Lord, we can come back and help to make their own lives better as well!

POINT #4:
Apart from the fact that Paul wanted to do the right thing and return Onesimus to Philemon, Onesimus himself needed to do the right thing and return to his former master as well! There’s that thing called RESTITUTION! When a person becomes saved, sometimes he must make restitution for wrongs that he had done as an unbeliever. God could not have allowed Onesimus to go around preaching righteousness when he himself had a wrong that he had done to his master, and that he needed to make right. So Onesimus needed to go and ask for forgiveness and receive freedom and blessing from his former master in order for God to be willing to use him.

=> LESSON: GOD CANNOT USE YOU AS LONG AS YOU BELONG TO SOMEONE OR SOMETHING ELSE! If you have restitution to make, you’re not free. You’re still captive to the issue for which you need to make restitution, and this will stand in the way of your relationship with God and prevent Him from fully using you!

POINT #5:
THE POWER OF FAVOR! So Onesimus had to go back to Philemon. But in doing so he faced a serious risk: Philemon could have had him killed! That’s how it was in those days. A slave’s life belonged to the master to do as he willed, and runaway slaves were summarily killed, or at least severely punished, to make example and deter others from thinking about running.
HENCE Paul’s letter, by which he basically told Philemon: I am sending your former slave back to you, and I am asking that the favor that you have for me, show it to your former slave, whom surely has no favor before you.

=> LESSON: Sometimes God will touch the heart of somebody who has favor with Him, but with whom you have no favor, and set that person up to show you favor!

POINT #6:
SO THE ONE THING THAT SAVED ONESIMUS’ LIFE WAS THIS LETTER!
Because of this letter, HE WAS ABLE TO BE FREE TO FULFILL HIS DESTINY!
It is said that he went on to pastor Timothy’s old church. HE WHO WAS BORN A SLAVE ended up a great pastor! All because of a letter that freed him from captivity, and made it possible for him to become the great person that God had purposed for him to be!
Onesimus couldn’t be useful to Philemon while he was a slave because Philemon was only using him then; A PERSON CANNOT BE FULLY USEFUL AS A SLAVE, because as a slave he can only be used and abused. BUT AS A FREE PERSON, HE CAN SERVE WITH ALL HIS HEART AND MIGHT AND GIVE OUT HIS BEST!

POINT #7:
FROM PAUL’S ACTIONS IN WRITING THIS LETTER, we can see that love is:
1. A PEACEMAKER; A TRUCEBREAKER.
In this story we see that Paul had found himself caught between 2 of his sons who were at odds with each other, and he had to step in to broker peace between them. A bad father would want to keep the 2 sons at odds, so he can profit from their division. But that’s not the way of love! It’s not the way of God. Love unites; love makes peace.
2. A TRANSFORMER: Love will allow you to change for the better. A master who loves a servant will allow the servant to grow and flourish as a person, and not seek to limit the servant in order to be able to keep on exploiting him.
As slaves in Egypt, the Israelites were severely limited by the Egyptians in what they could and couldn’t do. They had to be prevented from growing in power so they could be easily exploited. When the Israelites left Egypt, they left as runaway slaves. When they got to the Red Sea, they did so as runaway slaves, with their masters in hot pursuit behind them. And when they got into the Red Sea, they did so as runaway slaves. But once they got to the other side of the sea, they were free!!!! The sea had swallowed their captors and closed up behind them. They knew that no one was coming after them anymore! Thru their crossing of the water, they were transformed from captives to free people!

=> LESSON: This is what happens at baptism! You go into the water as a condemned sinner, but come up from it a free person, with old things passed away! You go in as an estranged child of God, and come up from the water restored as a child of God!
=> That’s what Paul sought to accomplish in the lives of both Onesimus and Philemon. He sought to set them free from the animosity that kept them apart and hindered their ability to be free to grow into the sons of God they were supposed to be!

3. AN EMANCIPATOR: An emancipator works to set captives and slaves free! AND PART OF WHAT THEY DO IS THEY NEGOTIATE FOR THE FREEDOM OF SLAVES! There was no way Onesimus could have gone to Philemon on his own and ask to be set free. Paul’s letter served as the letter of emancipation! Through that letter, Paul negotiated the freedom of Onesimus by actually offering to pay for it.

POINT 8:
From all this we can see one powerful thing: Paul’s letter is a representation of Jesus-Christ! ALL MEN SINNED AND WERE CONDEMNED TO BE CAPTIVES OF THE DEVIL UNTIL JESUS CAME AND PAID THE PRICE FOR OUR FREEDOM! JESUS IS THAT LOVE LETTER!!!

For God so loved the world that He sent…Jesus His love letter to set men free!!!

You see, what we’re supposed to do is to simply take the LOVE LETTER that is the Word of God and present it to Satan and declare to him: Look! This Letter from God says that my sins have been paid for!!!! Satan you have no choice but to set me free!!!!

NOW GET THIS: As the words of a letter are carried inside an envelope, so did God’s letter of love unto men come wrapped up in the person of Jesus! So IF THE LORD HAD SHUT UP and not shared the word that He carried inside, you and I would still be lost today! But PRAISE GOD that the Lord opened Himself up as an envelope, and released ‘His contents’ in 2 major ways:
1. By spreading the word of love from God
2. By being transpierced on the cross, which released out of His body (out of His envelope) the blood which cleanses us of sin, and the water by which the Church was born.

Paul’s letter carried the words of the letter, and also a promise of payment. Likewise within the Lord’s envelope, he carried the word of God, and the payment for our debt – His blood, which, once He spilled it, declared that IT IS FINISHED!!!

==> LESSON: YOU AND I ARE NOW THE CARRIERS OF THIS WORD!!! We are the envelopes that carry God’s love letter to the world!!!
YOU AND I NOW CARRY THE LIVING WATER THAT GUSHED OUT OF THE LORD! That’s why He declared unto us in John 7:38 that “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (KJV) It is by that water that the Church was born, and we are to go about this world releasing that water upon people, thus multiplying the Church.

SO MY BELOVED BRETHREN, DON’T BE CLOSED ENVELOPES! RATHER SHARE GOD’S LETTER THAT HE HAS PLACED IN YOU TO SET THE CAPTIVES FREE!!
GO AND TELL PEOPLE THAT CHRIST HAS PAID THE PRICE FOR THEIR RELEASE!!! That He has paid for their salvation from sin; for their healing; for their prosperity; for their wholeness in every area of their lives!
SET PEOPLE FREE BY SPEAKING WORDS OF LOVE TO THEM! Tell people words that will encourage them in life; words that will build them up and help them grow in life; words that will help them see how important they are to God!

What would have become of Onesimus and Philemon if Paul had neglected to play this role in their lives? Their lives would have been hampered by the presence of the conflict that set them at odds with God’s plans for their lives.
So brethren think about this: How do you think the Lord will react when we show up before Him after going thru this life not opening ourselves up to pour out His words of love, of liberation, of transformation, of empowerment, of beautification, upon the people around us who badly need it?
It shouldn’t be hard to imagine that He would say “DEPART, YOU UNFAITHFUL SERVANT” to any such believer. Let that not be you!!!!

Now get this: No matter how battered and tattered an envelope may become, as long as the letter inside remains intact, that’s all that matters. Likewise you and I have no excuse for not sharing the word that we carry, because no matter how imperfect our envelopes (our bodies), what matters is that the word of God inside us “is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)

No matter what physical limitations we might suffer from, let us endeavor to find ways to share the love of God with others! So long as we are willing to be used, God WILL find a way to use us! He will make ways for us to release his water that we carry within us! That’s why He put it there in the first place!

May God bless you richly as you open yourself up to be pour out unto others, to His glory! Amen!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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