Friday, December 19, 2014

JOY TO THE WORLD

Luke 2:1-20 King James Version (KJV)

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Guilty! May God Help Me To Put Him First Place In My Heart and Everything


Good Things Never Seem To Last

Today I feel sad. My current and two of my favorite Pastors (A husband and wife) are really leaving us. Apparently we have a new Pastor and his wife coming to take their place. I heard about it earlier before that they were going to leave us, but I was actually secretly wishing for them not to leave. I have nothing against the new Pastor, I heard he is also a very good Pastor. But my thinking is, I expect our Church to grow and expand very soon, I truly believe this. Therefore, we might need to keep all of them because we are going to have more people and a big Church, one Pastor or two may not  be enough. I mean, it's not always too late. We can have some big expectations and make new strategies, and may be in 2015 our Church will really grow so that we can keep all the Pastors, the two that are leaving and the one who is coming. I really do not know why they are leaving, it may be family issues. Perhaps they will come back again; they said they love us and Tanzania, and we love them, so it will all work out for both parties. And honestly, I wish I could tell them that in person, it's just that I have no guts to do it. I am that kind of person who likes to be invisible but still influential.

I have only known them as my Pastors from afar since February this year. They have inspired me a lot during these ten months. I have learned so much from them. I am not just sad because they are leaving, but also because I never took time to go and say hello to them and it will be weird if I do it now that they are leaving us. These are the people that I really respect. They are godly and very good examples of what a Christian should be, humble, loving, and anointed. When they preached together or separate, I always told myself one day by God's grace, I am going to be awesome like them. They have also been married for more than forty or perhaps fifty years, I mean I don't remember exactly how many years, all I remember is the cake I ate last month I believe to celebrate their anniversary. I guess I am too weird; I tend to remember the taste of the experience than the event itself. The day of their anniversary they preached together about marriage using themselves as an example, and they were real, funny, and so incredible. I also remember the vow skit they did before they preached, it was superb. I really appreciated the good work they have shown us.

May God abundantly favor them and reward them for all the good work. May God bless them more and continue to use them to bless many other. Who knows may be they will come back someday and pastor the Church again? It's all in God's hands. It's only God Who knows our future. We can wish, we can dream, but He is the One Who directs our paths.

God is on the move of getting people who are lost to come back to Him. And people are getting saved every day, some who backslidden are returning back to Him. The Church, all around the world, needs to prepare a place for all these people in advance and wait in expectancy that soon or later they will join and become part of the Church. The Church is growing everyday, therefore, more Pastors will be needed.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

We Are God’s Ambassadors

2 Corinthians 5: 11 - 21

11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, Who died and was raised for them.

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

There was this day, one of my colleagues at work asked me, “why you and another colleague of ours are different, and you are both born-again Christians?” And I told him, “I don’t know.” But in my heart I kept thinking why did he ask me that and not the other Christian Colleage? Is it because I looked more religious than the other colleague, or maybe I am not that merciful and loving, and the other colleague is, or may be the other colleague looked like a Christian, and walked like a Christian is supposed to walk, and I didn’t. Because there was other colleagues around, I got scared to ask him back what made him asked me that question. And I believe when I went home that day, I told The Holy Spirit about it. I said something like; Lord, you heard what my colleague asked me today, were You trying to tell me something through him?

This was not the only time God has used the people in my life to speak to me that concerning me. God has used people in my life several times to encourage me, complementing me, correct me, and even to show His love for me.

The Bible calls us Christians as God’s ambassadors or Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5: 11-21). As Christ Ambassadors, God is expecting us to represent Christ to our families, to our friends, to our colleagues, to our neighbors, and to the streets. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 says, "So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!" For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Jesus said in John 17: 2-3 that, "For you granted Him (Jesus) authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." But Ephesians 2:10 also says, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10)." Jesus did not redeem us so that we could just have an eternal life and that's it. He had several reasons for it, but one of the reasons, apart from knowing Him and God The Father, is so that we could be used for His purposes here on earth. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, "He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, Who died and was raised for them.

I don't think Jesus wants us to have Him in our lives and keep quite about it. I believe Jesus wants us to tell those God has put in our lives about Him so that they may also know Him, be saved, and experience Him. One of the ways we can do that is through the way we live our lives. As they watch how we live, behave, believe, and our testimonies, they come to know Him also. Imagine if somebody did not tell us about Jesus, we wouldn't know Christ today and so continue to be lost. Just like what happened to us, Jesus wants us to do the same to others, by telling them about Him, and become good Christ Ambassadors. Sometimes the only  person could represent Jesus to the people around you is you.

I also think with what is happening all around the world right now, the world urgently needs Christ. The world wants to see Christ through us. The world also wants to see, meet, and know Christians. And there are those who have already heard about Him and they are just watching out Christians for authentic of what we believe in. They are attracted by the Gospel, the good news, but they also want to see Jesus in Christians who surround them before they are converted or accept Him as their Lord.

So what are the reasons may be hindering us Christians to be Christ and God ambassadors to the people God has placed in our lives?

We cannot represent something we don't know. One of the reasons is found in Hosea 4:6 which says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge (NIV translation).” But another translation (NLT) says, “My people are being destroyed because they don't know Me.” This is so true. If we don’t spend quality time alone with God in prayer and in reading His Word in the Bible, it’s going to be very hard to know Him, what is He like, what are His desires for us, and what He has promised us. Lack of knowing who we are in Christ; lack of knowing what The Word of God says about our Lord and God, and about us. Lack of knowledge to know what God has promised us. Lack of knowledge to know that our God is greater than anything we may face. Lack of knowing our helper, The Holy Spirit, the very presence of God living in us, is actually for us even wehn it may not look like it sometimes.

Have you ever heard of some Pastors who preach about right believing? If we believe right we will live right. This is so true especially when taking hold of the promises of God. Many Christians have been wondering how come the Word of God works for others and not for them. I guess some Christians know how to believe right to get the manifestation of God’s promises in their lives. Therefore, another reason fall to those of us, at some degree know The Word of God, have an idea who God is, and what God has promised us, but we don’t know how to believe right and take hold of the promises of God or scriptures and make them actually work for us and get the manifestation of God’s promises that we believe we have received for a while now. People want to see God miracles to be manifested in our lives. They hear us saying Jesus can heal you, but when they look at us they say, "look who is talking - why He hasn't healed you first?"

A third reason could be because some Christians do not like to see things getting out of control in their lives. They like to take control. They do not how to cast their cares unto God, or how to fully trust God that He is our present help (Psalm 46:1) and He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8). They want to take control of things, and they want to do things on their way, and in their own time like the heathens. And so forgot God is their Master now. They gave Him right of way when they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They say God will understand. I have been asking Him to help me get a job, and it has been a while now, I can’t wait anymore. I have a family to take care of. So I need to do what I need to do. They end up stealing or doing illegal activities to earn money, or selling their bodies for living, or become Sugar Babies and get Sugar Daddies, or Mommas.

The last reason is when we are concerned more on the things of this world than of God. When we are more concerned living for ourselves we tend to do things that please our flesh and not God. We walk in the darkness and not in the truth. Jesus said in John 8:12 that, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So we continue to operate in our old sinful nature, knowingly or unknowingly.

Jimmy Swaggart has that song that says, come Holy Spirit and take control with every situation that has rose my mind, every burden and care to You I hold. Spirit, Spirit, Spirit…Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…Sing to The Father.., Father, Father, Father…Yes we can cast our cares unto God. Yes we can wait on God to move on His timing. We need to seek God, trust God, and believe He can bring us out in whatever situation we may be in. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow and become His ambassadors. Amen!
 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

WALKING IN THE SPIRIT

Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23).

The Bible declares that The Holy Spirit is The Spirit of truth (John 16:13). Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). The Word of God is truth (John 17:17). That's why it is very important to read the Bible, to get to know God, the truth, through His Word.

Jesus also said in Matthew 7:16-20, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-25).

And honestly, for a while now I have been wondering all along what’s happening to me, and but now I’m starting to think maybe my flesh is being crucified. It's an experience I cannot really describe it, it's somehow spiritual but somehow tangible because I can feel it. I have been feeling the blood of Jesus, The fire of The Holy Spirit, and The Power of God working in my life removing some things out of me. God have mercy on me, because sometimes it's painful and uncomfortable experience! And if what I’m thinking now is not what it is, I am not going to worry about it, because many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him or her out of them all (Psalm 34:19).

Anyway, Galatians 5:19-25 says, if the Holy Spirit works in you, you will be able to bear fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, and peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. For it is God Who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13 ESV). Another translation (NLT) says, "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him." So if you have the Spirit of God in you, and He is at work in you, you will definitely change and start doing the things that are pleasing to God. I tried to walk in love using my own strength and I tell you, I didn’t even last that long; within two days I was already offended and started complaining about someone or something. There is no way we can bear the fruit of the Spirit without Him working in us and helping us. If you do not agree with me, try it yourself.

In the Old Testament, The Bible considered King David was the man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:13-14; Acts 13:22). Even though he messed up most of the time, but King David was looking to please God rather than people.

God desires for us Christians to worship Him only, walk in the Spirit, and bear the good fruits, the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are kind of Christians God is looking for – Christ like Christians.

The Bible also says there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1). Humanly speaking, you are not going to be condemned when you walk in love. You are not going to be condemned when you are good and do act of kindness to others. You are not going to be condemned when you hold your fist and tongue, hahaha, it’s called self-control. You are not going to be condemned when you are faithful to God and be a good steward, and et cetera.

Someone may ask, "Can The Holy Spirit possess me forever so that I may walk in the Spirit automatically so that we settle this once and for all?"

I think the moment you become a born-again Christian, you are entering in a war season. Your old sinful nature starts fighting with your new nature. The Bible in Galatians 5:17 (NIV) says, "For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want." In another version (NLT) it says, "The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions." But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). So if Christ is in you, eventually your old nature will lose and your new nature will win. If the Son (Jesus) therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36 KJV). Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4; John 10:28-30).

If the Holy Spirit were to possess a believer, it would go beyond the rule that God Himself set that said He would allow humans to have free choice. He dwells with the believer but does not possess them. The believer makes the choice to walk with the Holy Spirit, or to not walk with Him. Unlike satan, God forces His will on no one.

Jesus said in John 7:17, "If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on My own authority."

John 1: 12-13 states: "But to all who did receive Him (Jesus), who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

We need to be filled with The Holy Spirit to completely yield to Him. To be filled with the Spirit implies freedom for Him to occupy every part of our lives, guiding and controlling us. Then His power can be exerted through us so that what we do is fruitful to God. The filling of the Spirit does not apply to outward acts alone; it also applies to the innermost thoughts and motives of our actions.

Romans 8:9 and Ephesians 1:13-14 states that The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer, but He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), and His activity within us can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Sin is what hinders the filling of the Holy Spirit, and obedience to God is how the filling of the Spirit is maintained.

Ephesians 5:18 commands that we be filled with the Spirit; however, it is not only praying for the filling of the Holy Spirit that accomplishes the filling. Only our obedience to God's commands allows the Spirit freedom to work within us. Because we are still infected with sin, it is impossible to be filled with the Spirit all of the time. When we sin, we should immediately confess it to God and renew our commitment to being Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.

So basically to walk in the Spirit is to be filled and led by The Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:18); be one with God in Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17); to walk in God’s ways; to walk the talk; to follow Jesus and His teachings and really do it, and live godly; to walk in the light (John 8:12); to seek God first and His righteousness, to put Jesus first and at the center of our lives (Matthew 6:33). You know, like that famous Christian saying, “What will Jesus Do (WWJD) in this situation?”

When I look at my journey of being a born-again Christian, I have to say it took me a while to get rid of some junk in my life. I believe I got born again in fall 2006, but it was in spring, April 2010, when I stop going to night clubs. And I stopped drinking and taking alcohol, a couple of months earlier before I stopped going to night clubs partying. I mean those are just a few. And I believe there are so many things God is still delivering me out of to this today. God is teaching me now how to control my emotions and not letting them control me, and helping me to be strong in Him. Basically I am in the process of healing - emotional and relational. I am also learning to forgive and letting go of my past and present pain and wounds. And when I am really tempted, The Holy Spirit is always with me to catch me so that I may not yield to the desires of my flesh, and help me do the things of the Spirit like walk in love, being kind and patient. The Holy Spirit our helper and our enabler, will help us through the whole process of growing into Christian maturity. He will help us to grow and rooted in the Word of God because we are sanctified by The Word of God (John 17:17). We are cleansed from all sins and unrighteousness by The Blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7-9). We are freed by The Presence of God, through His Spirit, Who is always perfecting that concerning us.

Being a mature Christian, the Christ like Christian, the Sons or Daughters of God as the terms used in the Bible, the one God seeks, takes time. There are some things, or sins that God needs to remove out of us so that we can bear much fruit, the fruit of The Spirit. So it’s supposed to be a work in progress to develop that Christ like character in a Christian. The Lord Jesus said there is a pruning process in a Christian life. So yes, God is still pruning me (John 15:1-8). And yes, pruning process could be very painful sometimes. But I have to say in the middle of it, I have seen God giving me peace and joy in the midst of my worse circumstances and persecutions.

This is what The Lord Jesus said in John 15:1-17; “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in My Name the Father will give you. This is My command: Love each other.

There is this song that says Lord prepares me to be a sanctuary pure and holy, tried and true; with thanksgiving I will be a living sanctuary for You. And this song is explaining exactly what pruning process does to us; it prepares us to be pure, holy, and true.

1 John 4:8 says, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

Without Jesus we cannot do anything. Without Jesus we cannot worship God in the Spirit and in truth. Without Jesus we cannot walk in the Spirit, and bear any fruit of the Spirit. We need to remain in Him as He also remains in us. When we yield to Jesus Lordship, walk in faith by His Spirit we will be able to bear much fruit, the fruit of The Spirit and fulfilling His command which is basically to love each other.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:22-27

Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth. John 17:17 NIV

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

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13 NIV

“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, He would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:13 NIV

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after My Own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22 NIV

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One Who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 NIV

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My Hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. John 10:28-30 NIV

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:18 NIV

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. Romans 8:9 NIV

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 NIV

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 NIV

Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 NIV

But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17 NIV

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 NIV

But 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 sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7-9 NIV