A Faith To Be Understood

A Faith To Be Understood

I am not sure how many automobiles are in the world. But I would guess they are in the billions. Some persons own multiple vehicles. Most of us who own one look for reliability and comfort. The authorities have stipulated that before we operate a motor vehicle on public roads, we must take and pass some exams to show that we know how to use the roads safely. Despite such measures, thousands of lives are lost yearly as a result of traffic accidents…mostly due to driver’s errors and not mechanical failure. Of the many persons who own and operate a vehicle, only a small percentage actually understand how they work. Most operators only know enough to operate them, and we are happy with that. Actually, I believe some persons are happy just to own one.

It is a similar situation with our bodies. Most of us only know a few basic things about our bodies and how they work. How many of us know how to measure our blood pressure? How many of us know how to measure our glucose level? What about our cholesterol, our hemoglobin, our sodium and the other vital enzymes and chemicals in our bodies? For these we see the physicians. Sure we know how to feed ourselves, take a bath, get dressed, and some of us can fix our hair.  We are greatly dependent on others for many necessary things.

Let me mention one more area; money. We know how to work to earn a living. But we do not know how to let the money we earn work for us. So we have investors, stock brokers, bankers and a host of other financial experts that we depend on. We know of some of the thieves who have exploited our ignorance and have swindled the unsuspecting out of millions of dollars. Just about everyone who uses the services of a bank or any financial institutions is at risk to be defrauded, and the internet has made this a lot easier. Some of us have been notified of large purchases that were made from our bank accounts without our permission and knowledge.

So we don’t need to understand how an automobile works to operate or own one; we do not need to know how our bodies work to be happy with ourselves and we surely don’t need to know how to make our money work, we just need to know how to work for it. What about the Faith?  Do we need to understand our Faith? Or should we treat it as we do our automobile, our bodies and our money? An individual who does not understand the Faith is quite likely to fall prey to the many wiles of the devil. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus makes us know that it is the person who hears the Gospel and understands it who will be a reproducing believer, Mathew 13:23. Paul asks us to understand what is God’s will, Eph. 5:17. He instructs us to work out our salvation, Philippians 2:12. Jude asks us to earnestly contend for the Faith, Jude 3. Faith in these contexts is referring to the body of truths that we believe, not faith as trust in God. Understanding the Faith takes time and thinking. Yes, it will require that we ask questions, study God’s word; spend time in prayer and spiritual contemplation and be connected to a healthy local fellowship. God’s peace is what surpasses our understanding not the Faith.

One should not confuse a thrill with happiness. Performances can produce a thrill; productions and presentations can boost us and even motivate us. But these are not substitutes for understanding our Faith. Like the operator of an automobile who does not know what a steady red light on the dash means, or the person who does not know that face drooping could be the sign of a stroke, or the investor who has no clue as to how the stock market is influencing his investments, and like the pastor of the church in Laodicea who was wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked but he did not know. In the same way the person who does not understand the Faith will think it is peace and safety but then comes sudden destruction. The Faith is precious. Let us seek to understand it.

He Is Still The Friend Of Sinners

He Is Still The Friend Of Sinners

This Sunday, October 25, will be Friends Sunday at our church.  On hindsight, every Sunday should be friends’ Sunday at every church. The best expression of friendship one could ever show is concern for another person’s eternal destiny. While we thank you for being present at the regular services and we thank you for your gifts, your salvation is our primary concern. We want each person who enters through the doors of the building to experience personal friendship with Jesus Christ.

  During the time of His earthly life, the critics of Jesus labeled Him “friend of sinners”. That label was far more derogatory than what many persons were called who were friends of a black person. The “name callers” intended to hurt Jesus reputation and ministry by calling Him friend of sinners. They never thought that a sinner needed a friend. I am so glad Jesus is a Friend of sinners. And since the church is His, we must be friends of sinners because we are only sinners saved by God’s grace.

This is one of the most fitting titles one could give to Jesus. He has done what no other friend could do and would do. Jesus is that Friend that each of us need. He has come to us; He became like us; He died for us; He is still praying for us; He has promised to come back for us; He even promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

There is no greater joy on earth than knowing that Jesus is a Friend of sinners. I can only introduce Him to you. You will have to experience friendship with Him for yourself. Actually, it was Jesus who said to His disciples, “I no longer call you servants, I call you friends”. But it is a friendship based on our obedience to Him. For He says “you are My friends if you do what I command you”, John 15:14-15.  Now is the time to enter into friendship with this great friend. Why? You may ask. Because He is the best Friend anyone could ever have and He is for the present and the eternal future. What a Friend we have in Jesus!!!

From The Pastor’s Heart

Fighting The Fight, Not Faking It

A very dark chapter of world history are those periods when persons who identified themselves as followers of Jesus Christ engaged in armed combat in the name of Jesus as a means to settle disputes. Based on what has been written in Scripture, it is not difficult to see that Jesus does not sanction the use of weapons to settle disputes. Even though He told the disciples to arm themselves with swords (Luke 22:35-38, two swords for 12 people?), He commanded them to put them away when they were drawn, (Luke 22:49-51; John 18:11).  He refused to call on His heavenly Father to send His angels to defend Him, (Matthew 26:51-55). He also told Pilate that if His kingdom were of this world His servants would have fought for Him so that He would not be turned over to him. But as it is, His kingdom is not from this realm, (John 18:36).

These words were part of a conversation that Jesus had after His arrest and during His trial. Based on what we know, an innocent Man was arrested and executed. The Apostles made mention of His innocence and murder in their preaching, (Acts 2:22-23; 3:13-15; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52). People of power and people in power have not stopped targeting followers of Jesus for persecution and death. Before there were laws to protect Christians from being brutalized, there were laws that outlawed the Faith. Why has there been such hostility against those of us who seek to follow The Way of life which does no harm to anyone?

Whether we accept it or not, there is war declared against those of us who have chosen to become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever a person receives Christ Jesus into his/her life, that person has become a target of the various forces of darkness. Some of these forces are working through governments and various institutions. They are working through industries and individuals. So what do we as followers of Christ do? Should we just sit back and watch as these forces of evil trample on us? God forbid! We are informed that we fight, but not against humans (flesh and blood, Eph. 6:12). We are told that the weapons with which we fight are not man-made. We engage these forces of darkness in the spiritual realm. We do so with weapons of righteousness.

 Persons who would engage in spiritual warfare (on the Lord’s side) have to be persons who are real Christians, living authentic, devoted, committed and holy life. These persons are totally resigned to the will and purpose of God; their lives are ordered according to the Word of the Lord; they are uncompromising in their position regarding sinful behaviors and they are willing to die for their faith. They are not persons who are seeking a better congregation every year. They are growing in their relationship with Christ; they are not seeking congregations where others make them feel comfortable; they are not seeking to be served but to serve; they are not seeking to fulfill their passions; they are seeking to carry out God’s purpose; they are not concerned about their rights; they are concerned about their roles; church is not about them; church is about Christ; they surrender to the authority of Scripture rather than the authority of self. They know the church is bigger than they are and they serve from a position privilege not power. They do not put the church above Christ. The salvation of souls and the discipling of believers are their priority not the number of people who gather for an event nor the amount of money collected.

There are many persons who have gotten tired of institutionalized and individualized Christianity and are embracing radical Christ-centered, Apostolic, and raw Christianity. They do not care for our fancy buildings and our club-mentality, aristocratic, upper class church profiling which amounts to nothing more than a display of costumes and artistic production on Sundays. These persons are engaging the powers of darkness in the name of Jesus. They are demolishing fortresses and are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and they are taking thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. This was the way of life for the Jesus followers in the first century. People were not rushing to be a part of the movement unless they were authentic, Acts 5:13. Their practices matched their profession.

We can profile as much as we want. This is not a reflection of who Christ is. As important as orthodoxy is, it is not a substitute for obedience. Jesus makes us know that by asking why do we call him Lord but do not obey Him, (Luke 6:46). One of the harsh realities of the future is what Jesus states in Matthew 7:21-23: Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles”? And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness”.

Let the real church arise and fight the good fight of faith!

Father in heaven, it is so easy to be false, to be fake, to be phony, to be just a plain hypocrite. But this is not how you want us to be, and deep in our hearts Lord, this is not how we want to be either. We hear the call from you through your servant, the apostle Paul as he appeals to us not to allow the world to shape our thinking. We ask you to transform us through the power of your Holy Spirit and make us genuine witnesses of your saving grace. Help us as your Body to be constantly in tuned with you, the Head. Teach us your way in all things. Thank you Father for allowing us to have life through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to remain in Him so we can be fruitful disciples. Father please forgive us for those times when we were just faking everything. Thank you for being merciful and forgiving. Today, we sign up to be one hundred percent all for you. Yes Lord, totally Yours. In Jesus name.