LET US GO TO THE LORD IN PRAYER

Father, I come before you in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Lord, you know all things. They are all before you like an open book. Who can hide their heart from your presence and your eye? The deeds of the most clever men are exposed before you. Your omniscience knows know bounds - and if it were not for grace, I would be of all men most terrified. But there is grace, abounding and glorious, poured out upon the weakest of men, and abounding to your glory.
Father, I praise you and I worship you; I thank you for all that you are and all that have done. There is no one like you in Heavens and on the Earth or under the earth. You are the King and there is no other. You are Savior and you share your glory with no one. Father, this day you know me and my great need of grace. Why am I here except that you called the weakest among men, the most ignoble among brothers, and that by your grace, often times, the lesser teaches the greater? That is always my case and I praise you. I worship you. Father, help us today, to the wind with eloquence, to hell with brilliant intellect, Father. Let the truth go forward. Let me be changed that the state of your church be more glorious. I pray for grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy for myself and for those who read my blog. Help us, Oh God, and we will be helped; and we will boast in that help in Jesus' Name. AMEN!!!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Parable Of The Prodigal Son

One of the most well known parables of the gospels is the parable of the prodigal son. We find it in Luke’s gospel where, starting from 15:11 we read:

Luke 15:11-24

 "Then He [the Lord Jesus] said: "A certain man had two sons. "And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. "But when he came to himself, he said, How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants." And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. "And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry."

The Son of God came to find and save the lost (Matthew 18:11). The one that comes to Him will never be cast out, says the Word (John 6:37). It does not matter what one has done or not. It does not matter what is his/her past. What the Son of God wants is not to condemn but to save (John 3:17). The compassion of the father of this parable is a figure of the compassion of the Father God (Jesus said the parable in relation of the joy occurring in heaven, when a sinner returns). God "wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:4).

The son of this parable could not wait for his father to die. He wanted the property right and then, though his father was still alive. Once he put his hands on it, gathered all together and left for a "far country". Who knows what he might have heard for this country. Advertisements, TV, radio (if they existed) would speak for this country. If he had lots of money, he could live the "big life" there – the "big life" the Word of God describes with two words: "prodigal living". At the end, the balloon blow out and the once son-of-a-rich-father, became poor and hungry. His hunger was actually so much that he didn’t have anything to eat - the pigs were fed more than him!

And then, something critical happened: "he came to himself" and he thought: "How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants." The prodigal son came to himself! The time that one "comes to himself" is usually not the time that everything goes well, but the time that, as with this son, he may not even have pots to satisfy his hunger. The son came therefore to himself and took the way of return to his home. All the thoughts he made were right and just: after what he had done, he had no right to be called a son of this father. He had eaten up his labours by living prodigally. Yet the Father saw him from afar. This shows that he was watching the road. Though the son had taken his inheritance and left the home, the father was not indifferent. He was waiting day after day for him to return. If he could find him, he would go and plead him to come back - as the Lord pleads us to be reconciled with Him (II Corinthians 5:20-21). The Father was waiting. He was watching the road, and as soon as he saw his son coming, he RAN to meet him ! Really what a touching picture: a father running to hug and kiss a son that ate up his property by living prodigally. However, is it not the same with God? We were dead in sins and trespasses, children of wrath, and yet He saved us, He raised us together with Christ and He sited us with Him in the heavenlies. Not because of our works (we were dead) BUT BECAUSE OF THE MULTITUDE OF HIS LOVE (Ephesians 2:4). As the father of the parable, God waits for the lost sheep, and when one returns, HE RUNS TO HUG HIM/HER AND KISS THEM. THE FATHER FORGETS AND DELETES ALL THE PAST OF EVERY SON THAT RETURNS. HE WILL NOT BRING TO JUDGMENT ANY BELIEVER, ANY SHEEP THAT RETURNED, FOR WHAT WAS DONE IN THE TIME HE WAS LOST. "IF ANYONE IS IN CHRIST , HE IS A NEW CREATION; OLD THINGS HAVE PASSED AWAY; BEHOLD ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW" (II Corinthians 5:17) says the Word of God. So, the father of the parable instead of kicking out his son – as many fathers do when they find out the rebellions of their children, even though they may have repented – instead of putting him in a trial period, he hugged him, he kissed him and killed the fattest calf he had – ALL STARTED TO BE MERRY. Similar is the joy in heaven when a sinner returns. What the Lord desires is not the condemnation of the sinner. If you have been told that God waits with a stock whip if you turn to Him, please hear this: GOD IS WAITING FOR YOU LIKE THE FATHER OF THE PRODIGAL SON. HE WAITS FOR YOU AND ONCE HE SEES YOU COMING, HE RUNS TO HUG YOU, KISS YOU AND START A BRIGHT CELEBRATION FOR YOUR RETURN. "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7)  

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Gideon's Encounter With The Lord.

In Judges 6 is recorded the encounter of the Lord with Gideon - the man through whom God would save Israel from the slavery to the Medianites. Verses 1-10 give us the situation that Israel was in at that time:
Judges 6:6-10 "Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD."
The reason the sons of Israel turned to the Lord was their deep poverty and distress, which in turn came as a result of their rebellion and disobedience against the Lord. Then verses 8-10 tells us what the Lord did:
Judges 6:8-10 "And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, "I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell." But you have not obeyed My voice."
As answer to the Israel’s plea for help, the Lord send a prophet who told them what He had done for them and how disobediently they behaved. This answer though didn’t mean that He would not help them. Israel behaved disobediently, but they finally returned and this was the important. Thus in verse 11 we read:
"Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valour!"
The Lord’s call didn’t come to somebody sitting in a palace. It didn’t come to someone that was especially trained for this mission, to a great fighter let’s say, or to a man that was a leader in Israel. The call of the Lord came to a peasant that was threshing wheat, in order to hide it from the Medianites. "Man looks at the at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart" says the Word (I Samuel 16:7). He looks at the heart and He calls. He calls anybody. You, that you may not have a Ph.D. in theology and you may have never been in a pulpit. Yet, you have Christ. You are a member of His body with the same significant and critical role as any member of your physical body has. So the Lord called Gideon, a peasant that was threshing wheat, to do his work. Was he really looking a "mighty man of valour"? He was threshing the wheat to HIDE IT from the Medianites. And yet that is what exactly you are, "a mighty man (or woman) of valour" when the Lord is with you. "The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalms 27:1), David said. "If God is for us, who can be against us" (Romans 8:31), "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME" (Philippians 4:13) Paul said. "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), the Lord said. It does not matter what we have or what we can do – without the Lord, from ourselves, we can do nothing – but what He can do through us, if we obey to what He calls us. And carrying on to verse 13:
"Gideon said to Him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."
Had Gideon understood that he was speaking with an angel of the Lord? Probably not yet, as only later in verse 22 he admitted it. Gideon answered with a "why" to the Lord’s greeting that opened their conversation. "If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us". Some brothers and sisters look at the past, to the so and so event and they make the same thoughts as Gideon: "if the Lord is with me, then why all this happened to me"? "I will never leave you nor forsaken you" (Hebrews 13:5) says the Word though. The Lord will never leave you. He will never forsaken you even if difficult times may arise, and they will arise in life. However, God didn’t wait till Gideon had no question. Verse 14 gives us His reply:
"Then the LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?"
"Have I not sent you?" It does not matter who you are and what are your credentials. These may matter for men. Men look at titles and names. However the Lord does not – He looks only at the heart. What really matters is that He has sent you. If the Lord sends you and you obey to His instructions, then you will succeed to whatever your mission may be, even if it is the liberation of a whole nation, as here with Gideon. And the conversation carries on in verses 15-16
Judges 6:15-16 "So he said to Him, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." And the LORD said to him, "BUT I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man."
Gideon was the smallest of the small. His words remind me the similar conversation between Jeremiah and the Lord, in the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry.
Jeremiah 1:4-8 "Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD."
Yes of course, physically speaking, you may not be the most trained or admitted for this work. Physically speaking, there might be others, better than Gideon, from a more well known family or tribe that might be more acceptable. There might be also speakers in Jeremiah’s time that could handle language better than him. However, again it does not matter what you can do but what God can do through you. When the Lord has called you for a work and you obey Him there is no chance of failure. FOR HE IS WITH YOU. To what Gideon is saying, God does not answer that he is wrong. He replies however with a BUT. "Gideon it may even be like what you have said. BUT YOU FORGOT SOMETHING: I WILL BE WITH YOU AND IF I’M WITH YOU THEN ALL ELSE IS NEEDLESS. THE ONLY THAT IS NEEDED IS TO BELIEVE ME." And Gideon did believe God and the Lord delivered through him the Israel from the Midianites. May we also do the same. May we also believe, follow and obey God to whatever He has called us.  

Monday, January 29, 2018

HOLY SPIRIT: Comforter

In John chapters 14 to 16, we find Jesus, shortly before his arrest by the Jews, giving last minute instructions and comfort to his disciples. He was no longer going to be with them. They will indeed see him again after his resurrection but only temporarily, till the ascension to his Father. The fact that Jesus would go to the Father would mean that they would be left alone … except if he sent a replacement, another one to fill in for him. Except if He was coming to them in “another form” so to speak. And as we will see that’s exactly what happened! Jesus, though is no longer physically present, he is much more present than before! How? Through the Comforter, the holy spirit; this comforter truly fills in for Jesus, doing what he would be doing if he was physically present with each one of his disciples. Mentioning disciples, I’m not referring here only to the disciples that were present that night in the garden of Gethsemane. Apart from them and much more I’m referring to us!
None of us have met Jesus in person, flesh and blood, as the disciples had met him. Yet, because of the Comforter, the holy spirit, we are not left without him. John 14:15-18 tells us: John 14:15-18  “If you love me, keep my commandments. “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another comforter, to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; but you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
Jesus Christ is speaking about the holy spirit here and describes it as another comforter. Though Jesus was leaving, he was not actually leaving them alone. He would send ANOTHER comforter i.e. somebody that would fill in for him, somebody that would do all that he was doing when he was with them, a replacement so to speak for his physical absence. Though he would no longer be physically present with them, he would be spiritually present, through the Comforter. In other words having the holy spirit is absolutely like having Jesus. And the holy spirit does for those who follow Jesus what Jesus did for his disciples when he was physically present i.e. teaches them, guides them, admonishes them, comforts them. That’s why it is called ANOTHER comforter. The first comforter was Jesus in his physical presence. Just a few days after Jesus’ ascension, the holy spirit, the second comforter, “another comforter”, the fill in for Jesus, the first comforter, came. As Barnes says in his commentary:
“Jesus had been to them a counselor, a guide, a friend, while he was with them. He had instructed them, had borne with their prejudices and ignorance, and had administered consolation to them in the times of despondency. But he was about to leave them now .. The other Comforter was to be given as a compensation for his absence, or to perform the offices toward them which he would have done if he had remained personally with them. And from this we may learn, in part, what is the office of the Spirit. It is to furnish to all Christians the instruction and consolation which would be given by the personal presence of Jesus..” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible) Therefore dear brother and sister in Christ: you are not left alone. Jesus is not somewhere far away from you. He is very close to you. Jesus, through the Comforter, is in you! As Colossians 1:26-27 tells us:
“the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Christ is IN YOU dear brother and sister. The comforter is in you! And why is the comforter there? To do all that Christ would do if he was physically present. Here is the ministry of the holy spirit as described by Jesus:
John 14:26  “But the Comforter, the holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
John 15:26  “But when the Comforter comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me.“
John 16:7  “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is to your advantage that I go away: for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. “
Having the holy spirit is more to our advantage than even if Jesus stayed physically present on the earth!
John 16:8-15  “And when he has come, he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father and you see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the spirit of truth, has come,he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come. he will glorify me, for he will take of what is mine and declare it to you. 
All things that the Father has are mine. Therefore I said that he will take of mine and declare it to you.” This is the wonderful ministry and the wonderful reality of the holy spirit.
Many people do not really believe to an active in the life of the disciples holy spirit. They are thus essentially supporting that we have been left orphans with just our minds to try to figure out how to live for him! But as Jesus said: we are not left orphans! The holy spirit fills in for him, being “another comforter”, that is to say a comforter in the place of the Jesus, the first comforter.
Others again attribute to the holy spirit things that we never see Jesus doing and which have no backup in the Scripture. Are these things really done by the holy spirit? The answer is NO. What the holy spirit does is always in alignment with the Word of God. If something is not in alignment with the Word then it is not done by the holy spirit. To close this article: Jesus going to his Father did not leave us alone. He sent us a replacement that does what Jesus would do if he was physically present with each one of us. This replacement is the holy spirit and its mission is, among others, to teach and bring into remembrance (John 14:26), instruct, guide (Acts 16:6-10) and comfort (Acts 9:31). It is not a “spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). This is the wonderful gift that the Father, because of His love, gave to those who believe in His Son and his resurrection from the dead.
Romans 5:5  “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit which is given unto us.”  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Life Of God—Worship

Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

"You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both.

"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Optimism Is The Only Option

Fill your life with optimism. Optimism will keep you going and make life more enjoyable. This doesn’t mean everything that happens is good. It’s more about keeping the big picture in mind, having faith that good things will happen. And recognizing that many good things are happening right now.
We have to ignore the setbacks and keep moving forward, expecting that good things will happen. Counting our loses and obsessing over why certain things happen will prevent us from seeing good things that are right under our nose.
We’re capable of creating a positive state of mind for ourselves. But we have to stay away from negative influences. When we’re around other people we are entering their world — their perception of reality. That perception may be quite different from our own.
We have no choice but to be optimistic. The alternative offers us no advantage. Pessimism is not a viable option. There’s plenty of reason to be pessimistic. But there’s also plenty of reason to be optimistic. Being optimistic starts with appreciating what you have. Everyone has something to be grateful for.
P.S. I’m not talking about down-side risk. It’s important to consider the potential down-side to decisions we make. But our overall outlook on life should be optimistic.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Worrying

Worrying never got me anywhere before. So why should it now? There were many times when I could have died, but didn’t. There were many times when I made plans, but they didn’t work out. And there were many times when I said to hell with it, but things worked out anyway.
We think we have control, but our control is very limited. We can control our attitude and behavior to an extent, but we have far less control of outcomes. Of what other people will do, what nature will do, what opportunities will be available to us, etc.
Our insecurity comes from fear. Fear that our needs won’t be met. Fear that we don’t matter. Fear that things aren’t as we think they are. We’re insecure because we care. We’re insecure because we’re not able to let go and be present in the moment.
But how often do our fears come true? Not very often, right? Go with the odds. Odds are that the vast majority of your fears won’t come true. And the ones that do, may not be as bad as you imagine them to be.
Allow one day’s problems to be enough. Worrying about tomorrow won’t make it better. And you might ruin your last day worrying about a day that’s not going to come. We should consider each day as possibly our last, because one day it will be. Ask yourself: If today was my last day, what are some things I would want to do? And what are some things I should avoid?
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