Category Archives: Attitude Transformation

Rethinking the Way Church Ministries are Funded

Photocredit: BusinessDaily

Giving is a biblical requirement for believers in Christ. It is to be done generously and joyfully, out of a heart that is grateful to God. Biblically, it is a blessing to give than to receive.

It is through giving that the work of God is propagated; for instance, preaching of the gospel, and planting of churches. Also, it is through giving, God involves people in doing his work of spreading the gospel and transforming lives and communities. The generosity of God’s people enables churches to fulfill their financial obligations like paying salaries and meeting other administrative costs. Again, it is through giving that the needs of the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable are met. Most of the churches in Kenya rely on Sunday collections to fund these financial duties and operations. (How sustainable is this?)

A few months ago, when the Covid-19 pandemic was first reported in Kenya, Sunday gatherings were halted as a containment measure against the spread of the coronavirus. Many churches have been hit hard by this measure, Also, it is true that due to the ongoing uncertain situation, many church members have lost jobs, and others have had to take pay-cuts. As a result, many churches are experiencing a financial shock. The few available resources cannot address the increasing needs within and outside the church.

The outcome of a recently released poll by ShahidiHub Africa indicate that 37.53% of pastors/church leaders think that Giving is down at least 50%; also, 23.08% mentioned that Giving is down at least 25 %; 29.14% said that Giving is down below 10%; while 6.99% think that giving is close to the same. However small the percentage, it is interesting to note that 3.26% said that giving is up more than usual. The report further indicates that “Overall, 85% think that giving is below 50%. This significantly impairs the functioning of church activities.” When the church does not have financial resources, it makes it hard to sustain itself as an organization, and in reaching out to the needs in the surrounding society.

Evidently, the financial constraints occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, that has affected the majority of churches in Kenya, is an indicator that churches might need to relook at their revenue base with the intention of expanding it. Churches may want to consider financial sustainability models that do not wholly depend on Sunday collections to run church operations. Clearly, over-reliance on Sunday morning collections weakens the church’s ability to meet its financial obligations, and ministries to the poor and underprivileged in the society.

It is worth noting that some churches have invested in income-generating activities to boost their income base. This enables them to build reserves for church operations for unusual moments. My first proposition is that churches that have not invested in income-generating activities should consider this option in the post-COVID period. It is important to note that the management of these investments needs to be handled with care and prudence so that it does not overshadow the very purpose of the church. These projects should only facilitate the mission of the church.

Second, the church needs to be intentional in matters of holistic ministry. The breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic is a reminder of a need not just to preach a spiritual message to our congregations, but also help improve their economic status by equipping them with business skills for self-support. If we want to have churches that are financially stable, we will need to equip our members to be strong economically; a wealthy home will possibly mean a wealthier church. Covid-19 pandemic should thus cause leaders to rethink how their churches can remain financially stable to continue its mission even in uncertain times.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR:

Philemon K. Tanui,
Associate Pastor, A. I. C Wilson Airport (Nairobi)- Dip. Bible and Pastoral Studies (2007), B.Th (2011), MA Missions (2018), Ph.D Student (A.I.U)

Philemon K. Tanui

The Kind of People Who Inherit God’s Promises 

caleb.png
PhotoCredit: Supercoloring

Joshua 14:6-15

God has laid out an inheritance before his people but not all will possess that possession. Many are called but few are chosen. What kind of people eventually qualify for God’s inheritance/blessings? This topic will be briefly handled within the context of ancient Israel inheriting the Promised Land; specifically looking at the life of Caleb. It is only Caleb and Joshua who left Egypt and transitioned to the Promised Land, the rest of his generation perished in the wilderness and a new generation had come up. What kinds of people “eat the best of the land” (Isa 1:19). What kind of people do we ought to be, for us to inherit God’s promises?

The kind of people who inherit the blessings of God /people to put on the watch list:

People who Firmly Trust the Word of God (v6)- Caleb remembers the word that the Lord spoke through his servant Moses forty years earlier. For all these years, Caleb hid God’s word in his heart, waiting for its revelation, like Simon patiently waiting for the consolation of Israel (Lk. 2:25).

In his short speech, he repeatedly refers to the word that the Lord spoke. God’s promise for his life was never weakened by age or delay. Caleb longed for its fulfillment. He lived with hope for the great day of fulfillment of the word spoken by the Lord. They that hope/ trust upon the Lord shall have their strength renewed. Caleb treasured God’s word for over 40 years; it God’s word that made him stand out in his generation.

  • People who have Personal Convictions (v7)- Caleb and Joshua had a solid conviction based on God’s word. Caleb speaks of his conviction in this verse. Conviction is a firm believe/strong persuasion; it is the feeling of being sure that what you believe or say is true. Caleb had a strong conviction on God’s promises. He is like Joseph (Gen. 39:9), and Daniel (Dan. 3:17,18), Paul (2 Tim. 1:12) in the Bible. You can only overcome the world, peer pressure and temptations by developing conviction based on the word of God. We need people who believe that they can be patient and get rewarded in the end; people who believe they can build wealth through hard work, and not gambling.
  • People who Wholeheartedly Follow God (v8)- Caleb was committed and consistent. When the ten spies brought reports that “made the hearts of the people melt with fear,” Caleb and Joshua chose to give an encouraging report based on the word of God.
  • Caleb wholly followed God. When the assembly of God’s people feared to walk according to God’s plan, Caleb stood firm. He followed God despite opposition. He endured threats, insults, and prejudices. In fact, he was almost stoned by the people (Num 14:10). It is possible to follow God but not wholeheartedly. King Amaziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord but not wholeheartedly, 2 Chronicles 25:2.

What does to “wholly follow God” mean?

  • Submissive to the will of the Lord. He kept his heart pure.
  • Resting upon the word of God as clear and authoritative in matters of belief and practice.
  • Laying hold of the promises of God as certain.

Caleb followed God with determination. Clearly, that was not easy; especially when the people were complaining against their leaders and the people turning to idolatry in Mt. Sinai.

As a result of wholeheartedly following God, he was rewarded. Hebron, therefore, became an inheritance for Caleb. God rewards his faithful followers and honors those who honor him. He rewards obedience.

People who are courageous and strong- (v10-15)

In verse 2, Caleb demands to be given the inheritance according to the promise. He claims still able to dislodge the Anakites in their large and fortified cities. He is still able to task. He does not request the conquered regions, but a piece of the fight will be alright with him. He requested not the easy deal but the harder one! Today, we need people who know and have the courage to claim their possessions.

Be courageous to hold on to your convictions. Be courageous to swim upstream in the contemporary world. Be courageous to stand by the truth even when you are the minority.

Caleb was a man of courage. It is him who led the opposition against the ten (bad news) reporters. When the people of Israel wanted to pack and go back to Egypt, Caleb and Joshua had a rough time reminding them of God’s promises. Courage is not being insensitive/unaware of pending dangers. It is not the absence of fear, rather a deliberate strength and determination to move forward no matter what.

Caleb braved himself out when others proved to be traitors. This courage sprang from the faith he had in God. God wants Joshua to be strong and courageous to be able to lead the people into the Promised Land, Joshua 1:6. Joshua’s strength and courage came from meditating on the word of God, believing its promises, and obeying its precepts. This was the counsel Moses had given to all the people (Deut.11:1-9).

It is never enough to have convictions in life; it should be coupled with courage.

We need the courage to confess Christ in every place we go, and in every situation we find ourselves. Doing God’s will requires courage.

Courage has been summed up in the following words: “I must obey God’’

Our greatest enemy today is cowardice, life’s battle needs courageous people. Always be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. The kingdom of God as we know shall be taken over by the violent; it is for those who take it by force.

In Conclusion, Ephesians 1, we are instructed that we have an inheritance in God; ensure you are positioned to inherit this promise. The first inheritance is salvation.

WHEN THE LORD BLESSSES YOU

In Deuteronomy 7:1-14; 8, the nation of Israel was on the verge of entering the promised land after many years of wandering. God, through Moses, gave them some instructions as they planned to settle in the land. But before giving these admonitions, the Lord reminded them about their past journey. God had severally rescued them from their enemies, delivered them miraculously, taught them, nurtured them through their challenges, and miraculously provided for their needs. As a result, they were now a people destined for an inheritance. God’s past dealings with them gave them some obligations as people. This is a timeless truth.

Therefore, when the Lord blesses you, remember to:

  1. Maintain your Identity in Him (7:2-8)- The people of ancient Israel were to set themselves apart as a special people to God. They had to jealously safeguard their (special) covenant relationship with God. Here, to be set apart means to be holy and blameless.

They were reminded that they were the chosen ones of God on the face of the earth. What a privileged position and favor! They were God’s treasured possession, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, called to declare God’s praises among the nations.

Also, they were reminded that God’s choice over them was not meritorious. Rather, it was a gracious act. There was nothing special to them that could attract God to them. In fact, they were not numerous than other people (people power), also, they were the fewest of all the people (insignificant). But God only exercised his love toward them because he was fulfilling the promise made with their patriarch, Abraham.

However, setting themselves apart was not going to come easy; they were to take radical steps against sin to remain holy to their God. For their safety, they were not to intermarry with those with opposing belief system (not to be yoke with unbelievers/friendship with the world is enmity with God), they were also required to break down their altars. Simply, they were not to adopt a lifestyle that was alien to their cultural, ethical, and spiritual foundations.

Holiness does not come easy; it involves constant, deliberate, and decisive moves against apostasy, sin, and wickedness.

Today, has the Lord God done so much to/for you (or blessed you) that you wonder how to thank Him? maintain your identity by living a godly life. Offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- as your spiritual act of worship (Rom 12:1-2). Thank Him by living a godly life. It is what pleases him. When you live a holy life in thankfulness for what God has done, you glorify Him (Matt. 5:16). In other words, you cannot thank God if you are deliberately living in sin

  1. Seek to Know the Lord- (7:9-10)
  • Increase in the knowledge of God– Seek to know what he cherishes, his will, what pleases him, and what makes him angry. Seek him, his kingdom, and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We often want to increase in knowledge of our professions, that is good, but we need to extend the same spirit in seeking God’s knowledge.

In this knowledge, realize that the Lord is your God is faithful (hesed), keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Seek him as your greatest treasure (Matt. 13:43-45); make him your all in all; and, involve him in your life.

  • Do not forget the Lord (8:2)- It is interesting that we remember what we want to forget and forget what we should remember. The people of ancient Israel were instructed to remember the Lord and what he done in the past.

How can one FORGET the Lord and what the Lord has done in the past? Well, this is a common temptation to all of us. When the Lord blesses us, it is very easy to end up focusing on the blessings than the source/One blessing us.

Moses noted that the people will unsurprisingly forget the past miracles through the vast dreadful desert, thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions, military victories, the water out of the rock, and the manna in the desert. Sadly, this is one of the problems of the human heart: forgetting God.

When we forget the Lord and his workings in our lives, we give room for our hearts to be occupied by pride (8:14). We soon allow other gods and idols to take a center stage of our lives.

Pride (the spirit of independence) is something that crawls in silently and grows gradually without our realization; Moses warned that if they do not guard their hearts, they might end up saying, “’My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” (8:16-18). Therefore, for us today, it is paramount to stay humble and understand that everything we have has been received, because of God’s graciousness.

  • Love Him, serve Him, and fear Him– (6:5,13) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

It is not enough that we are consecrated to the Lord and that we know him, we need to love him and serve him wholeheartedly with all that we are and have.

In Exodus 10:26, Moses adamantly told Pharaoh that the people will have to leave Egypt with their possessions because they will need it in their worship of God; “Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshipping the Lord our God…” We need to present not just ourselves to the Lord but also our possessions. God needs our possessions. We should serve the Lord with our wealth, don’t waste it on worthless things.

Giving is one of the ways we can serve the Lord and promote his kingdom; giving generously is one way of declaring that everything we have has been received and we are only stewards of God’s resources. A grateful heart gives; and by giving you make what you have received a tool for service rather than an idol of worship.

III. Follow the word of God (7:11-26)- God had revealed his word to Israel; and this was to be the basis for their belief and living. Torah contained God’s expectation, and God’s past dealings with them in regard to salvation. They were to read it, interpret it, and apply it. It contained guidance for their living, food for their nourishment, warnings for their good and promises for their success.

Obedience to God’s word ensured their continued blessings. Also, obedience to the word of God demonstrates our commitment to God; Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (Jn. 14:23).

This is what happens when you observe the word of God and revere him: God will keep his commandment of love with you, he will love you, he will bless you and increase you, he will bless your families, bless your jobs/crops of your field and herds of your flock. He will lift you up above others, he will keep you free from diseases, he will ensure that no one will stand against you, he will give you victory, and accomplish the impossible for you (7:17-24).

Walking in God’s ways radicality in regard to sin. Walking in obedience to God and his word means taking deliberate actions against falling into the snare of idolatry, destroying any form of idolatry, not to coveting the treasures of the wicked (7:16).

It is foolish and evil when some people use God or his name (as a bridge) for their ends; and quickly abandon him when they have secured their desired end.

IV. Praise/Bless him (8:10-)– When the Lord blesses you and have eaten and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, when your property increases, and when your money multiplies, remember to praise the Lord.

Praising/blessing the Lord involves declaring him as the source of the power of your success.

In Psalm 116:12, the psalmist communes with his own heart on how to respond to God’s grace and providence. He writes, “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?

First, the Psalmist says that he will call upon the name of the Lord. He will declare God’s name and deeds among his people. Having tasted of the goodness of the Lord the Psalmist will invite others to come to the living waters where they can eat and drink without money and without cost (Isa. 55:1-2). He will make the world know that the source of his help, joy, peace and salvation. He will let the world know that in Jesus there is a healer, provider, sanctifier, deliverer, redeemer, savior, hope and eternal life. He will lift up the name of the Lord, he will decrease as he increases (Jn. 3:30).

Second, the psalmist will fulfill his vows to God. Perhaps in his dark moments, he had made a vow to the Lord; and since the Lord had acted in his goodness, he will fulfill his vows.

As a person, you may have made a vow when you were sick, desperate, unemployed, in distress, or needed a sort of deliverance, breakthrough or promotion. Then the unbelievable happened through God’s intervention. You got healed, you got a job/promotion, or your business started picking up; or simply put, you became delivered from your ‘enemies’ and fears. The best thing to do is to remember to fulfill the verbal commitments you made to the Lord. The Lord commands, “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said” (Num. 30:2).

Concluding Thoughts: When the Lord blesses us, let us: Set ourselves apart for the Lord and his purposes; Seek to know the Lord; Follow the word of God; Praise Him.

God Our Refuge

refuge God

When in distress, where do you run to?

When Israel finally conquered the promised land, God commanded Joshua to set aside six cities of refuge (Joshua 20). These cities were to be set strategically in the promised Land.

What was the purpose of these cities?

The cities were to be safe havens to those who unintentionally find themselves in trouble. For instance, anyone who killed a person accidentally/unintentionally fled to any of these places for protection from the avenger of blood. By running into these cities, the offender received a lifeline. In these cities, a victim was granted asylum until the trial of his case was held in the presence of the community. In short, a city of refuge was a place of safety in times of danger.

Over time, theologically, the idea of finding refuge in geographical places was replaced by the idea of finding refuge in the Person of God. A shift from a PLACE to a PERSON!

In 2 Samuel 22:1-4, David proclaimed, THE LORD IS MY REFUGE. He referred to God as his rock, fortress, stronghold and shield. The idea of a place being a refuge place began to remotely disappear in their theology, and the idea of God as refuge took a center stage.

Now, instead of a geographical location, the Lord is a stronghold to the oppressed, poor, and those who are in trouble (Ps. 9:9; Isa 25:3).

Bible mentions some benefits that come from having God as our refuge. Those who take refuge in God (even today) receive:

Blessings– Those who take refuge in him are blessed, are filled with joy and gladness (Ps. 2:12; 5:12). Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (Ps. 34:8).

Protection– They that run to Him receive protection (Ps. 5:11). The Lord is a shield to those who shelter under his wings (2 Sam. 22:31; Ps. 18:30). Those who trust in God are kept safe (Ps. 16:1-2). The Lord guards them; “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Ps. 91:4).

Deliverance– Those who shelter in the Almighty receive deliverance from enemies and from the traps of enemies. The Lord delivers his own from the wicked. He is the strong tower against our enemies (Ps. 61:3-4), therefore worthy to be trusted at all times. David confessed, “O Lord my God, I take refuge in you, save me and deliver me from all who pursue me” (Ps. 7:1ff; 11:1; 31:4). Also, David expressed his confidence in God, the trustworthy deliverer; for those who trust in God as their refuge are also rescued from shame (Ps. 25:20) and are redeemed (Ps. 34:22). If we want to receive honor instead of shame, then we need to hide under His wings.

Love and Goodness of the Lord– Those who take refuge in God are shown the wonder of God’s great love (Ps. 17:7-9) and enjoy the goodness of God (Ps. 31:19-20).

—————

Where do you seek your refuge today? Is it in places, people, family, beauty, knowledge, material things, relationships? Ultimately, these options disappoint. Realize that even people who have sought refuge places in schools and in church buildings, in the past, were disappointed when those ‘safe’ places were razed.

If God is your refuge, you will not fear (Ps. 46). You will not be moved.

The safest place to be in the times of storm is to be under the shadow of His wings. The Lord is the strong shelter from the wind, a shade from the heat of the day, a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

Like the Psalmist, the Lord is and has been our refuge, we tell him what concerns us and he delivers us. Also, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” (Ps 46:1); “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Jesus Christ is the refuge’ to those who run to him; even the vilest sinner who runs to him finds life. He is a safe refuge we can run to from the sinful world and turbulence of life.

Life has eventualities, just as the Mosaic law anticipated and made some legal provisions. But more importantly, we need to have a PERSON we can run into and be safe. The Lord is that sure refuge; not places or human beings.

Today, make the sovereign Lord your refuge. The psalmist exhorts us to choose God as our refuge for it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man or in princes (Ps. 118:8). What does this mean to you?

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it” (Prov. 22:3).

Over time, theologically, the idea of finding refuge in geographical places was replaced by the idea of finding refuge in the Person of God. A shift from a PLACE to a PERSON!

KNOWING GOD THROUGH HIS NAMES

names.jpg

What is God like?

Bible uses several names to describe the nature and character of God. Each of these names and titles (and other metaphors and similes), like different facets of a diamond, reveal to us a unique quality, character, and identity of God. Although, no single name reveals all that may be known about Him. Collectively, through these names, we can know God better and increase our knowledge of Him.

However, in our experiences, we are confronted with false notions/views about God. Also, there is growing ignorance of who God is. And undeniably, wrong concepts/perspectives of God lead to wrong behavior; the high or low perspectives of God affects our thinking, conduct, and attitudes.

Therefore, it is important for us today to think rightly about God. We can only achieve this not on our own but based on the revealed word of God.

Biblical knowledge of God, through his revealed names, will enable us to confront distorted views of God. It was Jesus’ prayer that we may know Him (Jn. 17:3); and it was Paul’s greatest desire to know him more (Phil. 3:10).

Today, we would like to look at two names of God, as revealed in the Bible, namely: Elohim and El-Olam. Admittedly, the English names: God and Lord, furnish us with little information about His character and ways. That is why looking at these two names in the Hebrew language is instructive.

  1. Elohim (See Gen. 1)

The prefix (or shorter form) “El” was both the word for “god” and the name of the original high god among the Semitic peoples of the ancient Middle East. But among the Hebrews, the name Elohim was prominently used. El means God (of heaven), mighty one, strong. The ancient people depicted El as the great God; as opposed to a weak, passive, or powerless God. The plural rendering of the name is a plural of majesty.

In the Bible, the name Elohim is second in use (used about 2,570) after the name Yahweh. Sometimes these two names (Jehovah-Elohim) are combined. So, in what contexts are these names used, and what qualities of God do these names highlight.

Instances where the name Elohim is used in the Bible

God the Creator– The use of the name Elohim in Genesis 1 (appearing 32 times) depicts him as the Creator who causes things that are not to be. He spoke into existence things that were not. He fills the emptiness, brings out light out of darkness, form out of formlessness, and order out of disorder. Importantly, he creates man our of his image and likeness. By him, all things were created (Acts 17:24ff; Col. 1:16). He existed before the creation of all things. He is the source and sustainer of all things. In creation, Elohim speaks of himself as us (Gen. 1:26)

God the Deliverer– He delivered Israel up out of Egypt (Num. 23:22). He is the Savior of his people (Gen. 26:24).

God the Sovereign One– He is depicted as God of all the kingdoms of the earth (Isa. 37:16). The Lord of heaven and the earth (Gen. 24:3). The God of gods, the Lord of lords who is great and mighty (Deut. 10:17). He is all-powerful.

How big is your God? Is your God sovereign over every area of your life?

God of Relationships– Elohim is depicted as God who is near to his people (Jer. 23:23) and is the God of mercy (Ps. 59:17). He is the God who seeks a relationship with those who believe in him; he calls himself the “God of Abraham.”

He is the Lord of a second chance, Elohim established a covenant with Noah after the flood (Gen. 6:18; 9:15,16). He is the Lord who is faithful to his covenant; he remembered his covenant with Abraham when he judged Sodom, and saved Lot and his family (Gen. 19:29). He is the God who fulfills his word; in his deathbed, Joseph told his brothers, “I am about to die, but God (Elohim) will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Gen 50:24).

Implications of the name Elohim for us Today

Elohim as creator, deliverer, sovereign, and God who seeks an intimate relationship with his people….

2. El-Olam (Gen 21:33)

This is a description of a quality of God, bringing out the concept of eternity of God. He is limitless.

The Lord is the everlasting God (Isa 40:28). Moses wrote, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps. 90:2).

His rule and dominion endure through all generations (Ps. 145:13).

He has no beginning and no end. He is Alpha and Omega.

He makes things work at his appointed time. He is not limited by time. He can accomplish his purposes even when we think the time is not (no longer) right or favorable.

Implications of the name El-Olam for us Today

Since God is eternal and everything else around us is passing away, we can then anchor our lives on him. We can shelter and find refuge in him (Ps. 90:1).

It is possible to be imprisoned by fear, but the eternity of God reminds us that God eternal has already lived in our tomorrows.

We need to embrace the life that Jesus gives. He proclaimed that he had come to abolish death and to give us life.

Concluding Thoughts

What (picture/concept) comes into your mind when you think about God?

We need to recognize two temptations concerning what we’ve talked about. First, is the temptation to create God in our own image. It could be fashioning God in line with our own personal, conventional, or cultural beliefs. And certainly, this leads to wrong views about God.

Since everything rises or falls with our concept of God, we need to probe long-held false views of God, unlearn then, and rediscover Him; so that we can worship him as he is.

It has been said that God is not what we believe, rather, we believe in what God…

Second, there is the temptation to suppress the truth that has been revealed to us about God. Paul noted that although creation testifies the there is a creator (Rom 1:19, 20), human beings in their unrighteousness have suppressed this truth (Ps 19:1-4; Rom 1:18). In rebellion, human beings suppress and reject this knowledge. Paul writes that “although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful” (Rom 1:21).

God is not a mysterious being to us, he’s has revealed himself specifically through his Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-2).

So, has the knowledge of the Holy one transformed the way we live?

Finally, may the knowledge of Elohim enable us to embrace God’s power over our lives. And may the knowledge of the eternity of God help us anchor our lives on Christ, who gives life in abundance.

Possessing Your Possession

i

In Joshua 6:1-10, after crossing the river Jordan, the nation of Israel was in for a colossal challenge. Their first assignment after crossing the River Jordan was to possess their inheritance; the first on the list was the city of Jericho. A great ancient city fortified with gates of iron and bars of brass. However, this was not going to be normal military warfare. They had to pick some instructions before attacking the city.

The Lord ordered them to march around the city with all the armed men for six days. The priests were to carry the trumpet of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. Upon hearing the sound of a long blast on the trumpets, all the people were expected to give a loud shout. Then the wall of the city would collapse, and the people will go up and possess their possession.

The land of Canaan was Israel’s rightful possession. On one hand, God was judging Jericho for its sins, but on the other hand God was handing over to Israel what was due them.

Today, God has promised us so much him; we have an inheritance in God (Eph. 1:14); Col. 1:12; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:4), but many end up not possessing what has been promised to them. Not all people end up inheriting the glorious inheritance that God qualified them for. why? because of some necessary conditions.

Biblical conditions required for possessing what God has promised us:

  1. Possessing God’s Promise(s) (v2, 5), remembering God’s promises and acting on it. The Lord told Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” God has already won the battle. ‘It is your possession.’ The wall of the city shall fall (Josh 6:5). It was only a matter of time and the promise will be fulfilled!

God’s promises never fail (21:45; 23:14).

In his word, the Lord had promised to send fear before them; and to cause confusion among all the people to whom they will come across (Ex. 23:27).

The two spies sent by Joshua confirmed that the people inside the city of Jericho were in a panic and were sure that God was handing over their city to Israel (Josh. 2:9-11; See Deut. 2:25; 7:23; 11:25; 23:27).

The promise of God must have given Joshua courage. That the task ahead of him has been counted as done. The victory is already won! The Lord is a mighty warrior.

It was great and powerful cities like Jericho that had convinced the ten spies sent by Moses that they could never conquer the land (Num. 13:28; Deut. 1:28). From their eyes, it was mission impossible. But the two spies remembered God’s promise.

A promise always comes with a challenge. God promised Israelites the land flowing with milk and honey, but an enemy city stood in between.

Are we aware of God’s promises about our lives and situations around us today?

As God’s people, we must know God’s promises and claims it for ourselves. We must know what God has promised in his word: Ps. 23; Jer. 29:11; Matt. 28:20; Jn 14; 16:33; Rom 10:17; Heb. 13:5.

Consider this:

-God never promised us the absence of strange and confusing times but promised his enduring presence; I am with you always, to the very end of age, Matt 28:20

-God has not called us citizens of this world but called us aliens and His ambassadors; we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us 2 Cor. 5:20

-God never said that he is making the world a better place but promised that he’s gone to prepare us a place; And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am Jn 14:3

-God never promised that things around us will not grow from bad to worse but promises to make all things new; I am making everything new! Rev 21:5

-He never guaranteed a world devoid of trouble but spoke comfort saying, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33

-God never promised a Christendom in this world but promised a kingdom of people called unto himself, the church; But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light, 1 Pet 2:9

-God did not promise the comfort of religious freedom but warned of hate, persecutions even death. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own Jn 15:18

  1. Obedience (to the Lord’s leading)- We need to accept the Lord’s strategy (vv. 3-5)- The command to march around the city for six days, blowing trumpets, and shouting might have looked absurd. But it was the Lord’s strategy. The directions might have sounded illogical to people who solely rely on logic. It might have looked foolish and ridiculous to many military minded people. But it was the strategy had God approved for his people to inherit their possession.

Note that before the battle, God already pronounced a victory, he gives the strategy; not vice versa. I have given you this, but this is the strategy. …. job, addiction, degree.

Key to possessing our inheritance is obedience and heeding of God’s voice.

The Bible instructs, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5).

Joshua did not rely on human tactics; though he could have relied on his military strength.

The Bible records many people who were commanded to do what we might call strange/ridiculous. Abraham being called to go to an unknown land. Gideon was called to downsize his arm to 300 against an army of 135,000 (Judg. 7,8). Prophet Elisha told Naaman, the military commander of Aram, to go to the river Jordan and wash himself seven times in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:10). Jesus asked Philip where they can buy bread for 5,000 people, (Jn. 6:5-6); Philip wonders, but Andrew fronts an idea of a boy with two fishes and five loaves of bread. At the wedding in Cana Mary told the people around to do whatever Jesus tells them (Jn. 2:5).

God’s plan may look foolish; but in it is divine wisdom that the world does not comprehend (Isa. 55:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:26-29). God may choose the unexpected to educate you through university and close the expected doors! In such a case, will you force your way or heed God’s voice/leading. He is a God of surprises!

We need to develop in our obedience to God and trust his plan for our lives.

We should obey and follow because we know the identity of the one calling us.

  1. Faith in God- (v. 6) Israelites had to trust the God who commanded them.

In this, they were required to walk by faith and not by sight. The author of Hebrews (Heb. 11:30) retrospectively looked at this victory as a triumph of faith. Faith against all evidence.

The people had to take a faith step, to their possession.

As they laid the city to a siege, they needed to walk by faith and not by sight because they had never attacked any city in this manner- singing and blowing of trumpets.

You will note that fear had caused the inhabitants of Jericho to close their gates; instead of trusting in God, they trusted in the strength of their walls. They were not willing to surrender because their hearts were hardened. They lived inside walls of unbelief/doubt. They found security and refuge not in God but in their walled city.

Through faith, there is no situation is that is too great for the Lord to handle, and no problem is too much for him to solve.

Faith makes us be still and know that God in control and will fight for us (Ps. 46:10)- the Lord is a chain breaker, miracle worker, way-maker. The battle belongs to the Lord.

We need to trust God for the impossible things in our lives. Have a look at the following verses.

  • Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” (Gen. 18:14)
  • I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
  • Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”(Jeremiah 32:17)
  • For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).
  • With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt.19:26).
  • I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

In Jericho, the Israelites stared at walls of impossibility. Conquering this city needed God’s enabling power. It was going to be brought down not by powerful arsenal, or by military strategy or by strong men; but by faith in God.

Those impossibilities in various areas of life are opportunities for God to display his power.

Concluding Thoughts

God has given us numerous promises in his word. But we need courage to believe in what has been promised; that the one who has promised is faithful. We need to know God’s promises concerning our spirituality, finances, relationships, and families.

We need to believe that the battle shall be won, the iron gates shall be opened, that the mighty walls shall come down tumbling because the Lord has said it. Because the Lord has said, then we shall inherit the land occupied by giants.

Many times, life can present to us some ‘walls’ that seem unconquerable. In such cases, we need faith to conquer what is impossible. Faith laughs at impossibilities. Hudson Taylor: three stages in God’s work: Impossible…Difficult…Done

Faith in God compels us to focus on God who is bigger than any mountain/challenge we face in life.

REMEMBERING GOD’S GOODNESS OVER OUR LIVES

goodness.jpg

Read: Genesis 32:9-12

Today we want to learn from the prayer of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, Israel’s patriarch.

Jacobs life is recorded in Genesis 25-35, and in the rest of Genesis through the life of his son, Joseph.

Jacob is an interesting character to look at. He was a rival of his twin brother right from the womb (25:23-26). He shortchanged his brother and acquired his birthright, by offering him a meal. He is known as a schemer, and a liar. He lied about his wife being his sister, just as his father had lied. In a plot organized with his mother Rebecca, Jacob also stole Esau’s blessings. Fearful and distressed, Jacob fled for his life to the land of his uncles. In a foreign land, he married, increased in family, and wealth. More so, with his in-laws, he experienced life defining moments that would later shape his life.

After two decades of hard labor, it was God’s time for him to return to his homeland (31:13). But he had to keenly plan how to approach his brother because of unresolved past experience. Although Jacob had many challenges, fears, and failures, there are some positive things we can highlight from his life, especially from his prayer in Genesis 32:9-12.

From this prayer, we can discover four principles, Jacob:

Knew God (v.9)-

Jacob had a personal relationship with God.

He first identifies the Lord God with his grandfather and father; but this God is also the God he related to. The God of his fore fathers had become his Father. While in a foreign land, he lived among people who worshipped idols (31:19, 30), but his devotion to the true God remained unmoved.

 

He saw God’s favor in his past and present life (v. 10)

As he crossed back River Jordan, Jacob remembered when he formerly crossed the same river two decades earlier. He realized that back then when he crossed Jordan, he only had staff in his hand. Nothing more! He had no attendants, no family, and no companion.

Yet as he was now crossing back the same river, he was never the same person! He had greatly increased. The Lord had given him a big family, great possessions (goats, sheep, herd of cattle, camels), and servants. Formerly he was a poor man, but now he was a wealthy man.

As he reviews the past twenty years of his life, he noted two things:

  • He is unworthy to have received such a great favor- He pondered on who he was to merit such a great favor. He felt unworthy that he had received much that he never planned for. Presumably, Jacob knew that God blesses whomever he chooses; but the fact that he was such a recipient humbled him. (cf. 1 Sam. 2; Matt. 8:8; Lk. 1:46-53; 1 Cor. 4:7).

 

  • The Lord had shown him his kindness and faithfulness- Jacob realized that what he had become was as a result of God’s favor (hesed). The Lord of his fathers had become to him a healer, protector, pillar, and a sustainer. To him, God had become all in all; the single greatest treasure. The one who gives ability to create wealth had greatly blessed him. In God, and he had received everything for life and godliness. Jacob was grateful to God. As he persuaded his twin brother to receive his gifts, Jacob confessed, “…God has been gracious to me. I have more than enough” (33:11). He knew that everything he now owns was as a result of God’s graciousness. Today, do we have the same perspective as Jacob? We need to be grateful to God and realize that everything we have has been received from Him (the power, money, clothes, cars, spouses, children, jobs, health, houses…).

Jacob had many challenges in his life, in fact he was shortchanged when he wanted to marry, he was treated unjustly by his father in-law as he worked for him (31:40-42), but in all, Jacob saw God’s goodness. He changed the lenses in which he saw his past life. Instead of complaining to God about his past life, he thanked God and praised him for his faithfulness.

 

He prayed (v.11)-

Formerly, Jacob had crossed Jordan river with fears, fleeing for his life. And, twenty years later, as he crossed back the same river, Jacob still harboring fear in his heart (32:6-7).

He remembered that he had unsettled grudges with his brother. And his unconfessed transgression was always before him (Ps. 51:3). He knew his brother would not hesitate in any given chance to revenge the past wrongs (27:41).

But how did he handle this situation? Jacob executed two strategies.

First, he divided his wealth into two, just in case (32:7-8). Secondly, he prayed. And prayer settled his fears. The power of prayer…

Even after being given the assurance by an angel to go back to his people, Jacob still feared Esau. Generally, Jacob was a fearful character, in the past, he had cheated that his wife was his sister because he feared “someone would kill me to get her from me” (26:9). Here again in this verse, he admits to God “I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children.” Many times, the things we fear most never happen. What fears are you battling with today? Remember, a time of fear is a good time for prayer.

But one thing is clear here, Jacob had learned to direct his fears to God in prayer. Formerly, he trusted his mother more than anyone, but now, he had faith in God. He trusted Him in matters concerning his life, family, situations, and future. I pray that we learn this lesson today just like many biblical examples. That is, taking our concerns, distress, fears, and problems to Jesus.

The Bible says, “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Ps. 50:15).

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10).

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears…This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” (Ps. 34:4,6).

Jacob sought God’s help in prayer. He expressed his dependence on God the chief mediator of men. Finally, God delivered Jacob from his fears.

 

He knew God’s promises (v. 12)-

In this short prayer, Jacob reminded God his promises. God had promised to protect him and multiply his descendants (also see 28:3,4, 13-15).

Jacob had learned not only to hold so dearly the word of God but also to hear God speak; to an extent that he now boldly claimed his inheritance. We need to learn to hear God through circumstances, word, godly people, prayer…

What does it mean to remind God that he is Jehovah Jireh, Ropha, Shammah…. taking him at his word.

 

Concluding Remarks

THE POWER OF THE TONGUE

tongue 1.jpg

In any conversation, engagement, and communication, use of words is inevitable. We use words to express our ideas, emotions and feelings. We use words to cause an action or reactions. We tell a story using words. Words have meaning, influence, and impact. More importantly, we communicate the gospel message using words.

Depending on how we use them, words can build up or tear down; incite, encourage or discourage. The tongue is small but has a great power. Therefore, it is important to learn from God’s word how we can handle the power of the tongue.

Text: James 3:1-12

Warning and the Danger of Words (v.1-2):

  • James warns that not many should presume to be teachers. Why teachers? It is because teachers use words as tools just as a carpenter uses a hammer…
  • But is this a danger exclusive to teachers? In verse 2, the danger is to ALL; “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” All of us in one way or another use words, and so the danger is real.

The Power of the Tongue (v. 4-12). The Tongue has:

I. Power to Direct (v.3-4)– James gives us two examples of a bit and rudder.

  • When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, it makes it possible to turn the whole animal.
  • A ship, although large and driven by strong winds, is steered by a rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
  • The bit and rudder are small, but they provide direction to the horse and ship respectively. They offer direction and control.
  • With seasoned words we can direct people’s lives in the right path.
  • II. Power to Destroy (v.5-8) – Two examples are given here- fire and animal (v. 5-8).
  • The tongue is like the small spark that sets a great forest on fire- It should not be underestimated; just like a small crack in a ship.

Words have capacity to destroy families, fellowships, communities, and bring splits and divisions. A small slander can cause a big harm to a fellowship.

The tongue is a fire. You know that fire is good when it is under control; it can warm people, give light, and cook food. But when it is out of control it can create massive destruction. It can burn, consume and destroy what we value.

Like a drug, it is something good that within it has the capacity to be poisonous. It can corrupt the whole person, and set the whole course of his life on fire…

Our words can start fires and destroy what took ages to build; and can also quench fires.

So how can you control/put into check this fire?

  • Like all kind of animals and birds, the tongue needs to be tamed. And it is good to know that it can be tamed. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

III. Power to Bring Life or Death (v.9-12)

The tongue has power to pronounce curses or blessings. Out of the same mouth can come blessing or curse. The tongue is powerful, right!

A positive or negative word said to a person may have a life-long impact.

Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21).

The Challenge Today: In churches, fellowship groups, families, communities, and nations many people have not learned to control their tongues. They do not even understand the impact/power of their words.

So how can we control our tongues and channel the power of the tongue rightly?I. Determine Who is in Control

  • Who is at the steering wheel of your life? Is Jesus enthroned in your heart? If he is not enthroned in your heart, then he is not enthroned in your speech.
  • Since it is difficult to perfectly tame the tongue, we need help from God.
  • When Jesus Christ is the Master of the heart, then He is the Lord of the lips too.
  • Always guard your heart (Prov. 4:23); knowing that Satan can also use our tongues.
  • David prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let me not be drawn to what is evil…” (Ps. 141:3-4a).
  • II. Choose How to Use your Tongue
  • Will you use your tongue to bless or curse? The choice is yours.
  • We can choose to use our tongues to: slander, swear falsely, gossip, curse, blaspheme, boast, destroy, tear down, discourage.
  • But at the same time, we can choose to use our tongues to: praise God, exalt Jesus, encourage, build up.
  • Guard what enters into your heart- “garbage in garbage out” principle is also biblical. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).
  • In the final analysis, you cannot be both a fresh and salty spring. You only can become one. You cannot be a fig tree and bear olives; or be a grapevine and produce figs. We recognize spring by its water and tree by its fruit.
  • A double-tongued person is a poisoned tongue (praising God at one time and hurling unprintables to the brother/sister. Choose to bless with your tongue.

III. Resolve to Control Your Tongue

  • It is possible that you make a resolve to speak what is truthful-in love and in a way that builds up.
  • Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6).
  • Resolve to reason before you talk. Learn to control what you say.
  • Revolving to speak words of life. Fill your heart and mind with the word of God.
  • (Realize that I’m not saying you zip up your mouth or speak less).
  1. Develop Your Fellowship with God
  • When we have fellowship with God we will definitely talk what is true.
  • Continually Learn to practice what we preach, say, sing.
  • As you submit and surrender to God, He will fill your mouth with eternal words.
  • Spiritual maturity requires tamed tongue.

tongue

Gaining by Losing

gain

In the first part of Philippians chapter 3 (3:1-11), Paul’s recounts his former and present life. Before his encounter with Christ, Paul based his confidence in the “flesh.” But after his experience with the risen Lord, his life totally changed! He put his confidence in God. In this church, false teachers from the Jewish background had spread false ideas with potential to cause conflicts and divisions. They boasted on external aspects of identity rather than looking at their newfound identity and calling in Christ. Today, believers in Christ should be changed by this transformative message of the gospel. We should be ready to lose in order to gain.

  1. Paul’s Former Basis for Confidence in the Flesh
  • Circumcised on the Eight day– The false teachers (referred to as ‘dogs’) emphasized on the need of the Jewish rite of circumcision beside believing in Christ. Circumcision practice was usually celebrated among the Jewish people as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen 17:14). To the Jewish people, it was a mark of identity and belonging. Paul claims he can validly boast because he was circumcised in exact compliance with the law (Gen 17:12; Lev. 12:3; Lk 1:59). Gentiles were “uncircumcised”
  • Of the people of Israel– Paul descended from the patriarch Jacob; and as an average Jew, he could trace his family lineage all the way to Abraham. He was a true member of God’s covenant people. He was not a Samaritan, proselyte, God-fearer or pagan…
  • From the tribe of Benjamin– We know that Benjamin was the most favorite son of Jacob. Significantly, it was one of the remnant tribes that remained with Judah (also godly) and when the other ten tribes seceded (1 Kings 12:21).
  • Hebrew of Hebrews– An expression expressing the superlative degree. Although born in a pagan country, Tarsus, his parents were Hebrews and so he was a true Jew with no ‘mixed blood’.
  • Pharisee, regarding the law– the Pharisees were the strictest sect within Judaism, with legalistic interpretation of the law of Moses (Acts 23:6-9; 26:5). Paul was a well-trained Pharisee.
  • Zealous Jew– Due to his devotion and zeal to safeguard the law and Judaism, Paul persecuted the church of Jesus Christ.
  • In the eyes of the law– Legally, faultless and righteous. Paul’s former righteousness was obtained by observation of the law. He could pride over other the legal standing because in the eyes of the law he was by far better than any other Jews and Gentiles.

From what we have looked at, Paul had a strong basis to boast or to glory in his Jewish-related privileges. He could boast of his cultural identity (ethnicity), what he has done (merits) and what he has not done (to break the law). These are the things (confidence in the flesh) that the false teachers, Judaizers, promoted and boasted about. They boasted about

This may look distant to us, but the point is real. In most cases, are tempted to take rely/pride in our tribes (as regrouping points), connections, wealth, jobs, experience, politicians, families, birth/inherited privileges, education, etc. These are good things but can become ‘idols’ when we use them as yardsticks of everything. Going by these distinctions will not help the body of Christ; these looks at the outside and not the inside. It focuses on standards set by men and not by God.

  1. But Something Radical Happened…

Saul encountered Christ Jesus. In his Damascus road experience, he realized that he had all along been blind without knowing. He realized he had been attaching value on wrong things. He realized that he had been basing his life on a wrong foundation- “flesh.” He realized that his zeal was devoid of knowledge. He realized that he was so lost that he direly needed a bearing for a true salvation. he realized that he was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

When his eyes were opened, he realized that truth and life are not abstract concepts but a person.

And so, he had to scale down from the ladder that leaned on the “flesh” in order to climb up the right ladder that leans on “God.”

Entirely, his encounter with Jesus Christ transformed his mind, world view, and heart. The life of the new Paul was never the same again.

Have you had this encounter with Jesus?

 III. What Did this Transformative Encounter Lead to?

Paul now considered what was formerly profit a LOSS. He literally began a journey of losing. Christianity is a journey of losing and gaining. He started detaching value from what is worthless and putting value on what is praiseworthy and eternal. He now wanted to glory/boast in Christ.

What was formerly an advantage was now a loss, for the sake of Christ (v.7, 8). He realized that the very things that led him by the nose like a bull were the very things that hindered him from coming to the true faith in Christ. Now they are a loss. He now considers them all a “rubbish” (refuse, what is thrown away as worthless, chaff, refuse of a table, or of slaughtered animals, and then filthy of any kind), he no longer depends on them. He no longer esteems rites (circumcision), ethnicity, or birth privileges. Instead, he now has an identity defined by his relationship with Christ.

In Philippi, the slave girl lost her demonic gift, reputation, and power to predict the future and to earn money out of it. The disciples gave up everything- houses, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, fields for Christ’s sake (Matt.19:29). For our behalf, Jesus gave up- his riches (2 Cor. 8:9), glory, joys of heaven to be a ‘man of sorrows’, immunity from temptation so as to be tempted, etc. (Phil 2:6-11). Many have lost friends, names, property, social exclusion, and abandonment.

Are there some things that you have lost as a result of your union with Christ?  Can you be able to say:

I no longer live the life I used to live; sing the songs I used to sing; eat the food I used to eat; drinks what I used to drink. I am able to truly say: I no longer talk the way I used to talk; go to places I used to go; think the way I used to think; or do what I used to do…. Have we suffered loss/renounced/given up some behaviors, attitudes, shameful ways (2 Cor. 4:2), patterns of the past (2 Cor. 5:17)?

We always sing, ‘count your blessings’; perhaps it is also good to think of ‘counting our loses’

Paul lost all things, but he gained much more than he lost.

What is it that has happened since Christ come into your heart? Are there loses? Have you lost attachment to the ways of the world or people of the world? The problem we have today is that we have many Christians who are unwilling to lose attachment to the (things of the) world. What is it that was formerly dear that you’ve now considered to be rubbish, FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST.

IV. Things That Paul Wanted to gain (V. 8-11):

By losing “all” Paul did not want to remain empty. Rather, he wanted to be filled by God with worthy, valuable and eternal things. He wanted to receive what is true bread (Isa 55:1-2). He wanted his thirsty to be quenched once and for all (Jn 4:14).

So, what did he seek in exchange? Paul sought:

  • To gain Christ– Christ was the treasure that apostle Paul sought. Christ is the all in all. Secondly, Paul wanted to be found in him-united with Christ.
  • The righteousness of Christ (v.9; cf. Rom 3:21, 23,25) – Paul did not want self-righteousness but a form of righteousness that comes through faith in Christ.
  • The knowledge of Christ (v8)- Paul confesses “I want to know Christ.” Although he had walked with Chrsit for about three decades, Paul still desired a continual intimate/personal relationship with God. To know God is to: know Jesus Christ, walk as Jesus did, and to obey his commands. He wanted to know of his love that surpasses all understanding (Eph 3:19).
  • The power of his resurrection– Paul wanted to continue to know the power that raised Christ from the dead-the power that is now at work in us, the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:16; Col. 3:1). This is the same power that quickened us when we were death in our transgressions and sins; the power that brought us to salvation, sustaining us, the power that will present us before God.
  • The fellowship of Christ-(v.10-11)- The fellowship of sharing in his suffering. Similar experience to the baptism experience. Paul desired to suffer like and with Christ so that hw will be overjoyed when is glory is revealed (1 Pet 4:13; Col 1:24). He had a proper perspective of the present pain versus the future gain.
  • Becoming like him in his death- United with Christ in his death- 3:21. Baptism figure. Crucified with Christ… (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:29-30).
  • Attain the resurrection from the deathPaul believed that the death would be raised (Acts 24:15; 26:6-8; Phil. 3:21) that he will attain this resurrection. He hopes for that glorious resurrection of those who died in the Lord.

knowing christ

Concluding Thoughts:

Jesus as the single greatest treasure that is worth everything (Matt. 13:44-45)

If you have not lost anything then you have not gained anything.

Paul gained far more than he lost.

If you have not detached yourself from the world then you have not learned the secret of attachment to Christ.

“He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot

gain by losing

Successful Living

successful.jpg

How can we live meaningful lives in a world that is diametrically opposed to the kingdom values we uphold? Paul in his letter to Ephesians 5:15—20, helps us to practically address this question:

  • Be careful how you live (v.15)– By being wise, watchful, discerning/cautious to avoid danger. Watch your belief and conduct. Christians should be wise people. If you don’t have wisdom ask the wise, read God’s word, and ask God to give you wisdom. Be wise to avoid being carried by the winds.
  • Making the most of every opportunity (V.16)– Make use of time and opportunities to be a blessing, to touch lives, to participate in big things, to serve God, to improve your present situation….

Why? Life is short; and the days are evil (present times are full of temptations, evil people).

  • Understand the Lord’s will (V.17)– God created us for a special purpose; but we need to discover/seek to understand that purpose for our OWN lives. It is the will of God that you should be sober, holy, and steadfast. Perpetually, seek to know what pleases God.
  • Be filled with the Holy Spirit (V.18)– Have the God-influence over your life, by allowing God’s Spirit to indwell and transform you.
  • Be joyful and be thankful (V.19-20)– Encourage one another. Speaking to each other and praising God with music.

Be thankful to God for all things or all persons- including your family, situations… Acknowledge God, the one who has graciously gifted you with unmerited favors.