Category Archives: GOSPEL OF JOHN

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.

THE POWER OF THE TONGUE

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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.

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PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

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Previously, we looked at Paul’s complete shift of basis of confidence (from confidence in the flesh to confidence in God) as a result of his encounter with Christ. In Philippians 3:12-21, Paul continues to exhort Philippians concerning the gift of salvation. He uses an athletic metaphor to show how a Christian should live in respect to the time past, present, and future.

Read Christian Life as a Race

Past: “Forgetting what is behind”- (v13b)

In respect to the past, Paul reveals, “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind…”

“To forget” does not mean failure to remember, amnesia/loss of memory, or some sort of brain malfunction. Rather, it means “no longer to be influenced by or affected by.” So, when God forgives us our sins, he promises to remember them no more (Heb 10:17), or no longer hold the sin against us.

Paul found the right antidote to the past. And this was, to simply forget! to bury the past in the past.  But this is not easy process because interestingly, as human beings, we easily remember what we should forget and easily forget what we should remember.

In the former section of this chapter, Paul’s encounter with Christ resulted into losses, in his past life. He lost: Jewish privileges/heritages, status as an educated Pharisee, his fervent zeal to persecute Christians, and cultural/ethnic identity. He lost all for the sake of Christ. Now, he no longer boasted in them but in Christ. Paul chose to let go of this past by forgetting. This wasn’t easy; but it was necessary for him to put off every weight in order to win the race. Clearly, he had to deal with his past in order to enjoy the blessings of God in Christ.

In his past life, Paul was a blasphemer, and a persecutor of the church. This was enough to hold Paul backward. But his surrender to the lordship of Christ unleashed upon his life the abundance of God’s mercy and grace (1 Tim 1:12-17).

Each one of us has a past, some good and some not good. What should we do with it? This Scripture exhorts us to leave the past where it belongs, behind.

Obviously, the past can positively bring some value/wealth of experience, memories of joy, victories, and gratitude to God.

But at the same time, the past can negatively hold memories of failure, loss, sorrow, sin, guilt, grief, regrets, defeat, discouragement, and difficulties.

Satan, the liar and accuser of brethren, would always like to capitalize on this; reminding and burdening believers with the cares of the past; and blinding believers from the marvelous freedom in Christ.

Today, many Christians are weighed/held down by regrets of the past; and as a result, they run the race looking backward like the man ploughing and looking back ((Lk 9:62). If you don’t deal with it rightly, one’s past has the potential to bring a negative force or enslaving/controlling power against you. So apart from forgetting, how else can we deal with our negative/evil/shameful past, once and for all.

We need to confess our sin/curse and put our faith in Jesus- the curse breaker, chain breaker, forgiver, and liberator. You need to confess and renounce your ways of darkness, your hidden involvement with the dark world, your covenant with demons or cultural ties that bring curses, and shame.

The Bible says, “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed” (Acts 17:29-31)

It is good to remember that “we cannot change the past, but we can change the meaning of the past.” For example, when Joseph was in the land of Egypt he looked back at the evil committed against him by his brothers and interpreted, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). The evil action committed against him, in the past, did not change but Joseph’s understanding of the event changed. He understood the past in light of God’s sovereign power. As a result, he was unable to hold grudge against his brothers.

Don’t limit God’s power upon your past experience, because he can transform it for your own good. He can bring something good out of it. He can give you a good name. He can give you a new song. He can refresh and fill your life with good things. Your best days are not in the past, they are yet to come…

Brethren, to be able to run the race effectively, we need to break the power of the past, by living for the future. This power/force is broken by Jesus Christ. At the same time, we need to extend grace to each other, knowing that the Holy Spirit is working within us to make us new.

Also Read : Reasons why Jesus Did not allow stoning of the Adulterous Woman

Present: “Pressing on”- (v12, 14)

Apostle Paul left the past to belong to the past so that he can concrete on the present. Yesterday’s successes, victories, failures and challenges are irrelevant today. He pressed on like a hunter eagerly pursuing his prey. He truly had a true sense of self-awareness of who he was. He knew that:

-He had not obtained all that has been promised. He had only received a deposit of the full payment, the first fruit of the harvest, and a foretaste of what is to come. So, it is clear in his mind that he’s not received the full blessings of salvation. Meanwhile, according to the previous context (3:9-11), Paul sought:

  • To gain 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.”
  • The power of his resurrection
  • The fellowship of Christ-(v.10-11.
  • Becoming like him in his death- (Phil. 1:29-30; 3:21; Gal. 2:20).
  • Attain the resurrection from the deathPaul believed that the death would be raised (Acts 24:15; 26:6-8; Phil. 3:21), and that he will attain this resurrection.

It should be noted that when Paul wrote this letter, he was already a Christian for over three decades. Despite all this, he still pressed on, in this life-long journey. He desired the fullness of Christ. He was justified, but still desired to go to the deep end of sanctification, knowing Christ more intimately.

Paul knew he was not yet perfect. He was still work in progress. He knew that he had not attained freedom from sin, deliverance from trials and temptations, and had not received glorified body.

He knew he still needed to: battle spiritual battles, manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit, pray more, follow God’s leading, read God’s word more, fellowship more, be more alert because the enemy prowls around looking for someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8).

Paul had no sense of entitlement or the feeling ‘I have arrived.’ It is wrong that some Christians today feel that they have arrived. As a result, they think they no longer need to read their Bibles, go to church, preach the gospel, pray, attend fellowships. Paul’s desire reminds us that we should seek to constantly grow spiritually and not to settle on spiritual mediocrity.

Paul knew he has not yet obtained all that is promised at the end of the race.

-He knew he had not yet been made perfect– this is an important admission.

The tough experiences Paul had faced had not made him fully perfect. He still desired perfection and completeness in Christ.

But presently, believers were to realize that the journey to perfection has both dangers and opportunities.

Dangers/Threat: There are Judaizers, “those who live as enemies of the cross of Christ” (3:18). Believers in Christ should beware of this group which:

  • Their destiny is destruction- They oppose the word of life/true gospel.
  • Their god is their stomach- Not interested with honoring Christ but satisfying their selfish-interests (Rom. 16:18).
  • Their glory is shame- They glory in things which they ought to be ashamed of.
  • Their mind is on earthly things- They seek them, and their minds and hearts settled on them.

Opportunity: Believers in Christ are invited to emulate the example of Paul and other faithful believers in Christ (3:17). He had renounced all confidence in the flesh and trusted in God.

Future: Hoping

Believers should have an active hope toward the future.

Paul presses on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called him heavenward in Christ Jesus. How does he achieve this? He focuses on one thing!

But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” (v.13b).

Paul had learned the secret of singular focus. This is a secret to success. His focus is on winning the prize! That singular thing focusses his energies and defines what is important (Neh. 6:3; James 1:8).

Many Christians get involved in “many things” or “everything” and by doing so, they get distracted in the race. Only one thing is needed (Mk. 10:21; Lk10:42; Jn 9:25; Ps 27:4).

Related:  Singular Focus in Life

He focuses on:

  • Finishing and Wining- He eyed the victorious end (Acts 20:24); therefore, he had to leave everything that hinders him (Heb. 12:1-3). Like God, we need to deliberately finish what we initiate.
  • Crown/prize- The glorious crown. His eyes focused on the crown. The incorruptible crown.
  • Heavenward identity and calling- Paul lived his dual citizenship responsibly. He also longed for the revelation of the holy city of God (Heb. 11:9,10,14-16).
  • Appearance of Jesus Christ- Eagerly waited for the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:19, 23,25; 1 Cor. 1:7; Gal 5:5; Heb 9:28).
  • Bringing of everything under one head-
  • Change of our lowly bodies- He longed for a spiritual body that is not subject to weaknesses, disease and death (1 Cor. 15:44).

Related: Faith, hope and Love

Also read: Living in Anticipation of the Lord’s Return

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Jesus Christ our Sufficient Sacrifice

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God’s perfect creation in Genesis 1—2 was distorted by the sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The entrance of sin brought about death and curses to human history.

Sin is not only a reality we struggle with but also an affront to a righteous God. Sin is serious. Therefore it has to be dealt with with the seriousness it deserves.

In the OT God in His wisdom and grace God chose to make a temporary way sin can be atoned as the coming of Christ is awaited. A substitutionary animal sacrifices was allowed for remission of sins. For sin to be atone for, there must be a shedding of blood (lose of life).

And so, the idea of animal sacrifices and levitical priesthood runs throughout the OT as a shadow of the NT reality in Christ.

Significantly, in the OT, there was a specific national day (the day of atonement) in which sins were atoned for. This day highlights seriousness of sin and God’s hatred for sin and demands for righteousness.

Understanding the Day of atonement, helps us understand better the sacrifice of Jesus.

Key Highlights of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16

  • Apart from having the other daily sacrifices, the annual day of atonement was a day of fast; a day God cleansed all the sins of his people; and the only day the high priest entered the Holy of Holies/the Most Holy Palace.
  • The high priest prepared himself to appear before God in a worthy manner.
  • A bull and two goats were required for the sacrifice. One goat was for the for the Lord (sin offering) and another for the scapegoat.
  • Aaron was to slaughter the bull for his personal sin offering and his household.
  • The high priest slaughtered the goat for sin offering for the people and took its blood behind the curtain and sprinkled on the atonement cover and in front of it. This showed that Israel’s sin could only be atoned for by a substitutionary death V15.
  • Concerning the scapegoat- The high priest was to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites-all their sins- and put them on the goat’s head. This goat was then released to the desert. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place. (According to Jewish tradition the goat was subsequently thrown over a cliff to prevent it from returning).

But there was a problem… clearly the animal sacrifices were insufficient in the following ways:

  • The Day of atonement and sacrifices were repeated endlessly year by year. No one sacrifice was enough or final. The sacrifices were an annual reminder of sins because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
  • It never made perfect the worshippers. The worshippers still felt guilty for their sins.
  • The day of Atonement was only a “shadow” of a reality that was to come through Jesus (Heb. 5:1-14).

 Sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 5, 9)

  • Like the sacrificed animal, he shed his blood for forgiveness of our sins
  • Jesus as a scapegoat was sent outside the camp (Jerusalem) and took the sins/guilt of his people- (Heb. 13:2; 1Jn 3:5).
  • Jesus was made sin for our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, (Jn. 1:29).
  • Jesus was made curse (Gal. 3:23).
  • His sacrifice is sufficient; perfect, and superior sacrifice- He entered a heavenly sanctuary, by his own blood (never needed to make atonement for himself as a high priest). He now sits at the right hand of God the Father. His sacrifice was once for all and he can make us holy.

The story of the adulterous woman in John 8:2-12 illustrates the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice. Her life was spared because they brought her to Jesus the ultimate and superior sacrifice. The perfect sacrifice of Jesus offers hope. Every hopeless sinner, like this woman, can find hope only in Jesus!  Again, why did God allow her to live? This story offers us profound lessons:

Jesus did not allow her to be put to death simply because in Him there is:

  1. Life- The sacrifice of Jesus offers humanity a free gift of life.

For example, in this story (John 8:2-12), the adulterous woman (we don’t have her real name) had already received her death sentence from her accusers: people and the religious leaders. Perhaps they pondered, “why should she live?” but Jesus perspective was, “why should she die?”

Jesus had come for the very purpose to seek and save that which was lost and to give his life as a ransom for many, Mk 10:45. Jesus also declares, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. He is the fountain of life and any sinner who turns to him in faith is never turned away but given eternal life.

He gives life and breathes life to your lifeless situations….

  1. Love- The story of the cross of Jesus is the story of unconditional love. While we were still sinners Christ dies for us (Rom. 5:8). He has loved us with an everlasting love. In his love he adopted us into his family as sons.

The woman in this story, like many in our world today, suffered rejection and hate. She was brought early in the morning and before everyone to shame her before stoning her. But Jesus does the unexpected. He accepts her. This does not mean that he affirmed her sin but in accepting her to come to him he clearly displayed God’s unconditional love. We see this love clearer when we look at the cross. God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). A very familiar verse summarizes it all, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… (Jn. 3:16).

This is a powerful love! What is it that can separate us from the love of Christ?

It is because of love Jesus laid down his life for us (Jn. 15:13; 1 Jn. 3:16).

  1. Forgiveness– In Christ, there is forgiveness of sins. Remember, without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb. 10:17).

In Christ, we are forgiven- the past, present and future. The death of Jesus as a substitute brought us forgiveness by taking our penalty upon himself.

All we know about the woman in this story is that she was an adulterer. She was a sinner. Like any other sinner, she deserved death. The people and the religious leaders must have justified themselves from Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22. But Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29) took her sin upon himself!

Sadly, we sometimes doubt the forgiveness we have received! Remember, Doubts do not begin from God but from the devil, for he is the accuser of the brothers (Rev. 12:10). Satan plants doubts to paralyze us and the ministry God has put in us.

When Jesus forgives you, you also need to forgive yourself. He is the perfect sacrifice and so you should no longer be crippled by doubt, fear, and guilt conscience.

If you have put your faith in God count your transaction done in Christ! Tetelestai (Jn. 19:30). When God has forgiven who can reverse? Jesus our sacrifice is sufficient.

When Jesus forgives he does it completely: he removes them as far as east is from the west Ps103:12; he casts them behind his back Isa 38:17; he casts then into the depths of the sea Mic 7:19; he forgives all our trespasses Col 2:13; and he remembers them no more Heb 10:17. Amazing! He never leaves the woman the same point he found her, he forgives her and gives her a new beginning. Jesus said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, Matt 9:12. There is no remission of sins apart from the shedding of blood.

Since Jesus forgives, we should not live under the guilt of sin but instead confess our sins in order to be forgiven.

  1. Justification– In Jesus there is declaration of righteousness. In Christ, sinners are justified, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ” Heb 5:10. This righteousness is not based on works but purely on the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, Heb 5:10. It is received by those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The woman we read about had no righteousness of her own but Jesus’ righteousness was imputed on her. This is precisely what grace is (undeserved favor).

The ultimate Judge took away her guilt and declared her righteous. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death, Rom 8:1-2. We also know that, God did not send his Son to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (Jn. 3:17).  Who else can condemn those who the Righteous Judge of all has declared as righteous?

Justification also leads to a process of being made holy (sanctification)…

  1. Freedom– It is only in Jesus that sinners are set free. In this case it freedom to not sin again.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees had a water-tight case against this specific woman until they brought it to Jesus who dismantled it. It is worth noting that Jesus eventually lets her go by telling her, “Go now and leave your life of sin” v11. The newfound freedom is a freedom not to further indulge sin but to serve the living Savior who had freed her (the nation of Israel in Egypt was also freed so as to serve Yahweh.

In the words of apostle Paul she was told, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your boy to him as instruments of righteousness” Rom 6:11-13.

  1. Reconciliation- Sin separates us from a holy God. In no other way is the wall of hostility between us and God bridged apart from the only one Mediator between men and God- Jesus Christ. It is through the death of Jesus Christ that we are once again reconciled to God (Rom. 5:11,12; 2 Cor. 5:18,19).

Because of the reconciliation we can come to God’s presence with confidence (Heb. 10:19, Col 1:19). We come before God not because we are worthy but because we are reconciled through the ultimate Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. We confidently bring our needs to Him knowing that he hears us and answers us.

The adulterous woman had broken the law of God, in fact caught in the act, and by status an enemy of God, but Jesus actions toward her demonstrates that God has made a way that sinners can find hope. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation, Col 1:22.

  1. Redemption and deliverance– The penalty for sin is death and Jesus’ audience, together with the adulterous woman, must have understood this fact from the Law of Moses. But when they presented her to Jesus, they unknowingly presented her to the One who ultimately pays the penalty of sin once and for all.

Therefore, the adulterous woman, and any other sinner like you and me, can live because of the redemption through the shed blood of Jesus. The biblical authors testified, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14). She, like any other sinner who comes to Jesus, was delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

Finally… contrast the human and angel fall and reflect on the grace and unique love that God has extended to mankind. Angels fell but no plan was given for their salvation; in fact,  hell was prepared for them. But mankind fell but God gave his very son as a sacrifice so that those who BELIEVE will inherit eternal life.

Hearing God’s Voice: Discerning God’s Will

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“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isa. 30:21)

Perhaps you have heard people say God spoke to them and you wonder how that happens.  It does happen, God speaks even today!  God has not left us in the wilderness of life without direction.

He may not communicate through a burning bush the way he did to Moses several centuries ago but he certainly does speak and guide those who look up to Him for guidance and direction. David said of God, “You have made known to me the path of life…” (Ps. 16:11). It is therefore believer’s duty to discern God’s voice amidst many noises.

Below are ways in which God guides or communicates to His chosen ones. We can hear Him through:

  1. His Word

Clearly, God has revealed Himself through his holy Word.

It is through the Bible that we know who God is. In the Old Testament, He revealed himself, among many other ways, through visions and dreams (he can also today) but he now reveals himself through His written word. The Bible also reveals God and his word as trustworthy Guide.

The word of God reveals the heart of God for the nations; the necessity of loving one’s neighbor and more importantly the human story of redemption.

David affirmed, “your word is the lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Ps 119:105)

In His Word, God has also made known his will and purposes to every generation. We therefore need to read and study it. Scriptures can speak directly or indirectly to our circumstance, thus providing required guidance. It gives answers on how we need to live as Christians and relate to the external world. God’s requirements and will has been clearly revealed throughout the Bible. For example, we don’t need to scratch our heads on some issues that have already been clearly revealed; through his word we know it is not God’s will to marry an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14) or to revenge against our enemies (Matt 5:44).

Scriptures are also able to make us  make us wise unto salvation. We carry out God’s will when we accept and obey His Word.

  1. Circumstance/Life-changing Experience(s)

God allows and disallows various circumstances in our lives. There are no lucks or coincidences in what God does. He uses happenings in areas such as family, finance, job, relationships, education, and/or health to teach us.

Circumstances can also present to us dilemmatic situations that entail open and closed doors.

Also, every situation in our lives happens for a purpose. If the circumstance was an evil intended against us, then we can be sure that God will work it out to bring something good out of it (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28) for he has good plans for us (Jer. 29:11).

Therefore we need to discern God’s working in various circumstances we go through. It could be for the purpose of our character formation, to challenge us to have faith in God or to manifest His great power in us or to demonstrate the sufficiency of His grace. Some circumstances may come to teach us obedience, to trust, and to rejoice in God. Be teachable in such moments!

The point is, we need not to miss what God is accomplishing and teaching us through our hard times (times of pain, uncertainty, loss, failure etc). You pain is valid; and through it, God is accomplishing something bigger and greater for your good.

  1. Holy Spirit-

Jesus instructed that the Holy Spirit will guide believers into all truth (Jn. 16:13). The Spirit of God, our Guide, reminds us of all truth; illuminates the word of God, and gives assuring inner peace when we are in right direction (Isa. 26:3).

He prompts, impresses, and stirs our hearts thus enabling us follow God’s leading and make right and wise decisions. His working is evident in the book of Acts when he guided Philip, Paul, the church, and apostles.

But it requires that we walk by the Spirit; keep in step with the leading of the Holy Spirit; and be controlled /filled with the Holy Spirit and not wine (Eph. 5: 18; Gal. 5:16, 25).

  1. Godly Counsel

God also uses people around us to advice, teach or shape us. An iron sharpens an iron. That is why fellowship and relationships are important in the life of every believer in Christ. God can teach us great truths on joy patience, faithfulness, self-control by listening to other people’s stories, especially godly people.

The word of God encourages us to seek advice, obtain guidance (Prov. 20:18).

But we ought to exercise care upon seeking counsel; it should be from godly people not from anyone. Godly people are people who are in constant walk with God and are able to discern God’s voice like Eli (1 Sam. 3:9); people who in their walk of faith have matured. Their role is not to determine/dictate God’s will for you but to present God-perspective, biblical insight, and objective approach to your situation.

After all, you are the best person to determine God’s will for your life; not your friends or mentors.

  1. Example of Christ

When seeking guidance, consider the example Christ has given us. Turn to the gospel and examine the life and teachings of Jesus Christ; “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Heb. 1:1). Incarnation of Jesus reveals the Father and the life of Jesus (not just his death) provides us with redemption and an example to follow. Bringing Christ perspective into our situation can bring clarity on the issues involved. Consider using the WWJD approach.

  1. Prayer

We can also discern God’s will through prayer.

The worth of prayer is based on God’s promise to listen; it is what turns prayer from being a monologue to dialogue.

Prayer has other sub-components like adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. After we have prayed we wait, listen and believe (1Jn. 5:14-15). Prayer time helps us search our heart and realign our will to God’s will. It provides an opportunity to confess of sin that hinders doing God’s will (Ps. 66:18). Godly people across history have always sought God’s guidance through prayer.

Prayer is the wisest thing to do when we want to hear God.

Read Here for Hindrances to Discerning God’s guidance. 

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Desire for God

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,

in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalms 63:1-8 (NIV).

David, the man after God’s own heart, in Psalms 63 expresses a deep thirst for God. Graphically, he relates his thirst for God to a thirsty person in a dry land, looking for water to quench his thirst.

The psalmist profoundly desired God’s presence, love, power, and glory more than anything else. Though overwhelmed by his enemies he chose not to lament over his despondency but to express confidence in God, the source of his satisfaction. God is the object of his affection; the right and effective antidote to his present predicament. In God, his soul will be satisfied “as with the richest foods”. It is clear that the psalmist never thirsted for God out of envy for power and glory; but he wanted to experience God himself.

We live in a world that constantly beckons us to obey our “thirsts”. And for clarity, sometimes our thirsts are good and in line with God’s will, but many times they are not good. So how can we thirst for God in a time/generation were there are many “thirsts” to obey?

thirst

One thing that for sure we need to understand is, our longings should be what God can delight in satisfying. For he promises, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).

Secondly, we should learn to desire God alone and the things he has revealed in his Word as noble and praiseworthy. As a Christian, desire to be filled of God, to do his will, to be led of God; desire to be like him, and to have an intimate relationship with God. Also, desire to set your heart on things above where Christ is seated; and to see the revelation of his kingdom. In your spiritual walk, desire to lead a holy life, to be used of him; desire to decrease as He increases in you. Likewise, desire to have a deeper experience of God’s love because his love is “better than life”.

Desiring God is the first step towards knowing and enjoying Him. Desire. Desire. Desire.

May God be the priceless pearl that you tirelessly seek; you singular desire; may he be at the center of your longings. For he promises to fill your desires with glorious riches; “for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Ps. 107:90).

CONNECTED

vine

Jesus used various illustrations to effectively communicate the relationship and the connection between him, the Father, and his disciples. One of such illustrations was an agricultural analogy.  Jesus presents himself as the true vine ( ‘I’m the true vine’), the Father as the gardener, and his disciples as the branches.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (Jn 15:1-3).

In this profound illustration two things are expected/desired by the Gardener:  

Fruitfulness– Fruitfulness is the Father’s expectation for every branch that is attached to the vine. It is God’s will that you become a fruitful believer. Fruitfulness is the increase and multiplication of the seed/word that was sown. There is a deposit in you that can either be suppressed or harnessed for greater multiplication and fruitfulness.

Fruitful here can refer to the way you live. It can also refer to bringing others to Jesus; but it can also be construed in terms of bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control­- Galatians 5:22-23. So be fruitful.

Any branch that isn’t fruitful has forfeited its purpose. There is no use of such a branch to the gardener. It is like clouds without rain, a well without water, or like salt that has lost its saltiness. The only thing that the gardener (God) does to such a branch is to cut it off and throw it to the fire. Elsewhere, He promises to spit out from his mouth that which is neither hot nor cold (Rev. 3:16). Therefore, see to it that you do not become axed by God.

Cleanliness– On the other hand, every branch that bears fruit is pruned to make it even more fruitful. Its productivity is enhanced and increased. Pruning, removing the unnecessary buds, is not meant to kill the sprouts of the vine but to make it clean, flourish, and even produce many more yields. (The painful ‘pruning experiences’ we sometimes go through are not meant to make us bitter but better).

Jesus further instructs, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you”. The word of God is able to purify us from all unrighteousness and make us clean, effective, and productive in our Christian lives. The Leviticus imperative “be holy because I am holy” is relevant here. It is untrue to claim that we (branches) are connected to Jesus (the true vine) yet we live in sin.

Therefore how can we remain connected to the true vine? Again, two things are necessary:  

i). Detachment– We need to be detached from the things that hinder us from getting connected to the true vine. It could be possible that you are attached to other “vines” and not to the “true vine”, Jesus Christ. Concurrently, you can’t be attached to Jesus and some other things.

Jesus guarantees, “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5c). We are nothing without him. Without him, we achieve nothing. Detachment from Jesus only leads to fruitlessness and complete removal from the true vine.

The truth is, to be detached from our past (or from what we see as a source of life) is not an easy processes; it needs God’s grace and a decisive move.

ii). Attachment– Detachment should lead to attachment. There is no neutral ground. You “put off” and “putt on”. After getting detached from various concerns, we need to be attached to the true vine for fruitfulness and purity.

Jesus taught, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (Jn. 15:5)

Our life is derived from our connection with Jesus, the true vine. Jesus is our life. It is by remaining in him that we have the words of eternal life. In Jesus there is holiness; and it is by remaining in him that we become/are made holy. In Jesus there is a savior; by becoming connected to him we are saved. In Jesus there is glorious and unfading inheritance and by becoming constantly connected to him we become co-heirs with Christ.

Get connected today to the true vine to receive the life of God.

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