John 3:16

JOHN 3:16.

Obviously the most famous Bible verse in the world. Many say it is pretty much the summarization of the whole message the Bible sends to humanity. I recently listened to a sermon by Bishop Dag Heward-Mills on this verse, and I remember how he lamented that many pastors today would struggle to actually preach on this, when past servants of God like D.L. Moody could preach on this single verse for weeks! And one morning, as I thought of how someone I know would try to dispute the fact that Christ is the only route to eternal life, this verse came to me, and the Holy Spirit dissected it into parts for me. I had never thought of it that way, but thanks be to the Teacher, the unbelief of others only helped to strengthen my faith.

 

Now look at it this way…

 

For God so loved the world – the Creator of the heavens and the earth loves the people of earth so very much, despite the fact that they dwelled in sin and rebellion against Him

That He gave His only begotten Son – that in the fullness of time, He sent down His beloved and irreplaceable Son with Whom He shared the same divine nature to receive the punishment that should have been given to man

That whosoever should believe in Him – that the humans on earth who would believe that the Son had died for them and would receive this precious gift of salvation

Should not perish – would not have to face what they actually deserved for being tainted with sin: eternal separation from God which is equal to everlasting torment

But have everlasting life – but would rather have the chance to be reconciled to God and have fellowship with Him, thus having eternal life.

 

I’ve never had the Gospel shown to me that way. Beautiful, isn’t it? Only the Holy Spirit could do that!

 

Now let’s take note. God loves humanity so much, even though the first humans disobeyed Him and allowed the very thing He hates to infect humanity in its entirety. So much that He sent His Son, the One Who shares in His likeness, to come down to earth. I mean, if this Son is begotten, which from the original Greek word means He has a nature similar to His Father, then it’s obvious that God’s love for humanity really is more than we could ever imagine! An inexplicable love!

 

But then, as I looked deeper at the well-known verse, I realized this: it screams out the fact that it is only through the Son that everlasting life is attainable. God gave His Beloved so that those who believe in Him wouldn’t have to perish.

 

If there were other pathways to heaven, as some have claimed to have come about after Christ, and they truly have been approved by God, then these questions pop up in my mind.

 

  1. If Jesus really is that dear to God considering the like nature They both possess, then why would He give His Son as a ransom so we wouldn’t have to perish, only to bring up other ways later on? If that is the case, then it means either one of two things: Jesus was telling lies when He and Nicodemus spoke that fateful evening and in actual fact was not the begotten Son, or if He was, then God didn’t actually treasure Jesus as much as He thought He did, meaning Jesus had been deceived by His Father. Which means that One of them was lying. And that’s kinda scary. Putting my faith in a God Who has the capacity to deceive? I don’t think that sounds good. I wouldn’t trust anyone who I know has a shade of deception in them.
  2. Let’s say Jesus was right. Let’s say these words were the truth. Later on, we have other religions fully ordained by God as alternative routes to heaven. Then doesn’t it mean that the plan had somehow failed? Was Jesus’ sacrifice inadequate enough to do the full job? Looking at the wording, Jesus made it clear that those who believe in the Son would not perish, obviously meaning that those who don’t will perish. If the Father decided later to bring in other avenues, then it seems He failed in trying to make Jesus the only avenue, and that sounds pretty dangerous to me. It’s like playing in a Champions League final and depending on an unproven striker that’s never played in such a match before, a terrible gamble. You need a proven, world-class match winner in top form to win the game for you. In like manner, for a situation as vital and crucial as the eternal destiny of humanity, if He picked His Son, only to pick out other avenues later, then He certainly cannot be trusted, because if He failed before in such a big issue, what’s to say He couldn’t fail again in a smaller issue? And would you really want to entrust your eternal fate to a deity who can’t even seem to get it right at the first try?                                                                     … But wait! Hol’ up a minute! If Jesus is God’s beloved Son and is so special to Him, then He obviously gave us His very best, like I mentioned? And with these other routes coming up later, meaning what Jesus did is insufficient, that means God’s bestest plan flopped, right? Then can we trust these other ways to work? Hmmm….

 

I’m going to shorten this to an extent. If I will go strictly by His words, then this is what I believe: a God who is perfect and flawless in all His ways couldn’t have possibly erred in sending Jesus to this world to be our atonement. The work was perfectly completed, and the fact that He rose up from the dead is testament to that. If any other avenue was truly ordained by God to be a route to Him, then it only means Jesus was a liar or a failure in the task He performed, or God messed up in His attempt to save humanity once and for all, and had to provide alternatives. And if that is the case, then Christianity in itself is one big error, and generally we cannot be assured of eternal safety.

 

Listen, as far as people of other religions are concerned, I got love for them. They’re all created in His likeness and image, so I better love them. But when it comes to truth, I certainly can’t mince words, and it couldn’t come any better than the verse that is so well-known to man. It is truth that transcends the ages and remains as valid as it was when it left the lips of Jesus. It is only in Him that one can escape the wrath of God and condemnation and have eternal life. No other name. No other way.

Journey to Colossae 5

Well, this has been one insightful look into the book of Colossians, and even though I kept a little longer than I would have wanted, I’m so grateful for all the wisdom that has been revealed to me. Let’s end this with the fourth chapter.

So the chapter starts with an exhortation to masters to ensure they treat those under them with fairness and justice. Certainly something to keep in mind if you’re in a position of authority. Don’t use that power to be cruel to those under you. Remember that you have a Master in heaven Who you’re subject to, and He doesn’t choose to use His power to treat you anyhow. Follow His example.

Verse 2: Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving…

 

Just so you know, the word ‘continue’ there in Greek is ‘prokartereo’, which in essence means to persevere and be consistently diligent. Obviously, we must not slack as far as prayer is concerned, but continue to persevere in it. The word ‘watch’ is simply referring to the need to be alert in prayer. This is vital. Without prayer, things will be messed up. Matter of fact, our lives will be messed up. Like Leonard Ravenhill always said, “No man is greater than his prayer life.”

As he gives the exhortation to pray always, he slots in a request that prayers be lifted up for him that God would open doors of opportunity to preach the gospel to others. I wonder, how often do we ask God for such opportunities? Do we ever ask God for a divine appointment to witness to somebody about the Good News? Well, I pray we start doing so.

Then follows an exhortation to walk wisely towards the unbelievers. He advises them to ensure their attitudes give no cause for complaints among those who don’t know Jesus. As far as Matthew Henry made me understand this, believers ought to deal carefully with them. No snobbish attitude towards them, for that will put them off and make them even more resistant to the truth should it come their way. No totally open attitude towards them, for bad communication corrupts good manners. We need wisdom to know how to live with the unbeliever, because we’re surrounded by them, like it or not. Our speech should be seasoned with salt, meaning how we talk to them should not lack taste. In other words, we should avoid harsh, condemning talk towards them. Unfortunate that many don’t follow that pattern.

At this stage, Paul starts sending salutations from some co-workers of the Kingdom. There are two verses at this point that stand out to me, and that’s what I will end with.

Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

The evangelist that helped plant the church at Colossae was obviously not with them at the time of this letter being written, but Paul made it clear he certainly didn’t slack as far as interceding for them was concerned. He interceded for them passionately and fervently. Church leaders! Intercessors! Christians! If the people around us are going to stand perfect in His will, we must pray! And not just pray, but fervently and consistently pray! James 5:16

Col 4:17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

Dear friend, there is a ministry which the Lord has for you. It may not be one part of the five-fold ministry, or something that will make you a well-known figure around town. But what matters is that it has been given to you by the Lord, and that is a massive privilege. Take heed to it and ensure you execute your God-given task, that at the end of the day you may be able to say along with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Amen!

PRAYER

Mighty One of Jacob Who alone is righteous, thank You for Your tender mercies and kindness. Thank You for being so kind and compassionate towards us. May the Spirit of Christ that dwells within us lead us to emulate You when placed in positions of authority that we may not maltreat those under us, but that we will serve them, just as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. Ignite in us a spirit of passion for prayer, Holy Spirit! Open up opportunities for us to spread the gospel! Fill us with boldness and speak through us, that You alone will be glorified! Help us to walk in wisdom towards those who know you not, that we will not snob them and will not fall into the trap of becoming like them.

And, Heavenly Father, for every soul that reads this, I pray that the Holy Spirit will quicken their hearts to be aware of the ministry You have placed in their hands. May they take heed to Your call, which is an honour and a privilege, for there is no greater calling than to be used by You. May they be diligent, faithful and zealous to do Your work, no matter what form it comes in. Holy Spirit of God, consume their very being and take total control, that the desire to fulfill that ministry will never be quenched until it is complete! In the name of Jesus I pray.

AMEN!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journey to Colossae 4

Helloooo! I trust the last post blessed you immensely. Let’s take a look at chapter 3, which is pretty loaded, to be honest…

 

Paul points out that once we have risen with Christ, and thus are seated with Him in heavenly places, we ought to seek that which is above, where He is seated at the Father’s right hand. We must be focused on heavenly things which are of an eternal nature, and not fleeting treasures which mean nothing once your breath leaves your body.

 

It’s really sad how in this modern era, many Christians have set their affections on perishable stuff. Why are we more excited about cars and mansions than the unsearchable delights our Father’s kingdom has? Why do we crave for money when our craving should be for souls to enter His kingdom? I could go on, but the fact is, we must wise up and know where our affections must be placed: on things above.

 

And Paul doesn’t leave us in doubt as to why…

 

Simple. For one, we are dead. If you say Jesus is your Lord and Saviour and you mean it, you are dead to the world. The old you has been put to death. The old you that passionately craved after the world’s goods. A dead person can’t be desperate for stuff on this earth, it’s absurd. Do you think Michael Jackson is lying in his grave at present, thinking about his Neverland estate? Of course not!!

 

Also, we are hidden in Christ. We have a much superior life to the normal earthly life. Why would we look back and crave mud when we’ve got ‘everlasting gold’ before us?

 

Aside that, when Christ appears, we too will appear with Him in glory. By then, all the physical goods will be shown up for what they truly are: worthless crap. And take note of the beginning of verse 4: When Christ who is our life appears… Please, if you say you’re a Christian, then Christ is not a part of your life. He IS your life. It may seem extreme to some, but if Jesus said that one who loves his own life more than Him is not worthy of being His disciple, then it’s only right. And true, authentic Christianity, if I should remind you, is stupid to the average human mind.

 

From verse 8 to 9, Paul outlines the need for us to mortify certain traits of the old man: sexual immorality, covetousness, harbouring desires that displease God, impurity and the like, and he issues a strong warning. It is attitudes like these that invoke the wrath of God upon unbelievers. See? Paul doesn’t hold back talking about the consequences of evil, ungodly living. All that these attitudes beget is death! Please, we cannot afford to be cute and silent on this. The wages of sin is death. We must let it be known clearly to all!

 

He reminds the Colossians that they used to be that way, but now it’s time to totally mortify those attitudes, as well as malice, anger, filthy communication and lying, because they’ve now put off the old man and put on the new one which has a higher knowledge.

 

Then in verse 11, he makes a beautiful statement about the new creation. “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Isn’t it absolutely disheartening to see how the church today has pushed this truth aside and still judge others based on their tribe, skin colour, social status, etc? The truth is that once we become children of God, our real identity is in Christ. All the distinctions that separate us cease to exist once we give Him our lives. The spirits of divisiveness in the church today that cause us to still acknowledge those differences and discriminate against others is really harming us.

 

After that, he says in verse 12: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved… Be made aware, they were being exhorted to let the virtues mentioned afterward develop in them, because they were the chosen ones, made holy by Him and loved by Him. Once again, grace alone made this possible. You simply cannot make yourself holy by your works, nor can you gain His love by being a good person. It just won’t work.

 

Anyway, he exhorts them to be longsuffering, merciful, kind, patient with each other and ready to forgive, among others. Above all these, though, he encourages them to put on the bond of love. We should let these virtues develop in us if we’re going to really live as children of God. It ain’t about talk alone, it’s about living as such!

 

Verses 15-17 point out vital life lessons…

  • We must let the peace that Christ alone rule our hearts. In other words, as far as our passions and emotions are concerned, that peace should be the deciding factor as to what action we will take. It would surprise us how much we’ll let go of once His peace acts as umpire in certain decisions we make
  • The Word must dwell richly in us, through admonishing others and singing. This has had an effect on the kind of music I listen to, especially Christian music. Not all ‘gospel’ songs are truly gospel. Be wise when dealing with such.
  • Simply, all we do should be in His name. So the next time you’re about to do something wrong, trying asking yourself if you can comfortably say you’re doing it in His name.

 

Then Paul ends with how family affairs should be conducted.

-          Wives are to submit to their husbands, for that is what God expects of them.

-          Husbands are to love their wives and not exploit them and be bitter toward them.

-          Children are to be obedient to their parents, because it pleases God.

-          Parents are to ensure they don’t provoke their children and break their spirits.

 

…and advice for servants, which in this era could be referred to anybody who works for a person. So if you got a job, take note of what Paul shares!

  1. Obey those who have authority over you. Simple.
  2. Do not be a person-pleaser, one who only does hard work when others are watching just so you can gain favour.
  3. Do your work with sincerity, acknowledging that the Lord sees you as you work.
  4. Do your work with passion, knowing that you’re actually doing it unto God and not man, because at the end, the real Master you’re working for is Christ.
  5. Do your work with the knowledge that your real reward comes from God and not man, and if you mess up, you will bear the consequences. No favouritism.

 

Imagine how efficient many of our workplaces would be if we followed this!

 

Well, the journey is almost over, but I trust chapter 3 has blessed you immensely.

 

PRAYER

Father of all, blessed be Your holy name for your great mercy and compassion in choosing us to be Your possession. In the name of Jesus, may every lingering passion for the world be extinguished! May our hearts burn for Your kingdom! By the power of the Holy Spirit, may every unholy desire within our flesh that displeases you be put to death! Holy Spirit, let Your fruit blossom within us that we may show the world Whose we are. We come against every divisive spirit in the church that dwells on earthly distinctions and declare that every member of the body of Christ is no longer defined by those features, but by Christ alone! We declare that Christ is all and in all! May we glorify You in our family lives, at work, and in all that we do! Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journey to Colossae 3

Top of the morning to you all!! It’s been a great journey through Colossae so far. Now it’s time for chapter 2…

Paul’s desire for the believers at Colossae and the others he hadn’t met was that their hearts would be knit together in love. Once again, take note; the aim was that love would rule. The desire must be that we will live as a body united by the love of Christ, for then that’s the only way we can be truly identified as followers of Christ.

He also prayed they would gain more and more insight into the great mystery of God that is Christ, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Simple. All wisdom and knowledge is found in Christ. Anything called ‘wisdom’ that is outside of Him is no wisdom at all. In having Christ, they had all they could possibly ever need, so the key was to get to know Him on a more intimate level, instead of listening to the false philosophies the liars spread. We must seek to know Jesus on a personal level; this shallow understanding of knowing that He just came and died for us is just not enough. We must go deeper, else we’ll easily be led astray by many of the deceptions in the world today.

Verse 6 reveals something very important. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him”. The Amplified Bible better describes walk as “(regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him.” In other words, contrary to popular opinion, it is not just about saying a sinner’s prayer and believing that’s the end. To be honest, I’ve said the sinner’s prayer numerous times and yet had no intention to actually live for Him. If we have received Him with our lips and hearts, it’s about time we surrender to His word and live according to His commands. That’s how we can stay rooted in the faith.

 

Paul then warned the Colossians of the falsehoods in their way and explained some deep stuff to them. He mentioned that the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. All the power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit resides in Him, and He is head over all power and principality, and in Him we are made complete. If the fullness of the Almighty One dwells in Him, and we are in Him, then honestly, what do we lack as far as knowledge and wholeness is concerned? Nothing! A little side note to those interested in relationships: you are only complete when you are in Christ, not when you get a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

Then he speaks of how in Him, we have been spiritually circumcised. Instead of the physical foreskin taken off, the fleshly body has been removed by Him. He brings up the significance of baptism: by going down in the water and rising back up, we share in the death and the resurrection by faith. In Him, whilst we were totally dead in sin, obviously unable to revive ourselves, when He raised up Christ from the dead, we were quickened as well, and our sins were forgiven.

All records of our misdeeds and the curses due us for messing up were nailed to the cross. Every past record and all was dealt with as the nails struck through it and rendered it no longer valid. And the sweetest part: in all this, the devil and his minions experienced a humiliating defeat at the hands of Jesus as He made a public show of them, triumphing in the cross. There’s nothing more embarrassing to the enemy than the remembrance of Calvary. Just when they thought they had Him, He got one over them. Sweet!

So obviously, now that no curse, no demon, no power of darkness or sin has any legal right to come upon us, we obviously don’t need a set of rules like back in Leviticus to keep us down. Christ has set us free! That’s why Paul told them not to allow anyone to judge them concerning the ceremonial law. Those things were a shadow of what was to come; the real thing was Christ Himself. We are complete in Him!

The fact was, most of the commandments these charlatans gave out only gratified the flesh. They made one feel ‘holy’ and ‘humble’, but it was nothing more than a show of false humility. Don’t follow through with those kind of rules. They do nothing to subdue the flesh; they only serve to feed it. Those who practice such are no better than Pharisees: valiant display of holiness on the outside, yet being as rotten as any other unsaved person on the inside.

PRAYER

Holy Father, thank You for the old rugged cross of Calvary, for by it, my sin has been erased, the curse of the law has no hold on me, every other curse is broken, and the forces of hell have no power to destroy me, for I am hidden in Christ Jesus. Lord, open the eyes of my understanding that I may grow to fully appreciate the depths of this sacrifice and give You the praise that is due You. May every deception be rebuked in the name of Jesus! I come against every toxic Pharisee spirit that encourages only an outward form of humility! Let every yoke of holding onto laws for justification be broken, and let freedom and completion in Christ be announced to the captives! Lead me to live my life in conformity to the ways of Christ, and in wholehearted devotion and union with Him. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journey to Colossae 2

Hey y’all! Glad to be back with part 2 of this glorious journey. I trust you were blessed by the treasures of the Word in Colossians yesterday. Let’s not waste too much time. On to the rest of chapter 1!

Col 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light…

Indeed, the Father deserves all thanks and praise for what He’s done. But pay attention to the words that follow. “which hath made us meet”, or if I’m gonna go with the New King James Version, “Who has qualified us”. Think of it this way: if we look at the ongoing World Cup, the teams that are participating are doing so for a reason; they qualified to be there. They went through the process and qualified; they didn’t have anyone helping them. We all know it would be an outrage if FIFA used their power to qualify a country without them going through the qualifying stages! But when you look at it from this perspective, we realize something simple: we don’t qualify for heaven by our own merits, He has qualified us!! Like I said yesterday, grace!! It is not of ourselves, but His gift.

From verse 14 downwards, Paul lays down flat truths about Jesus, and the knowledge of all these truths should obviously lead us to total surrender and worship of Him.

  • It is in Jesus alone that remission of sins is obtainable, through His shed blood. Our sins cannot be washed away by any other means but His blood alone.
  • He is the Image of the Invisible God. No doubt about it, Jesus is God! Like He Himself said, he who has seen Him has seen the Father.
  • Through Him, all that we see (the natural realm) and what we don’t see (the supernatural realm) was created. All authorities, thrones and dominions were made by Him. So isn’t it obvious the forces of hell stand no chance against us when we’re in Him?
  • All things were made through Him and FOR Him. It is by His intervention that we came into existence and we only find our true purpose in Him.
  • In Him all things are held together ie He sustains all things. Knowing this has changed my approach to the song, “You are the Pillar that holds my life.” I liked it, but now I see it as one song with a heavy statement. Indeed, He sustains me day by day, and not just me, but the universe as a whole.
  • He is the Head of the body that is the church. We may have leaders in our various assemblies that we honour and respect, but ultimately, the Boss is Jesus!
  • He was first in the beginning, and the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have pre-eminence. As I pondered over this last week, this is what came up: “Jesus won’t take second place.” Indeed, in all things He must come first, and that includes our lives. No, it’s not just speaking, tweeting and Facebooking empty ‘God first’ quotes, it’s about living it out for real!
  • In Him dwells the fullness of the Father, Who was more than pleased to let Him have it. All the attributes, powers and perfection of God (as the Amplified Bible puts it) are housed permanently in Him. Need I say more about His deity?
  • The Father was happy to have it such that through Him, all things on earth should be reconciled back to Himself. Once again, it is only through Christ that we can be reconciled to God. No other door exists; He alone is the Way.

Beautiful truths about Jesus right there! I pray these facts sink deep into our spirits and lead us to pay the Son homage. He deserves it all! It’s beautiful considering how the One Who upholds everything created in the palm of His hand stooped down and allowed those hands to be pierced for our sakes! All glory and honour to Your name, O Holy One of Israel!

Verse 23 gives us a brief caution: it is vital we stay grounded and rooted in the faith if we are going to be presented before the Father as spotless and unreprovable. We cannot afford to take our eyes off the hope of the gospel and look to another source of ‘hope’ which obviously is a trapdoor to death. This is obviously where the apostle was getting ready to address the twisted ideas the false teachers were looking to spread, but we ought to heed it too. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, and we must stay rooted in that. Only faith in the cross of Calvary and Jesus’ finished work on that tree saves; everything else falls short.

To end this short one, take a look at the reason Paul grinded so hard with the converts, constantly preaching Christ, admonishing them and teaching them the truth in all wisdom: that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus(verse 28b). The aim was to ensure that all who came to know Christ would mature in the faith and be presented as such. These days, we’re sadly limiting ourselves to just saving souls: just letting someone say the sinner’s prayer, thinking we’ve accomplished the mission once that’s done. Hardly the case. That’s where the real work begins. We were ordered by Christ to go and make disciples, and that is hard work, as Paul testifies in the next verse of how he labours and strives for this cause.

There’s something we can be thankful for, though – His power is always at work in us as we toil and grind for the Kingdom. We strive according to His working which works mightily in us, just like Paul. Thank God it is He that works in us to get the job done!

That’s it for chapter 1. Tomorrow, we look at chapter 2 where Paul points out the falsehoods they ought to avoid. Praise God for His Holy Word! Here are the prayer points for this one…

PRAYER

-          Thank You, Most Blessed and Glorious Father, that You qualified us to partake of Your glorious inheritance. Thank You for the blood of Jesus, which washed away all my sin and made me new. May I stay grounded in the hope that is the cross of Calvary and may every deceiving spirit, falsehood and deception be rebuked in the name of Jesus! May the Holy Spirit empower Your servants to strive and toil to bring babes in Christ to spiritual maturity that at the coming of Jesus Christ, they may not be ashamed. Jesus, thank You for being the One that holds our lives together. Thank You for Your supreme power over all, for I know that no power of hell can ever defeat or destroy me whilst I am in You.

If there’s any prayer point or revelation you find as you search the Scriptures yourself, don’t hesitate to share here. I’m eager to learn from you too! God bless!

 

 

Journey To Colossae 1

Last week, I decided to take a trip through Colossae to know more about the Saviour. In other words, I decided to study Colossians for last week. And it has been pretty exciting! Before I share anything, there’s one major thing I’ve come to understand – if you really want a rich prayer life, studying the Word is vital!

Colossae, by the way, was a town east of Ephesus in Asia Minor. These believers were not brought to the faith by Paul himself, but by an evangelist he sent out by name Epaphras. Obviously, he led the missionary to Christ, so these believers were very dear to him, despite never seeing them before. The major reason he wrote that letter was because of false teachers bringing about weird theologies which had nothing to do with the truth of the gospel. They were trying to convince them to add some other mystical nonsense to ‘complete’ their salvation, and Paul obviously had to set the record straight. Christ is all we need! So that’s the little history behind it.

Well, there’s no time to waste. There was so much I learned, and am absorbing, so let’s go straight into the first chapter! Bear in mind, I’m sharing the heavy ones I learned…

Verses 3-5: We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints;  because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel…

This led me to take note something. Notice what the apostle said concerning what he had heard about the Colossian church: they made their faith in Jesus Christ apparent by their lives, and they showed love to the fellow members of the body of Christ. A beautiful way to describe a gathering of believers for sure. But my focus is on what follows – they were that way because of the hope laid up for them in heaven. The Greek word for hope here is ‘elpis’, which means confident expectation. They weren’t putting their faith in Jesus and loving others in the hopes that they might make God pleased enough to let them in; they were doing all that because they knew they had that wonderful future reserved for them without any effort of theirs. Grace is the reason we are saved and will spend eternity with the King of Glory, not because we’ve done anything good enough to win His favour. That is a problem in many churches today: they’re teaching people to earn salvation by doing as many good works as possible or by ensuring they try their best to obey the Ten Commandments well enough. But that wasn’t what stirred up these believers, because they knew it wasn’t about living that way so they can go to heaven, but living that way because that’s what citizens of heaven do!!

A part of verse 5 and 6:  …the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth..

When I pondered over this, Isaiah 55:10-11 came to mind. God had it in mind that this Good News would do marvelous things among humanity: that sinful hearts would be totally transformed and rebels would turn to radical lovers of Elohim. And since Pentecost, it’s been obvious His Word truly has not gone forth and returned empty. There’s no place on earth that has had the gospel infiltrate it without a soul being converted. Glory to God!

Then as Paul spoke of all this, he mentioned the evangelist Epaphras, and told of how he had been told of the love the Spirit had put in them, and how obvious it was. That also had an impact on me. I desire to reach out to many, to see souls saved, to disciple people I lead to Christ. But should I tell others of my disciples, will I happily speak of how they’re mightily operating in the gifts of the Spirit, or how they walk in love? Of course, I appreciate the gifts of the Spirit, but 1 Corinthians 13 makes it clear: tongues, healings, prophesying and all devoid of love is just a waste of time. As we look to make disciples, are we looking to ensure the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost?

Then verses 9 to 11 reveal a powerful prayer from Paul for the saints: that they will have minds and spirits in tune with His will. This is so important a prayer, and he reveals what happens once they have such:

-          Knowledge of His will and His ways will lead you to live a life that pleases Him. Walking in His will is obviously being obedient to Him, and that will bring pleasure to His heart. As a child of the King, I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying than knowing your life makes your Daddy proud of you!

-          Knowledge of His will and ways will make you fruitful. Since you’ll know how God wants His work done, you’ll do it that way and eventually see it bear eternal fruit. Doing it the opposite way may seem to bear fruit, but it certainly won’t survive the fire at the Judgment Seat!

-          Knowledge of His will and His ways will lead you to increase in the knowledge of God. Growing to know Him more increases our love for Him and our intimacy with Him, and that is what we were made for!

There’s another important prayer Paul made: that they would be strengthened with might according to glorious power of Jehovah for all endurance and patience with joy. A beautiful request.

This Christian life is NOT a bed of roses ( or I could also say, this Christianity thing no be jollof!). Whether we like it or not, there are unpleasant aspects of it. Trials, adversities, persecutions… they’re all a part of the package. Without the patience that only heaven can supply, we will throw up our hands in frustration and give up. No doubt, that sort of strength had been supplied to Paul, when you look at what he had been through for the sake of the gospel!! When we are filled with that strength to persevere and be patient, we will do so with joy and not with a grumbling, grit-your-teeth attitude, for one obvious reason: all things are gonna work together for your good!

There’s so much for chapter 1 that I’ll end it here for now. Tomorrow, I’ll end it. But like I said at the start, this has made me realize that reading the Word gives you so much to pray about, and of course, using the Word in prayer is far more effective than using your own words. So based on what was shown to me in these scriptures, these are prayer points I believe are worth using whenever possible…

PRAYER POINTS

-          I pray that our churches will be filled with a fresh dose of total abandonment to Jesus and trusting wholly in Him alone, and a fresh fire of love in the hearts of all, especially those of the household of faith.

-          I pray that the spirit of legalism and works-based righteousness lurking in our churches will be arrested!! May the Holy Spirit lead the faithful to know they are already citizens of heaven and thus it’s a matter of living as citizens of heaven in a strange land!

-          I pray that as we lead others to the Lord, we will be more interested in them learning to walk in love and thus fulfilling Jesus’ commandment in John 13:34-35 than growing in other aspects of the faith at the expense of love.

-          I pray that each day, as missionaries and evangelists and basically Christians the world over witness and spread the gospel, even more fruit will come out of their labour and more sinners will turn to faith in Christ.

-          I pray that as a body, our minds and spirits will be sensitized and attuned to the will of the Father by the power of the Holy Ghost, so we may live the sort of lives He expects of us and please Him, bear good and eternal fruit in our works and grow closer to Him.

-          I pray that we will be strengthened with the power of the Holy Ghost to endure the tough times that we will face, knowing that all things work together for the good of them that love God and are called according to His purpose.

God bless!!

Tired Of The Status Quo

I’ve been dealt with these past few days. Sometimes, spreading the Gospel is something I’m moved to do, but then I hold back. Particularly in a public setting, like a trotro. I realized I hold back for the simple reason that I fear being rejected and insulted and looked at as ‘someway’, and I slightly fear the fact that once it’s done around people who know me well, they’ll start to think I should behave like a perfect person.
But the Holy Spirit pointed out these facts to me: holding back because I want to avoid embarrassment and rejection simply shows that I treasure my temporal comfort more than God’s work. I’d rather have my flesh feeling good than let out the truth so souls can be saved. I’m pretty much seeing myself as more important and wiser than the apostles, who went through terribly tough times spreading the gospel. I’m rejecting persecution and suffering for sensual gratification. In order words, in the words of Jesus, I’m choosing to save my life rather than lose it for the sake of the gospel. And if we know what the Word says, then the end result is obvious: I’m on a quest to lose my life.
As stewards of the Good News, why are we still hiding behind the scenes, choosing to live the feel-good life? We’re more interested in our church activities and stuff than reaching out to a lost world and carrying out the Great Commission. Yet Jesus didn’t leave us with a command to stay in our little Christian bubbles and enjoy the ride to heaven. He charged us to go out into all the world and let the unbelieving world know of glad tidings: that God came in human form and died on a cross to save us from our sinful natures and the result of it: eternal damnation.
We have been called to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus, but as I’ve been shown, I and many others just aren’t doing that. We want to maintain our reputations when in reality, once we are in Christ, we don’t have an identity of our own. Our identity is in Him. We should come to the realization that if we are called of God, qualified by Him to partake in the inheritance of the saints of light, then living a normal life is out of the question. The likes of Peter and John were living normal lives until they met Jesus. Their lives were never the same. They went through crazy stuff, suffered greatly, experienced great hate at the hands of others. But they didn’t regret it one bit, because at the end of the day, they knew they were not their own, and regardless of what happened to them, the Alpha and Omega loved them with a fiery passion that superceded any earthly experience.
We shouldn’t, either. In truly choosing to follow Jesus, we will most definitely face tough times and persecutions. Friends and family members will think we’re too extreme and overreacting. Others will strike out at us. In the process, we may even lose friends, property and others. But will it really matter when we come to stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give account of what we have done with our lives? Will the insults and mockeries really count for anything when God gives us His approval? Will the pain we felt while grinding for Christ be of any worthy remembrance when we see the joy set before us? In the light of eternity, will all the earthly comforts hold any significance? The answer is an obvious ‘NO’.
I recently read an amazing book by Heidi Baker, ‘Birthing the Miraculous’, and it is another challenging factor in this equation. That lady has done amazing things for the Lord, yet it has come at an extremely high price. The work she has done in Mozambique didn’t come without massive afflictions and hardships. But she doesn’t regret it for one moment, and I doubt she would choose to have it easy. That is an example of a person who has obeyed the command of Jesus and has seen wondrous results. What are we waiting for?
Dear reader, I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel like there’s a greater dimension to this life in Christ. I’m getting tired of limiting it to church activities and all the Christian media I have on my devices. I’m getting weary of holding back from being more radical, concentrating on what man will say. It is time for change. Time to become the kind of Christian that the world is not comfortable with. The world changer that values the things of eternity more than fleeting goods. The crazy follower of Jesus that will heed His call and spread the Word and live in obedience to His commandments. It won’t be easy, and even as I write this, the flesh already wants to rise up in protest because it prefers to be gratified. But I have been set apart by God for His glory, and I will not live for any other purpose but His. So do pray for me as I make this decision, that the Holy Spirit will strengthen me, give me boldness to witness in public and not consider myself as having any reputation to protect, and forbearance to endure any unpleasant happenings as a result of my witness. And as you do, I pray that you will also be pushed beyond the comfort zone and go all out for Him. That is what He wants for us!