Author: Alice A. Anacioco

The Effective Prayer Life

The Effective Prayer Life

A healthy prayer life is one of the best indicators of a healthy spiritual life because it is through prayer that a Christian develops a closer, more intimate relationship with God. It is also said that a Christian who spends a considerable amount of time with God in prayer is more likely to experience God’s blessings in all areas of his life.

Admittedly, many Christians are finding it hard to develop a prayer life that does not only keep them in constant communication with God but also one that is effective and powerful. Having an effective prayer life is one of the keys to living victoriously as followers of Christ here on earth while waiting for His return.

Developing An Effective Prayer Life

So what kind of prayer is considered effective and how do we develop it? We read how God’s people in the Old Testament have succeeded in accomplishing their God-given missions because they always consulted God first: Abraham, Noah, Joshua, David, Daniel and his friends, etc.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul repeatedly exhorted the church to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and encouraged them to pray for one another (James 5:16; 1 Timothy 2:1; Ephesians 6:18). And in Colossians 4:2-4 (NLT), Paul succinctly gives us a great lesson in effective praying:

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.”

A. First, our praying must be FAITHFUL

“Devote yourselves to prayer” means, “Be steadfast in your prayer life; be committed, persistent and don’t quit.” This is the way the early church prayed (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46). Sadly, too many of us pray only occasionally – when we feel like it or when there’s a crisis. But God commands us to “pray continually” (Thessalonians 5:17). It’s because Jesus knew that there will be times when we would feel fainthearted.

We live in a broken world that is ruled by Satan and as followers of Christ; we are constantly engaged in a spiritual battle that can only be won on our knees through prayer. As the battles loom, it will be easy for us to lose heart because our eyes tend to focus on the circumstances.

Let us remember that defeat is never an option for us. But the only way to emerge victoriously is by being committed to praying strenuously and remaining faithful. This does not mean that we should walk around muttering prayers under our breath. Rather, it means we are to be in an ongoing dialogue and constant fellowship with God so that prayer is as normal to us as breathing.


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B. Our praying must also be ALERT.

To be alert when we pray means we must be watchful. The concept “watch and pray!” is often used in the Bible and it had its beginning in Bible history when Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:9). This carries the idea of staying awake or standing guard to make sure a location is safe. Just like the guard at the city gate, prayer demands attention.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – Matthew 26_41

Jesus also used the phrase in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:38 and Paul in Ephesians 6:18. When Paul exhorts the church to be alert, he’s basically telling them to stay awake while they pray, be mentally alert and spiritually sensitive to the needs for which they pray. There are times when we struggle to stay awake when we pray because our mind and body are tired. At other times we pray as if we are asleep and our prayers sound and feel tired and sleepy.

We are to be alert, vigilant and watchful when we pray because at times we are easily distracted by this world that we tend to take our eyes off Jesus and His soon return. We’re foreigners on this earth just passing through and need to be ready at any time to stand before God and give an account of our lives to Him.

C. Our praying should also be THANKFUL.

Thanksgiving is an important ingredient in successful praying (Philippians 4:6). If all we do is ask, and never thank God for His blessings and gifts, we are selfish. That is why in the ACTS formula of prayer that has been taught to children and new believers for many years; “T” which stands for Thanksgiving is included.

Thanksgiving focuses on what God has done, is doing and will be doing. There are so many things we need to thank God for, including His love, salvation, provision, and protection. We need to give God thanks for everything because sincere gratitude to God is one of the best ways to put fervor into our praying.

D. Finally, our praying ought to be PURPOSEFUL.

Too often our prayers are vague and general. We ask God “to bless our pastors, church leaders, missionaries.” We ask God “to bless our family and loved ones.” How much better it would be if we would pray for specific needs. By doing so, we would know when God answered and we could praise Him for it.

*Related Article: The Importance of Praying for Others

When Paul asked the church at Colossae to pray for him and his associates, he asked for two specific needs: 1) that God would grant them opportunities both inside and outside of prison to preach the gospel and 2) they would preach the truth with courage and clarity.

When Jesus prayed at Gethsemane the night before His arrest, He specifically asked the Father if it is possible for the cup to be taken from Him (Matthew 26:39-42). When God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked him what he wanted, he asked specifically for wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-14).

Many times our prayers are ineffective because they are too general. We need to step forward in our relationship with God and start praying for specific needs. If we have known the Lord for many years, we need to stop praying childlike prayers and grow in our prayer life by being specific when presenting our requests to God.

Closing Thoughts

Effective prayer is a prayer we know God hears that’s why it is important we all learn how to pray effectively. Developing an effective prayer life may sound like a challenge to some but if we would all just apply these principles taught by the apostle Paul, we can have a prayer life that will change our lives and the way we approach God

When we pray without ceasing with a grateful heart while staying alert and be specific in our requests and petitions, we will be able to tap into the presence of God which in effect will release His power, anointing, and blessings.


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Nicodemus Transformed By Jesus

Nicodemus Transformed By Jesus

Do you know how many people have been brought to the point of faith in Christ as a result of reading the account of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:1-15? Countless! Transformed by Jesus whom he met in the shadow, Nicodemus has been instrumental in bringing countless others to the light.

Who was Nicodemus?

Nicodemus meets with JesusNicodemus was a Pharisee (John 3:1), which means he lived by the strictest possible religious rules. The Pharisees were a group of influential religious Jews who were extremely fastidious about keeping the written Law, every ritual and every little minute kind of tradition that had developed.

In the gospels, the Pharisees are often presented as hypocritical who often opposed Jesus throughout His ministry. They tell people to do things that they don’t do and they put burdens on people on legalism.

But not all of them were hypocrites (as one may infer from Jesus’ comments in Matthew 23), and evidence indicates that Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his quest for truth. And He came to Jesus because he rightly considered Him “a teacher who has come from God” (John 3:2).

The Bible also tells us that Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin (John 3:1; John 7:50-51), which was the highest legal, legislative and judicial body of the Jews. Under the rule of the Romans in the time of Christ, the Jews were allowed a measure of self-rule and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem was the final court of appeals for matters that have to do with Jewish law and religion. It is this Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem that Nicodemus was a part of.

The Meet Up

John 3:2 says Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus at night. Why at night? Many speculated that Nicodemus was afraid or ashamed to visit Jesus in broad daylight, so he went to see Him at night. It could also be that he came to Jesus by night because he wanted to have a quiet uninterrupted conversation with the new Teacher “that God has sent.”

Apparently, Nicodemus knew there was something special about Jesus and he wanted to know more. Nicodemus probably thought long and hard about what to say to Jesus. Then he started the conversation by calling Jesus “Rabbi,” which is the Jewish word for Teacher.

We can see that Nicodemus has great respect for Jesus because he calls Him “Rabbi,” a title which no doubt is the same title many used to address him, for he was a teacher of the law as well. He further refers to Jesus as a “teacher come from God.”

How did Jesus respond? He ignored Nicodemus’ greeting and spoke directly to his deepest need, which is to enter the kingdom of God. The Bible tells us that Jesus knows the hearts of men (John 2:24-25; Matthew 9:4; Matthew 12:25) so He knew exactly why Nicodemus had come.

Nicodemus needed help; he knew that he had no assurance of getting into heaven even though he has done everything he knew necessary. He has kept every rabbinic traditional law and biblical law he knew to keep. And that is why he has climbed the ladder to the top and became a highly respected teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures.

You must be born again

In essence, he was asking Jesus, “What do I do? What more do I need to do? What things do I need to delete in my life? What am I doing that I need to stop doing? What I am I not doing that I need to do?”And Jesus said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

To many Jews, to be born a Jew was to be born into the kingdom of God. Can you imagine how shocked Nicodemus was when Jesus tells him that his natural birth as a Jew will not save him and that he must be born again?

Jesus is saying, “Nothing you’ve ever done makes any contribution. Everything you are needs to be dead because everything you have done and accomplished is not enough to get you into the kingdom of God. You can’t get to God’s kingdom unless you’re born from above.”

Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus meant by this so he asked, “How can I be born when I am old? I can’t possibly go back inside my mother and be born a second time” (John 3:4 paraphrased).

*Note: The original words used for “born again” can be stated “born from above” (Strong’s concordance).

And Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again” (John 3:5-7).

The Need for Spiritual Rebirth

In His statement, Jesus made it clear that He wasn’t talking about a physical birth, like a baby being born. Rather, He was speaking of a spiritual rebirth – getting a new life from God. To be born again is to have another birth that comes like your first birth, from above. You have to be created by God, again, spiritually.

His entire life, Nicodemus had been trained to believe that he could earn God’s approval by following a list of rules and so it was difficult for him to understand that this new life was given by God. Here’s a man, “the teacher of Israel” (John 3:10), who thinks he has reserved seats on the 50-yard line of heaven and Jesus tells him that he is not getting into heaven without being regenerated.

*Related Article: Is Born Again a New Religion?

In John 3:5-7, Jesus was not teaching that the new birth comes through water baptism as some may interpret it. In the New Testament, baptism is connected with death, not birth, and no amount of physical water can effect a spiritual change in a person.

The emphasis is on believing (John 3:10-21) because salvation comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The evidence of salvation is the witness of the Spirit within (Romans 8:9), and the Spirit enters the life of a person the moment he or she believes.

To be born from above is to be born of God. To be born of God is to be born by the work of His Spirit. Jesus now describes the sovereign saving work of God through His Spirit by using the analogy of the wind (John 3:8). One of the symbols of the Spirit of God in the Bible is the wind or breath (John 20:22; Job 33:4; Acts 2:2).

What does it mean to be born again

Like the wind, the Spirit is invisible but powerful, and you cannot explain or predict its movements. Neither can the wind be controlled. That is the supernatural work of the Spirit in regenerating a person. No one, by his owns works, or manipulation or striving can direct the Spirit in His work.

But when the Spirit brings about the new birth, the effects are evident and we know that it is God’s Spirit at work, unseen and beyond man’s control. This goes to say that neither Nicodemus nor anyone else can save themselves, or anyone else for that matter. Salvation is the sovereign work of God alone, through the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus must have been so dumb-struck by what Jesus just told him that he cannot conceive nor fathom how Jesus’ words could be true. So he asks in John 3:9, “How can these things be?” And Jesus gives him a gentle rebuke, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not know these things” (John 3:10)?

And Jesus went on to explain to Nicodemus the best news ever told. Nicodemus could be free from all of the rules that he followed. He could be given new life by the Creator of heaven and earth and of everything if only he would place his trust in God’s Son who was standing right in front of him.

The Transformation

As a religious leader among the Jews, Nicodemus came to Jesus representing “we” (John 3:2) but Jesus immediately treated him as “you” (John 3:3). Nicodemus wanted to learn more about Jesus, but he ended up learning more about himself. He came looking for information and Jesus offered him transformation.

After the encounter, Nicodemus must have become a follower of Jesus for we read of his participation in two other memorable moments in Jesus’ life: when he spoke up in defense of Jesus’ innocence in the high council (John 7:45-53) and when he joined Joseph of Arimathea to retrieve Jesus’ body, prepare it for burial, and place it in the tomb (John 19:38-42).

Closing Thoughts

Being religious is not the same as being a Christian. Are you a Christian, or are you just religious? There is a great difference between those who are religious and those who are reborn from above. Many people today could be religious like Nicodemus but our Lord’s words make it clear that we all need to be born again.

Though all human beings have experienced natural birth on earth, if they expect to go to heaven, they must experience a supernatural birth from above. We come to Jesus from many different places and with many different purposes, but wherever and whoever we might be, Jesus lovingly says to each of us, “You must be born again.”

Have you been born from above? Have you accepted Jesus’ offer of a new birth and transformation?


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Why Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Why Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Do you notice how the ambiance or mood changes whenever the “BER” months start? As early as September 1st when radio stations begin playing our favorite Christmas songs, we all get very excited knowing that Christmas is just around the corner. But what is the true meaning of Christmas and why should Christians celebrate it?

While many Christians today celebrate Christmas, there are others who don’t because they claim that Jesus Christ wasn’t really born on Christmas day which falls on the 25th of December. And they are right.

As I said in my article, Jesus: The Reason for the Christmas Season, historians and Bible scholars have found no solid, documented evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th. But based on Luke 2:8 and other indicators such as the birth of John the Baptist, they place the birth of Christ in the late summer or early autumn (that is September).

A Powerful Story

Before going any further, I would like to share a story that was told by Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias in one of his Christmas sermons. It’s about a shepherd from New Zealand who woke up one morning and finding himself in a dilemma.

This shepherd had two mother sheep that were ready to give birth to their lambs. But each in its own way ended up with a misfortune. One of them had just given birth to its little lamb but shortly thereafter, the mother had contracted various problems and died, leaving this lamb without a mother to take care of it.

Then shortly thereafter, the other mother sheep gave birth to its own little lamb and rather than her developing complications, the little lamb ended up with problems and lost its life.

So all of a sudden the shepherd looked at that situation which he found himself. On the one hand, he had a kind of a “motherless” lamb. On the other hand, he had a “lambless” mother. The solution looked rather obvious, didn’t it? All the shepherd needed to do was to get this little lamb over to that mother, have it nursed this little one and give it strength and life.

But it’s not as simple as that, because every time he made an attempt to bring this little lamb over to that mother to be fed, the mother, smelling a different aroma on the body of this lamb sensing it wasn’t its own, would turn away and back off from it.

The shepherd came up with a genius plan. He went and found the dead body of the actual little lamb, took the skin off its body, formed a little coat and put it on this one that was still alive. And then he carried this little lamb over to this mother to be nursed. The mother was ready to back off, sensing it was not its own. But suddenly it smelled a different aroma, one that was familiar to it and began to nurse this little one.

Mother sheep feeding little lamb

Meaning of the Story

This story is a powerful little illustration but really points beyond itself to the predicament to which we find ourselves as human beings in a sense of alienation from God. Because of sin, man who used to have an intimate relationship with his Creator was alienated from God (Isaiah 59:2).

Without God, man’s destiny is hell. We can read this in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. But God who is love does not want anyone to perish (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9). So what did He do? He sent His only begotten Son to take upon Himself the penalty for our sins, to die on the cross so that everyone who believes will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

*Related Article: What does John 3:16 Teach about Salvation?

God is love but He is also holy and just. He will not just let sin slide and let man get away with it. God made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might bec0me the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In theology this is called the “Doctrine of Justification.” Not only is Christ’s righteousness imputed to us through faith, but our sin is imputed to Christ. That is how Christ paid for our sin debt to God. By having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, we can be seen as sinless, as Jesus is sinless.

In the same way that the little lamb was eventually cared for, love and nurtured by the mother lamb because it smelled the aroma of its own little lamb that died, we too can come to the Father. Because when God looks at us, He does not see us for who and what we are – sinful and unclean. Instead, He sees the holiness, perfection, and righteousness of Christ.

The True Meaning of Christmas

What then is Christmas all about?

A. Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Man sinned by deliberately disobeying God and so he deserves to be separated from God for all eternity. But because God is forgiving and merciful He made a way for man’s relationship with him to be restored. How? Through Christ!

We are forgiven because Jesus took upon Himself the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus gave His life; He shed His blood because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22 NIV). God did not only forgive us our sins, but He also reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). It’s important to emphasize that God initiated the reconciliation, not man.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness

This is what Christmas is all about. Jesus came so that our sins would be forgiven and be reconciled with God. What then should our response be? We must separate ourselves from the world. This is what it means to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are to share the love of God and the good news of salvation to everyone but we are not to conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2).

B. Love which is demonstrated by Giving

You know what they say, “You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.” God proved this to be true when He sent His Son to die on the cross, even when we were still in our sins so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). God gave first and He gave us the best gift; a gift that we did not deserve.

Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given …” We have to understand that Jesus as man has been born but as God, He existed eternally with the Father. And again, this verse tells us that God gave us Jesus Christ His Son, not because we asked Him to but because He knew exactly what we needed.

For God so loved the word - John 3:16

When Christmas comes, are you more focused on what you want to receive or on what you can give to God and your loved ones? There’s nothing wrong with exchanging gifts as part of the Christmas celebration. However, let us not forget that the true meaning of Christmas is love which is demonstrated in our giving. We should aim to be the giver, not the recipient.

C. Life (Physical, Spiritual & Eternal)

Can man live without God? Someone once said, “God without man is still God, but man without God is nothing.” And while we do not find this exact phrase in the Bible, this truth is explicitly stated in many places in Scriptures such as John 15:5, John 1:3 and Jeremiah 10:23 among others.

We are also familiar with the acronym CHRISTIAN which means without CHRIST in my life I Am Nothing (I-A-N). What about those who continuously reject Christ, are they dead? Yes! They may be physically alive but they are spiritually dead and do not have eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death - Romans 6:23

We are all spiritually dead because of sin but the moment we receive God’s offer of salvation, our spirit gets regenerated or born again and we will receive eternal life. Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Without God, we would have no life at all. There is no reality outside of Christ; no logic, no reason, and purpose for anything. But all these have changed because Christ came on that first Christmas eve.

D. Hope

It’s because of Christmas that we have hope. And unlike ordinary hope, the hope that we have in Christ does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Why? Because biblical hope – the hope that is found in Christ – is a confident expectation of what God has promised and there is moral certainty in it because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God.

What is biblical hope

When God promises something, He is sure to fulfill it. God remains faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). The Bible says that faithfulness is part of God’s nature. Being faithful isn’t just part of what He does; it’s part of who He is.

Conclusion

So why should Christians celebrate Christmas? We celebrate this season for one reason and one reason only – Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas because a Savior has been born to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).

Christmas is all about God coming in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life of obedience to the Father, set an example for us to follow, to suffer and die on the cross for our sins and to rise again to conquer death and hell, in order to set us free from the power of sin and death and to rescue and deliver us from the wrath of God and the judgment that is to be poured out upon all flesh on the earth in a future event known as the “Great Tribulation.”

If that is not enough reason to celebrate the Christmas season, I don’t know what is. What about you, do you celebrate Christmas? Why or why not?

How Fertile Is My Heart?

How Fertile Is My Heart?

Jesus’ parable in Luke 8:4-15 called the parable of the sower is about the receptivity of the human heart. Matthew called this “the parable about the farmer planting seeds” (Matthew 13:18 NLT), but it could also be called the parable of the types of soil.”

The human heart is like the soil in this parable: If it is prepared properly, it becomes fertile and can receive the seed of the Word of God and produce a fruitful harvest. Now, the question you may want to ask yourself is: “How fertile is my heart?”

Hearing Means Listening

Notice how the word “hear” is used several times in Luke 8:11-15. It means much more than simply listening to the words. “Hearing” means listening with spiritual understanding and receptivity. It is a serious thing to hear and understand the Word of God because this puts on us the obligation to share that Word with others.

Everyone who receives the seed then becomes a sower, a light bearer, and a transmitter of God’s truth (1 Thessalonians 1:5-8). If we keep it to ourselves, we will love it, but if we will share it, we will receive more.

4 Different Kinds of Hearts

In the parable, Jesus described 4 different kinds of hearts, 3 of which did not produce any fruit. Let us not forget that the proof of salvation is fruit and not merely hearing the Word or making a profession of faith in Christ. Jesus had made that very clear in His “Sermon on the Mount” in Luke 6:43-45. (See also Matthew 7:15-20.)

A. The hard soil – Luke 8:5, 12

This soil represents the person who hears the Word but immediately allows the devil to snatch the seed away. How did the heart become hard? The “footpath” or “wayside” was the path that ran through the common field, separating the plots, and the foot traffic hardened the soil.

“Whatever goes into the ear or eye finally enters the heart, so be careful who you allow walking on your heart.”

B. The shallow (rocky) soil – Luke 8:6, 13

This soil illustrates the emotional hearer who quickly responds to the message, but his interest wanes and he does not continue (see John 8:31-32). In many parts of the Holy Land, you find a substratum of limestone covered with a thin layer of soil. The shoot can grow up, but the roots cannot go down, and the sun withers the rootless plant.

*Read here: The Christian’s Response to Trials

The sun represents the testing that comes to all professing believers to prove their faith. Sun is good for plants if they have roots. Persecution can deepen the roots of a true Christian, but it only exposes the shallowness of the false Christian.

C. The crowded (thorny) soil – Luke 8:7, 14

This soil illustrates the person who does not repent and “weed out” the things that hinder the harvest. There is enough soil so the roots can go down, but not enough room for the plant to grow up and produce fruit. The plant is crowded out and the fruit is choked.

“Cares, riches, and the pleasures of this life” are like weeds in a garden that keep the soil from being fruitful. The person with a “crowded heart” comes closest to salvation, but he still does not bring forth “fruit to perfection.”

D. The good (fertile) soil – Luke 8:8, 15

This soil alone is fruitful. It illustrates the individual who hears the Word, understands it, receives it within, is truly saved, and proves it by patiently producing fruit (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13 & 1 Peter 1:22-25).

*Not everybody produces the same amount of fruit (Matthew 13:8), but all true believers will produce some fruit as evidence of spiritual life. That fruit may include winning others to Christ (Romans 1:13), money given to God’s work (Romans 15:25-28), good works (Colossians 1:10, Christian character (Galatians 5:22-23), and praise to the Lord (Hebrews 13:15).

Closing Thoughts

Why compare God’s word to seed? Because the Word is “alive and powerful” (Hebrews 4:1). Unlike human words, the Word of God has life in it, and that life will be imparted to those who will believe.

When you consider how much teaching, preaching, and witnessing goes on in the course of a month or a year, you wonder why there is such a small harvest. The fault does not lie with the sower or the seed. The problem is with the soil – the human heart.

In order for the truth of God to take root in the heart, be cultivated, and be permitted to bear fruit, the heart must, first of all, be fertile. Sadly, many human hearts will not submit to God, repent and receive the word and be saved.

To which category does your heart belong? Hard, shallow, crowded or good? And if you say your heart is good or fertile, how fertile is it?


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Important Biblical Principles On Giving

Important Biblical Principles On Giving

In chapter 16 of 1 Corinthians, we read that one of the most important ministries the apostle Paul had during his third journey was the gathering of a special “relief offering” for the poor believers in Jerusalem.

While this special offering was not the same as our Lord’s Day collection, it does give several important biblical principles on giving for believers today.

Giving is an Act of Worship

I believe it’s tragic when church members give only as a duty and forget that our offerings are to be spiritual “sacrifices” presented to the Lord (Philippians 4:18). Giving should be an act of worship to the resurrected and ascended Savior.

It’s interesting that Paul mentioned the offering just after his discussion about the resurrection. In the original manuscripts there were no chapter breaks, so the readers would go right from Paul’s hymn of victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-56) into his discussion about money.

Doctrine and duty go together, so do worship and works. Our giving is not in vain because our Lord is alive. It is His resurrection power that motivates us to give and to serve.

Giving Should be Systematic

Some Bible students suggested that many people were paid on the first day of the week during that time in history. But even if they were not, each believer was to set aside his offering at home and then bring it to the assembly on the first day. Paul did not want to have to take up a number of collections when he arrived in Corinth. He wanted the whole contribution to be ready (1 Corinthians 16:2).

If today’s church members were as systematic in their giving as they are in handling their other financial matters, the work of the Lord would not suffer as it sometimes does.

*Related Article: Biblical Principles of Tithing

Do you know that members of the Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest Pentecostal Christian congregation in South Korea founded by Pastor David Yonggi Cho, would go to the bank days before worship day to exchange their old paper bills with new ones for their tithes and offering? And if they have no time to go to the bank they would iron them flat, making them crisp and looking new.

Preparing our tithes and offerings at home is a good practice to adapt. The word of God says, “Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give …” (2 Corinthians 9:7). What better way to decide how much we should give than seeking God at home before going to church.

Giving is Personal and Individual

Paul expected each member to share in the offering, the rich and the poor alike. Anyone who had an income was privileged to share and to help those in need. He wanted all to share in the blessing.

Do not wait to get rich before you start giving to the Church. As someone once said, “Little can become a lot in the hands of Jesus.” Do you want God’s blessings? Be a blessing!

Giving is to be Proportionate

“A portion of the money you have earned” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NLT) suggests that believers who have more should give more. The Jewish believers in the church would have been accustomed to the tithe, but Paul did not mention any special proportion.

Certainly, the tithe (10% of one’s income) is a good idea to begin our stewardship, but we must not remain in that level. As the Lord gives us more, we should plan to give more.

Honor the Lord with your wealth - Proverbs 3:9-10

You must be familiar with the quote that says, “When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living, raise your standard of giving.” But when Brother Jess Cortez (a guest author of this website) exhorted tithes and love offering at Church, he said that God’s principle is actually the complete opposite of this.

Based on Proverbs 3:9-10, the sequence is: 1) Do not raise your standard of living, 2) raise your standard of giving, 3) and then God will bless you to overflowing.

Final Thoughts

Christian giving is a grace, the outflow of the grace of God in our lives and not the result of promotion or pressure. An open heart cannot maintain a closed hand. If we appreciate the grace of God extended to us, we will want to express that grace by sharing with others.


*Create your own Christian website for free like I did and share the love of God to the world, His goodness and faithfulness in your life. My recommended training platform will show you how to do that step by step.

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Jesus, You are the Calm at the Center of My Storm

Jesus, You are the Calm at the Center of My Storm

Living in a country that is visited by an average of 20 typhoons every year, I can understand the fear that the disciples felt when a furious storm suddenly came up while they were inside a boat in the middle of the sea (Matthew 8:23-27 & Mark 4:35-41).

It’s pretty scary because you never know if you’re going to make it after the storm is gone. But if Jesus calmed the storm by rebuking the wind and the waves, He can also calm whatever storm we are facing.

The Bible tells us that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). So it’s no wonder that most of the time the world is in chaos. Living in a world that is ruled by the prince of darkness, we cannot expect things to get better, it could even get worse.

Every day we learn of terrible things that happen everywhere around the world and Christians wonder when this will ever end. But in the midst of all the troubles, we can always turn to Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) who will calm us even in the middle of a terrible storm.

Calm at the Center of my Storm Lyrics & Chords

It’s been a year since I published a post about how God sustained me physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was definitely one of the toughest times of my life in as far as my day job is concerned. It even came to a point where I thought I couldn’t take it anymore and all I could think about was quitting.

Praise the Lord Almighty for giving me the strength to keep on. I may be weak but God is strong and He will give me the grace to overcome every hurdle that I may have to face. I’m blessed to share with you that what I’ve been through has made me a lot stronger and taught me to trust God all the more.

*Here’s the article: Yes, I can Do All Things Through Christ Who Gives Me Strength

Another Year, Another Challenge

So I thought everything was going very well. Ministry is flourishing, my website is getting better with traffic (meaning visitors), I’m learning a lot more about and growing in His grace and knowledge and the extra working hours in my day job have been reduced.

There’s just one problem, a couple actually: I am in conflict with the head of my department (I call him Doc T) and my employers are having financial difficulties. In regard to the former issue, I’m not sure when and how things started to go south between me and Doc T.

We actually started out on a positive note; we were communicating very well, we were comfortable with each other. We even became friends while at the same time maintaining a professional relationship – that of a superior and subordinate. I very much appreciated how principled he was and wanted nothing more than equality among everyone in the team, regardless of race, nationality, and religion.

Romans 8:37

Then came that unfortunate day when my roommate/colleague and I got into some kind of conflict with a junior local staff, a big NONO, I must say! This is one thing a foreigner should never do in a country where discrimination is very common and rampant. Admittedly, it was a huge mistake for me to get involved and I had to learn my lesson the hard way.

In all fairness, Doc T tried his best to make it look like the problem is nothing more than a plain misunderstanding when we were called in for a department meeting with the HRO (Human Resource Officer). But after that, it became even more obvious that the management has sided with the junior staff, because she’s a local.

Well, Doc T got the message loud and clear from the HR: locals are privileged in this medical facility and you have to abide by that rule if you want things to go smoothly for you. And that’s when Doc T started treating me and other foreigners in our department differently.

How to Respond to People Who Do Not Treat You Well

Since then, Doc T would do anything just to please the locals, even at the expense of the foreigners (myself included). This was not only physically and mentally draining, but it was emotionally painful too. I tried to remain polite and respectful towards him, and so as my colleagues. But as they say, every person has his limit.

As a follower of Christ, I should know better than to get in conflict with anyone, especially with my superiors. And so I tried to keep my distance from Doc T, which he took as a sign of disrespect and animosity towards him. He even went as far as to accuse me of influencing our junior staffs to give him the “cold treatment.”

I was like, “What? Are you kidding me?” I was appalled, disappointed and troubled. I admit, I tend to overreact at times, especially when the attack is personal. Imagine being called “evil” (behind your back) by your superior just because you only talk to him when necessary, meaning, as it relates to work. I wonder if this is what they call “character assassination.”

Romans 12:18

Anyway, I thought it’s best to just let things subside, for now. I recognize that this is another bump on the road, which happened a week after I delivered God’s message in our local church on “The Christian’s Response to Trials.”

If you are being used by God behind the pulpit, you know for certain that whatever sermon you preach, God will allow you to experience it firsthand. The word of God also exhorts us to live at peace with everyone, if it is possible (Romans 12:18 & Hebrews 12:14).

Choosing to Move Forward

Just because we’re followers of Christ doesn’t mean that we won’t have storms in our lives. But following Jesus faithfully will give us peace, even in the midst of those storms.

As for me, I could choose to wallow in despair or rejoice in tribulations. Bottom line is whatever storm I am facing right now, I am confident that God will help me through it, because you, Jesus my Lord, are the calm at the center of my storm.

Have you had experiences like this within your family circle, friends or colleagues? How did you handle the situation? Your testimony is very much welcome in the comments below.


*Create your own Christian website for free like I did and share the love of God to the world, His goodness and faithfulness in your life. My recommended training platform will show you how to do that step by step.

Create your own website for free here.

 

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet: An Act of Love and Humility

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet: An Act of Love and Humility

We live in a society where it is the “norm” for the rich and powerful to be ordering people around, while the poor and the lowly people are the ones serving. In this article, we will delve into a passage where our Lord Jesus changed this standard through His example.

You must be familiar with the scene where Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, recorded in John 13:1-17. (See also Matthew 26:14-39 & Luke 22:24-27.) But for us to conclude this as an act of love and humility on the part of our Lord, a good grasp of the Jewish custom of those days is much-needed.

Background of the Passage

Prior to Jesus’ meeting His disciples at the Upper Room, we read that Jesus had entered Jerusalem on Sunday, and on Monday He had cleansed the Temple. Tuesday was a day of conflict with the religious leaders as they sought to trip Him up in order to get evidence to arrest Him. Wednesday was probably a day of rest, but on Thursday He met with His disciples in order to observe Passover.

*Note: If you’re wondering how I came up with this flow of events, they are recorded in Matthew 21-25.

And reading from Luke’s account (Luke 22:24), we see that while Jesus was nearing the time of His death, His disciples had been arguing who of them would be appointed to the highest cabinet post in Jesus’ coming government.

Jesus Loved His Disciples to the End

When Jesus asked to meet with His disciples, He recognized that it was the time for Him to be glorified through His death, resurrection, and ascension (John 13:1). From the human point of view, it meant suffering, but from the divine point of view, it meant glory.

Jesus knew He would soon leave this world and return to the Father who sent Him, having finished His work on earth (John 17:4). At the Last Supper, on the night before He was about to suffer and die and be betrayed by Judas, Jesus did something interesting for His disciples to show them that He loved them even to the end.

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

Here’s the scenario: The evening meal was in progress and as the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot to betray Jesus and knowing that the Father had put all things under His power, Jesus got up from the meal, took off His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him (John 13:2-5).

Yes, the Savior did all that! So, what’s the big deal? It was customary in those days that whenever guests came to dinner, the house slave would wash the guest’s feet which were dirty from the dusty roads. There were even garbage and animal wastes on the roads because animals traveled up and down the same streets.

People in the olden times wore sandals

People wore sandals without socks in those days, making their feet very dirty. Take note that in the Jewish custom, people eat dinner around a low table so they didn’t sit on chairs. Instead, they leaned on pillows with their dirty feet exposed behind them. (This could be similar to Japanese or Korean dining today.) Isn’t it hard to enjoy a meal when there is a very bad smell?

However, at the last supper which was held at a private home, there was no slave present, and apparently, none of the disciples had offered to wash the feet of Jesus and the others. Then Jesus did something that must have almost seemed crazy; He began to do the job of the lowest household servant.

Imagine the reaction of the disciples. They must have been so shocked that there was stunning silence while Jesus was washing their feet one after the other. He comes to Peter who probably was able to regain his composure to echo what each of them must be thinking (John 13:6).

Customary Jewish or Japanese Dining
Photo Credits: Vix.com

Regarding the relationship between a teacher and his disciples, a teacher had no right whatsoever to demand or expect his disciples to wash his feet, in accordance with the Jewish laws and traditions. How much more unthinkable for the master to wash his disciples’ feet?

The Meaning & Significance of What Jesus Did

There are several reasons that prompted Jesus to wash His disciples’ feet. Apart from the obvious reason that their feet were dirty and needed washing, Jesus wanted to teach them humility and love. And as their Lord and teacher, He wanted to teach them by setting an example for them to follow.

Jesus knew better that actions speak louder than words. The disciples who had been following Jesus for 3 years must have heard Jesus preach multiple times about love and humility. Yet, they were still quarreling among themselves who should be greater.

And why was no one willing to humble himself and wash Jesus’ feet? Because they could not do this without having to wash the others’ feet as well – a clear admission of inferiority among their fellow competitors for the top position in their hierarchy.

Whoever wants to be great must be servant of all

It must be pride and feelings of animosity. Apparently, their sinful nature was still very much a part of them. So when Jesus wanted to teach His proud and arguing disciples about love and true humility, He didn’t just say it; He showed it.

In the succeeding verses (John 13:12-17), Jesus explains the reason behind His action and calls His disciples to follow His example. Jesus is saying we should serve others. If Jesus who is our master and Lord of all would choose to lower Himself to do the job of the lowest and least important servant by washing His friends’ feet, then we should always be willing to serve others.

Closing Thoughts

The servant (slave) is not greater than his master; so if the master becomes a slave, where does that put the slave? On the same level as the master! Jesus said “we ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14-16). This is the attitude that marks His followers, especially among church leaders.

While the foot-washing is a powerful lesson in humility, let us not overlook the truth behind it, which is that Jesus did all this out of love. Love was what motivated Jesus to wash His disciples’ feet and He is telling us today that when we humble ourselves and serve, it should be out of love, not out of a sense of duty or responsibility.

Although foot-washing during Bible times was very common, it’s not common today. However, there are many things we can do to serve others as an act of love and humility. What practical examples from your everyday life can you give where Jesus’ example should be followed?


*Recommended Resource:

Full Service: Moving From Self-Serve Christianity to Total Servanthood by Siang-Yang Tan

Is servanthood a way to lead or a way of life? Leadership has its place in Christian ministry, but God calls us, first and foremost, to servanthood. Servant is not a modifier for some other activity but the foundation of the Christian life.

Siang-Yang Tan calls the church back to its primary role of being servants of Christ and other people. This genuine Spirit-inspired servant attitude will enable you to enter more deeply into God’s rest and grace and will revolutionize your life and ministry.

The Christian’s Response to Trials

The Christian’s Response to Trials

I have yet to encounter someone who has been a Christian for many years and never experienced trials and difficulties. Trials are inevitable, and if you expect the Christian life to be smooth and easy, you’re in for a big surprise. But what should be the Christian’s response to trials?

When James, the half-brother of our Lord, wrote to the Jewish Christians, he told them to expect trials of many kinds, but they are to “count it all joy (James 1:1-2). What exactly did James mean? Should Christians rejoice and celebrate when faced with impossible situations?

Why Christians fall into trials

1) Some trials come simply because we are human.

Sickness or diseases, accidents, disappointments, even apparent tragedies are part of life. Everyone goes through any or all of these because it’s part of being human. The Christian might say, “But didn’t the Lord already conquer sickness and death?”

Yes, Jesus is the Great Physician; He is our healer (Exodus 15:26) and there is no doubt that He can heal not just some, but all diseases. Isaiah 53:5 also says, “… by his wounds, we are healed.” But that does not mean we can escape physical illness and death.

Although our soul and spirit are immaterial, our body isn’t. So while we are still living in this tent, our physical body (2 Corinthians 5:4), we are susceptible to pain, disappointments and any sickness or diseases. That is why we are to take really good care of our body and our health. We can do this by practicing healthy living.

*Read here: The Key Elements of a Healthy Lifestyle

2) Other trials come because we are Christians.

Before coming to faith in Christ, we belonged to the devil (John 8:44) and were part of his worldly kingdom (2 Corinthians 4:4). The very moment we repented of our sins and trusted in Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, we became a part of God’s family (John 1:12) and became citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Being on God’s side made us enemies with Satan and the world. Satan fights with us and the world opposes us, resulting in a life of battle. Satan knows he can’t win against God so he goes after God’s children, the Christians.

How Christians should respond to trials

James tells his readers, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). In other translations it says, “Consider it pure joy…” or “Consider it an opportunity for great joy…”

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”

In Philippians 3:4-8, the apostle Paul used the word “consider.” First, he warns the believers about evil workers who teach that salvation is by works (Philippians 3:2 NLT). He then goes on to say that if salvation is based on human effort; he has every reason to be confident of his salvation (Philippians 3:3-6)

But because salvation is based solely on what Christ has done for us, whatever Paul thinks are his advantages over others became worthless. Here’s what Paul says in Philippians 3:7-8 (NIV):

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

When Paul became a Christian, he evaluated his life and set new goals and priorities. Things that were once important to him became garbage in light of his experience with Christ. In the same way, when we face the trials of life, we must evaluate them in light of what God is doing for us.

Look beyond what you see
Photo Credits: Lionking2013.blogspot.com

To count all trials as joy is not to deny the difficulties and pain that they bring. We can cry, weep, mourn or grieve whenever trials and difficulties come. But we see beyond the difficulties to the good results that might come through trials. If we live only for the present, then trials will make us bitter, not better.

In the movie “Lion King,” when Mufasa showed his young son Simba the kingdom that he is to rule someday when he grows up, He told his son, “look beyond what you see.” God is telling the same thing to the Christians. The trials and difficulties you maybe experiencing now are temporary and they are nothing compared to the glory of being with Christ.

Jesus and the Cross

Crucifixion as a means of capital punishment is the worst during those times that the Romans who came up with it would not even consider imposing it on their own people. Crucifixion was the most painful and most shameful way to die, reserved for the worst offenders.

And yet, the Bible tells us that Jesus endured the cross and disregarded the shame. Why? Because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus knew that His suffering and death on the cross would result into something far greater – the salvation of mankind and their reconciliation with God

Faith is tested through trials which will result in endurance

Just a reminder, trials will not produce faith. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). But faith is tested through trials and will reveal what kind of faith we have. Is our faith genuine or not?

*Related Article: Genuine Faith Saves

“Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance {endurance}. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

God does not test our faith to prove if it’s the real deal or not because He already knows. There is nothing we can hide from God for He is all-knowing. Through trials, God wants to produce in us endurance, the same word used in Hebrews 12:1 when the writer exhorts the believers to “run with endurance the race that is set before them.”

In the Bible, endurance is not a passive acceptance of circumstances. It is the ability to remain steadfast in the face of suffering and difficulty. Endurance cannot be attained by simply reading the Bible, listening to sermons or even spending time on your knees. You must go through the difficulties of life, trust God and obey Him.

Endurance

The key theme of the book of James is spiritual maturity. God wants to build our character; He wants a finished product that is mature and complete. But He cannot do that without our cooperation. When we resist God, He chastens us into submission. But if we submit to Him, then He can accomplish His work in us.

Closing thoughts

They say that our values determine our evaluations. So if we value comfort rather than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to consider trials as “pure joy.”

“Blessed is the one who perseveres (remain steadfast) under trial, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

Through trials, God wants to produce in us endurance and the ability to keep going even when things are tough. Knowing this, Christians can face trials joyfully because they know that the end result is endurance and spiritual maturity that will bring glory to God.

What kind of trials have you gone through and how did you respond to them? Please do share them by leaving a comment.


*Are you looking for Bibles, Christian books and reference materials, DVD’s, gift items and more? Visit Christian Books Distributors with their Bestsellers.

The Names of God Reflected in Psalm 23

The Names of God Reflected in Psalm 23

The Old Testament gives us the many names of God and each one of them has its own meaning. But do you know that Psalm 23 reflects the compound names of Yahweh God (or Jehovah God), the covenant-making God of Israel?

Jehovah – Jireh

means “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14).

The name literally means “The Lord Who Sees,” or “The Lord Who Will See To It.” When we have a personal or special need, we long for the One who will provide. Jehovah-Jireh means the Lord who will see to it that all my needs and yours are met.

Jehovah-Jireh

Jehovah-Jireh knows our every need because He sees. If the Lord was able to meet Abraham’s need by providing a ram caught in the thicket that was offered in place of Isaac, He’s also able to meet our needs in just the right time. The name Jehovah-Jireh assures us that our Heavenly Father is able to provide any need we have.

Jehovah – Shalom

means “The Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24).

When Gideon thought that he would die because the Angel of the Lord visited him, God spoke to him and said, “Peace be with you; do not fear for you shall not die.” This made such a great impression on Gideon that he built an altar to the Lord and gave it the name “Jehovah Shalom” (Judges 6:22-24)

The Hebrew word “shalom” translated as “peace” does not only speak of the absence of noise, strife or conflict; it speaks of wholeness, completeness, soundness, and welfare (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).

One of the many problems we encounter today is the problem of anxiety. Medical experts say that most major disorders of the mind are those related in some way to anxiety. In fact, people who suffer from chronic anxiety often end up physically ill.

Jehovah-Shalom

True and ultimate peace is found in God alone, and this comes to us when we focus our lives on God and trust Him. Are you weary and troubled? Why not place your trust in Jehovah-Shalom and He will keep you in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3)?

Jehovah – Rapha

means “The Lord who heals” (Exodus 15:26).

It was in the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites that God first revealed His name as Jehovah-Rapha. After crossing the Red Sea, Moses led them into the Wilderness of Shur where they went three days without water (Exodus 15:22). Apparently, the Lord was testing their faith.

Eventually, they came across the waters of Marah, but they could not drink them for they were bitter. So they complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we to drink?” Moses then cried to the Lord and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet (Exodus 15:23-25).

Jehovah-Rapha

The Lord does not only heal waters, He heals people too. If the Lord was able to heal the waters at Marah so the Israelites could drink, He is also able to heal us from any disease. When we’re weak, Jehovah-Rapha will renew our strength, the same way He did for David (Psalm 23:3 NLT).

Living in a stressful and chaotic world, the name Jehovah-Rapha speaks to us and our needs today. Yes, we are confronted with new problems every day that often times our body just wants to give up and give in. But we can count upon the Lord to heal and renew our strength. Jehovah is the Great Physician who not only heals the physical and emotional needs of His people; He also heals their spiritual needs.

Jehovah – Tsidkenu

means “The Lord is our righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16).

When the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were carried into captivity, it would seem that the promises of God would never be fulfilled. However, God spoke through Jeremiah of the day when a righteous king would return to set up His righteous kingdom on earth, and to reign and judge.

To call the Lord Jehovah-Tsidkenu is to say that all He does is righteous and He is the source of all that is righteous and good. This name applies not only to the Father but to Jesus as well. He is our Jehovah-Tsidkenu; He covers us with His righteousness that allows us to stand before His presence (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jehovah-Tsidkenu

The Lord led David down the paths of righteousness during his reign as king and He will do the same for us if we allow Him to shepherd us. It is God’s desires for His children to live a righteous and sanctified life.

Jehovah – Shamma

means “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).

One of the purposes of the Millennial Kingdom is that God might fulfill His promises to His people. During this time, Israel will again trust the Lord, obey Him and worship in His Temple. And the city of Jerusalem will be given the name Jehovah-Shammah to indicate that the once-departed glory of the Lord had returned.

Jehovah-Shamma

In Psalm 23, David relates that the Lord did not leave him in the dark valley. God stayed beside him and calmed his fears. In the same way, God promises the believers that He will always be there for them; that He will never leave them nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5).

Jehovah – Nissi

means “The Lord is my banner” (Exodus 17:15).

Only once does the name Jehovah-Nissi appear in the Bible, in Exodus 17:15. After the Israelites defeated the Amalekites, a powerful and warlike group of people, Moses built an altar to the Lord and named it Jehovah-Nissi.

Moses recognized that the Lord was Israel’s banner under which they defeated the Amalekites. For as long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

Jehovah-Nissi

The revelation of the name Jehovah-Nissi has to do with warfare, and this warfare involved God’s very own. Christians today are involved in warfare; they war against the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:17), against principalities and rulers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:11-12).

The great news is, the Lord our banner desires to give us victory. But we need to maintain a healthy prayer life. We are involved in a spiritual battle every day and the way to fight these battles is to be prayerful at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As quoted by a character in the movie “War Room,Christians must fight their battles on their knees.

Jehovah – M’kaddesh (or Jehovah – Mekoddishkem)

means ‘The Lord who makes you holy” or “The Lord who sanctifies you” (Leviticus 20:8).

The name Jehovah-M’kaddesh is used 7 times in three chapters in Leviticus, the book of life that explains how a people already been redeemed must walk and worship. God wanted the Israelites to consecrate themselves and be holy (Leviticus 20:7).

God’s requirement hasn’t changed; He demands holiness. Although we cannot be holy in and of ourselves, our Jehovah-M’kaddesh will sanctify us daily as we live for Him.

Jehovah-M'kaddesh

The anointing of oil symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. The Holy Spirit not only empowers believers to live the victorious Christian life and equips them to be effective in their ministry, but He also enables them to live holy and sanctified lives.

*Related Article: Bible Study on Psalm 23

Conclusion

We learn in the Bible that names serve a variety of functions. Interestingly, God often changed the names of people in order for Him to use them more effectively for His own purpose. We also learn that God has several names, some of which are reflected in the contents of Psalm 23.

But why is it important for us to know God’s names and their meanings? Knowing the meaning of each name that God uses for Himself is important because they reveal to us an aspect of His character to help us get to know Him better.

What name or names of God in this Psalm do you most relate to? Please do share it by leaving your comments below.

Lessons from the Transfiguration

Lessons from the Transfiguration

There are lessons to learn from every passage in the Bible. The incident known as the “Transfiguration” reveals to us four aspects of the glory of Jesus Christ as King. This event is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and although the 3 authors do not use the word “transfigure,” they all describe the scene (See Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-13 & Luke 9:28-36).

Mathew and Mark state that the transfiguration took place “six days after” Jesus predicted His suffering and death while Luke says “about eight days after.” However, these statements do not contradict; Luke’s statement is the Jewish equivalent of “about a week later.”

4 Aspects of the Glory of Jesus Christ as King

1) The Glory of His Person

As far as the gospel record is concerned, the transfiguration was the only occasion during Christ’s earthly ministry when He revealed the glory of His person. The word “transfigure” or “transform” gives us the English word “metamorphosis,” which means “a change in appearance that comes from within.” It’s like when a caterpillar builds a cocoon and later emerges as a moth or butterfly, this is due to the process called metamorphosis.

When Jesus transfigured before Peter, James and John, the glory of His person was not reflected, rather, it radiated from within. In other words, the change on the outside that the three disciples saw came from within Jesus as He allowed His essential glory to shine forth (See Hebrews 1:3).

2) The Glory of His Kingdom

The appearance of Moses and Elijah is highly significant. These two particular persons from the Old Testament represent the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah), both of which find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25-27; Hebrews 1:1-2). Moses had died and his body was buried (Deuteronomy 34:5-6), but Elijah had been raptured to heaven (2 Kings 2:11).

When Jesus returns, He will raise the bodies of the saints who died and will rapture the living saints (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Every single word in the Old Testament will be fulfilled and God’s glorious kingdom will be established (Luke 1:32-33) as promised. And just as the three disciples saw Jesus glorified on earth, so God’s people will one day see Him in His glorious Kingdom on earth and will actually reign with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 4:4-6).

3) The Glory of His Cross

The disciples had to learn that suffering and glory go together. Peter opposed Jesus’ going to Jerusalem to die (Matthew 16:22) for he was thinking like a human being. After all, most people want to escape suffering and death. So Jesus had to teach Peter that apart from His suffering and death, there could be no glory. Peter certainly learned the lesson, for in his very first epistle he repeatedly emphasized suffering and glory (1 Peter 1:6-8, 11; 4:12-16; 5:1-4).

Discipleship means denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Christ (Matthew 16:24), but you cannot do that if you selfishly stay on the mount of glory. When Jesus said that anyone who wants to be His followers must do the above, He was saying that whatever happened to Him would happen to them as well. If there was a cross in His future, there would be one in their future.

*Note: Today, a cross is an accepted symbol of love and sacrifice, but in those days, the cross was a horrible means of capital punishment. The Romans who came up with this would not even impose it on a Roman citizen, for this terrible death was reserved only for their enemies.

Philippians 2:8-9

By the way, we need to keep in mind that Jesus is talking about discipleship in Matthew 16:24-26, not sonship. We are not saved by taking up a cross and following Jesus, but because we have placed our trust in the Savior who died on the cross for our sins. We become children of God first, and then we become His disciples.

To become a disciple, we need to “turn from our selfish ways” in order to give ourselves wholly to Christ and share in His shame and death, as described in Philippians 3:7-10, Galatians 2:20 and 1 Peter 4:12-16). The good news is, suffering always leads to glory and that is why Jesus ended His sermon with reference to His glorious Kingdom (Matthew 16:28).

4) The Glory of His Submission

When Jesus told His disciples that He would have to suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed but be raised the third day (Matthew 16:21), Peter could not understand why the Son of God would submit to evil people and willingly suffer.

The transfiguration was God’s way of teaching Peter and the other disciples that Jesus is glorified when we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. The Christian’s philosophy is “Yield yourself to God!” in contrast to that of the world’s which is “Save yourself!” And so, as Jesus stood there in glory, He proved to the three disciples that surrender always leads to glory.

Jesus, who was in very nature God, humbled Himself and submitted in complete obedience to the Father, even to the point of death on the cross. As a result, God the Father exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:6-10). Jesus has set the perfect example of ultimate obedience for us to follow. If we do as Jesus had done, that is, submit to God in all our ways, God is glorified.

Final Thoughts

We may have had glorious, personal experiences of encounter with the Lord Jesus during our devotion and worship; we may even have a spiritual “transfiguration” experience each day as we walk with the Lord. But as wonderful as “mountaintop” experiences are, they are not the basis for a consistent Christian life.

When we surrender our body, mind, and will to God, He will transform us from within so that we are not conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2). As we behold our Savior in the Word, we are “transfigured” by the Spirit. This experience is known in theology as “sanctification,” the process by which we become more like the Lord, which is the Father’s goal for each of His children (1 John 3:2).