Author: Bro. Jess Cortez

4 Ways to Become a Peacemaker

4 Ways to Become a Peacemaker

In the Sermon on the Mount recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus opens with a series of blessings known as the Beatitudes. The 7th beatitude is, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

But what makes a peacemaker? In this article, we name 4 ways by which we can become a peacemaker.

Who are the Peacemakers?

There is a difference between a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. A peacekeeper is someone who maintains peacefulness by seeing to it that things are kept in order. It’s kind of like the sergeant-at-arms in high school who always makes sure everyone in class behaves properly.

A peacemaker on the other hand is someone who makes things to happen in pursuit of bringing God’s peace to mankind and in pursuit of bringing peace between people.

The 7th Beatitude

One can never be a peacemaker unless he has peace in his own heart because as the saying goes, “You cannot give something you don’t have.” And in order to have peace in your heart, you must first make peace with God by acknowledging and repenting of your sins.

However, we need to be reminded that being a peacemaker does not pave the way to our salvation, for it is only by the grace of God that we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). And because we have come to faith in Jesus Christ and are led by the Spirit of God, we are now called sons or children of God (Romans 8:14).

As God’s children, we are to bring God’s peace to mankind.

The Bible’s Definition of Peace

Peace in the Bible does not necessarily mean the absence of conflict. Instead, peace means being still and confident even in times of trouble because we know that in whatever circumstance God is with us. God gives us peace unlike what this world has to offer (John 14:27).

A good example of an event in the Philippines where there has been thousands of “peacemakers” all at one place at the same time was the EDSA Revolution in 1986.

Jesus: The Perfect Example of a Peacemaker

No matter how hard one tries, there could never be a perfect example of a peacemaker other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Peace. Jesus is our perfect example of a peacemaker.

We were separated from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:2) and were enemies with God but were reconciled to Him by Christ’s death on the cross (Colossians 1:21-22). Jesus paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins and we now have peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1-2).

True peace is found in Christ alone

Christ as peacemaker has also united Jews and Gentiles, broken the wall of separation and reconciled them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Ephesians 2:14-16). Through His death, Jesus had brought a new covenant and this He has written in the hearts of His people (Hebrews 8:10).

What Makes a Peacemaker? Listed below are 4 things we must do or practice in order to become a peacemaker.

1. CONTROL over Oneself

Self Control is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit laid out in Galatians 5:22-23. What is self-control and why is it so important? Self control is not just about temperament; it is about resisting the temptation to sin by breaking God’s Law.

David is one good example of a peacemaker in whom was found godly fear, despite his power. Although David had the chance to kill Saul, he didn’t. After secretly cutting off a corner of Saul’s robe, David’s heart troubled him. He then restrained his servants from rising against Saul because He acknowledged that Saul was a man anointed by God (1 Samuel 24:1-7).

David spared the life of Saul who he could have easily killed as a result of exercising self-control. In return, Saul spoke blessings to David and said that God will reward him for sparing his life. He further added that David will surely be the king of Israel and the kingdom will be established in his hand (1 Samuel 24:16-20).

To be a peacemaker, one needs to have self-control.

4 Ways to become a Peacemaker

Discipline is Self Control

Discipline is some sort of self-control. The dictionary defines discipline as the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

Paul says that Christians must exercise self-control like the Greek athletes, only our goal is eternal, not temporal (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). In his first letter to the Corinthians, he was teaching them through his own example. Unlike a boxer who beats the air, Paul aims to share the Gospel through self-control and discipline. Otherwise, He finds himself to be a failure.

2. ACT on God’s Word

Bringing God’s peace to others is being active rather than passive by obeying the Word of God. Christians are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14). Others must see the peace and goodness of God through the light we bear by obeying what we hear.

In essence, it doesn’t really matter how much of the Bible we know or how often we listen to preachers talk about the importance of knowing the Scriptures, if we do not live them out and put them into action.

We have to be sensitive to the weaknesses of others and bear with their mistakes while peaceably rebuking their ways. It is expected from us who have already been enlightened to do all that leads to peace for the enlightenment of everyone (Romans 14:19 NIV).

What makes a Peacemaker

Nothing good will come from a bad source. If we only work for peace, we will get something good as a result. We cannot harm others and expect peaceful gestures in return. As James 3:18 (NIV) says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

One more thing, as a peacemaker, we must always see to it that we turn away from evil and refrain from deceiving others. If we have nothing good to say, it is far better to keep our mouth shut because a provoking tongue will only reap trouble (1 Peter 3:10-11).

To be a peacemaker, one needs to act on the Word of God.

3. LOVE Difficult People

One of the greatest teachings of the Lord Jesus is for His followers to love not only their friends and family but also their “enemies” (Luke 6:27-28). You might say, “Easier said than done.” And I totally understand. It’s hard to love the people who are against us and especially those who want to harm us.

But Jesus, through His own example, is teaching us not to retaliate and repay evil with evil. Prior to His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus was mocked, spat on, insulted and humiliated beyond imagination. Yet, He did not hold it against them. Rather, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

4 Ways to become a Peacemaker

As the best example of a peacemaker, Jesus demonstrated His love for us even when we were yet in our sins and died on the cross for us (Romans 5:8).

To be a peacemaker, one needs to love even the most unlovable  people.

4. MEDIATE the Conflict

Man’s pride and selfishness drives to contention. Oftentimes, man can’t accept the fact that others have dominion over them. Things get even worse when a hot-tempered person is involved. Some people with impulsive spirits may start a conflict simply by the way they look at others.

When people are into each others’ throats, peacemakers mediate the conflict by trying to calm the parties involved. In case, you do not succeed, it is best to just let the situation cool down. As the saying goes, “If we cannot bridge the gap, don’t fuel the feud.”

What makes a Peacemaker

James 1:19-20 give us three things we must do to get rid of provocation that eventually leads to anger: be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. This is because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

In Genesis 13:5-11, we read the account of Abraham and his nephew Lot in the place where Abraham first built an altar but they had to part company because the land could not support them any longer, for their possessions were so great.

In this passage, Abraham exemplified what it means to be a peacemaker by not only making the decision for him and Lot to separate in order to avoid any quarreling between them and between their herders, he also made Lot choose which area of the land he wanted to live in.

To be a peacemaker, one needs to mediate or avoid a conflict at all cost.

4 Ways to become a Peacemaker

Bottom Line

As God’s people, we are to be peacemakers and there is a blessing that comes with it; Jesus says that “peacemakers shall be called sons of God.” We need to understand that this beatitude does not apply to worldly people. Only those who have trusted in Jesus and received Him as Lord and Savior of their lives are given the right to become sons and children of God.

What does it take to be a peacemaker? We need to be C-A-L-M:

C – control over oneself

A – act on God’s Word

L – Love difficult people

M – mediate the conflict

But again, we cannot be peacemakers without the peace that is found in Jesus alone. Jesus Christ is our peace who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus said that we will have many tribulations in this world but we have peace in Him because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). So we can become peacemakers because of the peace that we have in our hearts given by the Lord Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the King of Peace

Jesus Christ is the King of Peace

Prior to His departure, Jesus uttered these words to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).

Jesus Christ, who is the King of Peace, does not give us the same peace that this world gives. While the peace that this world offers is the absence of conflict which often results from a positive way of thinking, the peace that God gives us is the state of being confident in knowing that He is in full control.

Knowing that Jesus Christ is not only the Prince and Ruler of Peace but also the King of Peace gives us the confidence under any circumstances that we do not have to fear the present and the future. He gives His peace to those who accept it as a result of the Holy Spirit working in their lives.

Jesus Christ: The Prince and Ruler of Peace

In John 12:12-16, we read the account of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey’s colt and a multitude of people came out to meet Him spreading palm branches while shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!”

The Triumphal Entry
Photo Credits: Free Bible Images (Pinterest)

This event is the fulfillment of the first coming of Jesus as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9. And if we continue on to Zechariah 9:10-11, we read about the prophecy on Jesus’ second coming which is yet to come.

We refer to these Scriptures among other Scriptures, to see clearly the attributes given to Jesus as not only the “King of Righteousness” but also the “King of Peace.”

He Pardons Our Sins

The King of Peace has the authority to pardon or forgive us from our sins (Matthew 9:6 NIV).

Pardon is synonymous to forgiveness. They have a common denominator, that is, “cancellation of sins.”

In Matthew 9:2 where Jesus forgives and heals a paralyzed man that was brought to Him, He said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” It could have been easier for Jesus to say, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”

But He did this to make known to them that the Son of Man has authority on earth to pardon sins (v.6) and He does pardon our sins!

From this passage and also the Healing of the Lame Man by the Pool near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem (John 5:14), we can say that sickness is directly associated with sin.

Jesus is the King of Peace

Sickness, however, is part of life in this fallen world as a result of our collective rebellion against God. We can see a lot of convicted murderers and criminals who have sinned against the law of man and the laws of God and yet, are in much better health than some pastors and other faithful servants of God.

This tells us that sickness befell man indiscriminately as we can read in John 9:1-3. Whether sin is associated or not with the sickness of men, one thing is for sure; and that is Jesus our King of Peace has been given the authority to forgive our sins.

This is exactly what He has done in the past, is doing at present and will continue to do in the future for those who will turn back and repent of their sins.

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:13-14

He Enriches Our Lives

The King of Peace is generous to enrich our lives (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The apostle Paul was writing to the believers in Corinth about the generosity of the Churches in Macedonia, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, that despite their poverty, they have given beyond their ability.

The Corinthian church excels in many ways and Paul desired that they may also excel in the grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7). In Paul’s exhortation, he used the example of Jesus who has given all He has.

Jesus who is “rich” in every way became “poor,” in submission to the will of the Father. He assumed human nature and became subject to time, place and other limitations of a man through His incarnation. He did not cease being God but set aside the right to His glory and power.

And He did all these to make us “rich” the moment we received His gift of salvation and eternal life.

“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT)

Just like the “seed” used by Paul in his illustration, God wants us to “plant” rather than to hide the provisions that we are receiving from Him in order to produce a greater harvest. God wants us to invest in our service to Him so that He can bless more abundantly for greater service. (See Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Bags of Gold.)

Jesus is the King of Peace

Our God and all His children are rich. But what is the definition of rich in this context? Being rich means sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; has nothing, and yet possessing everything (2 Corinthians 6:10). We declare that we are rich with the riches that God has in store for us.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”– 1 Timothy 6:17

He Abides in Us in Trials

The King of Peace never leaves His people (Hebrews 13:5).

God has repeatedly assured us in His word that He will never abandon us; He has promised to be with us even to the end of the age. But why do we feel at times that God has abandoned us? The time that you feel abandoned by God could have been the time that you abandoned God.

It is often said that promises are made to be broken and that’s because we’re humans. But with God, there’s no such thing as broken or unfulfilled promises. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human that He should lie, not a man that He should change His mind.”

Jesus Christ is the King of PEace

Isaiah 43:2 is another promise of God that we can trust. He said that He will be with us when we pass through the waters and won’t allow us to be swept away. Also when we walk through the fire we will not be burned and the flames will not set us ablaze.

Deep waters, rivers of difficulty and fire of oppression all represent calamities, which in turn represent the different trials and difficulties that God allows to happen in our lifetime. But the time that we go through these calamities is also the time when God says, “I will be with you.”

Other Scripture texts where God promised to abide in us include 1 Chronicles 28:20; Joshua 1:5, Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:9 and Romans 8:39.

He Comforts Us in Troubles

The King of Peace is our comfort and our resting place (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

The kind of comfort that God gives us is far higher to the highest level than the comfort that this world gives us. To be comforted by God does not necessarily mean that we are spared from any trouble. It means we receive strength, encouragement and hope to deal with whatever trouble that comes our way so that we can also comfort those who are in any trouble.

Sometimes God brings us to the oceans not because He wanted us to drown but so that we would learn how to swim. You know what? Our enemies do not know how to swim. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, to those who have been called according to His purpose.”

Jesus Christ is the King of Peace

Before leaving His disciples, Jesus promised that He will not leave them as orphans for He will send the Holy Spirit to be their Teacher and Comforter (John 14:16-17, 26).

Are you weary and heavy-laden? Jesus is inviting you to come to Him and He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus our King of Peace not only promises comfort but also rest. The kinds of rest found in the Lord include physical rest (Psalm 127:2), peace of mind (Philippians 4:6-7) and healing for our soul (Jeremiah 17:14).

He Ensures Us His Love

The King of Peace gives us divine assurance of His everlasting love (John 15:13).

God did not simply tell us that He loves us; He showed us by voluntarily laying down His life for us. He did not have to but He did it anyway in order to assure us of His love and to secure our salvation.

God has given us His unconditional love even when we were so unworthy of Him (Romans 5:8). He gave up His life so that we may be reconciled with God and gain access to the Father. No matter what we do, we can never out-love God. We only know love and are able to love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Should there be times when you feel defeated and you hear the devil telling you that it’s over, stand on the promise of God that you are more than a conqueror and that nothing and no one can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Jesus Christ the King of Peace

Being more than a conqueror means winning with an overwhelming victory. It is not just simply being victorious but going beyond the normal scale of quantifying the win. This is all because we’re not fighting our battles anymore; Jesus is.

Because Christ is living in us (Galatians 2:20), nothing else can separate us from the love of God. This is God’s way of letting us know His great love for us so that we can feel totally secure in Him. Nothing can stop His constant presence with us.

We are also secure in the love of God because we have become an heir and legitimate son to our heavenly Father (Romans 8:17). We have lost our rights to our old family and gained the privilege of being led by the Holy Spirit, and as such, nothing can separate us from His love.

Closing Words

To sum it up, Jesus Christ the King of Peace:

Pardons our sins

Enriches our lives

Abides in us in trials

Comforts us in troubles

Ensures us His love

We can surely receive the peace that God offers us if we only learn to put our trust in Him while we remain prayerful, thankful and present our request with a believing heart.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Do you accept the peace that Jesus Christ the King of Peace is offering?

Organize Your Borrowed Life

Organize Your Borrowed Life

Year after year-end, we look backward to the past whole year just to most often than not, realize that we have not gained spiritual growth, no positive changes or we are far from realizing what we wanted to achieve. All this is because we fail to include the key player who is also the Master Planner of our future.

Where God’s presence is missing, chaos and disorderliness will surface. However, our God is not a God of disorder such that everything will only be in order if we plan and organize our borrowed life, the biblical way.

Putting your God-given Life in Order

In the church at Corinth, the believers must have gotten so excited with their experience of the Holy Spirit that they were speaking in tongues at the same time even when there was no one to interpret the message. This is one of the things that the apostle Paul pointed out when he wrote:

God is not a God of disorder but of peace

Paul wanted to address their disorderliness in worship because it was causing confusion among them. He reminded the congregation that our God is not the God of disorder. Although this was written to the believers in Corinth, it is also useful in correcting us at this present time both as a church and as individuals (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Pointers on How to Organize your Borrowed Life

PPray for God’s perfect will

L Listen to God’s instructions

AAbide in God’s word

NNever compromise

Pray for God’s Perfect Will

Start by praying.

When it comes to starting our plan with prayers, we can follow Nehemiah’s great example. Upon learning that the surviving Jews from the Babylonian captivity were in great distress and that the walls of Jerusalem were also in ruins, Nehemiah wept and mourned for many days. He fasted and prayed before the God of heaven, recognizing his sins and the sins of Israel and asked for God’s guidance in his determination to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:1-4).

Each morning is the start of something new, something fresh. That is why we should start every day and every chapter of our life with a prayer, asking God to carry out His perfect will in all our thoughts and plans. Our prayer shall be for God’s guidance and direction in always seeking the truth in Him that we may take the right path because if God is with us, we can never be lost (Psalm 25:4-5; Psalm 32:8).

Let me hear of your unfailing love

We do not believe in fate or fortune-telling. We’d rather ask for God’s instructions and put our trust in Him. Unlike a horse with a horse bit that is pulled in any direction by someone in control, Christians must pray for God’s perfect will.

Listen to God’s Instructions

I believe that every Christian knows how to pray and ask for God’s guidance. But do we know how to listen? I mean really listen. Hearing is different from listening. When we say we “listen” to what someone is saying, it means we “obey” that very thing that is said to us.

Listening to God’s instructions is as equally important as praying for His directions because those who listen to instruction will prosper (Proverbs 16:20 NIV). But what does it mean for us to prosper when we listen and obey?

To “prosper” does not only mean to achieve economic success; it also means to succeed. The Bible gives us several examples of great people who listened and had the heart to obey God’s instructions and prospered. Abraham obeyed God’s command to go out of his country into a place where He will show him and prospered (Genesis 12:1-4).

Noah obeyed God’s instruction to build a massive boat, making him the laughingstock of his community and was saved from the flood, along with his entire family and a pair of each kind of today’s living creatures (Genesis 6:13-20). Moses obeyed God and led the Israelites in crossing the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:1-22).

My sheep listen to My voice

King Solomon knew nothing about ruling a nation when he succeeded his father David as king at the age of 20. But when God visited him in a dream one night and asked him whatever he wanted, instead of asking for wealth and honor, Solomon asked for a discerning heart (wisdom) to govern the nation of Israel and to distinguish between right and wrong. God was pleased that He also gave these to him in addition to what he asked for (1 Kings 3:5-9).

*Read here: Blessing Through Obedience

Just like them and many others, we should learn not only to listen but to have an obedient heart. And as God’s sheep, we must be sensitive to His voice and follow His instructions (John 10:27). God, who is our good Shepherd, knows each of us very well and He is always there to guide us if we only know how to listen and obey Him.

In organizing your borrowed life by having it in order according to God’s will, you must not only listen. More importantly, you must be a “doer” of the Word. What you hear should not only end on the blueprints; you are to take action by doing exactly what He said. This is what we call “faith in action.”

Abide in God’s Word

Without God, all our efforts amount to nothing.

Everything we plan and everything we desire will just go down the drain. But if we truly abide in Him and He abides in us (John 15:7), then we are transformed into a new creature with a changed heart and a renewed spirit. This spirit will cause our desires to be in line with God’s will so that whatever we ask for shall be done by our heavenly Father.

Joshua 1:8 NKJV

Joshua 1:8 exhorts us to meditate on God’s Word day and night and we will become prosperous and successful. To meditate continuously is to always tune in to God and soak our spirit in His words. If indeed we have Christ living in us, we ought to live Christ-like lives, not just momentarily or temporarily, but continuously until the end (Colossians 2:6; 1 John 2:6).

Are you abiding in Him?

Never Compromise

A. To compromise means to live like the world does (Romans 12:2).

How do you know you are not compromising? If what you believe and stand for are opposed to the “norm” and what’s acceptable to the people in the world. We are to abandon the chase for pleasures, status or possessions and stop living like everyone else.

God is good and His will is always pleasing and perfect. Nothing impure is acceptable to Him that is why we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. We must let go of our old outward behavior and start acting in a way that is pleasing to God as a result of a transformed mindset; one that is possible only when we are totally surrendered to Him.

When the mind and behavior are changed, the perfect will of God in us is completed. Our desires will no longer be based on earthly motives but on heavenly goals. Being aligned with God’s perfect will, we will develop a heavenly mindset that is centered on seeking first His kingdom in our lives (Matthew 6:33).

As new creatures in Christ, we no longer follow the desires of our flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Instead, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will start to manifest in our lives. Does this mean we will no longer have selfish desires? No! But the Holy Spirit will enable us to live righteous lives if we let Him.

B. To compromise means not doing what we know is right.

This is called the “sin of omission” (James 4:17).

Knowing what is good and yet failing to do it makes us guilty of the sin of omission. When James wrote this, he knew that it is far easier to think and talk about dependence on God than it is to live it. Yet he made it plain that if we know these things, we are accountable to do them.

As Christians, we have already been brought into the light and in the knowledge of God’s truth so there are no excuses.

Jesus makes the same point in Luke 12:41-48 when He told the story of servants and how they obeyed their master in his absence. Jesus concluded the story with this application: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).

Conclusion

We are confident that as long as God is with us and provides our agendas, we will have boundless hope and will reach His promised future. God will see us through to a glorious conclusion, no matter the hardships, suffering, and trials we would have to experience for God to fulfill His will in our lives.

Waiting Upon the Lord’s Promised Return

Waiting Upon the Lord’s Promised Return

Bible Verse: 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

Reflection and Challenge

In context, this verse is talking about the day of the Lord or what we call His second coming. In Revelation 16:15, it is written that “He will come like a thief in the night.” And as nobody knows when the thief is coming, so is the Son of God will come at a time that nobody knows precisely about. Yes, not even the angels nor the Son Himself knows when exactly He is coming back, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36).

As Christians, we are anxiously waiting for this great day when we get the chance to be finally home with our heavenly Father. The meaning of this verse can be taken by heart not only as we wait upon the Lord’s promise to return but in all His promises.

Truly, God is eternal; He has no beginning and no end. He goes beyond and over the limits of time. His time zone is different from ours and from anyone and anywhere else’s. His timing is always perfect. He is not slow but patient in answering us, in His own perfect timing. After all, He knows what is best for us all when and wherever we need it!

So, the next time you feel weary and tired waiting for answers, why not think about how unworthy we truly are, how undeserving we truly are for His love and providence. Yet, He loved us even when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). He answers our prayers at the right time when He finds us ready to receive.

Looking forward to the joy that is prepared for you, can you wait as long as it takes?

What Does it Take to Follow Jesus?

What Does it Take to Follow Jesus?

Bible Verse: Luke 14:33 (NIV)

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

Reflection and Challenge

Does God really mean that young children be left orphans, old parents and grandparents abandoned by their able children, husbands and wives part ways, all possessions big and small deserted, and everyone else preaching the Gospel bare-footed and naked? Certainly not!

Did not our heavenly Father send Jesus to give up everything including His very own life so we may be delivered, live in peace and live life at its fullest (John 10:10)? How then can He just ask us to give up all these that He has freely given?

Jesus here is showing what it would take to be His real disciples. He has bought us with His own precious life. This makes following Him as a disciple in the making, not a cheap stuff that can be easily grabbed by anyone from the drive-through of famous fast food chains with just a few coins. Truly following Jesus will not be a walk in the park either. His words meant that in order to follow Him, we must learn to let go of our attachment from everything we have.

God is talking about allegiance and loyalty because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). Although He does not mean to take away from us everything we have instantly, we must always be willing to give up anything if we are to choose between following Him or this world. This makes up a true and a loyal disciple. 

Perhaps, many rich or even not so rich “Christians” are giving two thumbs up when someone says that this verse should not be taken literally. They would be jumping with a sigh of relief. But, what if God says it should? What would your stand be?

Time Is Of The Essence, Share The Gospel

Time Is Of The Essence, Share The Gospel

Bible Verse: Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.

Reflection and Challenge

Every second that passes is a second that is gone forever. The Scripture teaches us to use our time wisely by making the best out of it. It can be read in the book of Genesis that when the earth became corrupt and violent, God decided to put an end to all people by destroying it and everything in it. It will be destroyed by the great flood.

Noah was given clear instructions by God to build an ark with specific dimensions (Genesis 6:13-16). He was commanded to bring into the ark pairs of living creatures including his family so they will live with him when the floods will come. God cautioned Noah that in seven days, He will send the rain for forty days and forty nights and that all living creatures on earth will be wiped out (Genesis 7:4).

Today, every one of us is a living proof that Noah had not wasted time in building the ark. It is not explicitly written in the Bible but some scholars say it took him near or about a few years lesser than a hundred to build it and he finished it on time.

More importantly, he followed God’s commandment to have the pairs of living creatures including his family settle inside the ark.

The Great Flood

Noah respected God’s time and made sure that everything was in order. Otherwise, our ancestors (i.e. Noah and his family) did not make it and not even one of us is here today. Thanks to Noah’s diligence and respect in God’s time! He made it into the ark in seven and not in eight days or so!

Jesus is coming soon! We are running out of time. It is not good enough that we are assured of our personal salvation only. Let us use whatever time is left to bring others to Jesus too. Jesus did not give us the Great Commission for nothing.

Use your time wisely and share the good news of salvation! And while we are still living here on earth, we should keep in mind that tardiness is being disrespectful of other people’s time. It is a sign of selfishness. It is not what the scriptures teach us.

We are being taught to spend our time wisely. That way, we will get things done and we will get there on time! The next time you commit to getting things done within a deadline or the next time you promised to be in a place on a specific time, refuse to be late.

Think about the “Great Flood” that you may be caught into if you’re late!

Why Did Jesus Weep When Lazarus Died?

Why Did Jesus Weep When Lazarus Died?

Bible Verse: John 11:35 (NLT)

“Then Jesus wept.”

Reflection and Challenge

This is known to be the shortest verse in the Bible. It can be found in the story about “The Raising of Lazarus” (John 11:1-44). From the story, one of the many amazing works that we witness is how God allows things to happen for a good reason and for the glory of His name (John 11:4).

Before leaving for Bethany, Jesus knew that Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death but He plainly told His disciples that their dear friend Lazarus is dead. This, of course, is not to contradict His own words but to later have the people know that this had happened for God to receive glory.

The siblings, Lazarus of Bethany, Mary and Martha were loved very dearly by Jesus. However, it took Jesus two days after He was informed that Lazarus was sick before setting out to see him. When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Martha and Mary told Jesus that their brother Lazarus would still be alive had He been there (John 11:21, 32).


At that time, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days already. The siblings were very close to Jesus’ heart and He had told Martha that Lazarus will rise up from the dead and that He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:23, 25).

If Jesus knew beforehand that Lazarus had died and that He can raise him back to life, why then did He weep? One reason anyone can offer could be that Jesus felt compassion over His friends’ weeping, and the mourners’ wailing over the death of Lazarus had caused Him to weep.

This seems to be the readily available reason on the shelf because Jesus’ love and compassion can never be doubted upon. However, reflecting deeply on the Scriptures, we can see that the reason why Jesus wept comes from a rather profound cause: “UNBELIEF.”

*Read more about what Jesus is like in this article: What is the Character of Christ?

Martha and Mary expressed their faith in Jesus but their weeping and the mourners’ wailing shows otherwise. Martha heard Jesus’ assurance by His own words that Lazarus will rise again (John 11:23). Mary must have known Jesus well, and yet they seemed to be not living in what they knew Jesus can do.

Why did Jesus weep? He did so, knowing that even His closest friends did not fully believe in what He can do through the Father.

In times when we face our own trials and sorrows, do we also make Jesus weep? Do we truly and fully believe in Jesus and His deity? The next time you face some fearful things in life, just remember that there is someone greater than any of these that is within us – Jesus. Don’t make Jesus weep again! Praise His holy name!

The Lord’s Mercy Is New Every Morning

The Lord’s Mercy Is New Every Morning

Bible Verse: Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Reflection and challenge

From Wikipedia’s definition of astrology, astrologers study the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means of divining information about human affairs and terrestrial affairs.

That is why with their birth signs, many people check on the newspaper’s daily horoscope, hoping to see the best of their “luck” for each particular day. The stock trader is vigilant on the stock market’s daily trend so they know well on which stock to invest or sell. An aggressive journalist will always be on guard for fresh and daily current events on streets and elsewhere to make a scoop for the day.

Thank God, as His children, we need not hurdle through the likeness of what was said above to experience a daily dose of His steadfast love and mercy. More doubtless than the sun rising from the East and its setting down on the West, God’s love and mercy is always new every morning!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

In God, there is no recycled brewed coffee. Each day is freshly brewed and delivered with love! God’s blessings come in different forms and mediums because they are craftily formed for our needs. Today’s needs may differ from yesterday’s so don’t expect to receive just the same blessing today. Each day is uniquely created.

He is an omniscient God and He knows best! Because of His inexhaustible mercy, we have been forgiven, owned and taken care of. God’s love and mercy is the reason beyond why I write this and the same reason why you are reading it right now.

So, the next time you open your eyes in the morning and feel like starting to worry about the day, let God be God in your life. His overflowing love and immeasurable mercy are always new each day.

Trust and obey!

How To Be Content In Christ

How To Be Content In Christ

Bible Verse: Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Reflection and Challenge

Having Jesus in our life makes us live with a victorious spirit over the difficulties that we face in our daily lives. It is all because, in God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). This is absolutely true because God dearly loves His children. And if our earthy parents will do anything for our good, our heavenly Father does perfectly best.

Many if not all, reflect on this verse (Philippians 4:13) out of its context. They often interpret it to mean accomplishing things victoriously like winning a race, graduating in class with honors or even winning the heart of someone.

They imaginary and magically transform themselves by wearing their famous superhero’s cape and win them all with this verse. Once again there is nothing wrong in positively claiming that things will get done through Jesus!

However, reflecting on the subject verse and going back to the verse that precedes it (Philippians 4:12), the apostle Paul was talking about how he learned the secret of living in every situation, on either almost nothing or with everything. That is, whether he has a full or empty stomach, little or plenty, he can do everything through Christ who gives him strength.

*Related Article: Yes, I Know I Can Do All things Through Christ Who Gives Me Strength

Paul is actually talking about contentment rather than accomplishment. Do you sometimes feel that you want more resources to equip you in serving the Lord? We may sometimes say that if God would only bless me with this and that, I will be able to serve Him.

But the Lord wants you to be contented not complacent, thankful but not boastful. Trust in Him for He who is the source of everything will see you through to where and when He sends you.

Why it is Important to have Faith

Why it is Important to have Faith

Much have been written and said about faith and how it works in our Christian life. It is defined and described in so many ways, with each definition reflecting the very essence of its meaning. So what is faith? How does the Bible define faith and what is the importance of faith in the Christian life?

Christians are blessed to have the precise definition of faith in the Bible, the written word of God. Although the authorship of the book of Hebrews is still in question, the fact that it was established as canonical gives it the same authority as the other books in the Bible have.

Definitions of Faith

On one hand, the world defines faith as a firm belief in something for which there is no proof (ref: Webster dictionary). It is believing on something that we are not sure of because of lack or non-existence of any evidence to back-up the belief.

On the other-hand, in spirituality, (ref: Genuine Faith: The Faith that Saves), faith in God rests upon the best evidence, the infallible Word of God. The author goes further to describe that faith impels loving obedience and good works. However, most popularly defined in the Bible, faith is having the things hoped for happened, the evidence of things that we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

How Do We Receive Faith?

Contrary to what the world says, Christian faith, is a firm belief in God; not without proof but is undeniably founded on the unerring, incomparable richness of the living Word of God, which is the Holy Bible. Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the words about Christ (Romans 10:17).

Faith comes from hearing and hearing the word of God
Photo credits: RZIM

If faith comes from hearing the message, then as Christians, we should not hesitate to share the message whenever we have the chance to do so. While it is true that a deeper study about the Bible, the life and deity of Jesus Christ is highly recommendable in sharing the message, it is however not an excuse not to share the good news even if we neither have a bachelor’s, a master’s nor a doctorate degree in theology, or studies of divinity.

Apostle Paul teaches us that we do not need to be eloquently relying purely on acquired wisdom of man to share the gospel but by the guidance and anointing of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Genuine faith is rooted on the powerful Word of God. The Word that has been given to us to be used for teaching, rebuking, correction and training (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Importance of Faith in the Christian Life

1) We receive salvation by grace through faith.

Our Christian life began the moment we received Jesus as our personal Savior. This confirms our salvation by His grace which we have received through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). While salvation is precisely a (free) gift from God by His grace, faith, the channel to which salvation abounds is in the part of man. It is our response to God’s invitation of salvation.

We can never please God without faith Hebrews 11:6) and without faith, we cannot receive the best gift that God has prepared for us. It is further written that faith without good deeds is dead (James 2:26). Good works are a result of our faith and the fruits of salvation.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6

Sadly, in the lives of many people, despite hearing and witnessing the love and wonderful works of Jesus in their personal lives, it is still very difficult for them to truly believe and put their total confidence on Him. In the bible, Jesus has spent three years with His disciples. They were able to see Him face to face and personally interacted with Him.

Yet, when He appeared to them after His resurrection, one of His disciples (Thomas) couldn’t even believe that He came back to life until he saw Jesus’ nail-pierced hands. He needed to see Jesus’ nail-pierced hands and put his finger on His wounds to believe (John 20:24-29).

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29

We, the Christians after the life of Jesus here on earth, are blessed because we have not seen Him yet we believed. This has all started once in our life when we have heard the message about Christ, believed in His infallible words, and believed on His promises as they unfold right before our own eyes in our daily lives. We continue in our walk with Christ, looking forward to the salvation that we will experience in heaven which is yet to come based on His promises.

2) Through faith, we overcome the world that leads to a fruitful life.

Jesus has overcome the world when He died on the cross so that we may live. He has risen back from the dead for us. We should not be taking this greatest sacrifice for granted. He has won the victory with a price so that whoever believes shall overcome (1 John 5:4-5).

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10b

We can overcome all the things of this world; all the works of the devil through our faith in Jesus (1 John 2:16). The devil has already been defeated and has no more authority on us, for Jesus has paid the ransom with His own flesh and blood. We need not wait for heaven to experience victory in our lives for it is God’s purpose that we be blessed with a victorious life even we are still here on earth. He wants to bless us so that we can live life abundantly (John 10:10).

*Related Article: What is the victorious Christian life?

He has come to prepare everything for us and He wanted us to remain in Him, our faith to be rooted on His words that brings life, that through our trust and confidence in Him, we shall never fail to bear fruits in season (John 15:5; Jeremiah 17:7-8).

3) We overcome trials through faith.

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, we learn that each of us shall go through trials and temptations that are common to man. God allows these trials to come our way so that through all these trials, we are pressed closer to Jesus. The closer we are pressed, the clearer His image is inscribed in our hearts as we grow more like Jesus. Each trial is designed such that Jesus will see us through it. He never leaves us alone and through our faith in Him, we overcome trials.

In times of trials, let our prayers be for the asking of a renewed and strengthened spirit so there is nothing we can’t bear. The pain and troubles we go through are temporary and if we persevere in endurance with the spirit, the difficulties we face are nothing compared to the joy that awaits us (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

We will never learn what is in store for us and what we are really made of if we do not face these trials. An American author John A. Shedd once wrote, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” God has created us to be an overcomer and He is always faithful in His promises. There is nothing in this world that can trample us if we only believe and have faith in God. He has overcome the world and nothing can ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39).

When Jesus told Joshua not to be afraid of the enemies for they have already been given into his hand and that no one of them are able to withstand him (Joshua 10:8), God is literally speaking about the enemies that Joshua and his army will be facing in every war there is.

To us, the present day Christians, this “enemies” figuratively mean the trials that we have to face. God has already given them into our hands through our faith in Him and he who has faith in God overcomes the world!

Learning to have Faith as the Great People in the Bible did

Many people in the Bible have experienced the hands of God through faith by whom anyone can be inspired.

1) Noah and the Great Flood. Noah was instructed to build a huge ship in preparation for the great flood when there was no sign that it would rain at all. But Noah believed God and put his trust in Him, so his family and every kind of animal has been saved from the floods.

2) Abraham, by faith never doubted God’s promises. He was willing to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, believing God will raise him up from the dead (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3), for God has promised him earlier that through Isaac he will become the father of many nations.

3) Sarah who by faith was enabled to bear a child at an old age (Romans 10:10). Sarah remained faithful and believed God’s promise of an heir. For 25 years, she and her husband Abraham waited and indeed, she bore a son in the most unfavorable situation anyone could ever imagine, that is, being old and barren.

4) The Centurion’s faith in Matthew 8:8-13, was described by Jesus Himself as the kind of faith that He never saw existed in all Israel. The centurion needed not more that Jesus’ words to believe that his servant is healed.

5) The people, who by faith, crossed the Red Sea on dry land (Exodus 14:15-16; 21-22). The people were being chased by the Egyptian soldiers from behind and they are approaching a huge body of water, the Red Sea. God promised Moses that by his leadership and God’s blessings, they will escape from the hands of the Egyptians, and by faith, they were able to cross the Red Sea on dry land.

Other Significant Things Related to Our Faith

F – Fulfillment (Philippians 4:11-12). Under any circumstance, faith brings forth fulfillment in life.

A – Assurance (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is nothing more secured than the assurance that we have received by putting our faith in God. It is because of His love and grace for us, that He gave His only one begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

I – Impossible (Matthew 19:26 and Hebrews 11:6). It is impossible for man but for God, nothing is impossible. We need only to believe because without faith, it is impossible to please God.

T – Trust (Isaiah 26:3). We can have perfect peace if we only put our trust in God.

H – Hope (Romans 4:18-19). By faith, we see hope in hopelessness.

Conclusion

In ending, it is by God’s grace through our faith that we experience the greatness of God’s works in our lives. In the midst of difficulties that we encounter in life, let us put our trust and faith in God the way Abraham, Moses, Noah and many more did.

Let us use the examples of Joshua and Caleb who focused more on the positive side of the news rather than on the inconveniences from its negative side. For it is only in believing and putting our trust in God that we receive the gift of salvation. Through faith, we can overcome the world with Him and live a victorious life even while we are still here on earth.