Category: Christian Living

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; thanksgiving which stands for “T” 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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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?

Condemning Immorality In The Church

Condemning Immorality In The Church

Bible Verse: 1 Corinthians 5:6 & 11 (NKJV)

“Your glorifying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such person.”

Reflection and Challenge

Ouch! Sin infests everything. Like leaven, sin seeps into everything. The church is supposed to be without sin, but even one sin in one person has the tendency to grow throughout.

The same is true in a church. As one person excuses sin, more and more people will excuse it. It sounds to me like God hates sin in the church and wants us to get rid of that sin.

In those days the individuals whom you ate with was significant. Quite often church members ate together. Thus, if you were removed from fellowship and eating together, it resulted in a major barrier in the relationship.

1 Corinthians 5:11 stated several of the sins that God required a break in fellowship. Some people will not like this list at all but it does not matter what people say. It only matters what God’s word says. I have heard that 65% of people today believe cohabitation is acceptable.

That is scary because that 65% must include many Christians. That is, in spite of verses like this that say sex before marriage and cohabiting is a sin, which should not happen to anyone that claims to be a Christian. God commands they should be removed from fellowship. It is a shame that Christians accept any sin. Do you practice or accept this sin? You shouldn’t according to God.

*Related Article: Church Discipline: Correcting Another Believer

This list also included being covetous. Actually, every person commits this sin sometime in their life. The root word implies lust for or a very strong desire for something anything other than God. If we seriously examine ourselves, we all have those things that we set as a priority over pursuing God. These things take our attention off of God. That is sin in God’s eyes. Have you repented for that sin?

Idolatry is the worship of other things. Those things take the place of God in our lives. And yes, it is true, Christians can worship God at church but worship other things the rest of the time. Is God your highest priority all of the time? Or do you focus on other things as well?

Remember, God said Christians that commit these sins should be removed from the fellowship. Do you have pet gods? This includes revilers, drunkards, and extortioners. God does not want sin at your church. It is true you can hide your sin from other believers, that does not mean you can hide it from God. As we examine ourselves is there anything in your life that has not been confessed?

Here is a clip from Paul Washer’s sermon on why Christians must abstain from sexual immorality. He goes on to say that true love for God and for others will lead to sexual purity.

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.


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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.

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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 How’s and Why’s of Praise and Worship

The How’s and Why’s of Praise and Worship

In my previous article “The Biblical Roots of Christian Praise and Worship,” I dealt with the Tabernacle of Moses from which praise and worship in churches today had its origin. In this article, we will look at the how’s and why’s of praise and worship. Why and how should the people of God praise and worship the Lord?

As a redeemed Christian, I am pretty sure you are familiar with the “praise and worship” part of the church service. Some even say it is their favorite part, aside from the sermon or message, of course. But how much do we really know about praise and worship?

The book of Psalms is a good place to start, for it is all about praising and worshiping God. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to tackle all chapters that deal with this topic and compress them all into just one article.

However, I am convinced that Psalm 95 gives us a basic understanding of praise and worship:

Psalm 95:1-7 (NLT)

1 Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come to Him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to Him. 3 For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. 4 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. 5 The sea belongs to Him, for He made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.

6 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, 7 for He is our God. We are the people He watches over, the flock under His care.

Understanding Praise and Worship

The Hebrew word “Yadah” translated “praise” means “to stretch out the hand.” That is, to hold out the hands in reverence, to open the hands and let go of everything.

Alban Douglas made a very good point when he said (in his book 100 Bible Lessons) that if we hold the Lord in the highest state, respect or adoration, it would be easy for us to praise Him. That is because we only praise something or someone that we honor and regard so highly.

Why we praise the Lord

Worship, on the other hand, has several meanings in the Bible. Worship in Hebrew is “Shachah” meaning, “to prostrate, to bow down, to fall down or to stoop.” In the Greek New Testament, there are 3 words translated as worship:

a) Pruskuneo – meaning “to kiss (like a dog licking his master’s hand), to fawn or crouch to, to adore.” It occurs 59 times in the New Testament, carrying with it the idea of falling down to kiss the ground before a king or kiss their feet.

b) Latreuo – used 21 times in the New Testament, which means “to render religious service of homage.”

c) Sebomai – used 10 times in the New Testament, and it means “to reverence or hold in awe.”

Difference Between Praise and Worship

Basically, praise means looking up, while worship means bowing down. Do you know that some people who enjoy lifting their hands and shouting do not enjoy bowing their knees and submitting?

True worship is much deeper than communal praise; for worship involves realizing the awesomeness of God and experiencing the fear of the Lord and a deeper love for Him

How to Praise and Worship the Lord

The psalmist tells us that our praise should be joyful and enthusiastic – he even commands us to sing and shout, and wholly focused on the Lord (Psalm 95:1). How do we worship the Lord? By bowing down and kneeling before Him (Psalm 95:6).

Too often Christian praise is nothing but religious entertainment; it never moves into spiritual enrichment in the presence of the Lord. It is important to understand that praise and worship is not a show whose goal is to appeal to the flesh or natural part of man.

The verb “come” (Psalm 95:2) means “to go to meet God face-to-face, and be in His presence.” Do we have a personal encounter with God during praise and worship? Or do we treat this part of church service only as a form of entertainment?

Why We Praise and Worship the Lord

A. We praise the Lord because He is great and above the false gods of this world (Psalm 95:3).

The Scriptures are very clear God; we are to worship the Lord our God only (Luke 4:8; Psalm 45:11) and we are not to worship idols. God is a jealous God and does not want to share His glory with anyone (Exodus 20:5). No wonder that when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the command to not have any other god besides Him is first on the list (Exodus 20:2-3).

Unfortunately, many people in the world worship idols of wood and stone, either out of ignorance or because they do not believe in the one true God – the God of the Bible. Many worship idols of self, money, business, possession, power, pleasure and family.

True worship

Let us not forget how God punished the nations for ascribing worship and adoration to false gods. He even punished His chosen people, Israel, for repeatedly falling into the sin of idolatry as a result of living alongside these nations and intermarrying with them.

We should delight in praising God because He is not only the Creator of the universe but He also controls all things. The depths of the sea and the earth, and the heights of the mountains all belong to Him. The Lord knows what is going on in the waters as well as on the earth (Psalm 95:4-5).

*Note: Christians should not praise the Lord only in health and prosperity, but also in sickness and in adversity. We should praise the Lord in anything and everything (Philippians 4:6). Because the true Christian is one who can trust and praise the Lord even through blinding tears.

B) We worship the Lord because He is our God; we are His people and He watches over us and cares for us (Psalm 95:7).

The object of worship is God. He alone is Yahweh the Lord, the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. He is our Maker and our Shepherd (Psalm 23). Jubilation has its place only if it becomes adoration and we fall prostrate before Him in total submission, “lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

*Are you a worship leader or an aspiring worship leader? Here’s a short video on how to make a line up for praise and worship:

Conclusion

In closing, let me just say that there are a lot more reasons why Christians should praise and worship the Lord. But in this age, when inventing clever new worship forms is a common practice and novelty is slowly replacing theology, the Word of God is a vital part of Christian worship. Hearing and heeding God’s word must be central if our worship, private or corporate, is to be truly Christian.

Praise and Worship

And whether we worship at home or in the church is immaterial. What matters to God is our spiritual condition. Our goal in praise and worship is not only to sing songs of praise and adoration for God; we must come into His presence in total surrender so we can hear His voice and be able to tap into His power and anointing.

What motivates you to praise and worship the Lord? How do you do it? Please let us know in the comments below.


*Are you interested to take up Christian drum lessons? Join worship guitar class right here.

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).

Why We Should Trust the Lord

Why We Should Trust the Lord

They say that you can never trust someone unless you know them. After all, why should we trust someone we do not know? It’s the same thing with God; we cannot trust Him unless we know Him. But other than that, why should we trust the Lord?

Reasons for us to trust the Lord

A. We can trust the Lord because He is trustworthy.

The Bible tells us that “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind…” (Numbers 23:19). Whatever the Lord plans and purposes to do, He can bring it to pass because He is powerful.

Getting to know God by reading His Word and spending time talking to Him will make us trust Him more and more each day. We will continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord as we read, study and meditate on His Word. The more we know about God, the more we will trust Him.

*Related Article: How to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord 

B. We can trust the Lord because He is faithful.

Faithfulness is one of God’s attributes. Even at times when we are unfaithful, God remains faithful and He will never change (Deuteronomy 7:9; 2 Timothy 2:13). We read the story of the nation of Israel on how they repeatedly rebelled and turned away from God. And yet, every time they called on Him to deliver them from the hands of their enemies, God was always there for them.

Why? Because He made a covenant with Abraham that He will make his descendant as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore; God promised to make them a great nation and a blessing (Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 17:4-7; Genesis 22:17).

God also has a covenant with those who trust in Him. God promises many blessings to us and we can be sure that God will fulfill them because He is faithful. He is faithful to the nation of Israel and He is faithful to His bride, the Church.

Here’s a beautiful song by the Free Believers in Christ Fellowship International (FBCFI) Concert Team entitled “Trust in Me.”  

Trust in Me Lyrics & Chords

Can we trust God in times of trials?

Absolutely! We can and should trust God even when things in our lives and around us do not seem to be going the way we want them to be. God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent; there is nothing that is hidden from His sight, nothing that He can’t do.

We all go through some rough times but we find comfort in knowing that God loves us, He cares about us and always has good intentions for us. Let us then “trust the Lord with all our heart, not leaning on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). God wants us to always trust Him in all circumstances.

*Read the story of Joseph: Is God in complete control of everything?

Are you having a hard time trusting the Lord? Please do share your life-changing testimony on how the Lord has worked in your life the moment you made the decision to trust Him completely.


*Are you looking for Bibles, Christian resources and study materials, gifts, souvenirs, CD’s, DVD’s and more? Visit Christian Book Distributors with their Bestsellers!

Blessings in Psalm 119

Blessings in Psalm 119

Most Bible readers know that Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in Bible. However, only a few are aware that this chapter contains many blessings; it is also the chapter of the Bible that most magnifies the Word of God.

If we honestly and humbly apply the Word of God to our lives, God will surely share these blessings with us:

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all Bible reference texts are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV).

Joy

“I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.” – Psalm 119:14

“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” – Psalm 119:111 (NIV)

“I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.” – Psalm 119:162

*Joy is more than just happiness; it is an emotion resulting from the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful, such as salvation or eternal life. It is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Psalm 119:111

Purity

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” – Psalm 119:9 (NLT)

*See also John 15:3 & Ephesians 5:25-26

*The word “purity” is synonymous with “holiness.” It means to be separated from sin and devoted to that which is good; to be morally clean and without blemish. Some may think that holy living restricts us from enjoying life to the fullest. On the contrary, living in purity allows us to live an abundant life – the life that Christ died for us to have before the world was corrupted by sin.

Hope

“Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope.” – Psalm 119:49
(NLT)

*The modern idea of hope is to expect or to wish for something, but without certainty of fulfillment. You desire for something very much but have no real assurance of getting it.

*In the Bible, the Hebrew and Greek words translated by the word “hope” indicates certainty; it denotes “a strong and confident expectation.” From a biblical standpoint, hope is synonymous with salvation and all the blessings that come with it (past, present and future), as promised in Scriptures.

Right Values

“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me Your way.” – Psalm 119:37

“The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.” – Psalm 119:72

“How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” – Psalm 119:103 (NIV)

“I hate and abhor lying, but I love Your law.” – Psalm 119:163

*Values are those things that we deem important, for they provide direction and guidance in spite of how we feel. Values are what give us the reason why we do things and why we act exactly the way we do; they could be restrictive because of the boundaries they place around behavior.

*God, being the standard of good, is the source of all the right values. God is the absolute of truth, goodness, love and justice. In a world without God, what we call “good” would have no ultimate referent.

Comfort

“Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.” – Psalm 119:50

“The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.” – Psalm 119:72

“How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” – Psalm 119:103 (NIV)

“I hate and abhor lying, but I love Your law.” – Psalm 119:163

*God is a God of all comfort. Although He allows us to go through trials in order to build up our character, He Himself will comfort us. And the comfort that God gives will not only enable us to endure trials but so that we can comfort those who need comforting as a result of the troubles they’re facing (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

New Life

“My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:25

“I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as You promised.” – Psalm 119:107 (NLT)

*What does it mean to experience new life? Here’s an article that expounds on the topic of regeneration: Born Again: A New Religion?

Peace

“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” – Psalm 119:165

“My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:25

“I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as You promised.” – Psalm 119:107 (NLT)

*Peace can be defined as “harmony, tranquility or security.” Everybody wants peace, yet only a few seem to find it. The world offers empty promises of peace, but true and lasting peace only comes through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (John 14:27; Isaiah 9:6).

John 14:27

Freedom

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts.” – Psalm 119:45 (NIV)

“My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:25

“I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as You promised.” – Psalm 119:107 (NLT)

*Freedom could mean many things to many people. It could be viewed from a political or financial standpoint. What is freedom from a biblical standpoint? Freedom is not the right to do as one pleases. Rather, it is the power and capacity both to will and to do as one ought.

Integrity

“Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously.” – Psalm 119:29

“My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:25

“I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as You promised.” – Psalm 119:107 (NLT)

*When we speak of integrity, it always comes down to the issue of a person’s character, not just his words. As opposed to hypocrisy, integrity points to a consistency between what is inside and what is outside, between belief and behavior, our values and our practice, our attitudes and our actions, our words and our ways.

Wisdom

“You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts.” – Psalm 119:98-100

*Wisdom is defined as the ability to discern or judge what is right and true. The Bible tells us that wisdom comes from above; it’s a gift and it begins with the fear of the Lord (James 1:5; Proverbs 1:7).

Encouragement

“I weep with sorrow; encourage me by Your word.” – Psalm 119:28 (NLT)

*Encouragement is very important because, without it, hardship becomes meaningless; life feels pointless and burdensome. The word of God is the greatest source of encouragement; it helps us through times of testing and discipline and gives us the will to carry on while waiting for the Lord’s return.

Guidance and Counsel

“Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.” – Psalm 119:24

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NLT)

*God cares about each of us and wants to direct our lives. He has given us the Bible so that we might know His will and purpose in all areas of life. By God’s own direction, we are to entrust our way to Him for His direction and leading.

A Song

“Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.” – Psalm 119:54

*The better we know the Bible, the more we will appreciate the great hymns of the church.

Conclusion

In closing, let me just say that in order for us to enjoy these blessings as promised by God in Psalm 119, we must not only read them; we must put them into action. James, the Lord’s brother, tells us to be “doers” of the word and not “hearers” only so we do not deceive ourselves (James 1:22).