Category: Christian Living

Living Out Your Heavenly Citizenship

Living Out Your Heavenly Citizenship

Many people all around the world want to get to America and eventually become citizens. Why not? I’ve heard many Americans say that the United States is the greatest country on planet earth. And that the poorest people in the United States are the richest people in third-world countries!

So, I get it. People, especially from third-world countries see America as a ticket to a better life. So much so that there are thousands of illegal crossings at the Texas-Mexico border daily. I can’t blame them. Who does not want to live the American dream?

But if there’s one citizenship that every person on planet earth should want to have, it’s heavenly citizenship.

Bible Verse: Philippians 3:20, NLT

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior.”

We must note that in his letter, the apostle Paul was addressing the Philippian believers. When he said, “We are citizens of heaven …” he was referring to himself and the church.

How did they acquire their heavenly citizenship? By acknowledging their sins, repenting, and trusting in Christ as their Lord and Savior.

If you did the very same thing that the church at Philippi did, then you are also a citizen of heaven. You may be holding a Philippine passport, British passport, American passport, etc. But you also have an invisible passport to heaven.

A Heavenly Citizenship

In the sight of God, there are only two kinds of citizenship: earthly and heavenly. Your earthly citizenship is temporary while your heavenly citizenship is for eternity.

God has already predetermined our race and nationality before conception. But that does not mean we can’t choose to become citizens of another country. God does not forbid you to move to another country and become a citizen there.

But God desires for everyone to become citizens of heaven just as He originally designed them to be.

Adan & Eve in the Garden of Eden

Before the fall, Adam and Eve held heavenly citizenship. Didn’t they enjoy intimate daily fellowship with God? However, things changed after they deliberately disobeyed God.

As a result, Adam and Eve’s relationship with God was broken and they forfeited their heavenly citizenship. The good news is that God wanted to restore that broken fellowship. He also wanted to open the pathway for all earthly citizens to become citizens of heaven.

John 3:16 tells us what God did to accomplish that.

How to Live as Citizens of Heaven

The moment a sinner repents and accepts the gift of eternal life from God, he acquires heavenly citizenship. But what does it mean to become a citizen of heaven? How should Christians live out their heavenly citizenship?

1. Do Not Live Like the World

Paul said this to the church in Rome:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind …” (Romans 12:2, ESV).

In the NIV translation, this verse reads, “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world…” This simply means Christians should STOP copying the lifestyle of the world.

Before coming into the knowledge of God’s truth, we were just like the people in the world. We conducted ourselves in the same manner and behavior, held the same beliefs and customs. And whatever the world dictates as acceptable, we also deemed acceptable.

Paul said the same thing to the believers in Ephesus but reworded and expounded on it. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking” (Ephesians 4:17, NIV).

If we continue reading Ephesians 4:18-32, Paul enumerates all the things that the Gentiles do and tells them how they should live instead. To summarize, Paul said, “Throw off your old sinful nature and put on your new nature.”

Now that we’re no longer earthly citizens, we need to stop behaving just like the people of the world. Instead, we are to start living our new life in Christ as new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).

New Life in Christ

2. Do Not Love the World

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15, NASB

This does not mean we should loathe anything and everything that is in the world. Remember, God originally created everything “good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 21, 25).

For instance, marriage and family which are earthly institutions are good. Scientific and advanced medicines are good because they help cure diseases and prolong human life. Technology is good because it connects people who are miles away from each other.

Wealth and riches are good because they allow us to have a comfortable life. The Bible does not say money is the root of all evil. It’s the love of money that is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

The “good things” from God become “bad” only as a result of Satan’s perversion. So, there’s nothing wrong and everything right about enjoying God and the blessings He freely bestows on us in this life.

But let us be careful to not get too attached to this life and the things of this world. This is what it means to not love the world. It’s about setting our priorities straight.

The Word of God reminds us to not start obsessing about the wealth and pleasures of this world. This is because earthly pleasures are not from the Father (1 John 2:16-17, NASB).

Friendship with the World

As citizens of heaven, we should not also be too friendly with the world. Friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God (James 4:4). Intimate friendship requires a commitment. When you choose to side with the world, you just chose to be in opposition to God. It’s because the world is currently ruled by Satan who is the archenemy of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

You can’t be loyal to two opposing parties. As Matthew 6:24 (NIV) says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

Joshua said the same thing (Joshua 24:15), “Choose this day whom you will serve…”

The bottom line is, there is no middle ground, there is no gray area. When you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. If you are friends with the world, you become an enemy of God.

It’s a matter of choice!

James 4:4

3. Live as Pilgrims in a Foreign Country

“Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” – 1 Peter 2:11, NLT

Peter kind of echoed what King David said.

We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” – 1 Chronicles 29:15, NLT

A stranger or foreigner is a temporary resident or traveler in a foreign country, passing through on his way to his home country. This is what we are in this world. Thus, we have a different mentality about life as compared to the permanent residents of this world.

As travelers, we don’t live according to the customs and standards of the foreign country we are in. But for the sake of not offending the locals, we may temporarily adopt some of their customs if they are morally neutral.

For instance, women here in Saudi Arabia are required to wear abayas and keep their heads covered. So, foreign women must do the same when they come here. Also, during Ramadan which is the month of fasting for Muslims, we should not eat or drink in front of them.

4. Set Your Hearts & Minds on Heavenly Things

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:1-2, NIV

To set our minds on things above means we should think of heavenly things; we should meditate on the things of God and His Kingdom.

But what about setting our hearts on the things above? What does this mean? In the Bible, the “heart” always stands for our affection, aspiration, desire, and passion.

Paul’s encouragement to the believers is that their desires align with God’s desires and be passionate about them. And also for them to develop a heavenly mindset – a way of thinking that goes far beyond what humans perceive.

We must note that everything on earth is temporary. Everything visible will come to an end while what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Billy Graham Quote

Know Your Priorities

However, to desire heavenly things and think about the things of God does not mean we should not live in fullness. It does not mean you should not get married and have a family just because our Lord never married.

Or if you have a family, you neglect your responsibilities to them and claim that you are focused on God’s work. And if you’re a mother, you need to take care of your husband and children.

As a man or woman of God, your first ministry is your family. Take care of your family first before attempting to take care of God’s business in the church. You cannot be effective in the church if you can’t even take care of your own family.

It’s the same thing at work. Whatever your job maybe you should, by all means, give your best. Always give it your 100%. As Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV) says, “We must do everything as working for the Lord…”

But as citizens of heaven, we need to always prioritize the Kingdom of God. We have to carry out God’s mandate known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) – witnessing/evangelism and discipleship.

We are to keep building the church by using our God-given talents and resources to serve God and others.

Conclusion

Are you living as citizens of heaven?

We are aliens and strangers on this earth, heading as pilgrims toward heaven. We’ve got to adopt that mindset, which includes constantly remembering that we aren’t staying here for long. Our home is in heaven. We should live like it!

Although we are still in this world, we are not of this world. Many things could go wrong in this world but we shouldn’t get distracted.

As heavenly citizens, we are to remain faithful to God, live in righteousness, and anticipate the promised return of Christ. Philippians 3:21 tells us what happens when Christ returns.

“He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” – Philippians 3:21, NLT

This is the third and final phase of our salvation – the glorification of our bodies. This will take place in the event known as the rapture, our blessed hope.


Recommended Resource: A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths about Your Eternal Home by Dr. Robert Jeffress

If any of us learned we were going to move to a foreign country, we’d do everything we could to learn about that place so that we’d be prepared when moving day arrived.

As Christians, we know someday we will leave our familiar country and be united with God in heaven. And yet many of us know very little about this place called heaven.

In this enlightening book, bestselling author Dr. Robert Jeffress opens the Scriptures to unpack ten surprising truths about heaven and explain who we will see there and how we can prepare to go there someday.

Perfect for believers or skeptics who are curious about heaven.

The Two Trinities of Life

The Two Trinities of Life

Both believers and non-believers in Jesus are familiar with the Doctrine of the Trinity, one of the core tenets of Christianity. Undeniably, people have different views and interpretations as to what this doctrine is all about. Some argue that the Trinity is unbiblical while others say the Bible explicitly teaches it.

But in this post, I will share with you what I call the Two Trinities of Life.

One weekend as I was sleeping, I got a revelation of what makes up the Trinity that we, as believers, understand (Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit).

The Trinity Definition

Notice that throughout Scripture, there are several accounts of authors (including Jesus) who understood how these three entities work together. For instance, in the lives of many believers, they unite as one to sanctify and purify them

That same night, I received a revelation about a group of entities that work to create the sinful nature we live in. Here, I will show you how the Holy Trinity works to outweigh the works of the Trinity of Darkness. I will cite some Scriptural evidence and visual objects to support these things.

What are the Two Trinities?

In theological language, the Trinity is the essence of three entities in one. When we think of the Trinity, we often associate this term with the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). However, there is also another “trinity” that we do not often recognize, and it mainly has to do with the sin nature we live in.

The World, The Flesh, and the Devil: A Critique

Many theologians and pastors are in an ongoing debate on the formation of trinities within the Christian doctrine. For example, we have the familiar “world-flesh-devil” trinity. But notice that in the book of Revelation, Satan is also a part of another unholy trinity, preceding with the Antichrist and the false prophet.

Too often, we see the dark trinity as one actual Trinity, just like the Holy Trinity. We associate this “dark,” unholy trinity with the familiar entities associated with the present, including the world. The main problem I have with this theological conclusion is that it neglects the eternality of these very things that align with the sin nature and its consequences.

The Dark Trinity: Satan, Sin, Death

We can see this unity of Satan, sin, and death in Genesis 3 – the chapter that explains how man’s original sin came to be.

Satan

The Dark and Unholy TrinityIn Genesis chapter 3, we see the first encounter that revealed the cunning nature of Satan. We also find in Ezekiel 28:12-18 and Isaiah 14:12-14 some references to the fall of Satan and his angels. This is while making an indirect connection to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, whose spiritual powers came from Satan.

Before God created man, God created angels and even Satan. Thus, we can probably understand that Satan fell from grace before man sinned. Satan’s rebellion against God and his exile from Heaven have set the stage for the fall of man. In other words, Adam and Eve sinned against God as a result of Satan’s rebellion.

However, we must understand that sin cannot take place without a source of temptation or “crafty” influence. This simply means twisting what is bad in God’s eyes into something good in OUR eyes. This is where Satan gets in the picture. He plants the seed of sin through temptation. How exactly does he do it?

Satan deceives people through the twisting of God’s instructions (ex. Scripture), or something within our environment, or the world as a whole. This is why he is on the top of the triangle.

Sin

Sinning is the act of disobeying God’s commandments and giving in to temptations that will only benefit one’s SELF but not God. Going back to Genesis 3, Adam and Eve sinned against God because they believed in Satan’s lie.

The devil told them that eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, will give them the wisdom to discern what was good, and what was evil. There was no evil before they sinned, so Satan knew that if he could convince Adam and Eve that they would obtain a divine knowledge of good and evil (without God), they would not ‘die.’

The pride that led them to sin is the same pride that caused Satan to rebel against God. And it is pride that causes us to sin as well.

The world and the flesh are mingled into this portion of the Trinity.

Death

Death is the result of man’s wickedness which was planted by Satan. The punishment of our sin is death (Roman 6:23). What were the results of death? Sin resulted in the death of innocence and perfection in man. Hell, Hades, Sheol, or the Lake of Fire (Second Death) is the eternal punishment of sin. We have also been separated from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:32).

The Second Death

The Holy Trinity

John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but having eternal life.”

God sent His son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for all of our iniquities so that we would have the hope of going to Heaven. It is by God’s grace, and by our faith in the finished work of Christ, that we receive the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that guides us on the path to righteousness.

Our sins are forgiven, washed away, and never to be remembered again (Hebrews 8:12)! We are no longer under the authority of Satan! We are under the wonderful presence of God, hallelujah!

My Question for You

What is one sinful seed that has been planted in your life during this pandemic? How can we best support you in your growth with Christ? Please let us know in the comment section below this post.

I think one of the sins I’ve been struggling the most with has been selfishness. It’s because I tend to center a lot of things around myself. Oftentimes, I get anxious about things that I don’t need to worry about. There are also times when I forget that my life is about God and not me.

A Closing Prayer

Dear Father In Heaven,

Be Prayerful I come before you in the name of Jesus. Thank you for this sacred revelation that you have placed in my heart this past weekend. Thank you for your love, mercy, and sovereignty.

Lord, forgive us our sins and seal our souls with the shield of redemption. Continue to comfort those who continue to lose to Covid-19 and acts of hatred against our brothers and sisters.

I pray that you would pour out your Spirit and guide our seniors as they prepare for their future after graduating from high school.

Please, Lord, continue to strengthen me as I continue to lead this virtual movement you have entrusted to me. I ask that you also bless those who are reading this article.

Finally, may we not only examine our shortcomings, but we will love those who have sinned against us. May I continue to be a light that shines in times of tragedy. Dear Lord, please continue to give me the strength and the courage to rise above all of the wiles of Satan.

In Jesus’ name, amen!

The Transformation of Grinches: Behind the Scenes Review and Analysis

The Transformation of Grinches: Behind the Scenes Review and Analysis

It’s that time of year again!

The season of Christmas: the day on which many Christians attend services to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. It’s the season where families are gathered together to drink hot chocolate while binge-watching old-time Christmas films.

It’s been two years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Understandably, the Christmas spirit, for most of us, has been reduced to an illusion from the past. Will Christmas ever be the same? Who knows!

This uncertainty made me sit down and reflect on the central messages of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” One figure that stood out to me was the wicked Grinch. There are so many “grinches” in our society, and even in the Bible.

In this presentation, I will give a summary of each part of my series. I will also give you some key central ideas that we can apply in our personal and spiritual lives.

Mr. Grinch and Christmas

Overview: How It All Started

During the lockdowns in 2020, I was allowed to host a virtual movement in which we expressed our Christian faith and acts of protest against our nation’s evils. It’s called “God vs Satan.” You can find an overview of what we did HERE.

Over the holiday season last year, I collaborated with participants to put together a slideshow presentation. This included a collection of Christmas stories that I have written. Each tale was inspired by historical events that took place during that time, as well as famous narratives from the Bible.

Inspired by 1966’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, “The Transformation of Grinches” is a fictional series that was crafted during the 2020 winter holiday season. The series consists of five lyrical and liturgical works of literature. Each scene is told from four different biblical perspectives (or profiles). These are Achan, Cain, Jonah, and Satan.

Profile 1: Satan (Grinch is Evil)

Mr. Grinch is evil; a pesky, filthy man, and the father of lies! He does nothing but cause chaos and steals the joy of Jesus Christ. This evil guy just wants to rip the Spirit’s gifts from the tree of life. Like Satan, Grinch is mean, nasty, and a vicious bear, who wants nothing for God’s children than for them to live in sin.

Grinch is the punisher of the seven reindeer in the East, and the ten elves of the West. Thus, I say to them, “Beware!”

Also, Mr. Grinch is a vile, violent, sleazy fool! He likes to spew murderous desires, and teach people the language of hate. It seems this bad guy does not know that my Savior was born in Bethlehem.

Get this, not only is Mr. Grinch an idiot for trying to tear down our safe havens. He also desires that God’s children are damned to the depths of Hades. So, who is this Grinch that sails from the East, and screams around this great Earth? His name is SATAN!

Now, it is Christmas! It’s the season of love and bliss; the gathering of the churches and the singing of Heaven’s choirs, Mr. Grinch’s reign of terror is slowly but surely coming to an end.

Commentary

“You’re a Devil, Mr. Grinch” is a song that was inspired by the famous song “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

In the song, Satan is described as “a man who rips the Spirit’s gifts from the tree of life.” In the film, the Grinch is famously known for stealing Christmas gifts from children and wrecking Christmas celebrations. He disguises himself as Santa Claus to deceive the children into thinking that they were receiving Christmas gifts that night. In reality, he had a malicious plan up his sleeve.

In the same way, Satan, in this piece, is known for manipulating what God intended for good by stealing the very blessings that God gave to His children. This is a very subtle tactic we often do not pay attention to when serving and giving.

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Nothing Good Comes Out of Satan

The entire song was based on a biblical passage. This is when Jesus gives an analogy relating the hypocrisy and the selfishness of the Pharisees to the nature of thieves and robbers. While Jesus depicted the Pharisees as thieves robbing the sheep from listening to the shepherd, this characteristic can also drawback to the identity of Satan.

Satan is known as a thief who comes only to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). This is why I ranked him as the main Grinch in my narrative.

Nothing good will come out of Satan; there is no Godly attribute in him.

Profile 2: Cain (A Bloody Christmas)

It was the house of Cain where America witnessed such great pain. The Christmas lights were replaced with a sea of red blood. Sleighbells turned into funeral bells, playing songs of sorrow.

Righteous America is the descendant of Abel, robbed of its chance of life. Evil America is the descendant of Cain, leading its neighbors to their demise. No smoke is billowing from that ancient chimney. No flame kindles from afar.

There is nothing but gunfire and the sounds of sirens. The noise of a holiday riot. But, soon, the bloodshed ceased. It was a silent night. It was a grey and cloudy night of tears. But, soon, America cried “Father, help us! We are doomed, and consumed with the ashes of sin!”

Suddenly, God gave them mercy and grace and turned the red blood into white puddles of snow. Then, the world sang a beautiful hymn of praise. It was the birth of the Christmas cheer.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come! O, hail!

Commentary

“A Bloody Christmas” is a fictional parable based on the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter 4. The scene is told from the perspective of two Americas: a rebellious, divided America and a righteous, peaceful America.

It is Christmas Eve, and a bloody riot erupts in the streets. The season of festivity turns into a somber occasion of mourning and grieving. Soon, the people within the land repent of their sin. Then God demonstrates His mercy by turning the crime scene into a scene of praise and worship!

The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

Joy is Restored Upon Repentance

The central idea is that God restores the joy of a repentant heart.

Like the story above, Genesis 4 gives us the story of two brothers who endured the pain of death and covetousness. Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy and envy. God approved of Abel’s offering and did not approve of Cain’s. He later repented, and God granted him protection and mercy.

The Grinch, reflecting on his sin against his neighborhood, felt such deep sorrow for those he had wronged on Christmas Eve. As soon as he changed his attitude about his wrongdoing, his joy and the joy of others were restored.

The human race is consumed with moral flaws, and their hearts are filled with the naughtiest of imaginations and fantasies. However, there is always a blessing in the process of repentance.

True repentance is not just an apology or a New Year’s resolution. It’s an inward transformation that is only possible through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Profile 3: Jonah (The Blizzard of Greece)

It was December 22, in a warm, cozy cottage. It was the week of the great Christmas mass at the Cathedral of Nineveh. The man would be instructed to preach against that great nation, for their wickedness was so great. Yet, he grabbed his things and rode his chariot to the great land of Greece.

The snow was as thick as the three towers that surrounded the city. The winds were so brutal and strong, that the man was thrown into the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea.

How can a swarm of angry fish swallow this man whole, yet save his life? How can he survive frigid temperatures without a life vest? The waves were cold, so strong, and violent. His heart was frozen like ice. Surrounded by the thorn of disobedience, the sun would soon shine.

It was December 25, at the great land of Nineveh. The great day of redemption from the pit of sin! The organists came out and played the ten hymns of celebration. O holy night, the stars were brightly shining. It was the night of our Savior’s birth.

Victory for Nineveh, o night divine!

Jonah, the Reluctant Prophet
Photo Credit: Medium

Commentary

Inspired by the biblical narrative of Jonah, this story is a work of literature. It vividly depicts the redemptive power of the Messiah who came to deliver mankind from the curse of sin.

In the tale, a man is on a mission to lead the city of Nineveh to repentance. After encountering a violent snowstorm that nearly cost him his life, his determination to bring the Gospel message to a broken nation gave way to a time of great day of victory!

Salvation: God’s Greatest Gift

Material goods are nothing; they are meaningless compared to the gift of salvation.

Although Jonah could not be described as a “Grinch” in Scripture, the story does point out his sin. Moreover, it showed how God used his imperfections to share the Gospel message to a wretched nation impending the coming judgment.

The greatest Christmas gift you could ever give to a human being is not the money from your bank account, or the latest Catalac on sale. It is the wonderful gift of salvation that Jesus offered us by shedding his blood on the cross. It is not only the message that transforms the soul into the everlasting light. It’s also a committed and driven lifestyle that reflects that message. Let’s not just say that we oppose darkness; let’s back that up with how we live.

The kingdom of God is watching. The kingdom of Satan is watching. Two magnificent worlds: both the natural and the spiritual, are watching.

Profile 4: Achan (A Short Play)

(Scene)

James (thief #1): Give me the money, now!

7-year Old Child: No, thanks! Besides, I can’t talk to strangers! I don’t have any money.

James: Hey! If you can’t get me your stupid money, just give me these Toy Story DVDs!

Child: Why?

Achan: Mwa-ha-ha-ha! I just stole that $600 dress and that chimney from Santa Claus. Now, I’m hyped up! I hope I won’t get caught.

Satan (to Achan): Oh, would you look at the time! Some new company! Mwahahahahahahaha!

Achan: I SAID, SANTA, NOT SATAN, FOR GOODNESS’ sake! Now to dash before I get caught!

(5 seconds later…)

Samuel: Busted! I found you Achan! What have you done?

Achan: Uh, nothing!

Samuel: Don’t you play dumb with me, you naughty boy! I just caught you stealing that fancy dress after your Master told you not to! You tried to steal the joy of Christmas. You just committed such a grave sin against the Father of the Heavens, and His begotten Son!

Achan: Yeah!

Samuel: You can face your consequences, on the double! Naughty List for you, and the wrath of the Almighty!

Commentary

This profile is a theatrical and artistic representation of Joshua 7. It is a short story of a figure named Achan, who steals an object at the store, which aligns with the plot of Joshua chapter 7.

Immediately after the triumph at Jericho, the Israelites fight against the city of Ai but are unable to take it. God tells Joshua that Israel lost because of God’s anger. One of the Israelites has kept some of the “devoted things” from Jericho for himself instead of destroying them.

Therefore, Israel herself has become a “devoted thing,” which will be destroyed unless the sinner gets punished and the stolen objects destroyed. Following instructions from the Lord, Joshua assembles the Israelites. He does this tribe by tribe, then clan by clan, then household by household.

God reveals Achan, of the tribe of Judah, as the culprit behind the fiasco. He and his household, along with the devoted things he kept, are taken and destroyed.

Sins Demand Sacrifice

This story, along with the short play, is an illustration of the importance of obeying God’s commands. God commanded the Israelites to destroy all “the devoted things” – both people and possessions of Canaan. God commands such action in Deuteronomy 7:2 and 20:17. The ban seems to be in part a precautionary and a punitive measure. Why does it call for the destruction of the Canaanites? The answer is in the next verse (Deuteronomy 20:18).

The call to destroy devoted things also has overtones of sacrificial language. Like a burnt offering, the devoted things are to be destroyed by fire (Joshua 6:24; 7:15). And like a sacrifice, they are to be devoted to the LORD for destruction (Joshua 6:17). The ban also means, of course, that Israel cannot profit from war. It is a means of sacrifice.

The Christmas season is not only a reminder of the price that comes from our naughtiness. It also reminds us of the sacrifice that love and hope demand. Like the burnt offerings, hope requires that we “destroy” all things that will lead us to resentment. If not, they will ruin the atmosphere that Christmas speaks of.

Conclusion

“The Transformation of Grinches” is not only a challenge for many believers across America to examine their behavior. It is also intended to make them seek reconciliation for the wrongs they may have committed.

Just as a mother disciplines her children, the coronavirus pandemic has figuratively sent all of us to our rooms. While in confinement, may we think about what we have done and prioritize what is important in our lives.

Therefore, this series is a collection of motifs that we can all take with us as we enter a new year.

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

Christmas is just around the corner. And get this … Christmas celebration is not complete without gift-giving! I believe this is the part that makes most people, especially kids, excited about Christmas. This is the highlight of most celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Don’t you love gifts! Everybody loves gifts! I do not know of anyone who doesn’t.

Giving presents and exchanging gifts have become parts of our practices and traditions. And that is not a bad thing! The problem is this, we tend to be choosy.

We want something fancy and expensive. We want to get the best of all gifts. Little do most people realize that God has already given us the best gift. I’m talking about the greatest gift we’ve ever received mentioned in Ephesians 2:8-9.

We are saved by grace

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

This gift of God has nothing to do with our efforts. We didn’t earn it, deserve it, or purchase it. God gave it through His sacrificial gift so our salvation would not be our boast, but His kindness.

What is this gift? Our salvation!

We may not realize it but this gift from God is unlike any other gift that we can buy from the gift shop. Some people may think it’s cheap because it is available to anyone who wants to receive it. But it’s priceless; you can’t put a price tag on it.

It’s because God paid for it with His life. Jesus redeemed us with His blood (Ephesians 1:7). To redeem means “to pay off,” “to buy back,” or “to regain possession of.”

Originally, we belonged to God. But because of sin, we were separated from God. We’re on our way to hell and are destined to spend eternity there. But God did not want us to perish so He sent His Son to redeem us.

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

First of all, Christ did not come down to earth to start a Christmas tradition that includes the giving of gifts to one another. Christ came to offer His life as a ransom for many. He came to give us eternal life.

By doing what He did, God also exemplified the true meaning of gift-giving.

So, what are the things that God wants us to take into consideration whenever we give to others?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

God had one reason and one reason only for giving us the greatest gift of all and that is love. We have no reason to doubt this. You see, God did not have to give His Son but He did it anyway.

Why? It’s all because of His great love. God is not only full of love; God is love (1 John 4:16). Everything God does stems from His great love for us. If God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us, how can He not also give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

What about us? What is our motivation in giving? In goal-setting, they call this “finding your why.” In other words, what’s your reason for doing the things that you do.

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

Why do you give to charitable institutions and orphanages? Is it because your friends are doing it? If your reason is that you feel sorry for them, that means your heart is in the right place.

Why do you give in support of God’s work? Why do you give birthday presents to your friends or other people on any occasion?

By the way, giving is not only in terms of material things, like money or anything tangible. It could also mean spending time with your friends and loved ones. Or taking a break from your busy schedule to comfort a colleague or friend who’s going through tough times.

Giving Should Be Unconditional

Unconditional means “no strings attached.” It’s just like how God gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins. God was not expecting anything in return. All He wanted was to spare us from eternal condemnation.

But these days, when you offer something too good to be true, people are quick to ask, “What’s the catch?” And we can’t blame them. As they always say, “You don’t get anything for free. There are no free hand-outs and if there are, they’re most likely trash.”

When God gave us the greatest gift of all, He did so without condition. How do we know this? It’s because God did it out of love and God’s love is unconditional.

God did not say, “Hey, you need to be a good person first.” Neither did He say, “Turn away from your sin and then I will give My Son to die for you” (Romans 5:8).

God had expectations as some scholars argue, it’s that everyone would receive His gift by faith. And also, for them to share that gift with others. This is why Jesus gave the Great Commission.

But we need to emphasize that what God expects from the recipients of His gift is not for His benefit. Rather, it’s for the people who are still in darkness. Simply put, it’s about giving back or passing it on.

Do we give, expecting something in return? Isn’t it more blessed to give than to receive? This is why it’s always best to give to the people who are unable to give back to us.

This is not to say that the principle of “give and take” is wrong or bad. What is wrong is when a person who has the means to give prefers to be always on the receiving end.

Giving Should Be Unconditional

Giving Should be Sacrificial

When we hear the word sacrifice, it always involves doing something difficult and painful. It’s not going to be easy and it would take courage to be able to do it. It’s about setting aside your own comfort and happiness for the sake of others.

God modeled sacrificial giving 2,000 years ago. The Father endured the pain of having to watch His only Son suffer and die at the hands of His creation. But for man to be spared from hell, God had to experience pain.

We all know the story of Abraham who is about to offer his son Isaac on Mount Moriah? That was a foreshadowing of what God would do to His Son about 1,500 years later on Mount Calvary.

I can’t imagine the pain that a parent has to go through when his only child gets brutally killed in front of him. You are blessed to not have to go through this kind of pain.

Have you ever felt pain as a result of “giving” to your family or loved ones? You were saving for a new cellphone but your daughter needed money to pay her lease. Or you wanted to treat yourself to an expensive restaurant but your friend suddenly in need.

These are part of the sacrifice we have to make just so we can give to our loved ones or extend help to those in need.

Giving Should be Purposeful

Why did God give His Son to die on the cross? What was His purpose for sacrificing His only Son? For us to have eternal life! To provide salvation to all who will believe. Again, it’s for the benefit of the recipients.

If we read Isaiah 53:10, it says, “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him (the Son), putting Him to grief.” Doesn’t that sound brutal?

But God did not just do this for nothing. God’s giving of His Son was for the sole purpose of saving us from the horrors of hell. It should be the same thing with us when we give anything to someone. It should always be for the benefit of the one who gets the gift.

Is what you’re giving beneficial to the receiver? Is it something they need? Oftentimes, what people want is not necessarily what they need. This is why when we ask God for something that does not benefit us, He won’t give it (1 John 5:14). God will not grant our requests that are harmful to us.

Giving Should Be Purposeful

On our part, when we give a gift or present, we don’t give something just for the sake of giving. We should give it some thought. Again, this comes down to our reason or motivation in giving. When we give out of love, we will surely give what we think is best for the recipient.

No matter how expensive your gift might be if it won’t be useful to the one who gets it, it’s useless. On the other hand, even if the gift is somewhat cheap as long as it’s exactly what the person needs, it will be valued and appreciated.

Bottom line is, it’s not the worth that counts but its usefulness.

Final Thoughts

God modeled the true meaning of gift-giving. God has not only given us so much; He’s also given us the greatest gift of all.

God gave us His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And in the person of Jesus Christ, we find salvation, redemption, reconciliation with God, and eternal life (1 John 5:12).

The least we could do to pay back God for all He’s done is to strive to follow our Lord’s example. We are to share that gift with others as well.

So, to recap what God has taught us about gift-giving, remember the acronym P-L-U-S.

Christ's Example of Gift-Giving

Recommended Resource: Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ by Timothy Keller

From pastor and New York Times, bestselling author Timothy Keller comes the perfect gift for the Christmas holiday—a profoundly moving and intellectually provocative examination of the nativity story.

Even people who are not practicing Christians think they are familiar with the story of the nativity. Every Christmas displays of Baby Jesus resting in a manger decorate lawns and churchyards, and songs about shepherds and angels fill the air.

Yet despite the abundance of these Christian references in popular culture, how many of us have examined the hard edges of this biblical story?

In his new book, Timothy Keller takes readers on an illuminating journey into the surprising background of nativity. By understanding the message of hope and salvation within the Bible’s account of Jesus’ birth, readers will experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a deeper and more meaningful way.

The Spirit Realm and The Mystery of the Mind

The Spirit Realm and The Mystery of the Mind

Contrary to what others might think, the spirit realm is very real. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that there is a battle going on in the unseen world. As believers in Christ, we are in a fight. But we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies. We are up against mighty powers in this dark world, and evil spirits in the heavenly places.

But do you know that Satan attacks Christians by first attacking their minds? You may have heard pastors say that the mind is a battleground between God and Satan. This is why we are to guard our minds.

Bible Verse: Philippians 4:6-8

6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Meditate on noble things

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Some Christians may not know this but the first person of the Trinity that a repentant sinner meets is the Holy Spirit.

At conversion, the Holy Spirit begins His residence in the life of the believers in Christ. He then transforms them from the carnal world of the flesh to the realm of the kingdom of God. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit guides them to righteousness and obedience to God. In theology, this is called sanctification.

Sanctification is the process of living a Godly life, under the Holy Spirit. Hence, the nature of the new creature who was saved by the finished work of Christ. As we begin to mature in our faith, we realize that we are humans. Thus, we are bound to commit sins because of our flesh.

My Thoughts and Reflection

I believe that one of the most vital keys to spiritual maturity is to realize that as humans living on this Earth, we have an enemy (Satan), whose goal is to try everything to get us off course in our journey with Christ. Sometimes, our thoughts are not our own.

In this presentation, I will share with you some ways in which Satan uses our thoughts to plant evil seeds through the mind. I’m going to use a real-life example where I will provide insight into these biblical encounters.

Brethren, I am currently working on a series in which I share what I have learned as a follower of Christ living through the pandemic. My goal is to ensure that other fellow brothers and sisters in Christ understand the significance of Christ’s wonderful sacrifice at the cross in our fight against the kingdom of Satan.

What is the Mind?

Think of a construction worker who wants to build a house. Without the correct foundation, the house will collapse. Similarly, for the desire to commit evil to take place, there needs to be an activity within the brain, the inner section of the head.

God gave us the wonderful gift of knowledge. He uses our minds and our hearts to give us spiritual insight on matters on the mysteries of godly living. Now, how does the desire to do evil start? It is a seed sown by Satan, which starts in the mind. This is the foundation of what comes out of the lips and our hands, which grows from our hearts.

Many Scriptures make it clear that the primary battleground in spiritual warfare is our hearts and minds. Satan attacks with thoughts—evil suggestions, sinful ideas, false philosophies (doctrines), temptations, various lies, and so on.

Our means of defense are knowing, believing, and acting upon the Word of God.

Guard you mind, guard your thoughts

The Mind and External Sources

It is vitally important that you understand that every thought you think does not necessarily originate from within yourself.

Satan has many spokespersons who help him plant his thoughts in people’s minds. He works to influence us through newspapers, books, television, magazines, radio, through friends and neighbors, and even through preachers (false prophets.)

Even the apostle Peter was once unwittingly used as a spokesman for Satan. In Matthew 16:21-23, Peter suggested to Jesus that it was not God’s will for Him to die. Satan and his legions also work directly on human minds, without any human intermediary.

All Christians will at times find themselves under direct assault. That is when the warfare starts.

Dealing with Satan’s Attacks

A Christian encountered a woman who would frequently experience blasphemous thoughts in nature while engaging in prayer with God. She was a very sweet, dedicated woman who was actively involved in church. One day, she stopped praying every day because she was afraid that she would have these evil thoughts again. Eventually, the woman started to counteract those evil thoughts with the truth presented through the Word.

What can we learn from this testimony?

It was revealed to the woman that those blasphemous thoughts against God were not her own, but rather, they came from Satan. By being afraid that we might think wrong thoughts, we are inviting them, as fear is the opposite of faith.

Learning from experience, I have learned that fear is one of Satan’s biggest weapons against believers in Christ. Instead of trusting God and His promises, we trust in the lies that Satan feeds in our minds. By trying not to think about something, we have to think about it to try not to think about it.

In other words, we must substitute what is false and evil with something good, honorable, and pleasing to God. For example, if a thought suggested that Jesus was an idiot, we would replace that thought with the truth. We declare that Jesus is the divine Son of God and died for our sins because of His great love.

we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ

A Closing Prayer

Dear Lord, I recognize that these tormenting, violent thoughts are not of you. I now choose to submit my mind completely to you and refuse to allow these thoughts to torment me any longer.

Satan, I now recognize that you have put these violent, tormenting thoughts in my mind. I refuse to allow them to enter my mind any longer. Your powers were broken at the cross 2,000 years ago. You have no power over me. My mind is now completely free of your plans or attacks. I now submit my mind completely to the Lord Jesus.

Lord, fill my mind with clean and holy thoughts. Help me not allow any demonic thoughts to enter by guarding all that I see on TV, movies, books, news, or magazines. Convict me when I am tempted to look at something impure.

Finally, I ask that this presentation has touched others as they are going through dark seasons in their lives. I pray that I would be a role model who strives to emulate your love, compassion, gentleness, and your holiness. Help me to continue shining Your light to edify Your glorious kingdom.

In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.


Recommended Resource:

Spiritual Warfare in the End Times by Ron Rhodes

Understand the Battle Before You Enter It

When you think about the end times, you’ve probably already considered the rapture, the tribulation, and the Antichrist. But are you prepared for the spiritual warfare that is already escalating around us as we draw closer to the final days?

Now more than ever, it is essential to equip yourself with God’s truth so you can stand against the encroaching darkness.

In Spiritual Warfare in the End Times, bestselling prophecy author Ron Rhodes powerfully exposes Satan’s most destructive and effective tools of spiritual injury—and the means of rendering them ineffective. Ron will help you understand…

  • the identity, tactics, and dominion of Satan—and the spiritual armor God has given you for protection
  • the pivotal roles the Holy Spirit and the Word of God play in your spiritual victory
  • the sheep (Christians) who keep close to the Shepherd (Jesus) are safest from the predatory wolf (Satan)

Though Satan will always want to diminish your capacity to serve in God’s kingdom, God promises you’ll never fight him alone.

Spiritual Warfare in the End Times will provide you with all you need for victory both now and in the future.

Judaism and the Synagogue of Satan

Judaism and the Synagogue of Satan

Imagine that your family and friends are gathered together on a Saturday morning to worship and study the Torah. Or just looking forward to enjoying the night when you would come together to fast during the season of Passover. Can you imagine losing eleven relatives to a murderous man going on a shooting rampage? Or sitting at home alone?

One of the most common stereotypical qualities I have seen being spread around among Jewish families is the tendency for Jews to be morally corrupt and evil. Two of the most common justifications for this claim originate from John 8:44 and Revelation 2:9.

Today, we will look at Revelations 2:9. What could be the true meaning behind a phrase that is explicitly mentioned at the end of the verse?

Bible Verse: Revelation 2:9

“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”

Seven months into a global pandemic that has changed the way we live our lives. Suddenly, your computer screen is filled with antisemitic threats and violent images of the Holocaust, just for expressing your faith. Since the clash between Israel and Gaza in late April of 2021, our nation has witnessed a dramatic spike in incidents of hatred and bigotry. What is more disheartening is that this happened within the Judeo-Christian communities.

Unfortunately, these antisemitic conspiracy theories continue to foster a hostile environment for so many families. It is so sad to see how the Bible is used to satisfy one’s wicked agendas against their neighbors because of their faith.

Anti-Semitism

As a young Christian teenager, I firmly believe that God has created us in His image. He gave us unique gifts, talents, characteristics, appearances, and styles of living life. My goal in writing this essay is to not only expose and deter the evil that is being done in this world. I also would like to encourage every one of you to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to not judge one another based on their outward appearance.

I pray that this essay will inspire you, and will convict you of any flaw, misunderstanding, or deception that we have all experienced in these dark days.

A Message to the Church

So, the question is: What is this “synagogue” that is being referenced in this passage? To fully understand this analogy requires an analysis of the context and the meaning behind the phrases used.

How are Jesus and the Holy Spirit described? Who is the regenerated “Jew?” What are the standard Jewish traditions, and the nature of Satan?

The first three chapters of the book of Revelation contain a series of letters addressed to the Seven Churches. The phrase “synagogue of Satan” is written twice (once in chapter 2 and then in chapter 3). These two chapters are specifically being addressed to the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia. This was during the time of the Apostle John, whose descendants (daughter churches) are described in detail later in Revelations chapter 17.

Now, the term “Jew” in this context is rather spiritual in nature (rather than a physical trait). Paul describes a “Jew” as a man whose “circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter. It refers to those whose praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:19). The term “Jew” can also extend to the nature and qualities of a true Christian.

A true “Jew” [Christian] exhibits an ongoing inward regeneration through the working of the Holy Spirit, and does not focus solely on the outward appearance of being “righteous.”

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Satan’s Strategy: Deception

Now, look at this passage from 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

One of Satan’s most common strategies he uses against us is to disguise his servants as agents of God. They appear holy, upright, and moral when inwardly, they are ravenous wolves consumed with iniquity.

And Satan achieves his goal through the use of Scriptures. Therefore, there is the possibility that this verse has been used for deception and condemnation. Now, what does a person who practices the Jewish faith do regularly? They attend synagogues every Saturday for praise and worship. But the problem is the HEART.

If anyone practices a certain tradition or ritual but does not show genuine spiritual maturity and moral development, then their label is useless! (Ouch!) We can attend ten services a week, but our hearts can be corrupt and filled with hatred against one another. Doesn’t that sound just like the very people spreading this conspiracy theory?

Surprisingly, most of these people who cite this passage are professed Christians (what a shocker!) News flash: Deception is NEVER original. Congratulations, Satan! You’ve been exposed to the core!

Satan's Deception

What is the Synagogue of Satan?

The “synagogue of Satan” is an analogy referring to the spiritual condition of a congregation, and the heart of the professed believer.

In other words, they may outwardly appear holy and righteous. But in their hearts, they are working for Satan, sowing deceit, division, and discord among the body of Christ. The main takeaway is to understand that this passage is not referring to all Jews and all synagogues in a literal sense. Rather, it refers to those who are hypocrites and do not practice what they profess to the public.

Closing Words

If you would like any more resources on the rise of antisemitism and this deception, I will be happy to provide you with additional links to some articles and videos from news outlets and Christian communities, and forums.

Just reach out to me, and I will be happy to provide you with any more insight after conducting further study and spiritual revelations.

Also, feel free to show your support for our final series of this virtual movement. You can send me any additional ways to incorporate inclusion in our new program embedded into this movement. I pray that we will continue to seek the Holy Spirit for wisdom, knowledge, and insight on these moral issues affecting our generation.

I also pray that we will continue to guide each other in love, patience, and gentleness. I, in turn, will continue to use my positive, loving heart to encourage others, to pray for others, and to expose all of the workings of Satan!

As always, I am open and willing to uplift you and give you hope in these dark times. I am patiently waiting for you to contact me at any time, ready to shine in love, grace, and humility. I love you, and I wish you the best in everything!

Salute!☺


Recommended Resource:

Revelation (The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries) by John F Walvoord, edited by Mark Hitchcock

The book of Revelation has long fascinated and even confused readers and students of the Bible. Yet the Bible is written to be understood, and Revelation is no exception. Who better to help you understand the seals, trumpets, vials, woes, and plagues than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Mark Hitchcock, today’s leading Bible prophecy expert?

In this first in a renewed series of commentaries from Dr. Walvoord, he points out that much of the book’s symbolism can be interpreted literally. At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored. Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language.

Refined, updated with the English Standard Version (ESV), and streamlined, this classic text is set to help you interpret the last book of the Bible and gain a better grasp of current trends and the climax of history!

The Very First Christian Song

The Very First Christian Song

Let me ask you, Christian, “What do you think is the very first Christian song?” If you are in your 50’s or 60’s you probably know more songs than those in their 20’s. Well, that is if you have been keeping track of every song written about God and for God. With all the Christian singers and bands since time immemorial, not many of us could keep up.

Going back to the question on the first-ever Christian song … it might not be what you’re thinking.

The Role of Music in the Church

Music makes a worship service; that is hard for a preacher to admit. But we also know that music (praise and worship) prepares the soul to hear and receive the Word.

Can we have a church service without music? Why can’t we just pray, listen to the sermon, give our tithes and love offering, and then go home? Can you imagine a church service without music and singing? I bet you couldn’t.

Ascribe to the Lord the Glory due His Name

I’m reminded of the story behind the song, “Heart of Worship.” In his conversation with Crosswalk, Matt Redman admitted that his church was struggling spiritually. This is despite their worship band’s huge contribution to the worship revival in churches worldwide.

He went on to say that there was a dynamic missing. So, the pastor decided to get rid of the sound system and they just sang with their voices. His point was that they’d lost their way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.”

By the time they re-introduced the musicians and the sound system, the congregation had gained a new perspective that worship is all about Jesus.

Joy to the World

It’s December once again, which means Christians around the world are getting ready to celebrate the first coming of Christ. Yeah, I know; Christmas this year may not be the kind of celebration most people used to have. We can blame Covid-19 all we want but doing so won’t make things better. Rather, it would make us feel even more miserable.

Regardless of our current situation, we must never forget what Christmas is all about. The main reason we celebrate the yuletide season is that Christ came to bring salvation to all men (Titus 2:11). The world celebrates Christmas for several other reasons but we celebrate Jesus, God’s greatest gift to us.

Is “Joy to the World” the first Christian song? It may be one of the oldest and most popular Christmas songs ever! What a joy, indeed, when Christ left His throne above. He came down to the earth He created, became a man, and dwelt among us (John 1:14). As wonderful as this song is, it’s not the first Christian song.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

In this thrilling first book in a new series, authors Amir Tsarfati and Steve Yohn draw on true events as well as tactical insights Amir learned from his time in the Israeli Defense Forces.

For believers in God’s life-changing promises, Operation Joktan is a suspense-filled page-turner that illuminates the blessing Israel is to the world.


What Makes a Song Christian

A song isn’t Christian just because the artist or the songwriter are Christians. It’s not also a Christian song because of the rhyme or melody. What makes a Christian song is the lyrics; the words that make up the song. Christian songs include songs that talk about the love of God, His mercy, grace, and compassion.

But what about some so-called Christian songs by Christian singers and rock bands that are theologically off? Meaning, unscriptural songs? One particular song that comes to mind is “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong. The song starts pretty okay but as we come to the second verse it becomes clear that something is wrong. It says, “You didn’t want heaven without us. So, Jesus, You brought heaven down.”

It’s true; the name of Jesus is beautiful, wonderful, and powerful. He is the Creator, can never be defeated, and has no rival. But to say that God did not want heaven without us? That sure would make people think that they are more important than God.

This is why when worship leaders select songs for their lineup, they must consider the message that the songs communicate. Do these songs line up with Scripture? Do they bring honor and glory to God?

The First Christian Song

We know that followers of Jesus were first referred to as Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:19-25. But how did Christianity begin?

Christianity began with a song. When Christ was born in the manger, an angel went to a nearby field and announced the news to shepherds who were watching their flocks.

Luke 2:13-14

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. They were saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Upon hearing the good news, the shepherds started glorifying and praising God. With hearts full of joy, they sang the very first Christian song. These shepherds are a great example for us to imitate today. They received by faith the message God sent them and went on to give praise to the Most High.

Luke 2:14
Photo Credit: The Skit Guys

Victory Songs

In the Bible, singing was used to celebrate victories. Moses sang a song of victory just after God covered Pharaoh’s chariots with the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1). Surrounded by three enemy armies, Jehoshaphat sent the choir singing unto the Lord before the attacking armies (2 Chronicles 20:21).

Imagine how the enemy laughed. But the songs of praise released the angels of God who attacked and annihilated the enemies. Anointed singing destroys the power of darkness (Psalm 149:5-6). It is spiritual warfare that will cause every demon to run in total terror.

After the Lord’s Supper, the disciples joined Jesus in singing a hymn before they walked to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30). Singing prepared Jesus for the Passion to follow.

After being beaten and surrounded by disease and filth in prison, Paul and Silas could still sing praises to God. God heard them and sent an earthquake to rock the doors open. Paul and Silas walked out of that prison with a convert – the jailer. Singing with anointing moves the hand of God (Acts 16:25).

Final Thoughts

In as much as we enjoy singing and listening to the best Christian songs, one day, we will get to hear God’s newest release.

Revelation 14:3

“They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.”

What a song that will be. Imagine hearing the debut of a new song to usher in the eternal reign of Christ the King.

Are you looking forward to hearing God’s brand new song?

While waiting for that day to come, let us keep singing Christian songs. Let us use music to praise and glorify God and express our love for and gratitude to God.

Why Did the Religious Leaders Hate Jesus?

Why Did the Religious Leaders Hate Jesus?

Jesus is said to be the most loving and most compassionate person to ever walk the earth. Yet, He was also the most hated person to ever walk the earth. Even the religious leaders of His day hated him more than they hated the actual criminals. Now, why is that?

No one sits and wonders why society despises the wicked, the robber, the rapist, the murderer, etc. That’s completely understandable and justifiable. But I find it troubling when a morally upright person is deemed to be the worst criminal by those who claim to believe in God. What was it about Jesus that earned Him the punishment of crucifixion?

Jesus, the most hated man in history

The Religious Leaders of Jesus’ Time

The indignation of the religious leaders towards Jesus during His time is undeniable. They hated Him so much to the point that they arrested Him, tried Him, and brought Him to Pilate for a death sentence. But what made them so angry at Jesus that they wanted Him dead?

Below are several things about Jesus that outraged them. We will look at each one of them and evaluate if their anger was justified.

The Claims Jesus Made

Jesus made several outrageous claims about Himself. One of which was His claim that He was the Messiah. By claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah, He was saying that His authority outweighed their authority. The religious leaders did not believe any of Jesus’ claims and were angry at the people who believed.

The leaders accused the people of believing Jesus out of ignorance. They were also jealous of the attention that Jesus was getting from the people. The claims Jesus made caused the religious leaders of His day to be indignant towards Him.

John 8:58-59

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

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Jesus Threatened Their Religious System

When Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy in connection to their practices, the religious leaders saw Him as a threat. On two different occasions, Jesus entered the temple precincts and drove out those who were buying and selling (John 2:13-17).

Jesus angered the religious leaders with His claim of authority over the temple. Before Jesus came into the picture, the religious leaders were the respected authority overall activities in the Temple. They could do all they wanted without anyone questioning their actions. Jesus’ arrival threatened their religious system and angered them to the point that they wanted Him dead.

Jesus Disrespected Their Traditions

One of the things that triggered the religious leaders’ hatred towards Jesus was His lack of respect for their religious traditions. Either Jesus ignored these traditions or He deliberately broke them. This is because He knew that these were man-made and not from God.

One common practice that Jesus violated which caused the most outrage was regarding the Sabbath. God had commanded the Sabbath to be a day of rest from labor. Yet the religious leaders added all kinds of restrictions which made it difficult and impossible to observe.

Jesus was grieved and angry at the way they had perverted the Sabbath observance. He asked the religious leaders several specific questions.

Mark 3:4-5

Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

In the presence of the religious leaders, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. This healing that Jesus performed on the Sabbath was more than the leaders could endure. Thus, they were convinced that Jesus had to die.

Mark 2:27, NKJV

Jesus Socialized With “Sinners”

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were filled with pride and arrogance. They were particularly proud of not mingling with the outcasts of society. It’s because they did not believe that the Messiah would be with such a crowd. A Pharisee went nuts at the sight of Jesus allowing a woman to wash His feet.

Luke 7:39

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

The religious leaders thought of themselves as righteous men who must never associate with sinners. Seeing Jesus socializing with these kinds of people infuriated the proud Pharisees and other religious leaders.

Jesus Performed Miracles

The miracles Jesus performed before them and many on-lookers also angered the religious Jews. After witnessing the healing of a demon-possessed man, some of the multitudes questioned if Jesus could be the Messiah. But the leaders accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of a demon.

Matthew 12:22-24

Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

The miracle was undeniable! The man who was not only deaf and mute but also demon-possessed was healed. But rather than believing Jesus to be the Messiah, these religious leaders attributed His power to the devil.

Since their official explanation for what Jesus did was that His power came from the devil, then He must die.

Jesus Threatened Their Lifestyle

For political reasons, the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus. There were some ongoing tensions between the ruling Romans and the Jews. Thus, the thought of a Messiah who might lead an uprising against Rome was the last thing the people wanted.

John 11:49-51

And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now, this he did not say on his own authority, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.

Caiaphas was afraid the Romans would intervene if Jesus gained the support of the people. This, among other reasons, is why he insisted that Jesus must die.

Conclusion

The religious leaders’ motive for wanting Jesus dead was not anything godly or righteous. They hated Jesus and wanted to put Him to death because of the above-mentioned reasons.

In the end, it was their pride, arrogance, and hypocrisy that caused them to bring Jesus before Pilate to be crucified. They did not want to hear the truth from God.

Jesus was hated by the world and did not receive Him (John 1:11). And He warned us that because they hated Him first, they would also hate us.

John 15:18-19

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Many religious people today are easily triggered when a “redeemed” believer dares to point out their wrong beliefs and practices. They tend to become defensive and hostile when told the truth about salvation by grace and not by works.

But no matter how people with a different worldview despises your faith in Christ as your Savior, be patient with them. Keep trying to reach out to them and share God’s gift of salvation. Most of all, keep loving them and praying that they too would come to faith in our Lord Jesus.


Reference:

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ by Don Stewart

What was the world like into which Jesus came? What were the different political and religious divisions of the Holy Land?

This first section will examine the historical background of the world that saw the coming of Christ as well as some of the important characters that were prominent in the four gospels.

Part 2 The Life And Ministry Of Jesus This section examines some of the key elements of the public ministry of Jesus. Although His public life was for a period of a few short years, He has influenced the course of this world like none other.

In this first section, we will find out why He came to this world, His relationship to the Law of Moses, His miraculous deeds, and His relationship to Bible prophecy.

Part 3 The Betrayal, Trial, And Death Of Jesus The Last Days Of Christ This final section will look at some of the events of the end of the life of Jesus. We consider His betrayal and death. When Jesus was a child the first recorded thing that He uttered was that He must be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).

On the cross, Jesus’ final words were, “It is finished.” Jesus announced to the world that He had completed His Father’s business.

God’s Principles of Giving

God’s Principles of Giving

Giving, particularly tithing, is just one of the few subjects that often cause division and conflict within the body of Christ. Although God has laid out clear principles of giving in His Word, many Christians still struggle a lot in this area. Some even go to the extreme of accusing the church leadership of just being interested in money.

Why is it that many Christians seem to have the wrong attitude when it comes to the issue of money? It’s pretty easy for many to get involved in the church ministry and sacrifice their time, gifts, and talents. But when asked to give financially for the works of the Lord, suddenly they become indifferent.

In the same way that money is the engine on which our society runs, the church also needs money to run the Father’s business. Outside of the giving of its members, the church has no source of income.

The Role of Money in Society

5 Biblical Principles of Giving

In both the Old and the New Testaments, we see several principles of giving that help us to see money from God’s perspective. May these five principles enable us to handle God’s blessings in a way that is aligned with His will.

Sometimes, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with God’s abundant favor that we forget to seek God’s guidance on how to use them. We must never forget that God has a purpose for everything and He is in control of all things. At the end of the day, our purpose is to live for God and His glory.

So, here we go …

#1 Principle: God Owns Everything

There is no argument that God is sovereign over everything in heaven and on earth; this is the principle of sovereignty. All things that exist belong to God and God alone (1 Chronicles 29:11).

It was not enough for King David, a noble and successful king, to acknowledge that the entire earth belonged to God. He added that all its fullness also belonged to Him, including the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1).

Psalm 24:1, NIV

David emphasized the truth that God’s ownership of the earth extends to the people who live upon it. Through the rights of creation and continuing provision, God has a claim upon every person who has ever lived. This includes everything that they own, possess, and will acquire. Can you think of a more sweeping statement of God’s ownership?

So, if God owns everything, what do you have that rightfully belongs to you? Nothing! Nada! God’s sovereignty gives Him the exclusive right to exercise supreme authority over everything. And that extends even to our personal belongings. All that we are and all that we have are His.

You may ask, “How do I honor God’s sovereignty in my giving?”

#2 Principle: We are but Stewards

Although all things belong to our God, He has entrusted us to care for and use His possessions. This is the principle of stewardship. What is required of a steward? Faithfulness!

As stewards, we must be faithful in the way we use God’s talents and treasures inside and outside the church.

In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, Paul used the image of the steward. A steward is a servant who manages everything for his master, but who himself owns nothing. As caretakers of God’s money and property, we must do well to use them only for His purpose and glory. Thus, we give in support of the needs of the church and the ministry.

Jesus also gave a parable indicating that one day we will give an account to God on how we handled God’s money. Will God find us faithful and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Are you spending the money entrusted to you by God to honor Him and to further His Kingdom?

#3 Principle: Sowing and Reaping

When a farmer sows his seed, he may think that he lost it as it fell from his hand into the ground. In the same way, we may feel we are losing money every time we give. But just as the farmer gives the seed in anticipation of a future harvest, we should give with the same expectation. And the better quality of seeds we sow, the greater will the harvest be.

This is the principle of increase that Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 9:6. We reap in measure as we sow. This principle needs little explanation because we see it operating in everyday life.

The farmer who sows much seed will have a better chance for a bigger harvest. The investor who puts a large sum of money into a company will certainly collect more dividends. As we invest more in the work of the Lord, the more “fruit” will abound to our account.

2 Corinthians 9:6, NLT

Keep in mind that when we give to God, we are never losers. God always rewards the giving heart both now and in eternity. But what do we reap when we sow into God’s Kingdom? We will reap a harvest of blessings, both material and spiritual.

Don’t stop the flow of God’s blessing by disobeying Him in the area of giving.

#4 Principle: God Supplies All Our Needs

In Philippians 4:19, Paul tells the church that God would supply all their needs. Why did Paul believe this? It’s because they met his needs. They call this the supply principle.

The apostle did not see the gifts of the Philippian believers as simply coming from them. He saw it as the supply of his need from heaven. Paul trusted the Lord to provide for his needs and God did through the believers at Philippi.

To paraphrase what Paul said, we might state it this way, “You met my need, God is going to meet yours. You met one need that I have, but my God will meet all your needs. You gave out of your poverty, but God will supply your needs out of His riches in glory.”

There is a direct correlation between God supplying our needs and the liberality with which we supply the needs of others.

2 Corinthians 9:10 also speaks of how God supplies the giver with his own needs and also the means to give to others. As long as God can count on us to supply the needs of others, He will continue to provide for us. God supplies not just our daily needs; He gives excess for us to share with others.

#5 Principle: Our Attitude Towards Giving

This is the principle of sincerity. How do you react every time the offering basket is passed around? Do you often make an excuse to skip this part of the worship service by going to the washroom? Or do you pretend to not know what’s going on? 

I know that many Christians do not believe tithing is commanded in the New Testament. The sad part is that they mock those who do and call them fools for (allegedly) believing their pastor’s lies. I get it; we don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to biblical tithing.

For this reason, I want us to stick to giving in general, whether it be in tithes or in freewill offerings. What attitudes should not characterize our giving? 2 Corinthians 9:7 reads, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Here’s a song by Ron Kenoly to encourage us to be faithful in our giving unto the Lord.

No Grudges nor Reluctance

“Grudgingly” literally means “not in grief.” When we give, we should not be sad nor feel like it’s something painful to do. And after giving, we should not regret having done so and complain or murmur.

Not Out of Necessity or Under Compulsion

Do you give out of pressure or because you feel compelled or manipulated? Or is it because you have been made to feel guilty?

The Jews were required to give to under the law. For fear of legal and moral punishment, some of them would grudgingly give what necessity obliged them. What about you?

We Give from the Heart

The Christian attitude and motive in giving or in any other activity for the Lord are vitally important. Our giving must come from the heart, and the motive in the heart must please God. Our giving is to be sincere, heartfelt, and in recognition of God’s abundant provisions in our life.

We must not be “sad givers” who give reluctantly or “mad givers” who give in response to pressure. Rather, we should be “glad givers” who cheerfully share what we have because we have experienced the grace of God.

The believers who are motivated by grace reap the blessings of personal enrichment in their lives and characters.

Proverbs 22:9, NASB

Concluding Words

As we pointed out, God is sovereign over everything and has entrusted us with His properties. God also promised an increase when we sow our seeds and will supply all our needs exceedingly so we can share with others. Finally, God is concerned about our character in giving.

You might ask, “If the two negative attitudes mentioned in 2 Corinthians 9:7 characterize me, is it better for me not to give?” For sure many would say, “Yes, you should not give if it’s not from your heart.” However, I’d say we should not stop supporting the work of God. 

Instead, we should keep obeying God in this area of giving and ask Him to change our attitude. It may hurt at first to give sacrificially into the ministry. But this should not deter us from continually doing what is morally right.

Whenever we purpose in our hearts the amount of seed that we sow into God’s fertile soil, may we consider these five biblical principles of giving.

God bless us all!


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: The Grace of Giving: A Biblical Study of Christian Stewardship by Stephen F. Olford

Financial giving is a topic that many people don’t openly discuss. It is also a topic that many Christians misunderstand and undervalue.

With a solid perspective, Dr. Olford has penned a comprehensive, honest, and deeply perceptive study of financial stewardship that will help many in an understanding of this important topic.

Becoming God’s Own Children

Becoming God’s Own Children

One of the greatest blessings of the Christian experience is adoption (Ephesians 1:5). First, we become God’s children by regeneration (John 3:3; John 1:12). And then we are adopted into God’s family when God gives us the Holy Spirit as a seal of His ownership over us.

When a sinner trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior, he starts as a spiritual baby who needs to grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). But as far as his position is concerned, he is an adult son who can draw on the Father’s wealth.

Our Relationship with God

In one of my posts, I said that “adoption focuses more on the personal relationships that salvation gives us with God.” We are not just little children but adult sons (and daughters) of our heavenly Father.

But what does it mean to have a father-child connection with God?

The Bible mentions several ways in which our relationship with God is truly a father-child connection. These are in contrast with that of a slave or servant.

The Same Nature as God’s

As children of God, we have the same nature as the Father, but the servant does not.

When we trust Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, and this means we “share His divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

The law could never give a person the nature of God within. All it could do was reveal to the person his desperate need for God’s nature. So, when the believer goes back into law, he is denying the very nature within. Also, he is allowing the old nature (the flesh) to go to work.

New Creation in Christ

We have become new creatures through the ministry of reconciliation brought about by the works of Christ. Our old, sinful nature is gone and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

Since we have God’s nature within, we need to have an appetite for that which is pure and holy. Our behavior ought to be like that of the Father. We ought to live in that kind of spiritual environment that that is suited to our nature. We ought to associate with that which is true to our nature (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Not Orphans

The servant does not have a father; believers in Christ do.

No servant or slave could ever call his master, “Father.” When a sinner trusts Christ, he receives the Holy Spirit who tells him that he is a child of God (Romans 8:15-16). It is natural for a baby to cry, but not for him to talk to his father.

However, when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell a believer, He cries out, “Abba Father.” In response, the believer cries, “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15).

The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that is the equivalent of our English word “papa.” This shows the closeness of the child to the father. No servant or slave has this kind of relationship with his master.

What a blessing to be able to call God, “Abba Father!” Christians no longer have to worry even though they do not have a physical father. God as our Father is more than enough. He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. We are no longer orphans, hallelujah!

Obey Out of Love

While a servant obeys his master out of fear, God’s children obey out of love.

The Holy Spirit works in the heart of the believers to quicken and increase their love for God. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is to produce love (Galatians 5:22; Romans 5:5).

Throughout John’s description of the Last Supper, we can’t help but notice the repetition of the word love. If we treasure God’s Word and obey it, then the Father and the Son will share their love with us and make their home in us.

Obedience is Proof of Our Love for God

As the believer yields to the Father, loves the Word, prays, and obeys, his relationship and experience with God will go deeper. If we love God and obey Him, He will manifest His love to us in a deeper way each day.

The Judaizers told the Galatians that they would become better Christians by submitting to the law. But the law can never produce obedience. Only love can do that (John 14:15). When we love, we obey!

God’s Children are Rich

The child of God is rich, while the servant is poor.

As children, God has made us His heirs and we have become co-heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:7; Romans 8:16-17). And since we are adopted – placed as adult sons in the family – we may begin drawing our inheritance right now.

Everything in heaven and on earth belongs to God, thus, He holds the right to all of it. And since we are God’s children, we are co-owners of all that God owns. We are rich because our heavenly Father is rich.

Now, this does not necessarily mean that every Christian is living a very comfortable life. God wants us to enjoy abundant life. He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). Nevertheless, a life of plenty does not always mean owning a mansion or having a fat bank account or being able to travel around the world.

We need to keep in mind that riches are not limited to the kind that the world has to offer. God’s riches are more than just money or wealth.

God has made available to us the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7) and the riches of His glory (Philippians 4:19). As children of God, we also get to enjoy the riches of His goodness (Romans 2:4) and the riches of His wisdom. Above all these, all the riches of God are found in Christ, our Lord, and Savior (Colossians 1:19; 2:3).

What it Means to be Blessed

A Bright Future

God’s children have a bright future, while the servant does not.

While many kind masters do provide for their slaves in old age, they were not required to. But the father always provides for his son (2 Corinthians 12:14).

As children of God, we will never experience lack because the Lord is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). Jesus is adequate for our every need.

We do not have to worry about tomorrow because our heavenly Father is in charge. He promised to take care of our daily needs; we just need to trust Him (Matthew 6:34). Worrying about tomorrow does not help either tomorrow or today. If anything, it robs us of our effectiveness today – which means we will be even less effective tomorrow.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by fear and despair because of all the things that are happening today. The chaos that we see around us may very well find a way to steal our hope and cause us to doubt God’s promise of a bright future. But we need to hold on to the hope that we profess because He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

Conclusion

God Almighty is not just our Creator; He is also our Father. This father-child relationship that we have with God allows us to come to Him anytime, anywhere without any hesitation.

Each of us can experience the profound truth that the apostle John expressed. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1a)!

God is your Father, you are His child. Your heavenly Father loves you, cares so much about you, wants to bless you, and is preparing a bright future for you. Never let the enemy convince you into believing otherwise.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Adopted by God: Discover the Life-Transforming Joy of a Neglected Truth by Barton Priebe

Every Christian has been adopted into God’s family. Yet, the great truth of what adoption means has been neglected throughout history and overshadowed by other truths.

In Adopted by God you’ll discover—perhaps for the first time—the life-transforming joy that comes from being adopted as God’s cherished son or daughter. Through clear biblical teaching and stories from the Priebe family’s journey in adopting their son from China, this book will:

  • Explain what it means to be adopted by God
  • Increase your assurance of God’s acceptance and love
  • Provide you with the strength to face the most difficult trials in life
  • Equip you to gain victory over sins in your life
  • Enable you to relate to others in ways that heal the wounds of racism, sexism, and loneliness

Discover adoption. Encounter joy. Experience transformation.