A PRAYER FOR PEACE TO YOU IN A SEASON OF TROUBLE

Peace
Image source: PreceptMinistries

 

The Coronavirus continues to cause pain all over the world. Fear and panic is everywhere; adding to the fear of being infected by the virus is the fear that is now being generated by the many conspiracy theories that are out there. These are rumors and accusations with no reliable and valid evidence to back them up.

One of such rumor, is that a group of world leaders are responsible; yet another is that this is the work of the anti-Christ; these rumors do nothing positive for us; they just end up causing fear. How are we to find peace in such troubled times?

Jesus said to is followers in John 16:33 (God’s Word Translation): “I’ve told you this so that my peace will be with you. In the world you’ll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world.” 

How can you have peace and trouble all at once? To be at peace as an individual does not mean there is no trouble, it means you are able to stay calm in the midst of trouble. In John 16, Jesus is asking his followers to stay calm, cheer up, because he has divine power to work things out to yield a good outcome on their behalf.

Apostle Paul states it like this in Romans 8:28 (God’s Word Translation): “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God – those whom he has called according to his plan.” Therefore, as we practice safe hygiene at this time, let’s more importantly draw nearer to God in faith, prayer, and fasting.

As the Lord commanded Aaron to pray for Israel (Numbers 26:22-27), so I pray with you that: “the Lord will bless you and watch over you. The Lord will smile on you and be kind to you. The Lord will look on you with favor and give you peace.”

Amen! Amen!! Amen!!!

 

COVID 19 – NOT THE END OF THE ROAD!

Do Not Fear 2
Image source: TheAntidoteToAnxiety

 

The great Christian writer CS Lewis, who wrote the bestselling ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ series, penned the following: “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

If we agree with CS Lewis, a follow-up question would be: what could be the message that God is so determined to pass on to us, to cause him to allow pain in our world? Consider the two inescapable pain points common to all – pain at birth and pain at death. What lessons do they hold from a Biblical perspective?

Pain at birth was put in place in Genesis 3:16, as a shadow of God’s own pain in creating humanity – a bitter sweet experience. Pain at death shadows God’s pain when his children Adam and Eve hid from him in Genesis 3:8. Our pain is a window into God’s own pain resulting from the choices of our first parents in Genesis 3.

God’s antidote or medicine for this poison is stated in John 11:25 (God’s Word Translation): Jesus said to her, “I am the one who brings people back to life, and I am life itself. Those who believe in me will live even if they die…”   

COVID-19 and other painful human tragedies, are windows into God’s own pain at the loss of perfect union with humanity; thankfully, Jesus is the antidote that heals all pain; faith in Jesus, ensures that COVID-19 is not the end of the road!

Lord Jesus, watch over us, in these anxious times, Amen!!!   

WHO IS TO BLAME FOR COVID 19 – A FAITH PERSPECTIVE

COVID 19 Message
Image source: UnlockingtheBible

 

The Corona virus is a global menace right now; when this latest virus attack on humanity is over, it would have sadly hurt many families, businesses, and governments. Perhaps, like me, you are wondering why humanity have to pass through such terrifying experiences. Perhaps, you are asking who is to blame for this?

John 9:1-3 (NLT) states: As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man… blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him…”

This event happened in Jerusalem; reading the entire John 9, it is shown that Jesus heals the blind man, this greatly amazed the local community, but very deeply angers the Jewish leaders, determined to stop Jesus. This helps us understand Jesus explanation that the man was born blind to serve God’s greater purpose.

The theme of some types of suffering and pain (not all), serves God’s greater purpose starts in Genesis Chapter 3. Adam and Eve chose to live independently from their creator, consequently God declares that part of the price for that choice, is pain during childbirth, and the painful struggle to work and put food on the table.

God the creator allows all humanity, white and black, rich and poor, to experience some suffering and pain, as this is one way to get us all to reflect about life, death, and eternity. Yes, God speaks to us through the many beautiful and joyful things on earth, and yes, God also speaks through some of our painful experiences.

As COVID-19 make us prioritize our physical health over all else, may it make us think a little more deeply about the gift of life, the bridge of death, the glory of eternity, and the persistent purposeful call of God to us to walk with him.

Lord, be merciful to us in your loving kindness, Amen!       

COLOSSIANS – HOW TO LIVE HEAVENLY LIVES

Colossians_Heavenly Living 2
Image source: NewLifeFirstBaptistChurch

 

As a kid, when we would go out with my dad, I was always amazed at how he knew the right roads to use to get to our destination. When there is plenty of traffic, he knew alternative routes to get to our destination. As an adult, I now know that he acquired this driving expertise through learning as he drove in the city over many years.

As Christians, how do we live heavenly lives on earth? Its first by continuous learning about what it means to live a heavenly life, and secondly by living it out one day at a time. What exactly is this heavenly life on earth; what does it involve?

Apostle Paul gives us a starting point in Colossians; in Chapters 1 and 2, he teaches that we should have the mindset of Jesus. As we learn about Jesus in the Bible, we will get to know his mindset. In Chapters 3 and 4, Paul teaches us how we can live heavenly lives in society, in our families, and even in our work relationships.

Apostle Paul says in Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT): “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Heavenly living is not about material luxury and pleasures, its about living a life that is merciful, kind, humble, gentle, patient, forgiving, loving, peaceful, and thankful. Yes, this type of life can be challenging given how rough and tough life can be. A heavenly life is not about things we own, its about having a Jesus-like character.

Lord, give us greater understanding about the heavenly life and the grace to live it out everywhere we go, one day at a time, in Jesus name, Amen!  

 

COLOSSIANS – HOW TO BUILD DEEP STRONG FAITH

Colossae
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We live in a world where we will meet people who are spoilers; people who make simple things difficult; people who intentionally give us bad advice; people who pretend to be friends but stab us in the back; and who sow confusion into our lives. Spoilers are a dangerous distraction, and we have to watch out for them.

The church in the city of Colossae in Turkey, the Colossian church, was a small Church with  nice people. The church was started by a Colossian named Epaphras – a caring loving gentleman. The peace of this church was broken when spoilers joined them; instead of teaching about Jesus, some of the spoilers were teaching the people to follow  Jewish culture, while other spoilers were teaching magical mysticism.

Epaphras took this problem to Apostle Paul in Rome, Italy; in response Paul wrote this beautiful amazing letter to the Colossians. Whenever I read the New Living Translation (NLT) version of Colossians (freely available on the internet), I am blown away by the power and majesty of Jesus explained in Chapters 1 and 2.

Paul says in Colossians 2:6-8 (NLT): And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

Paul is counselling the Colossians against listening to spoilers when he says:Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding [mystical] nonsense“. What matters is to “let your roots grow down into Jesus” and “let your lives be built on Jesus” so that “your faith will grow strong”.

Lord, help us to see the power and majesty of Jesus Christ, so that our faith will grow deep and strong, Amen!

 

 

COLOSSIANS – TEACHING BASIC CHRISTIANITY

Basic-Christianity-Logo
Image source: FireBrandMedia

 

I remember when I first got interested in playing basketball as a kid; this was when Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan were leading stars. I struggled at it until I realized I should focus on learning the basics, instead of wishing I was Magic Johnson. The more I play a simple game using basic techniques, the better I will be, and the closer I will get to my big big big dream of becoming Magic Johnson.   

To be an expert at anything, it is wise to start simple, it is wise to start from the basic step. It is the same with the Christian faith – there is a basic starting point. In the book of Colossians, Apostle Paul helps us to focus on the basics of our faith.

The Colossian Church had many preachers; some told them to be like Jews, to be good Christians; others told them they needed special knowledge from angels to be good Christians; a third group of preachers told them they must avoid all pleasure to be good Christians; see Colossians 2:16-23 where Paul lists these problems.

Paul instead preaches in Colossians 3:1-2 (Message Bible): “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

Basic Christianity is seeing things from Jesus mindset or perspective. How do we get to know Jesus mindset – we learn it first from the Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). The many stories of Jesus are not to entertain but to help us understand Jesus because this is the basic first step in Christianity.

Lord, in Colossians Chapter 1 to Chapter 2 verse 15, Paul teaches the Colossians about Jesus, as a solution to Christian identity crises; Lord, we also need this understanding too – help us to know Jesus, Amen!   

 

MOSES – LEADER, MENTOR, GIFT

Moses Leader
Moses – a school in leadership (Image source: PineRidgeFellowship)

 

Mentors have made me a better person; mentors from family, in the faith, at school, and in the workplace, have been gifts in my life. Gifts because they gave freely from their store of wisdom. However, wisdom received freely, is acquired at a price.

We see this in the story of Moses – an incredible source of wisdom to millions, if not billions, for thousands of years. In the Bible, we get a glimpse of the cost of wisdom for Moses. In Exodus Chapters 1, 2, and 3, we see Moses born and painfully given away; growing up in the palace with painful knowledge his Hebrew family are slaves; then turning his back on Egypt for 40 tough years in the Midian desert.

When Moses delivered Israel from Egypt, they all returned to the wilderness for another 40 years of tough living. In this period Moses gave them God’s laws and organizes them into a nation for the very first time. The wisdom and skill of Moses, gave Israel a strong leadership foundation, which other nations have learnt from.

Many years later Luke 9:29-31 (MSG) tells us: “While he [Jesus] was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once two men were there talking with him. They turned out to be Moses and Elijah… They talked over his exodus, the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.”

This is Moses in a mentoring role to Jesus, before Jesus exodus in Jerusalem. Moses delivering Israel from Egypt and Pharaoh, becomes a source of wisdom for the Messiah as he delivers humanity from darkness to light through the cross.

Lord, we recognize Moses as an extraordinary gift; help us grow in wisdom as we study Moses over and over and over again, Amen!