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The Collective

15 Oct

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. (Acts 4:32)

What selflessness to willingly sell all you have for the sake of others! Walking away from wealth and material things just to assist the poor is admirable. But there’s an adverb in this paragraph that should be emphasized: willingly.

Let me get to the point. If a community is forced to give up their possessions, operations will not run smoothly. Force or coercion will never produce the love that is needed for harmony. All involved must have one mind and one purpose in order for this system to succeed.

There must also be a need. In the above verse, there was widespread persecution which prompted them to unite in prayer. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore God was the tie that bound them together.

When individuals are forced against their will to participate in a system, it is a sure sign that this system is godless. The true God does not operate by force, rather, reasoning and choice are employed. Neither will the true God force you to follow him or ask you to threaten others to do so. For God wants everyone to willingly choose repentance and live.

Do Not Sell Your Birthright-Part 3

13 Sep

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,” Luke 4:18

Esau willingly sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. He said, “Look, I am a about to die”… “What good is the birthright to me?” Genesis 25:32

Let’s look again at the significance of a birthright.

It is a responsibility. Once the father passes, the first born son assumes responsibility for the entire household. Not only is he expected to take care of his widowed mother, but he is to care for the women until they are married. Running a household takes sacrifice and selflessness. There is the financial obligation: Bills, food and other necessities.

It is interesting that Jacob, on the other hand, desired such a responsibility. I often wondered what was so special about this deceiver, but now I understand. Jacob went after the birthright on his own. There was no deceit here. He simply made his desire known, and his Brother Esau could have said, “No way!”.

Jacob’s request reveals that he wanted to take care of his vulnerable family. He was a man of integrity. He wasn’t only thinking of himself.

However, when he deceived his father Isaac, he was compelled by his mother. Back then, obeying one’s parents was paramount. Also, let’s remember that when she felt the unborn babies struggling in her womb, God told Rebecca,

The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23

Isaac was about to die, so Rebecca thought she needed to act fast. Some might say she decided to help God, others, on the other hand, could argue that she simply had faith to carry out such a plan.

Now let us try to apply the above to what is happening right now.

First of all, a recent exchange with a very close friend inspired me to write a part three to “Don’t sell your birthright” immediately. This morning she woke up and heard the phrase , “Jesus is very angry with the Church of Laodicea…”, repeatedly. My friend had never heard of Laodicea. She asked her husband who told her it was a church mentioned in Revelation.

4 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:14-16

The church of Laodicea is a lazy church. It may be busy, but not doing what is required. It blends in with its surroundings when it should stand up and stand out. It also follows the wrong leader.

As soon as my friend shared the above experience with me, I remembered my desperate prayers for those people who are suffering all around the world because of various distressing circumstances.

These people are being ignored because they are expected to go against their liberty of conscience. Others have lost loved ones, are in poverty, or are suffering because of physical ailments that are being ignored or downplayed.

Where are the pastors? Where are the evangelists? What is God’s Church doing to help this group? Who is willing to take up responsibility for this household, for this birthright? Perhaps we, the common people must help them and follow the example of Jesus:

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38

We have a vulnerable group of people who are being harassed. Many of them do not know Jesus, but they need help and hope. Yet, we are busy living our lives because we aren’t affected.

This has been on my heart! The harvest is plentiful. If we are too afraid to stand up for the cause of the needy and vulnerable, let us, at least, pray for workers to help them.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8,9

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.” Psalm 41:1

Let us seek God for His will. May we pray for courage to do it when we find out what it is. And finally, I want to remind us that those who are deceived, do not know that they are. The bible says that if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. (Matthew 24:24)

“I will follow Thee, my Savior,
Wheresoe’er my lot may be;
Where Thou goest I will follow,
Yes, my Lord, I’ll follow Thee.” (1st verse from hymn by Steve Darmody)

God’s way is never the popular way.

Unity – No matter what

29 Aug

One man esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. Romans 14:5

Our conscience is particular to us. It marks a boundary that we own. It delineates us from others. We risk standing alone, unpopular and ostracized.

Therefore, who can go against their conscience without a struggle? It is not an easy feat.

Here we have two groups in the world today. One that go willingly and the other very hesitant. Who is wrong? Who is right?

At present, I say neither is wrong or right. These are two groups who have sincerely made a choice. But there is a big concern.

The willing believe they are right because they are saving themselves and others, which by default insinuate that the other group is not as caring.

The unwilling need more time to weigh the risks and benefits which by default suggest that they believe the other to have been too hasty in their decision. For them, it’s a matter of conscience.

But how should the Church respond?

We should be compassionate towards each other. The willing should understand the circumstances of the hesitant. This latter do not have the faith to go forward and anything done without faith is sin.


And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not from faith; for whatsoever is not from faith is sin. Romans 14:23

This makes it a moral issue for the hesitant and our willing brothers and sisters should be understanding and loving towards them.

In the same way, the hesitant should respect the decision of the willing and not make them feel like they made the worst decision of their lives. They had enough faith to take it. Many did it because they wanted to continue to help others.

Peter was bitten by a poisonous snake and just shook it off, (See Acts 28:3), and we also have this encouraging verse:

8They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:18

Both groups need faith, and this faith must be locked in by love.

Everyone must be fully persuaded in their own minds. I am beginning to believe that the present ordeal is a practice for what is to come. Will we allow hate to consume us, or will we continue in love?

12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12,13

Careful! We must not make enemies out of this, because God has called us to love everyone. Jesus loved us even while we were against him. (See Romans 5:8)

Never in our earth’s history has the global population been so polarized. Families and friends are divided. People are in danger of losing their jobs because they will not go against their conscience. We need to show compassion to everyone and focus on sharing Jesus with the world.

On a personal note, this experience has strengthened me. I have never had to stand up for what I believed in such tense circumstances. Standing our ground, no matter the consequences, will build character and prepare us for the real test. Who knows? Maybe this is God’s way of training us for what’s up ahead.

I don’t want Jesus to return…yet.

22 Aug

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” Luke 14:16-24

A friend of mine shared a true story about a lady who lived under the dictatorship of Hitler. The focal point of the article was that Hitler did not conquer Austria with war tanks or cannons, rather, the people welcomed him with open arms. You see, at that time, the living conditions of Austria were hard: no jobs, no food, etcétéra. So when they were asked to vote, they happily gave him 98%. He was like a saviour.

As soon as He came in, he fed them and made sure all eligible people received employment. There was celebrating in the streets.

However, things began to take a turn for the worse. The Austrians were a god-faring people, but right away, the pictures of Jesus in the public schools were quickly replaced by pictures of their new leader. They were no longer allowed to pray, but had to sing their patriotic song towards him. The good morals that they held high began to crumble. Everything became nationalized and owned by the government by force and/or coercion. Every eligible person had to work and women gave up their children as early as 4 weeks old to be cared for by the state. Women were treated like men, forced to train then sent to the frontlines to war.

My friend felt compelled to share this story with others, but the response of one friend in particular hurt her. They insinuated that she was a worrier and that Christians should not worry, that things could never happen that way and will take a turn for the better.

This blog is not purporting that what happened in Austria will or will not happen. It focuses on the fact that many Christians do not want to be reminded that hardships are in the books for us; that the coming of Jesus has to unfold at some point.

I remember a good friend of mine telling me that he didn’t want Jesus to return as yet because he wanted to get married. I felt very sorry that he had said that.

Imagine just marrying the one you love or buying property to then be told, “No time to enjoy it buddy, Jesus is about to open the door!”, how would this make you feel? Would you happily stop your plans to welcome Him? Or would you say, ‘Stop with all this doom and gloom already’?

The above parable rightly describes how things will be at the end. Many Christians will be too caught up with living their best life than with seeking eternal rest.

As I said in one of my earlier blogs, in March 2020, God warned me that, “ The world cannot go on like this any longer.” He is coming and we all know that certain events must take place before He appears.

So let’s continue to abide, to live; but let us not live for this world which is quickly passing away, but let us live passionately for Jesus. Wake up. It is time.

Living our Faith

13 Jul

One early morning, I awoke to these words coming from my mouth: “ Justification by faith”. They did not seem to come from me, it was as though they were spoken through me.

Justification by faith wasn’t a concept I understood well. I always thought I had to work for my salvation and I was often very miserable. Why couldn’t I be good all the time? Why did I keep messing up?

I became a very judgmental person because I expected others to make the same efforts I was making. I was pushing to be a good person because I thought my salvation depended on it.

Only in recent months, (yes months!), did I begin to really understand the amazing provision God made for us through His Son.

“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Do we believe this? Many of us can’t understand it or we believe that we must do something to help attain our salvation. It can’t only be confession and belief, right? Actually, it is. This is called justification by faith. Jesus paid it all.

So where do works come in? Are we now to continue living as we wish conscience free?

No. This is where sanctification comes in, and here’s how I understand how it works.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17 (NKJV)

Sanctification happens as we learn about who God truly is and His Son Jesus the Christ. As we learn, we make the decision or choice to follow God’s teachings. This isn’t always easy, because giving up what we’ve spent years practicing often has deep roots, but with Christ all things are possible.

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Romans 8:5-9 (NASB)

Personally, I experience sanctification every day. There were times when I felt that I was in an intense course! It involved changing my thoughts in order to change my actions. God’s Holy Spirit would gently tell me, “…that wasn’t a nice thing to say. Do better next time…”. It’s like a purging process, and the Holy Spirit is the agent.

For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:21)

We must have respect for God, that is, understand that there’s nothing hidden and He is in us, helping us to overcome our weaknesses. I’ve found this to be extremely important and have started to really pay attention to my thoughts. This is because of late, I’ve recognized that some of my thoughts are actually God talking to me.

We grieve God when we let pride and selfishness stand in the way of sanctification. Pride says, “I want it that way”, or, “this isn’t how I feel things should go. “I’m a good person and I don’t need to be changed.” Pride lives selfishly not thinking about others. How can we become like God if we’re not reachable or teachable? Why do we often reject the labour pains that come with being born again?

In short, I’ve learnt that following God is understanding that He knows what’s best. It isn’t an easy way, that’s why Jesus calls it the straight and narrow way. Thank God that it is a path we walk with a friend; we don’t see what’s ahead, we must depend on Jesus to guide us home.

I hope this all makes sense. Send me a comment if you wish to add more insight or need further help grasping these two concepts better.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Do not sell your Birthright …

6 Jun

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12

Esau was flippant towards his birthright. He said, “I am about to die [of hunger], of what use is a birthright to me?” (Gen 25:32) And just like that, he sold it to his younger brother for a bowl of lentil soup.

As the first born son, the birthright belonged to Esau. He could not lose it unless he gave it away. Having the birthright meant inheriting the leadership role of the family and taking the place of his father. But he rejected that responsibility.

The blessing was of more importance to Esau because it had more to offer him. It meant a future of wealth and happiness. That, he did not want to lose.

However, disdaining his birthright had set him up for losing the blessing.

That’s like many of us today; we want to receive blessings without putting in the work. We lack integrity and if there’s nothing in it for us, we treat it flippantly.

Just like Esau gave up his reasoning and despised his birthright to satisfy his hunger, so shall the people of today give up their reasoning for the comforts of this world.

But when they finally wake up, it will be already too late, they will have already sold their birthright, they will have given their will away for the desires this world. They will have thrown away their reasoning.

If we sell our birthright, it will certainly be a great struggle to receive the greatest blessing to come: entering into eternal rest from this chaotic world.

At 3 am in the morning, the above message was placed on my mind. I truly believe that it was from God, so I am sharing it with you.

The only true power we have, is the power of choice. Yes, we can be coerced, manipulated, even deceived, but, we still get to choose. God never forces us to do anything. He operates by love. He says “CHOOSE”. He never manipulates his people into doing things against their conscience or without faith.

Let us guard our individuality. Let no consequence stop us from following our conscience. It is our birth right.

“Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Our God is gracious. He is a gentleman. He will never force you to do anything against your will.

Sacred Mind

7 Jan

Do you ever wonder if everything you are is truly you?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Born in India? Most likely Hindu and speak Hindi or English. Born in Pakistan? Most likely Muslim and speak Urdu . Born in Spain? Most likely Catholic and speak Spanish; it’s because of where you started and who raised you. It was handed down to you, and you accepted it. Your religion, your culture…so the question is; in what did you have a say?

For me, the most powerful weapon of being, is the ability to think for ourselves; to step out of our birth-boxes and form our own opinions and make choices. We may end up where we began, or in another place, but, at least we thought.

This is a very complicated topic but equally important. I remember at the age of thirteen, I discovered that I could influence other people. It was very enlightening, but scary. I didn’t like the so called power of encouraging others to accept my ideas. I felt manipulative and rejected that power very early. I didn’t feel I was mature enough to use it. I also remember the freedom of reading a published book and not agreeing with its author. Before that, I thought everything in a book was to be eaten and digested without question. Discovering that I didn’t was liberating and I embraced it.

Now, as a mature person, I use my so called power for good. I love to encourage people to think for themselves. If they end up agreeing with me, I make sure they chose and owned the choice. I encourage freedom.

In our present world, the war is on our minds. They are masters out there working hard to persuade, dissuade, even numb us. Many of us do not realize that we do not do our own thinking.

During life, circumstances can heavily influence our choices. If weak, the effects of pain can navigate us to dark places, similarly, happiness can lead us to light. For example, a broken or dysfunctional family can have adverse effects on children. Anger and unforgivable attitudes can unwittingly steer them off their course.

Imagine this: The Creator of Heaven and earth gave us beings the power of choice. We don’t choose where we start, but we have a say in where we end. Believers in Jesus ought to read and pray their way through life, for no one knows the future but The Creator. God even encourages us to reason and think for ourselves.

When reading the Bible, pray for wisdom; respectfully say you disagree and need understanding. God will answer you. I’ve learned that God loves sincere thinkers and looks forward to answering their questions.

Truth is, our minds are sacred. Treat it as such. Guard your individuality: think carefully, then choose.

« Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 »

The Power of Guilt

6 Jan

From 2000 to 2007, I was a student in Cuba. It was very challenging for many reasons. But the most challenging of them all was controlling my inner-temper while lining up for a bus. Let me explain: I’d get to the bus stop with only two people in front of me, then when the bus came, dozens of people would come out from nowhere and get in the bus before me. Just as it would be my turn to enter, the driver would say, « Ya » and close the door. What happened? Well, the two people in front of me kept spaces for their friends. It was an accepted practice which seemed to be embedded into their culture.

I used to get so angry because I was often late for class. We did have buses at the dorms but the same thing would happen: friends would guard spaces for their friends, who would come out the building at the last minute and make it in the bus before me!

I hated this so much that it affected my attitude; and yes, I called quite a few people « idiota » and « estUpida ». I sucked every tooth in my mouth and also tried to roll my eyes out of my hot head.

As a result of my bad attitude towards this cultural experience, I felt burdened. Negative feelings weighed heavily on me and I couldn’t seem to shake them off.

One day, after leaving a friend’s home, I paused at the nearby pharmacy and began to reflect on my feelings. Why was I feeling this way? Why couldn’t I seem to shake them off? Then it hit me. It was guilt! This feeling was more powerful than the act that caused it in the first place. I then told God how I felt and how sorry I was. I forgave myself and accepted His forgiveness, then I brushed my left shoulder off as a tangible sign to myself that I was moving on.

When I identified the problem, I remembered this verse:

« But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth onto those things which are before. » Philippians 3:13

I was condemning myself and was unforgiving. I was rejecting the forgiveness of God.

This may sound silly to you. But this was my spiritual dilemma at the time. I’ve since had to beat back guilt on parenting strategies and in other areas as well, but knowing the culprit helped me to push forward.

What about you? What have you done that has caused you immense guilt? Don’t compare it to mine. Sin is sin, and guilt is guilt. Don’t let them hijack you forever. Let guilt do its job, which is to provide that stepping stone to repentance which leads to forgiveness. If we confess what we feel guilty about, God will forgive us. Accept this forgiveness and move on. Keep growing in Christ and kick guilt to the curb.

Afraid?

5 Jan

Of what? Vaccines? COVID-19? Military occupation? 5G? Listen. There’s only One to fear.

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:5

If we are not spiritual thinkers, the above verse would have no meaning. This is because most of us only care about life in the body. We are afraid of dying because we have no hope. Everything that’s happening right now is causing us to panic. But I want to remind you that there’s just one way to deal with all of this mess: Get closer to your Creator.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-8

Do not be anxious, pray, ask, be grateful and receive peace from God through Christ. Meditate on this and remember who is really in control. It may seem that we are on the losing side; it may seem that we are heading towards disaster, but remember, it was through suffering and death that Jesus gave us life.
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:7-10

You may be okay during this time and even declare yourself a good person, but don’t ignore the state of the world around you. We are living in very dark times. Be aware, but keep the faith. Pray for believers who are suffering around the world. Stay sober.

Light shines brightest in the dark. If there ever was a time to shine, it is now. Speak hope, pray for opportunities to share the gospel, and finally, do not be afraid.