Tag Archives: God

The Lord of the Sabbath

11 Dec

7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’you would not have condemned the innocent.8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Matthew 12:7,8

In the days of Jesus, the Sabbath was revered. It was a day where movement was restricted and certain activities outlawed.

What was supposed to be a day of rest and gladness became a burden for everyone. Yes, even for the leaders who felt they needed to ensure its adherence. But Jesus said mercy was more important to him than sacrifice. What did he mean by that?

On the Sabbath day, Jesus showed mercy by healing the sick and assisting the poor. However, the spiritual leaders focused on the law and not the people for whom it was made. Instead of at least being happy that someone’s health had been restored or pain relieved, they were more concerned that the law had been violated.

Yet, Jesus said that he was the Lord of the Sabbath. Did this mean that he was above his own law and could break it at will? Or was he saying something more important?

And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

1 John 4:21

The Spiritual leaders believed that they showed God love by obeying the law and enforcing its rules. They were probably sincere as they were punished in the past from turning away from it. However, they failed to notice that the law was in place to produce loving relationships so that the other nations would see God and grow to love Him. Indeed, God was principally concerned about how His people treated those He placed under their care.

Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 1:16,17

God’s people were responsible for washing themselves in order to become clean. This required the sacrificing of countless animals each time the individual had sinned. But thanks be to God for Jesus who came and took this burdensome requirement away. His blood was far more superior to that of bulls and sheep because it paid the ransom for all who would accept his sacrifice.

“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

Isaiah 1:11

The labour of love for the salvation of others is so much easier than the heavy burden to save our own souls through sacrifice.

Jesus is our peace and rest – The Lord and the Sabbath: what a beautiful union! The Sabbath is nothing without him and should not be placed above him.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Indeed, the Sabbath Day symbolizes the eternal rest to come, and our light labour should be invested in reflecting the kingdom of God here on earth. It had never been dropped nor changed, neither was it meant to be the main dish. Its main focus should be on the Lord of the Sabbath.

The one who loves our souls longs to give us rest right now. We can give this suffering world a glimpse of his Kingdom by speaking up for the harassed and oppressed, healing the sick, taking care of the orphans and widows, and showing kindness to the stranger. In fact, we show love when we focus on others instead of our desires.

Today, there are some religious groups who place a higher value on the Sabbath day than on any other commandment, and conversely, there are those who believe that it is no longer important. But our balance is Jesus, and at the end it will all be centred around him.

In Luke 21:12 and 13, Jesus told his followers that near the end of this world we will be persecuted because of his name and our testimony about him. We could end up losing out if we place emphasis on laws instead.

Therefore, let’s not set our view on the Sabbath law, but rather on lifting up the Lord of the Sabbath. If we focus on keeping laws, we will only end up failing miserably and patting ourselves on the back.

When he returns, may he find us labouring as he did, yes, especially on the Sabbath day.

The Celebrity

19 Nov

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.

Ezekiel 28:13

Stars like singers and actors appear on the cover of masterpieces while little recognition is given to the creators, engineers and producers who labour behind the scenes. There’s no doubt that celebrities have their part to play, however, those in the background work equally or even harder, to bring the final product to fruition. Yet, multitudes don’t hang posters of them on their walls, instead, they elevate the image produced by their work.

I grew up admiring celebrities. Their talents and image were something I coveted. In fact, I was well on my way to becoming a star until God intervened. Now I desire to shine another star brighter and more glorious than my own.

The Creator of heaven and earth lovingly created Lucifer. He fitted him with amazing talents and spared no detail on his outer appearance.

Instead of showing gratitude to his Creator, Lucifer turned his eyes on himself and saw a god. A third of the angels in heaven agreed and followed him away from the glorious light that gave them all existence. They turned their backs on their Creator.

7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.

Revelation 12:7-10

If we created beings turn away from our Creator, how will we sustain our lives? If we turn away from Love, how will we produce love?

I pray that we don’t get distracted by the dazzle of earthly things, but that we pay more attention to the evidence of a loving Creator who made us and gave us our existence. The more we look to God, the more we will be like Him: humble, kind, peaceful, forgiving and loving. This is the image I now desire to have. How about you?

Do Not Be Deceived

15 Nov

Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.

Matthew 24:29-30 NIV

When the true Christ reappears, there should be no doubt. No false christ will be able to duplicate the way that He will return. Jesus makes this clear in the above verse. (See also Revelation 6:12-14).

However, many will still be deceived. In Matthew 24:24, Jesus tells us that false prophets will appear and deceive many through great miracles and signs.

Are you easily swayed by what you see and hear? Are you usually too busy to research knowledge for yourself? Then now is the time to be careful, because many will follow false Christs out of ignorance. Believers will be in the minority.

This is the time to think for oneself. Do not go along with the crowd. Whatever your decision, make sure God has guided you. Read the Bible for yourself. God is the only true interpreter; ask Him and He will answer. You can now go directly Him because Jesus removed what separated us.

Standing alone is not easy, but, Jesus promised that He will always be with His followers. (See Matthew 28:20.

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, I am so grateful that I can come to you directly through your son Jesus the Christ. I need your guidance today more than ever. Help me to be courageous in order to face whatever You have planned for me. I desire to study the Bible and pray more. Help me to make time to do this because I do not want to be deceived. I want you to guide me every step of the way. Amen.

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.

Clueless of the Times

5 Oct

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13:35-37)

If Jesus said, “…you don’t know when…”, do we really think that we will know when to wake up? Are we expecting certain events to be in place before we do? And like the 5 foolish virgins, will it be too late when we finally open our eyes? Jesus said to watch and pray.

I’ve heard many say they’re not into politics and give little thought to what’s happening around the world. They are very busy meeting the demands of life and there’s little time to pay attention.

In the parable of the great banquet, Jesus said the people who were invited were also busy and began to make excuses. He gave three examples: one had just bought land, another had just bought animals for work, and the last had just gotten married.

Again, those that were called were too caught up in the affairs of this temporary world. They were not mindful of the times in which they lived. For them it was business as usual. These were “church members”, not “worldly folk”.

To prepare, we need to pray and ask for guidance. God will inspire his people to move according to his will. Just being mindful of the times we’re living in can help raise our awareness and prepare us to listen to our Creator.

There is something happening right now and many are continuing to live their lives as if the world is set to continue forever. They seem to not be too excited about the appearing of Jesus, rather, their blinders are on to what’s happening around them.

When Jesus came the first time many people were oppressed and harassed. Their land was occupied by rulers who controlled them and they had little freedom of expression.

Could it be that He will come during similar circumstances? Remember, although many were oppressed, still, there were those who conformed. This latter will continue to live comfortable lives and so the rules of the world will not pose a threat to them. But when they finally wake up, it will be too late.

Preparation is key whether it’s for an exam or a marathon; how much more important for the coming of our Saviour? When he comes will we be waiting expectantly, or surprised and disappointed? As a friend of mine always used to say: “We should always be in a state of readiness”. I pray that we all will be.

God’s Peculiar People

17 Sep

“The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.” Daniel 4:17

God had turned His back on King Saul because he did not obey Him completely. When the prophet Samuel told him that the kingdom would be given to someone more deserving, he set his resentful eyes on David.

David was a humble shepherd boy who Saul had requested to play the harp in his presence. David’s playing seemed to soothe him and kept the demons away, but one day, King Saul started throwing javelins and spears at the unsuspecting David.

It is highly interesting that although God had taken his kingdom away, Saul was still acting as the king. Similarly, although David was anointed king, he did not reign until much later.

We are experiencing the same scenario. Our common enemy’s throne was taken away when Jesus rose again, yet, he is still allowed to rule for a time. But his reign is coming to an end soon and He is very angry. (See 1 Peter 5:8)

But let us return to the peculiarity of David. This humble young man had good reason to defend himself from Saul. After all, the acting king had attempted to kill him several times. Still, David refused to touch him. Here’s why:

He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 1 Samuel 24:6

Our opening verse was directed to King Nebuchadnezzar because he had refused to humble himself before the Creator. God had to remind him that He was the one that put him in power.

As it clearly states, it is God who sets up kings. One version says the “vilest” of them, and David refused to hurt Saul who God had anointed, even though he had become a vile king.

Today, many are angry at what is happening. They wish evil on their leaders. But do these kinds of thoughts please the God who declared “Vengeance is mine, I shall repay”? (See Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19) Or should we be like David and allow God to determine their fate?

Since we have already won, we are not to fight like unbelievers. Our focus should not be on our enemies, rather it should be on reaching people for The Kingdom of God.

Also, when we walk blamelessly on this earth by loving our enemies and doing good to those who persecute us, the hope should be that they will see the love of Christ in us and seek Him. It is not God’s will that anyone lose out on eternal life. (See 2 Peter 3:9)

Does this mean that we should not speak out against injustices? Of course not! John the Baptist told King Herod he was wrong for taking his brother’s wife; the prophet Elijah stood up to King Ahab and his wicked queen, and Jesus stood up to religious leaders. We should stand with those who are hurting, whose voices are not being heard. The events of today have opened a way for us to show God’s love to a hurting world.

God knew everything that would unfold. He spoke of a ‘time of trouble’ that will unequal any that ever occurred on this earth. He has been holding evil back for a long time. However, He has ordered the angels to release the winds. (See Revelation 7:12)

When we begin to see this time as an opportunity to share the gospel, a deep joy should fill our hearts. May we be like Stephen looking up as he received his final blow; may we be like the apostles who rejoiced to be persecuted; and may we be like David, respecting the sovereignty of God.

What peculiar people we will seem to be to onlookers! But this is the way to eternal life.

Let us aim to walk in the Spirit because we are not to battle as unbelievers do. Besides, we must remember that the battle belongs to God.

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.

Overcomer

22 Jul

Have you ever had a high only to fall flat a day or two later? One day you’re exercising, eating well, being productive, then come the days when you binge on TV, junk food and you just can’t get off the bed or couch. Yes, it’s such a pain to kick a bad habit that is destroying you inside out. Many may say, “Oh, that’s a sign of depression”, or, “what’s wrong with having down days? But If it bothers you, why not make an effort to change?

We do have good intentions. The worse of us wish we could overcome ourselves, but we end up being slaves to our bodies; we end up being enslaved to our minds due to memories and feelings.

When this happens, what do we tend to do? Seek justification from those around us. Yes. If enough people agree with our behaviours, then we will feel better. Our conscience would be quieted. There would be peace in the mind, the body and soul.

Being part of a group brings comfort. Furthermore, if laws support you, well, you’re set. Not only do you have peace, but you’re a law abiding citizen.

However, what we really did was say “YES” to our feelings. We gave them power over our minds and reasoning. We quieted our conscience.

Many of us also allow others to think for us because it’s the easier thing to do. Why did God create humans with brains if not to think and reason? When we begin to think we make better choices for ourselves and our families. However some of these choices come with consequences that are hard to bear. They call for faith and discipline.

There are quite a few verses in the Bible that encourage us to discipline ourselves:

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 RSV

Jesus also said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. Matthew 16:34

knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; Romans 6:6

See also Galatians 5:24 and Ephesians 4:22.

Athletes, musicians, doctors, etcétéra, must make the choice to exercise discipline if they are to master their fields. How much more should we? If we are to inherit eternal life, we must overcome the flesh with its passions and desires and submit to God. Submitting to God will require us to go against the current of this world.

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:21

Our Creator isn’t an ordinary being. He is infinitely higher that the most important person on this earth. So then, let us study the book that speaks of Him so that we may learn His ways and follow Him no matter what comes our way.