Monthly Archives: May 2014
I’ve noticed that some people after hearing the preaching in church go on a guilt trip. Trust me, it’s not a pleasant trip at all. You need to get off that trip and instead hold the hand of Jesus and walk with him.
Guilt is associated with legalism while grace is associated with the Gospel. You need grace and not guilt. Now its normal to realize that sin doesn’t make God happy, so you can acknowledge that things did go wrong. What is not right is that once you’ve confessed your sin to the Lord Jesus you keep dwelling in the region of guilt. Because you are now called to live in the region of faith along with Jesus to guide you by the Holy Spirit.
It may have been that you’ve done the worst of the worst crimes such as terrorism or heresy. You are totally aware of the consequences of your bad actions therefore. You know its very difficult to undo the effects of some of the worst crimes. There’s still hope for you. All you need to do give up the burden of your sins and guilt unto Jesus the Son of God and believe that he will and can forgive your sins. Jesus on the cross took upon himself all the sins of the world, therefore by this you can approach him for forgiveness of your sins. Don’t worry for he came not for the righteous but instead for the sinners.
Try to reflect on the following scriptures:-
- Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
- For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11-12)
- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us (1 John 1:9)
- He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
- For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
- For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Let me reiterate, when Jesus shed his blood by dying on the cross he took upon himself all of your sins. Guilt comes due to sin. As your sin is dealt with by the Lord’s finished work on the cross then the power of guilt is taken away. Therefore, you need not carry on with feelings with guilt over your sins. Instead hold the hand of the savior of the world Jesus Christ and be happy in him.
The worlds most committed sin is by and large adultery. This sin is shamelessly portrayed in music videos, novels and movies. With the advent of medical breakthroughs people are now able to cover up this sin by aborting unwanted children that are to be born out of wed lock. I just wanted to mention this, though there are numerous other consequences of adulterous living.
You need to keep away from the adulterous woman/man. I’ve noticed that both men and women are susceptible to adultery so this warning goes out to both males and females. Let’s read Proverbs 7:1-5
My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.
It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, the principle of the Bible remains the same, keep away from adultery for its evil. O how the human mind is very slow to realize the awful wickedness of adultery!
You need to hold on the teaching of the Bible to keep away from the adulterous person. Even people of other religions to use a principle to keep themselves pure against adultery, they learn to say a firm NO to all such instances of temptation. The Bible also tell us the same while giving you the reason for doing so.
Now lets read Proverbs 7:25-27 Let not your heart turn aside to her ways;do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low,and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol,going down to the chambers of death.
The reasons to keep away from adultery are very simple. To avoid defilement and death. To avoid going to hell. Remember a person who is adulterous is totally shameless (I’m not talking about people who do this sin just once and then back away). Such sinners are very skillful and move on to the next target without any remorse. If you notice that a brother or sister in Christ is in danger of falling into to trap of an adulterous person, inform them or their spouse to save themselves.
Many marriages have been broken due to adultery. Many a church ministers who were very great healers and preachers are now living their life in shame, hiding away from the general public for that one adulterous fling they had. Satan tries very hard to tempt those who are good examples of holy living, especially preachers or young and beautiful women/men to not just ruin their character but ultimately insult the Lord God who created them for good things only. So please, please, please stay pure and keep away from adultery because when Christ comes back as the Judge of the world he will tackle all those living in adultery with dangerous punishments. Beware and be safe!
The Bible teaches us how to spend our time well. No one must keep saying that they don’t have time for spiritual things as they are busy. That’s your priority with the Lord God. In my earlier article (Use your time wisely) I mentioned that your time wisely for it won’t come back. Here are some time management principles from the Bible with a few comments before them to clarify things for you:
Check where and on what are you investing your time and if its by the will of God.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Once you get the right idea, do this.
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)
Remember that you have limited time.
We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. (John 9:4)
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah (Psalm 39:4-5)
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
Have rational targets to achieve in peace.
Better one handful with rest than two handfuls with effort and a pursuit of the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6)
Plan out your actions in advance and act prudently to avoid losses later.
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28)
Go to the ant, O lazy person. Watch and think about her ways, and be wise. She has no leader, head or ruler, but she gets her food ready in the summer, and gathers her food at the right time. (Proverbs 6:6-8)
Don’t be lazy because you won’t get any good from it.
Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:10-11)
A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. (Proverbs 13:4)
Laziness throws one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will go hungry. (Proverbs 19:15)
Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing. (Proverbs 20:4)
Don’t invent absurd reasons to be lazy.
Whenever a lazy man is sent, he says, “A lion is in the road”; “a lion is in the midst of the streets.” (Proverbs 26:13)
Be diligent with your time.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (Proverbs 31:27)
There are times for different purposes so act accordingly.
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:8)
Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7)
Keep the teachings and commandments to prolong your life.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1-2)
Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path (Proverbs 23:19)
Attend to your own work to avoid lack.
…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
Spare no efforts on your way to a good result.
In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hand: for you know not which shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both alike shall be good. (Ecclesiastes 11:6)
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6)
Don’t give up easily, have patience.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Be alert and prayerful always.
Be on your guard [constantly alert], and watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. (Mark 13: 33)
Use your time wisely for it won’t come back. Every one gets 24 hours fresh everyday. Jesus is eager to see you use that time constructively and efficiently. Honor God in how you use time.
Spend your time doing good to yourself and others. Read the word of God, meditate on it and apply it. Excercise and eat healthy food instead of being on a couch watching T.V eating French fries and fish.
Avoid talking bad and also avoid listening to silly and useless things. Don’t waste time online reading recycled gossip about celebrities, sportstars etc. Instead read about the lives of the prophets, apostles and matyrs. Look out for testimonies about people who turned away from wicked livestyles and now are happy in Jesus Christ.
When travelling by bus, train, aircraft etc pray for the safety and salvation of fellow passengers. You may also listen to soft worship music or religious teaching on your phone or MP3 player when you are travelling.
If you have sufficient free time try to learn a new skill or hobby like painting, calligraphy, fishing, boxing etc. It can be any skill as long as its helps you positively.
There are many books about effective time management as well that you can refer to. I read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey to improve on my time management skills. Besides this I read the Bible and pray for God’s guidance to use time well. As always the Bible has verses on how to use your time well. (I will write a seperate post on this later) You need to give heed to the principles that God has put into effect for optimum use of time.
Someone said that time management is just self management. Time utilization methods of the world try to focus on working out the present things that can affect your future. You may follow it as long as it doesn’t contradict the Scriptures. We being of the Spirit of God must not just limit our focus on things of the earth, we must think of life eternal in the afterlife.
‘What we do in life echoes in eternity'(from the movie Gladiator, I think?) is quite a profound truth. People who are considered great achievers on earth in sports, business and politics sometimes end up wasting everything at their lives end. Because they fail to hold the Gospel in their hearts. Maybe they rejected it or maybe they didn’t hear the Gospel.
So after they die the Evil One takes them to hell forever even if they sinned just once. Also, those who lived on earth but didn’t trust in Jesus at their final hour are tormented forever and ever in hell. All the good they did is forgotten and amounts to nothing for them. No wonder all those who believe in Christ must pray for those who don’t trust in Jesus as their true Savior. We can’t ignore praying for the salvation of the unsaved millions of the world.
Only if you have Jesus then your afterlife is eternally secure. So in this life I firmly say that living your life genuinely and faithfully for Jesus Christ is the best way to spend your time. I pray that your time in the love and service of our Lord Jesus never ends. Amen.
In the world there are people who eat to live and then we have the self-indulgent who live to eat. The same way there are those who are obsessed with money. I mean there is the legitimate use of money to provide for your basic needs, payoff debts and help others. And then is there a wicked way of life where a person’s main purpose of existence is to get more and more money by any means.
Now anyone obsessed with money won’t necessarily say they make pets of their money but they surely act that way. And in the due course of time that little pet who likes to be fed and patted often. But later it turns out to be a hideous ugly monster. And mind you, this monster isn’t bothered if you progress physically, all it will seek is that spiritually you are blinded and on the road to damnation.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Let me make it real to you. A person who betrays his nation for the sake of money is on his way to hell. He may be safe on some island resort for the rest of his natural life but when he dies, he won’t make to heaven.
Remember Judas Iscariot. He betrayed Jesus in the most vile way by using an act of greeting as a sign to single out the Lord for his crucifixion. After this Judas did have remorse but never repentance, due to which he committed suicide. Right now Judas is highly tormented in hell without any mercy.
It’s not that everyone who is obsessed with money is a traitor. It could be that the person doesn’t pay attention to the things of God. He may attend church regularly, help out with the orphanages and be nice to family. But deep within his heart his loyalty is not with God but only to money. The Lord is aware of the thoughts of every persons heart and doesn’t like such obsessions that are evil.
People tend to think that they can cheat the Lord God and his church and still be blessed. This assumption is extremely dangerous. Ananias and Sapphira (click here for a related article on them) tried to get fame and honor by lying to the church they sold of their property and gave all of it to the church. While in fact they retained a part of the money they got.
Nobody in the church would have known, except that the Holy Spirit revealed it to the Apostle Peter. So then Peter spoke words of judgement to them as they lied to the Holy Spirit. They cheated God. As a result both Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead immediately by the Lord God. This caused great fear in the church at those times.
No wonder, I say that never make money your pet, it may become a monster which turns out to be your nemesis!
Scriptures for reflection:
Proverbs 15:26 The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in his sight.
Exodus 23:8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.
Proverbs 1:19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.
Proverbs 11:29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.
I’ve noticed a lot of rants and opinions online saying that Christianity is not a religion rather its a relation with Jesus Christ. Now I agree that Christianity is about being in a relation with Jesus. No doubt on that but I maintain that Christianity is a religion.
People must not jump on this bandwagon of ‘Christianity is not a religion’ because it simply confuses people of other religions and also Christians too. Also in certain countries you must mention your religion for official purposes. Like on your birth or marriage certificate you need to mention your religion. So if you tell them Christianity is what you follow but it’s not a religion, then they will give you strange looks and say you have gone insane.
Also this ‘Christianity is not a religion’ statement must be subject to the test of the scriptures.
1 John 4:1-3 Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world. This is how you know if a spirit comes from God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come as a human is from God, and every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is now already in the world.
And it’s not just the above verses, it must be consistent with the entire Bible. I’ve noticed that the ‘Christianity is not a religion’ stuff is mainly directed at legalistic individuals but the tone that is used is often very rude. It’s good to be against legalism and ritualistic attitudes in the Christian faith. However in the fight against bad traditions we must not lose out on our heritage. By this I mean we must never contradict the Bible while going against legalism.
Someone may ask where does the Bible say that Christianity is a religion. There are verses that do. Here we go:
James 1:26-27 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
The above verses are definitely not about Judaism which emphasizes on animal sacrifice. Neither are they about any other religion except the Christian faith. Here the religion of Christianity is not defined by the usual things that are associated with traditions but rather how people have self control and love God our Father and watch out for those in need. It even includes living a holy life. That’s the Christian religion!
Fasting is a time when you put a stop on eating food so that you can spend that time in prayer. It’s not the same as dieting therefore where the purpose is to lose weight instead of doing worship.
In other religions fasting is seen as a way to appease their gods to grant them a wish so that they make their life better. Due to this they have specific times in the year dedicated to fasting. Now even in the Christian faith we do fast at times, though we are free to fast whenever the Holy Spirit leads us. Here the emphasis on fasting is not gain favors from the Lord. Instead here we are to fast so as to concentrate on the things of the Spirit and pay little (or no) attention to things of the earth. This doesn’t mean we neglect our earthly responsibilities.
What happens in the course of eating too much? People sometimes get too engrossed in worldly things that they miss out on discipline. We are called to hear the voice of Jesus the good shepherd. At times others voices too call out to us which must be rejected if they try to lead us away from God. These are the voices of fame, fortune, pleasure, food and drink etc.
If one is too engrossed in satisfying his physical needs alone, it gives the Devil a chance to tempt him. Not that you can’t resist him even then but when you are balanced and sober you can really fight back really hard against the Evil one.
Though the below verse doesn’t relate directly to fasting, it shows us that the word of God is supersedes our physical needs.
Matthew 4:4 But Jesus answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Keep away from worldly pleasures if you are to walk closely with God. Remember the story of Esau in Genesis 25:29-34 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Due to his over indulgence to the needs of the flesh, Esau lost out on his heritage both in the physical and supernatural. Now his behavior is an extreme case, though the lesson we are to learn from this is never to value things of the flesh no matter how legal they seem, more than the things of the Lord God.
In the same way at certain times in your life one must keep away from things that could distract you from seeking God even if they seem sincere. This could even mean keeping away from food (temporarily) so that you can worship God and hear his voice.
Now a word of caution, fasting or not fasting is not a trick to manipulate God into blessing you. Nor is fasting with foolish intentions or wicked living ever encouraged in the Bible.
1 Corinthians 8:8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
Isaiah 58:3-7 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
When you fast take some time to seek to the Lord in prayer. If you are working then adjust your timings or even take a leave so that you can fast and pray together. The reason for this is that you don’t gain notice of others who may praise you for fasting. Matthew 6:18 says that, That your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Worship God out of respect for him. Fast because you want to show you value the Lord over your physical need to have food. No need to go on fasting forever nor to injure yourself due to self neglect. Fasting of a day or two is fine, maybe more if your body permits. If you are on medication or have come out of surgery then do consult your doctor before going on a fast.
It’s highly advisable that during such times of fasting and prayer that you read the Bible and meditate on it. Try to find out what the Holy Spirit wants to you read in the Bible. Do it all well because its your special time with the Lord Jesus.
Legalism is a fake version of righteousness. It affects men, women and children in various forms from the cradle to the grave. Even preachers entertain this without realizing the dangers of it.
First things first, legalism is not the same thing as righteous living, praying methods, living by faith, obedience to God’s will, desire for purity and genuineness in one’s relationship with God. The Bible doesn’t promote legalism. Legalism is not be confused with following the teachings of the Gospel. At this point its imperative to get a clear idea of what is legalism. Let’s start with the dictionary meaning:
Legalism : strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code ( Merriam-Webster online dictionary)
Now in Christianity legalism is the excessive and improper use of the law. By excessive, it means overzealous following of the laws of God while not giving glory to God. It can also promote self-righteousness as it makes a person focus more on self than the Lord.
By improper usage, it means that it stealthily becomes a ‘earn your salvation‘ technique instead of getting your salvation truly and freely from Jesus our Lord. This can make you very unsure of your salvation and thereby keep you dependent on the church authority structure to say whether are you saved or not. It’s good to obey church leaders but you must keep it balanced in the light of the Gospel.
During the course of my life I was unwittingly taught legalism though I didn’t understand it at that time. However, after a few years I realized that is an energy drainer. This affected my relationship with God and I was not sure of my salvation. So decided to re-learn the teachings of the Bible directly by myself and praying to the Holy Spirit to lead me. It’s a big relief to be out of it and be sure of one’s salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.
Legalism can happen in non religious settings such as work or college. Since, I’m speaking of legalism in a spiritual context, I will give you a few examples of how things can go legalistic in the religious world. Here we go:
- Lydia is trying to make ends meet for her little child. Her husband is working but is not getting enough due to the bad economy. So she decides to do part-time work as a nurse to supplement their income due to which she misses on a few church services. She is worried that her actions have jeopardized her salvation and keeps crying out. This continues until a preacher convinces her of true salvation and helps her with the timings of a church that has worship services all through the week.
- James is taught to always wear a tie to any church service as every man in church who doesn’t wear it is seen as not sincere about salvation. He keeps doing this regularly. One day he forgets to wear a tie and enters the church. He is then denounced by everyone in the church and eventually leaves it. He then enters another church where there is no requirement to wear a tie (to his pleasant surprise) and continues to go there regularly. (the first 2 examples are just indicative examples, the next one is a real one)
- I would attend a place of prayer where people got healed by the power of Christ. However, the preachers in the due course of time started acting legalistic and would say the following statements, “If you have AIDS or HIV its God’s Gift to you for sinning and God will NOT heal you” and would also say “I sense God is healing some person of this and this disease but I say to this person, come up and testify on the stage right now or you will LOSE your healing”. I was totally horrified at this legalism and started avoiding them lest I too learn their ways. As time passed by, many people stopped going to this place and started going to other places to get prayed over. However, the preachers over there are still adamant on their ‘God hates people with AIDS’ stance. (I mentioned this example in my earlier post; Learn to understand what comes from God and what comes from man)
A very sure way to realize legalism is at work is when things are added or removed from the actual wisdom and practices mentioned in the Bible. Basically these are rules of men and not of God.
This make me recall the words of a wise preacher, ‘The farther away from God you get, the more rules and regulations you’ll come up with in an effort to maintain what you once had. And what was once living will soon become mechanical and artificial. (Take the machinery out of the church.)’ No wonder, I say that your righteousness must come from Christ. alone. You must have the right attitude of the heart, not just good external actions.
Here are few scriptures on what the Bible speak about Legalism:
Isaiah 1:11 “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 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 23:1-4 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Some videos on the reality of legalism. These make good sense, so are worth a watch as well.