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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Are You A Christian?

This question was asked on my recent visit to Turkey as we boarded the bus headed for Ephesus. The one asking the question was our Turkish guide. My friend and I quickly put our hands up, but some people appeared to hesitate, which prompted the man to ask, "Well, are you, or aren't you?"

I looked around and there were no more hands.

How do you answer this question? If you ever took a vow of Christianity, you would answer 'yes', but what does it really mean to be a Christian? A Christian, quite simply, is a follower of Jesus Christ. Therefore if you are following Him, you would do the things He did.

This morning when I awoke, the first thought that popped into my head was the division that exists in the Christian church here in America. Someone said, "The most segregated time in America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning." Sad, but true. But we are not just divided on Sunday mornings, we are also divided in our thoughts and attitude toward certain issues. The recent Trayvon Martin debacle is a case in point.

As Christians we can no longer see people and issues through a black lens or a white lens, relegated to this corner or that corner. We must see ourselves as belonging to the elite family of God and therefore what affects one member affects us all. When Jesus walked this earth, He went out of His way to show that racial division is wrong. Read the stories of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10 : 30 - 35) and the woman at the well (John 4 : 4 - 27).

Jesus is coming soon for His church, all the signs point to that, and we need to get ready. What the church needs to be ready is not more buildings or even more money, but for "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost" (Romans 5 : 5) to so permeate our beings that we cannot help but love everyone the way He loves us. Are you a Christian?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Are You A Thief?

Are you a thief? Heavens, no! I can almost hear the shocked replies resounding through cyberspace. I ask this question because twice last week I happened to hear sermons/lectures on stealing, and I thought, is the Holy Spirit trying to say something to me? Well, I join with you in saying, "Heavens, no!"

 I heard this joke a long time ago. A man wrote to the IRS that he was sending them a check for money owed. The letter ended, "And if I still cannot sleep tonight, I'll send you the rest." You may have never cheated on your taxes, but have you ever taken anything home from your job? Pens, paper clips, paper, what-have-you? You might say, "Those things were given to me." Yes, but were they given to you personally, or were they given to be used on your job? There's a difference.

In one of the sermons, the preacher mentioned tools he had borrowed from friends and were still sitting in his garage months later. If the owner has to come to retrieve them, that's as good as stealing.

What about time? Do you steal your employer's time? Talking on the phone during working hours, surfing the internet or facebook, gossiping with co-workers. This is not to say that every minute of your eight hours will be spent with your nose to the grindstone, but when you do four hours' work everyday for eight hours' pay, your boss may not see it immediately, but God does.  

The Bible says, "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:" (Colossians 3: 22)

Finally, do you steal from God? If you plead guilty to any of the above, you already steal from God because everything belongs to Him. He put you in that job to be a light for Him, but there is a more spiritual way, if you will, that we steal from God. And that is with our tithes and offering.

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say , Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.  (Malachi 3 : 8).

Many people say they cannot afford to tithe. My take on this is, you cannot afford not to tithe. God has proved this to me more than once.

We all have things in our life of which we are not proud. Stealing, in the ways mentioned above, may not get you into prison, but it can prevent God's blessings from flowing to you the way they should. If you feel the Holy Spirit convicting you of this, or any other sin, ask Him to deliver you and to make you pure and holy as He wants you to be.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What Does Freedom Mean To You - And the Trayvon Martin Verdict

Like most of the nation, I too am reacting to the verdict in the slaying of Trayvon Martin. As I write this, many protests are taking place in various cities and social media commentary on this matter has just about reached explosive limits. As I tried to piece my thoughts together to write this post, I suddenly remembered two things:

1. Last week's post .  What does freedom mean to you written in commemoration of our nation's independence celebration. And as I think about the way this young man lost his life, I ask myself again, what does freedom mean to us all? Does it mean we are free to go wherever we want, wear whatever we want, do whatever we want? Trayvon Martin's parents and others (including myself) are asking themselves that question tonight.

2. The sermon on the mount. You may be wondering  what this has to do with Trayvon Martin or with freedom. Yesterday I happened to read this masterpiece sermon by our Lord Jesus Christ, famously known as The Sermon on The Mount.  Jesus delivered this over two thousand years ago, and it is still relevant today.  Let's look at some of His words:

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell" (Matthew 5 : 21 - 22).


"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'  But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" ( 38 - 39).


"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (43 - 45). 


And Trayvon Martin's father speaking to the Huffington Post said, "God forbid, if acquittal is handed down, we still put our faith in God, you know, it's out of our hands," he said. "There's nothing we can do and we'll continue to pray. And we'll continue to be the voice of Trayvon whether there's an acquittal (or) whether it's a guilty verdict." Trayvon Martin Hoodie Sunday


So right now, that's the attitude we ought to have. The best we can do as a nation is pray for the Martin family, the Zimmerman family, the judge, the jury, our legislators and everyone associated with this case. God, our Comforter, our Righteous Judge, our Jehovah Sharma sees everything and He is still in control. God bless.



Sunday, July 07, 2013

What Does Freedom Mean To You

This past week America celebrated its two hundred and thirty seventh birthday as a nation. America, like other countries that have declared themselves independent, prides itself on being a free nation. But what does it really mean to be free? Are we, its citizens, free to do whatever we like? We know the answer to that question, don't we?

Yes, we do enjoy certain freedoms more than some other countries, but these freedoms come with constraints. For example, we enjoy the freedom to assemble, but if this assembly is considered disorderly, we will be stopped. As Christians, we enjoy being free from the law as laid out by Moses in the Old Testament, however, does that mean we are free to sin? This is the question that gets a lot of Christians confused, or gives them excuses to do whatever they like.

Just as we do not have the freedom to break the law as citizens of an earthly kingdom, we do not have the freedom to break the law as citizens of a heavenly kingdom. And in the same way if we break the law of the earthly kingdom we must appear before the judge, the same applies to God's laws. When we appear before the earthly judge, we should have an attorney to speak in our defense, otherwise we may be in big trouble. When we appear before God - the Heavenly Judge - we also need an attorney. His name is Jesus Christ.

The Bible says, "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One" (1 John 2 : 1). Then he goes on to say, "No  one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God" (3 : 9). 

Do you want to be free? Do you want to know that if you do sin, you have someone - Jesus Christ - to speak in your defense because He already paid the price for your sin? Then come to Him; ask Him to take complete control of your life and then you will be truly free. God bless.