Thursday, December 31, 2015

Jesus Loves People But Why They Hated Him and the Christians so Much? (1 John 3:11-13)

It's not nail, but love that causes Him to died on the cross for us. Now, He is Alive! 
This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you
(1 John 3:11-13, NLT).

The Apostle John begins to summarize all of his teachings again with one key thought: “We should love one another.” I like the Amplified Bible translates this: “We should [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another” [The Greek word for “love” here is agape, it is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for another]. Actually, it was Jesus Himself who first made this key teaching when He was on earth. He taught that our attitude should be one of service rather than of superiority. In other words, we should be humble and not just do it out of a sense of obligation or because we think we know more or are better than anyone else. “Just as I have loved you,” said Jesus, “so you too are to love one another” (John 13:34; 15:12).

After making this strong statement, John then warns us “not be like Cain,” who was the oldest son of Adam and Eve (read Genesis 4:1-16). We read that both Cain and his brother, Abel, brought offerings to God, as they were required to do. But evidently only Abel was sincere and showed faith. Abel was “a righteous man” (Hebrews 11:4) and “doing what was righteous.” Cain, however, “had been doing what was evil.” Cain’s worship was unacceptable to God because of the anger, envy, and hatred which he begin to build up within himself toward his brother. Finally, Cain lost control of his temper and he murdered his own blood brother, Abel. To complicated the situation even further, Cain not only become the first murderer, but he also lied to God and pretended as if he did not know what had happened (Genesis 4:9). In a sense, Cain is the supreme example of hatred. Your worship will not be heard and accepted by God if you harbour hatred toward others, especially your brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, “love one another.”

Linked to what John had said about “love one another,” he reminds us that we, however, should not be surprised if some people in the world hate us for no reason, even as we are trying to do what is right and good. “So don’t be surprised… if the world hates you.” Why do you think they get angry? Well, I think, to persons who are evil or not in a right relationship with God, someone else who is doing what is right is a walking reminder of his or her own shortcomings. They are offended. Even we do not mean it this way, others may thought or feel that we are judging them or acting superior, when in fact, they have reacted with resentment, hatred and jealousy to what is right and holy. Darkness hates light. “Don’t be surprised.”

Jesus received the same kind of reaction when He lived on earth. As He showed love to the most marginalized people – such as the sick, the poor and the needy – the religious leaders could hardly contain their anger. Was Jesus doing something evil? Was Jesus taking the advantage of other people? Was Jesus leading a rebellion? No, Jesus was doing good and righteous. They got so mad that they wanted to kill Jesus. So, if this happened to Jesus, we shouldn’t be surprised if people in the world do not always admire what we are trying to do or respond with gratitude for our efforts. Because the world is ruled by the devil, there is much hatred and envy, jealousy and resentment. And because of this, we should not get discouraged when people don’t respond as we hope they would. “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world.” Jesus then concluded: “I chose you to come out of the world, so it hate you” (John 15:18-19).

A reminder: We need to be careful about our motives for showing love. If the reason we care is to feel accepted by others or to gain popularity or to get applause from people, we may be frequently disappointed, because people don’t always appreciate these efforts (Maybe those self-centred actions might get people interested and gain more followers). But if we care because we want to show our love for God by caring for others, then the response of the other person doesn’t really make much difference. We can love no matter what happens. “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:14). Do it! Amen.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Jesus Came to Destroy the Works of the Devil (1 John 3:8-10)

But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practise of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God
(1 John 3:8-10, NLT).

The Apostle John goes on to make it very clear that the devil is the mastermind of this problem of sin. Just as love and obedience are evidences that a person belongs to Jesus Christ, so habitual sinning and hating are evidences of the devil’s involvement.

When you think of the devil or Satan, what comes to your mind? Many people think of a monster-type figure with a terrifying face, goat-like head, dressed in red, and carrying a pitchfork. Other people may think of a demon who floats in the air like a ghost and causes scary things to happen. Some may just believe whatever the movies depicted Satan to be. What do I think? I’m not sure. I don’t care much. But I’m very sure that Satan is able to “disguises himself as an angel of light” (1 Corinthians 11:14).

As we read the Scriptures, we know that Satan has existed for a very long time even before the earth were created (see Ezekiel 28). It was Satan who masqueraded as serpent and tempted Eve and Adam to disobey God. Satan “has been sinning since the beginning and is the very essence of evil. And he seems to be very sly and cunning. Satan, no doubt, has great power and influences great numbers of people. He even has a temporary throne (see Revelations 2:13; 1 John 5:13). Many people are so influenced by Satan and his demons that they worship him as god of this world. They are totally under Satan’s control (see John 8:44; 2 Timothy 2:26).

You my friends – Don’t be afraid! We might think that Satan’s power is so great that he will rule the world forever. Don’t be afraid! The Scriptures make it clear that even though the devil is powerful, God is even stronger. In fact, Satan’s overthrow began with the coming of Jesus (read Matthew 12:25-29; Luke 10:18; John 12:31). “The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus took Satan’s power away to neutralize this terrible influence and replace it with the power of love, freedom, peace and forgiveness. But even though the devil has been knocked down, he still is alive and doing well in the lives of many people. He serves God’s purposes on earth. Soon God will finally destroy Satan totally when Christ returns to earth (read Revelations 20:10). Then Satan’s power will be gone forever. Even at this moment, anytime if Jesus would wish to snap His finger, Satan will be destroy!

Then John goes on to say that “those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practise of sinning, because God’s life is in them”. “God’s life” is also translated as “God’s seed.” I think John here is compares the Word of God to a seed which produces new life (read James 1:18 and 1 Peter 1:23). Just as beautiful plant must begin by being a seed which is fed and watered, so we as human beings grow spiritually as we study, understand, and obey what God wants us to do. God’s Word gives us strength and guidance to know about who God is what God wants us to do. If God’s Word in us “[we] can’t keep on sinning, because [we] are children of God.”

There are two basic tests to show what influence God is having in our lives: 1) the first is whether a person continues to sin deliberately, knowingly and habitually. This is different from the occasional sin (which you and I, all Christians will continue to do), and shows that sin is still dominant. The second test is more positive: 2) the children of God show that they belong to God by living righteously and loving other believers. According to John, then, we show who our spiritual father is – God or the devil – by the way we behave. It’s not our words but our actions that make the difference. Talk can be cheap; actions are more costly. And the actions of the Christians are to be summed up in one word: LOVE, agape.

What can you do to change your attitudes, behaviors, and so on,
so that you can look forward eagerly for Christ to return?

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Jesus the Perfect Saviour wants Us to Take Sin Very Seriously (1 John 3:4-7)

Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is. Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous
(1 John 3:4-7, NLT).

The Apostle John is dealing again with the question of sin. Even though he was kind and gentle (tradition says that he was called “the Apostle of love”), he could also be strong and direct (earlier he was called “the son of thunder” after all). Without afraid of offending everyone else, John reminds us most bluntly that sin is not something to wink at – instead sin is lawlessness, and active rebellion against God. Sin is “breaking God’s law” and “contrary to the law of God.” To sin is to obey oneself rather than God and shows that something is wrong in our relationship with God. We “keeps on sinning” because we didn’t continue to live in Jesus. Please take sins seriously.

Friends, when it comes to sinning, one possible explanation is that God’s Word (they say) is just too difficult for people to understand or to obey; so they use that as an excuse for doing whatever they want to do. But God has promised that what He asks for us will not be impossible; in fact, God promises to give us the strength and confidence to do what is right. What God commands, He also enable us to obey it. John here also says that we “keeps on sinning” because in reality we “does not know [Jesus] or understand who he is.” Could it be that the ‘Jesus’ that we know of is not the real or the distorted view of Jesus of the Bible? Or could it be that we understand Jesus differently from what the Bible actually taught us about who He really is? Or could it be that we don’t understand fully what does “Jesus came to take away our sins” mean to us personally? Or could it be all of the above? If you keeps on sinning, check your own doctrines and what you’ve been taught about Jesus. For us to “abide” and “continues to live in Him”, we need to know Him as He really is.

So, then, as Christians, it comes down to a problem of attitude or will that makes us do what is wrong. And John seems to be talking about an attitude rather than a specific actions alone. To know Jesus, the Perfect Saviour – the One who “is no sin in him” – is to outlaw sin especially deliberate, knowing, and habitual sins. Continue to live and abide in Him. We know that in this life we will never be entirely free of sin; we are still human. But we can aim by the power of the Holy Spirit to stop the pattern of sinning, the kind of life-style in which sin is a bad habit.

The key point here is that the way we live shows the source from which we get our strength and values. If we live in a way that shows that God is most important, we may still not be perfect, but we will be honouring God by breaking those bad habits or sins which keep us from growing and being joyful as Christians. “When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.” Remember: Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus, the Son of God, came to take away our sins, there is no sin in him. Thus, He is perfect and able to help you. Amen.

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Jesus' Return Soon: What Will We Be Like? Who Will We See? (1 John 3:1-3)

See how much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, pure as he is pure
(1 John 3:1-3, NLT).

I like this. The Apostle John breaks into an outburst of wonder at God’s love in making us His children. “See how much our Father loves us…” John is like saying: “Can you believe how great God’s love is? This love is lavished on us. Extravagance-love. God does not withhold love or attention when we are bad or disobedient. God’s love just keeps coming and coming!” John again and again calls us, the believers – “God’s children.” In other words, we bear the name of the family of God! What better name could we have? In our society, a person can get ahead if he or she has a certain name. But even more important than those names is the name of Jesus. Jesus is our Lord and Brother, God is our Father. We belong to Him. We are not only called God’s children – we really are His’!

From telling us who we are, John goes on to talk about what we will be. I can’t wait for this. “We will be like him.” Exactly what we will be like when Christ returns is not all that clear. But we do know that this life is only a beginning. The best is yet to be. The Apostle Paul, however, gives us some clues about what we will be like. He says that we will be clothed in a “heavenly bodies” that will last forever (read 2 Corinthians 5:1-5). Unlike our earthly bodies that can get sick and waste away, our heavenly bodies will never wear out. This reminds me of Jesus’ body after His resurrection. He could suddenly appear in a locked room without having come through the door (see John 20:19). Even though people could see Him, somehow He was different; and that is how it will be for us too [David Pawson said we going to have a 33-years old body like Jesus. We’ll see]. The promise is that we will not only look like Christ but even more important, we will “see him as he really is.” We will be with Christ forever (read Philippians 1:23; Colossians 3:4). The joy of being with Christ will never end!

In the last verse above, John tells us what we should be. Even as we look forward for Christ’s return and with “eager expectation” for this amazing event we should also aim for purity right now. We must “keep [ourselves] pure, pure as he is pure.” Even though we live this life in preparation for the next, we still need to be responsible to live this life to the fullest. Becoming pure is not an instant act; instead, it is a lifetime process of becoming more pure and clean in a moral and spiritual sense. Thus, we need to focus our energies and values on God so that we can become what God wants us to be. In summary, how much God loves us? “Very much.” Who we are? “His children.” What we will be like? “Like [Christ].” What we will be able to do? “We will see him as he really is.” Therefore, what we should be and do now? We must keep “[ourselves] pure, just as he is pure.” This is beyond awesome… I’m speechless… Amen.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Men of God are Needed Today (2016 Resolution toward Biblical Manhood)

God Needs Men Today –

§  men who will stand before His face and hear His voice daily,
§  men who have no desire in their heart for anyone or anything other than God Himself,
§  men who fear Him so greatly that they hate sin in every form and love righteousness and truth in all their ways,
§  men who have overcome anger and sexually sinful thoughts, and who would rather die than sin even in thought or attitude,
§  men whose daily lifestyle is one of taking up the cross and pressing on to perfection, and who are constantly working out their own salvation with fear and trembling,
§  men, full of the Holy Spirit, who are so rooted and grounded in love that nothing can ever move them into an unloving attitude towards another human being however great the provocation,
§  men who are so rooted and grounded in humility that neither human praise nor spiritual growth, neither a divinely endorsed ministry nor anything else will be able to make them lose the awareness of their being less than the least of all the saints,
§  men who have an understanding of God’s nature and purpose through His word, and who tremble at that word so that they will not disobey even the smallest commandment or neglect to teach it to others,
§  men who will proclaim the whole counsel of God and expose religious harlotry and unscriptural human traditions,
§  men who have the revelation of the Holy Spirit on the secret of godliness, on Christ having come in the flesh and opened a new and living way through the flesh,
§  men who are diligent and hard-working, but who also have a sense of humour, and know how to relax and play with children and enjoy God’s good gifts in nature,
§  men who are not ascetics, but who at the same time live a disciplined life and who are not afraid of hardships,
§  men who have no interest in expensive clothing or sight-seeing and who will not waste their time in unprofitable activities or their money in unnecessary purchases,
§  men who have mastered their desire for fancy foods and who are not enslaved to music or sport or any other legitimate activity,
§  men who have been disciplined successfully by God in the fires of affliction, abuse, tribulations, false accusation, physical sickness, financial hardships and opposition from relatives and religious leaders,
§  men full of mercy, who can sympathise with the worst of sinners and the worst of believers, and have hope for them, because they consider themselves to be the chiefest among sinners,
§  men who are so deeply rooted in the security of the love of their Heavenly Father that they are never anxious about anything, or afraid of Satan or evil men or difficult situations or anything,
§  men who have entered into God’s rest, believing in the sovereign working of God in all matters for their best and who therefore give thanks always for all men, for all things and in all circumstances,
§  men who find their joy in God alone and who are therefore full of the joy of the Lord, having overcome all bad moods,
§  men of living faith, who have no confidence in themselves or their natural abilities, but complete confidence in God as their unfailing Helper in all situations,
§  men who live, not by the promptings of their own reason, but by the leading of the Holy Spirit,
§  men who have been genuinely baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire by Christ Himself (and not just thrilled by some emotional counterfeit or convinced by some theological argument),
§  men who live constantly under the anointing of the Spirit, endowed with the supernatural gifts that He has given them,
§  men who have revelation of the church as the body of Christ (and not a congregation or a denomination), and who give all their energies, their material wealth and spiritual gifts to build that church,
§  men who have learnt to bridle their tongues through the help of the Holy Spirit and whose tongues are now aflame with the divine Word,
§  men who have forsaken all, who are not attracted any more to money or material things, and who desire no gifts from others,
§  men who can trust God for all their earthly needs and who never hint about their material needs or boast about their labours, either in their conversation or through letters and reports,
§  men who are not stubborn, but gentle, and open to criticism and eager for correction from older and wiser brothers,
§  men who have no desire to dominate or advise others (although ready to give advice, when asked for), and who have no longing to be considered as ‘elder’ brothers, or leaders, but who only desire to be ordinary brothers and servants of all,
§  men who are easy to get along with, and who are willing to be inconvenienced and taken advantage of by others,
§  men who will make no distinction between the millionaire and the beggar, the white-skinned and the dark-skinned, the intellectual and the idiot, and the cultured and the barbarian, but who will treat them all alike,
§  men who will never be influenced by their wife, children, relatives, friends or other believers to cool off even slightly in their devotion to Christ or their obedience to God’s commandments,
§  men who can never be bribed to compromise by any reward that Satan may offer (whether honour or money or whatever),
§  men who are fearless witnesses for Christ, fearing neither religious heads nor secular heads,
§  men who desire to please no human being on the face of the earth, and who are willing to offend all men, if necessary, in order to please God alone,
§  men for whom God’s glory, God’s will and God’s kingdom always take priority over mere human need and their own comfort,
§  men who cannot be pressurised either by others or by their own reason into doing ‘dead works’ for God, but who are eager and content to do the revealed will of God for their lives alone,
§  men who have the discernment of the Spirit to distinguish between the soulish and the spiritual in Christian work,
§  men who look at things from a heavenly view point and not an earthly one,
§  men who will refuse all earthly honours and titles offered them for their labours for God,
§  men who know how to pray without ceasing, and also how to fast and pray when needed,
§  men who have learned to give generously, cheerfully, secretly and with wisdom,
§  men who are willing to be all things for all men, so that by all means they might save some,
§  men who have a longing to see others not only saved but also made disciples of Christ, and brought to the knowledge of the truth and to obedience to all of God’s commandments,
§  men who have a longing to see a pure testimony established for God in every place,
§  men who have a burning passion to see Christ glorified in the church,
§  men who do not seek their own in any matter,
§  men with spiritual authority and spiritual dignity,
§  men who will stand alone for God in the world, if need be, totally uncompromising men, like the apostles and prophets of old,

God’s work in the world suffers today, because such men are few in number. Determine with all your heart that you will be such a man for God, in the midst of a sinful and adulterous generation and a compromising Christendom. Since there is no partiality with God, it is possible for you too to be such a man, provided you yourself earnestly desire to be one. Since God demands commitment and obedience only in the conscious area of one’s life, it is possible for you to be such a man, even though the conscious area of your life may be limited. (That area will keep increasing as you walk in the light and press on to perfection). There is no excuse then why you cannot be such a man. Since nothing good dwells in the flesh, we have to seek for grace from God to have the virtues listed above. Cry out to God daily then, that He will give you grace to be such a man in these the closing days of the age.
[Taken from New Wine in New Wineskins by Zac Poonen (1992)]

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Jesus, the Righteous King shall Return: Be Courageous and Do What Is Right (1 John 2:28-29)

And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame. Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children
(1 John 2:28-29,

The Apostle John urges us to live continually (“remain”) with Jesus Christ as we wait for His return. John here uses the expression to describe the return or visit of a king. Just as an earthly king makes appearances to his subjects, so Jesus Himself the King of Kings will make a final appearance visibly and personally, powerful and with authority to everyone on earth. Are you ready?

The Scriptures talk about two reactions that people will have to the second coming of Christ. First, some people will be ashamed. They are those who are not ready for His coming. Maybe they do not really believe in Christ or that He will return. Maybe they had heard the words of Truth again and again but just were not able to follow it. Maybe they were doing wrong. So they are caught off-guard or feel guilty for their lack of faith (read Matthew 22:11-12; Revelation 6:15-17). That is how some people will respond when Christ returns. People have been told again and again to be ready for this great event. Even though we are not to sit around and relax and think only about Christ’s coming, we are to keep busy for God’s Kingdom with one eye out for what is to come. Some people will be embarrassed or ashamed because of their lack of faith.

Other people will be able to respond with “full of courage” and “not ashamed” – confidence. The Scriptures tell us that we need not approach God with fear (of guilty and embarrassment) anymore. As “God’s children” we can be bold in sharing our feelings and needs with Him (read Hebrews 4:16; 10:19). If we obey God we will grow in our confidence to live as the people God wants us to become. Overcoming our fear is certainly an important part of our growth as believers. Only “remain in fellowship with Christ” and know that “Christ is righteous.”

And then, John reminds us that we can prove that we “remain in fellowship with Christ” by the way we live. The proof of this fellowship is not merely our having right beliefs but showing loving actions as well.  What we need to remember is that our loving actions (righteous acts) – “do what is right” – are the evidence, not the cause of our salvation in Christ. There are certainly people who believe that if we just live a little better we will be closer to God and be Christians. No! Jesus made it very clear that our actions do not save us – it is our faith that makes the difference (read Romans 3:27; Ephesians 2:8-10). But a natural and spontaneous outgrowth of our “fellowship with Christ” is the kind of living which reflects God’s love and is pleasing to God. Thus, John writes, “We know that all who do what is right are God’s children.” Amen.


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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Jesus Sends the Holy Spirit to Lives within Us (1 John 2:26-27)

I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. But the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true – it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ
(1 John 2:26-27, NLT).

As I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, the Apostle John is presenting two safeguards to help believers keep from being led “astray.” The first safeguard is to keep living according to the Word which has been heard about Jesus Christ from the beginning of the Christian church (1 John 2:24). Use this Word as an anchor or reference point. Now John mentions a second safeguard to help us prevent a disaster as far as our faith is concerned: to remain in a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ because of the work of the Holy Spirit who “lives within us.

On the second safeguard, John mentions here that we have all “received the Holy Spirit” or translated as “anointing” in the Amplified Bible. He is referring to the fact that, back in the Old Testament times, anointing was only for the privileged few, such as kings or prophets. Since Jesus came, this anointing is for every believers because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. There has been some question regarding what the actual anointing means. Some people think that the anointing refers to our baptism. Another interpretation – and the one which seems to make the most sense in this context to me – is that the anointing is the coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives when we become Christians. So it is more a symbolic (of a spiritual) anointing than a literal anointing with oil or water. But it is nevertheless a real anointing.

When Jesus’ disciples were upset and confused about why Jesus had to die, He promised that the Holy Spirit would live in all who believed in Him: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you… But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – that is, the Holy Spirit – he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:16-17, 26). This is what makes the Christian faith so special and different from all other religions. We believe in a God who has personally shown how much He loves us by sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins and be our Saviour – and give us the Holy Spirit to “lives within us.”

But we not only believe in a God “out there” or “upstairs,” we believe in a God who “lives within us”, who moves into our lives once we confess and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And God then continue to lead and guide us to know what is right and true, as well as what is wrong or false. The more the Holy Spirit teaches us and helps us understand how to live as God’s children, the more we become rooted or stabilized in God. Back in the Gospel, John refers to Jesus as the true vine and to believers as the branches (read John 15:1-11). Without being part of a vine, a branch will quickly wither and die. So we need to continue to be rooted in Christ Himself to keep on growing and receiving the nourishment we need.

Notice, John ends this section with the same challenge with which he began it – to “abide” or “remain in fellowship with Christ.” In other words, as we are confronted by people seeking to lead us astray, or when we feel discouraged or like giving up, hang in there; stay rooted – remain with Christ. When we feel pressured, or unsure and doubt, or knocked down, in those times of growing, we are not alone. The Holy Spirit lives within us. God is with us to guide, direct, and encourage us. So friends, hang in with God. God won’t let you down. Amen.


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Jesus: The Foundation of the Church

Could someone build a temple and forget why? Could someone construct a palace, yet forget the king? Could someone sculpt a tribute and forget the hero?
            You answer those questions. Answer them in a church. The next time you enter an assembly of worship, position yourself where you can see the people. Then decide.
            You can tell the ones who remember the slain One. They’re wide-eyed and expectant. They’re children watching the unwrapping of a gift. They’re servants standing still as a King passes. You don’t doze in the presence of royalty. And you don’t yawn while receiving a gift, especially when the giver is the King Himself!
            You can also tell the ones who see only the temple. Their eyes wander. Their feet shuffle. Their hands doodle, and their mouths open – not to sing, but to yawn. For no matter how hard they try to stay amazed, their eyes start to glaze over. All temples, even the Taj Mahal, lose their luster after a while.
            The temple gazers don’t mean to be bored. They love the church. They can cite its programs and praise its pastors. They don’t mean to grow stale. They put on hats and hose and coats and ties and come every week. But still, something is missing. The One they once planned to honor hasn’t been seen in a while.
            But those who have seen Him can’t seem to forget Him. They find Him, often in spite of the temple rather than because of it. They brush the dust away and stand ever impressed before His tomb – His empty tomb.
            The temple builders and the Savior seekers. You’ll find them both in the same church, on the same pew – at times, even in the same suit. One sees the structure and says, “O what a great church.” The other sees the Savior and says, “O what a great Christ!
Which do you see?
[Taken from The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado]


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Friday, December 25, 2015

Jesus' Top 10 Reasons He Came to the World (a.k.a. Birthday Sure-Happened Wishes)

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Jesus Promises Fellowship and Eternal Life, If You... (1 John 2:25)

So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us
(1 John 2:24-25, NLT).

The Apostle John reminds us of great promise God has given to us if we “remain faithful” – that we will live forever with Him. “Eternal life.” To some people, that may sound so foreign to them, but let’s take a look at what it will be like for us to live with God.

The Scriptures tells us that when we live with Christ eternally, all of the weaknesses and problems we face in this life will be over. If we, for example, feel ugly, or poor in studies or sports, or unpopular, or handicap, whatever the problem is, it will be gone; we won’t have to live with it ever again. Whether you’ve been poor or depressed, rejected or lonely, all that will be gone forever! Hallelujah! In the Book of Revelation, John recorded this promise: “They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:16-17). Imagine: no more hungry, no more thirst; no more tears, no more frustrations; no more crying, pain or death (see Revelation 21:4). Everything will be made new. It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

All believers will be living in a new version of Jerusalem (Revelation 21), which will be quite unlike anything we have ever seen. John describes it as looking like a very special jewel, surrounded by a wall made of precious jewels, and the city itself made of pure gold. Even the streets will be made of pure gold! Not only will we live in such a perfect place (like the Garden of Eden) and enjoy all of its beauty (like Genesis 1), but it will last forever. And no sin can ever polluted its purity. The best of all is – God will live with us. This is almost impossible for us to understand, since everything we know about has a beginning and an end. Every human being has a birth and a death; the same is true in the animal kingdom and nature kingdom (but the reality is that our souls is eternal). The idea of “eternal” life is a mind-blower to me, what about you? But it’s true!

Remember, “Eternal life” doesn’t begin when we die; it begins when we become members of God’s family. It begins when we “believe in” Jesus Christ. Because of Him we “will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We can begin to enjoy that quality of life right now. Yes, right now! True, we may still experience sorrow and pain in this life, but we have a Resource – Jesus Christ – who has promised to help us cope with these challenges during this life. He will always be with us in the present time and time to come. Therefore, if we “remain faithful”, we “remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father… and… enjoy the eternal life he promised us.” That’s a BIG deal! Amen.


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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Jesus is the Original Message: Remain Faithful to Him (1 John 2:24)

So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us
(1 John 2:24-25,

The Apostle John was concerned that some people may be led astray by those who do not love God or live as Christians. Same concern as I have for my students and youths today. In Bible verse above he mentions a safeguard to help us when we’re not sure what to do or where to turn: “Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message” (MSG). In other words, we should remember to “remain faithful” to what we have learned since we first heard about God – the Good News about Jesus Christ, the original Message (see John 1).

If we’re not sure about the truth of a particular religion, we should compare it to the message about Jesus Christ that we read in the New Testament, in the Christian Bible. Not the kind of quoting-verses reading but full-contexts reading. This is the best and most accurate test to see if it is true or not. The Apostle was seriously concerned about people who were interested only in the ‘latest’ spiritual ideas – the religious fads. I know many such people in persons and thru social media. They are excited and very passionate to share these ‘latest’ spiritual ideas but once the ideas are outdated, they find something ‘new.’ They run from church to church or religion to religion to listen to something ‘new’ or to find a new spiritual ‘high’ especially in terms of feelings. They never seem satisfied with what they have or what they believe.

The other Christ’s disciples, such as Dr. Luke, as well as the Apostle Paul, were quite concerned about people who were searching for new ideas all the time. For example, the people in Athens were described by Luke as “seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21). Paul also challenged the early Christians in this way: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you” (2 Timothy 4:3-5).

There are countless cults and other religions around us today, even in Malaysia. You can find articles and books on them, as well as people trying to share these beliefs at shopping centre malls, local bookstores, restaurants and food courts. Many of them even go from table to table, door to door to try to find converts. Stay away! Some of them even use our terms such as “God”, “sin”, “grace”, “Bible”, even “Jesus” etc. but their interpretations and meanings are very different from the true Biblical teachings. Some of their beliefs may be quite spectacular or unusual and arouse some interest in us. It’s one thing to learn about other religions to see how their beliefs are different from our own. But it’s more dangerous to consider making another faith our own.

Gently but firmly God reminds us to stay with what we have learned and heard “from the beginning” of the Christian faith. If we remain true to that message we “will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father”; to wander around in search of something else is to give up our faith in Christ. Brothers and sisters in Christ, stay close and remain faithful to Jesus, Your Lord. Amen.

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Yesus, Penyelamat yang Sanggup Datang: Kisah Sebelum Hari Krismas

[Pada] masa Kristus hampir datang ke dunia, Dia berkata kepada Allah, ‘Engkau tidak menghendaki korban dan persembahan, tetapi Engkau sudah menyediakan tubuh bagi-Ku… Aku datang untuk melakukan kehendak-Mu, seperti yang tertulis di dalam kitab Taurat tentang diri-Ku’
(Ibrani 10:5,7,

Pernahkah kamu membayangkan apa sebenarnya yang terjadi pada malam sebelum hari Krismas yang pertama? Sebelum para gembala muncul? Sebelum ahli-ahli kaji bintang datang? Malah sebelum Yusuf dan Maria datang ke Betlehem? Alkitab telah memberikan kita jawapan tentang apa yang terjadi sebelum hari Krismas yang pertama. Bukan dalam Injil-Injil atau Kitab-kitab Berita Baik, tetapi dalam Surat kepada Orang Ibrani. Di dalam surat ini, penulis menceritakan kepada kita tentang apa yang bermain di dalam fikiran Kristus sebelum Dia datang ke dunia. Dengan memetik Mazmur 40:6-8 sebagai Firman Kristus, Alkitab mengatakan bahawa ““[Pada] masa Kristus hampir datang ke dunia, Dia berkata kepada Allah, ‘…Engkau sudah menyediakan tubuh bagi-Ku… Aku datang untuk melakukan kehendak-Mu.’”

Sistem Persembahan Korban (Imamat 17) dalam Perjanjian Lama sudah tidak mendapat perhatian Allah lagi. Ianya diadakan bukan untuk selamanya tetapi untuk sementara. Sejak permulaan, ia bertujuan untuk menunjukkan kepada kita tentang Korban yang terakhir dan yang benar. Pada malam pertama Perayaan Paska (Keluaran 12), darah anak domba sebenarnya ialah petunjuk kepada korban Anak Domba yang terutama yang akan datang. Selepas anak domba itu disembelih, darahnya akan disimpan di dalam bekas untuk dibawa ke rumah masing-masing. Orang-orang Israel disuruh untuk mengambil sedikit darah anak domba dan menyapukannya pada kedua-dua batang tiang pintu dan pada ambang pintu rumah mereka. Melalui proses ini, mereka sebenarnya melakukan simbol tanda salib! Dengan ini, mereka selamat daripada hukuman Allah.

Ianya merupakan suatu petunjuk tentang apa yang akan Kristus lakukan apabila Dia datang ke dunia nanti.

Saya hanya boleh membayangkan pendapat malaikat-malaikat di syurga tentang semua hal ini. Mereka mungkin bertanya antara satu sama lain, “Adakah Dia benar-benar akan melakukannya [datang ke dunia dan mati di kayu salib]?” “Mereka [manusia] tidak layak untuk semua ini,” respon malaikat yang lain. “Syukur kita tidak jatuh bersama dengan malaikat-malaikat yang lain yang mengikut dusta-dusta Iblis,” ada malaikat mencela. “Mereka [manusia] sangat tidak layak! Mereka mudah jatuh dan senang ditipu oleh Iblis!” Benar. Tetapi apa yang pasti, Alkitab mengatakan bahawa: “Penyelamatan [yang dilakukan oleh Kristus]… [menyebabkan] malaikat-malaikat pun ingin memahami semua perkara itu” (1 Petrus 1:10,12). Kita boleh menyangka kehairanan mereka apabila Kristus secara sukarela “dijadikan sedikit lebih rendah daripada malaikat” (Ibrani 2:9). “Lebih rendah daripada kita?” tanya para malaikat. “Kenapa Dia sanggup berbuat begitu?

Inilah keputusan Kristus yang diluar jangkaan semua makhluk di seluruh alam semesta!

Kristus ialah Anak Allah, Dia duduk di takhta syurga. Alkitab mengatakan bahawa: “Dia memancarkan kemuliaan Allah yang gilang-gemilang dan Dia perwujudan Allah sendiri. Dia memelihara keutuhan alam semesta ini dengan firman-Nya yang berkuasa… Dia duduk di syurga di sebelah kanan Allah, Penguasa Yang Tertinggi” (Ibrani 1:3). Kenapa Dia sanggup meninggalkan semua itu? Kenapa Dia sanggup turun dari tempat yang termulia? Kenapa Dia ingin menjelma menjadi manusia? Kenapa Dia sangat peduli tentang Krismas?

Jawapan yang termudah sekali ialah… Dia melakukan semuanya untuk kemuliaan Bapa dan bagi kita! Kita tidak layak untuk menerima semua ini. Kita pendosa. Tiada penjelasan yang secukupnya yang boleh menjelaskan tentang kebenaran ini. Hanya – kasih kurnia-Nya – merupakan penjelasan yang paling tepat sekali. Beratus-ratus tahun sebelum kelahiran-Nya, Allah Bapa berkata: “Engkaulah anak-Ku; pada hari ini Aku menjadi Bapamu. Mintalah, maka semua bangsa akan Kuberi kepadamu” (Mazmur 2:7-8). Penulis surat Ibrani menerangkan bahawa melalui Kristus “Allah dapat membawa banyak orang ikut menikmati kemuliaan-Nya” (Ibrani 2:10).

Benar, untuk sementara waktu Yesus dijadikan sedikit lebih rendah daripada malaikat apabila Dia menjelma menjadi manusia “supaya dengan rahmat Allah, Dia dapat mati untuk semua orang.” Tetapi untuk selamanya “Dia dikurniai kemuliaan dan kehormatan” (Ibrani 2:9). Alkitab menjelaskan bahawa tujuan Hari Krismas ialah untuk mengingatkan kita bahawa – Dia melakukan semuanya untuk kita. Dia ialah Pemberian Allah kepada kita semua. Dia datang untuk menderita dan mati bagi dosa kita. Dia menerima segala hukuman yang kita patut tanggung. Dia memberikan diri-Nya sendiri supaya kita dibebaskan oleh hukuman dan cengkaman dosa. Inilah Penyelamat Dunia!

Samada para malaikat terkejut dengan Hari Krismas, kita tidak tahu. Saya tidak pasti. Tetapi, sejurus selepas keputusan telah dibuat, mereka tidak sabar-sabar untuk memberitakan Berita Baik itu. Mereka memberitakan tentang Berita yang membawa sukacita kepada kita semua. Seluruh syurga penuh dengan sukacita! “Jangan takut!” kata malaikat kepada para gembala, “Aku datang membawa Berita Baik untuk kamu, berita yang akan menggembirakan semua orang. Pada hari ini di kota Daud telah lahir Penyelamat kamu, Kristus, Tuhan” (Lukas 2:10-11). Dia lahir untuk menyelamatkan kita. Dia datang untuk membawa kita kepada kemuliaan-Nya.

Dia Kristus, Sang Pencipta, lebih tinggi daripada malaikat, dijadikan sedikit lebih rendah daripada malaikat, supaya kita yang lebih rendah daripada malaikat menjadi lebih tinggi daripada malaikat. Melalui Kristus, kita diangkat lebih tinggi daripada yang selayaknya. Lebih tinggi daripada malaikat! Kita berharga dimata-Nya, dipeduli oleh belas kasihan-Nya, dan diangkat oleh kasih kurnia-Nya. Dia melakukan perkara yang kita tidak mampu lakukan. Dia menjadikan kita anak-anak Allah, diangkat menjadi keluarga Tuhan.

Tiada sesiapa yang benar-benar mengasihi kamu seperti Yesus mengasihi kamu! Dia mengasihi kamu sebelum Dia meninggalkan syurga untuk datang ke dunia. Dia datang untuk membebaskan kamu. Untuk mengambil kamu menjadi milik-Nya semula… supaya kamu boleh melihat wajah Allah. Siapa yang tidak mahu kasih seperti ini? Datang kepada-Nya melalui iman yang hidup. Bersukacita, berterima kasih dan dengan hati yang penuh syukur. Memuji dan menyembah Dia. Jika kamu boleh mempercayakan masa depan kamu kepada-Nya, kamu boleh mempercayakan Dia dengan hidup kamu sekarang. Biarlah Hari Krismas tahun ini menjadi tahun kamu menerima dan mengenal Yesus Kristus, Juruselamat dan Tuhan kita! Amin.

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