Building People. Spreading Hope.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Love God and Love People

"'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Luke 10:27 NLT).

Christianity is at a crossroad. Some people are repelled by it while others are willing to give up their lives to follow Christ. In many instances, it may look like we’re on our back foot but the Bible assures us that His government and peace will have unlimited growth.

For centuries, Christians, leaders, and churches have tried to invent and reinvent the message of Christ. There’s nothing wrong discovering and growing in the knowledge of our infinite God; however, Jesus, the founder of our faith, gave us two basic commands.

The essence of Christianity is to love God and love people. 

Recently, I was visiting my brother’s family. They were returning from a worship concert when they stopped at a red light, a homeless man approached them. When they gave him a leather bag filled with medicine, toothbrush, cash, food, tracts, stationary, T-shirt, flashlight, and other basic necessities; the homeless man was dumbfounded. The first words that came out of his mouth were, “What the hell is that?” He couldn’t believe the kindness of total strangers!

I believe this is where Christianity is losing its flavor. We’ve become too private, intellectual, cynical, and judgmental of each other. People have taken advantage of us, so now we’re filtering our responses through our past experiences. This is not the best reflection of our faith.

Here’s the key: if you love God you will love people and vice versa!

In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), Jesus spoke about a wounded man who was bypassed by a priest and a Levite. Their reasoning may have been along the lines of he’s not part of our church, culture or faith therefore; he doesn’t qualify for our help. What if God treated us according to His high standards? Jesus crossed every creed, color, social, racial, and cultural barriers to reach people and so should we as His disciples.

Jesus taught us to love people – ALL people. It’s easier said than done but when this is our intent, the love of God has the power to transform society.

Recently, a 22-year-old Egyptian Christian woman lived out her faith in deed. Her former husband (from another faith) divorced her. After several years, she got married to a young Christian man and they had two beautiful children together. She was pregnant with their third when they decided to visit their former church to fellowship with other believers. In the city, they’re spotted by her former family members. They kidnapped her and pressed her to renounce her faith. When she refused to deny Christ, her own sister beheaded her in order to “teach a lesson” to other women who chose to follow Christianity. What would be our response in such situation?

God forbid that we have to face such brutal fate. However, there are million little ways we can impact others with the love of Christ. The scripture says, “The goodness of God leads people to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

A couple of months ago, my friend was driving home in her pickup truck when she saw a bunch of men working under the scorching sun. She was moved with compassion but didn’t have any water in her truck. She went home and brought back ice-cold water for the men working on the street. She didn’t have to preach that day because she was the Gospel.

Our action towards our fellow men is a direct reflection of our love for God.

Friend, if we want to encounter God in supernatural ways, it’s not good enough to dress in our Sunday best, clap our hands, and sing, “I love you Lord.” We have to live intentionally and love the crying, sighing, and dying people God brings on our path. Loving God means to reflect the same love Jesus showed us. When we unite in loving people, we’ll see a new move of the Holy Spirit sweeping through our nation like never before. Let us love God and Love people!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Come Let Us Give Thanks

“Give thanks in all circumstances,1 for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition celebrated in the United States. It’s a time of reflection and thanksgiving for all of the great things God has done in our lives. The commercialization of this great day has eroded a lot of its original meaning. However, it is still one of the most powerful traditions in American culture.

Thanksgiving, or giving of thanks, is a recurring theme in the Bible. One of the first mentions of thanksgiving is recorded in Genesis chapter 14. There, priest-king Melchizedek brought an abundant supply of food and wine to Abram (later renamed Abraham), along with Abram’s 318-member team of warriors to express their extraordinary victory against the king of Sodom, Gomorrah, Zeboyim, and the king of Bela.

“Melchizedek the king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:18-19).

Centuries later, after liberating the Hebrew people from 400 years of slavery, the Lord instituted two yearly thanksgiving holidays that celebrated the two harvest seasons.

While it is easy to celebrate thanksgiving when everything is going right in our lives, it is not so spontaneous or easy when we’re fighting a hardship, legal battle, prolonged sickness or even the loss of a loved one. It is hard to do but it can be done.

Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with a lovely family — a wife, Anna, and five children. Their young son died from pneumonia in 1871, and in that same year, much of their business was lost in the great Chicago fire. Yet, God, in His mercy and kindness allowed the business to flourish once again.

On Nov. 21, 1873, the French oceanliner, Ville du Havre, was crossing the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe with 313 passengers on board. Among the passengers were Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters. Although Mr. Spafford had planned to go with his family, he found it necessary to stay in Chicago to help solve an unexpected business problem. He told his wife he would join her and their children in Europe a few days later.

About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic, the Ville du Harve collided with a Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Within 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers including the four Spafford children.

A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot rescued Mrs. Spafford. Upon her safe arrival in Wales, Anna wired her husband a message saying, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Mr. Spafford booked passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife. With the ship about four days out, the captain called Spafford to his cabin and told him they were over the place where his children went down. Overwhelmed and in great distress, Mr. Spafford penned the words to a timeless hymn:

It is Well with My Soul
When peace like a river attendeth my way | When sorrows like sea billows roll | Whatever my lot | Thou hast taught me to say I It is well, it is well with my soul |

Friend, if grieving Spafford can write such a powerful song of gratitude in such great distress, we all can find something to thank God for. Here’s the key: Don’t let something that was once a miracle become ordinary.

The more we talk about God’s goodness in the past, the more we draw in His blessings in the future! There are three areas you can always find something to thank God for. First, celebrate what God has done in the past. Second, be grateful for what God is doing in your life right now. Third, thank God for what He is about to do and the glorious future we have with Him in eternity. Remember the time you found love in your life. Thank God for the day your children were born. Thank Him for healing you from that dreaded disease. Remember, the many incidences of how God saved your life from accidents and calamities. Once you start counting your blessings there’s no stopping. This Thanksgiving, let us not only make it about food, fun, and family but let us give thanks unto our Lord who has done great things! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

God Will Provide for Your Financial Needs

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT).

Worry is a universal problem; especially, during the holiday season. There’s nothing wrong with having passing thoughts or concerns but when worry dominates our mind, we’re missing out on God’s best for the present.

Arturo Toscanini was an Italian conductor. He was one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and of the 20th century; renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory.

Once, shortly before a major concert in front of a packed audience, a member of Arturo Toscanini's orchestra approached the great conductor with an expression of complete terror on his face. "Maestro," the musician fretted, "my instrument is not working properly. I cannot reach the note of E-flat. Whatever will I do? We are to begin in a few moments." 
Toscanini looked at the man with utter amazement. Then he smiled kindly and placed an arm around his shoulders. "My friend," the maestro replied, "do not worry about it. The note E-flat does not appear anywhere in the music that you will be playing this evening."

How many times have we done the same?

Erma Bombeck said, “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

Worry keeps us busy but doesn’t solve any problems. The measure of our ability to enjoy life greatly depends on our aptitude to deal with worry. If you’re prone to worrying, you can get over it simply by training and channeling our focus to do what we can with what we have.

A recent survey by Readers Digest from 16 countries around the world showed money, family, health, and the state of the world as top concerns in 16 different countries around the world.

Money tops the worry list because it applies to us daily. Money is not the most important thing in life but it touches everything important in our lives. It is an age-old problem that has plagued mankind. Listen to what Jesus said about our daily needs:

“So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:31-33 NLT).  

While the promise is clear that God will take care of us, too many of us worry about our finances more than we ought to. Don’t just look at what you have but what God has reserved for you. Your paycheck is not your source. Don’t put your trust in your bank balance, stocks, or investments. Saving and living frugally are Godly principles but don’t put your faith in them. Make God your Source and you’ll never have to fret about money again.

With every bill, there’s a provision attached to it!

Once the tax-collectors came to Peter to collect what was owed. They didn’t have the money. Jesus told Peter, “Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours" (Matthew 17:38 NIV). Friend, God knows what you need and how to get it to you. You’re insured!

Corrie ten Boom, who suffered inhumanely in a German concentration camp said, “Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
I wonder how different our lives would be if we stopped worrying about things we cannot control and started focusing on the things we can. Let today be the beginning of a worry-free life. God has you in the palm of His Hands. You’re a hand-picked child of the Most High and a privileged member of His family. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will provide. I pray and declare that you’ll have more than enough and plenty left over to bless the world.

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