Archive for September 2013

Epistle to the Hebrews (13:10-13)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore.” Hebrews 13:10-13

Our author inspired by the Holy Spirit exposes to us an interesting theological argument. The place where Jesus was crucified, Golgotha, was outside the city of Jerusalem. As per history, the Jews did not permit executions inside the city.

We read in Exodus 29:14: “Take all the fat around the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat around them, and burn it all on the altar. Then take the rest of the bull, including its hide, meat, and dung, and burn it outside the camp as a sin offering.”

We can also see in Leviticus 4:1-12:

But he must take whatever is left of the bull—its hide, meat, head, legs, internal organs, and dung— and carry it away to a place outside the camp that is ceremonially clean, the place where the ashes are dumped. There, on the ash heap, he will burn it on a wood fire.”

The Jews had different sacrifices. The meal offering(Lev 2, Ex 3:16), peace offering(Lev 3:1-5), burnt offering (Lev 28:3-4,1:4-9), sin offering (Lev 4:2) and trespass offering(Lev 6:5).

The trespass offering was very similar to that of the sin offering but the main difference was that the trespass offering was an offering done because of sin against people. For example, money given for sins connected with fraud.

The peace offering was similar to the burnt offering. It’s purpose was however different since it was basically a thanksgiving sacrifice. It was shared with the priests and Jews.

The meal offering was an offering of vegetables and fruits. It was the fruit of the labor of the offerer. It was also done by the consecrated priests.

The burnt offering was the first sacrifice done. It was done everyday, morning and evening (Ex. 29:38). The bible tells us that :  “A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out” Lev 6:13

It founds its origin in the book of Genesis. Abraham and Noah offered such sacrifices (Gen 22:13). It was a personal offering done as an act of worship. It also served as a sacrifice for ceremonial cleansing(Num 6:11). It was completely burnt and neither the offerer of priests could eat it.

The sin offering was basically dealing with sins which the Israelites were unaware of.  The laws  could not clearly pointed out all their faults. There were therefore sins done in ignorance which naturally tainted their conscience. When we sin in ignorance, we are still guilty. The Israelites had to offer a sin offering whenever they realised their wrongdoings.

If the entire Israelite community sins by violating one of the Lord’s commands, but the people don’t realize it, they are still guilty.When they become aware of their sin, the people must bring a young bull as an offering for their sin and present it before the Tabernacle.” Lev 4:13

There’re many sins we did in ignorance but that does not mean God is unaware of them. Those sins we did in ignorance would probably make more books than those we did consciously.

Our author mentioned that Jesus offered Himself as a sin offering also. His sacrifice went to the extent of purifying our guilty conscience (Heb 9:14).

Jesus’s sacrifice was more than the types of offerings mentioned above. Only one sacrifice was necessary to nullify all the rest. Is not it amazing that our Lord was offered like a sin offering outside Jerusalem?

Our author wants us to contemplate what Jesus has done. He says “So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore“.  The burnt offering was a general sacrifice which for instance made people ceremonially cleaned. The sin offering aimed to deal with sin at conscience level itself.  With a contrite and thankful heart, we should remember what our Lord has done outside the camp. Let us share in this disgrace He bore.

Simon of  Cyrene to help Jesus carry His cross. Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to ask for  Jesus’ body. He took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. The women from Galilee went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. Luke 23:52

The 2 Marys came to care for Jesus and were waiting for Him at the tomb. Mat 27:55-61

We will not be able to do these little things Simon, Joseph or the Marys did. However, we can honor what our Lord has done by being faithful witnesses. Our author tells us “let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore“. Paul was insulted, humiliated, beaten and persecuted because of the Gospel of Christ. Bearing the name of “Disciple of Christ” is foolishness to the world. Christians were despised because of this beautiful name they bore. Let us therefore hold highly Christ who is our emblem, our glory.

Peter said: “So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian,for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.”

Paul expressed: “And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.” 2 Tim 1:12

Paul completely gave his life to Christ as a living sacrifice. He said:

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” Phil 3:10

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. As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 2 Tim 4:6-7

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Posted September 30, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (13:8)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.” Hebrews 13:8

This is a verse often quoted by preachers. Jesus’s unwavering love and character are strongholds for us. We have hope and confidence that what He said will always remain valid. His personality does not get deformed or improve with time. Jesus is perfect and what He has been in the past, He will always be. We often talk about Jesus’ love, power and faithfulness when referring to this verse. Let us also bear in mind that Jesus’ hate against sin has not diminished. The high standards He set 2000 years ago regarding our holiness, our faith and attitude are still of actuality. There is no yearly adjustment or review on His teachings about love, having faith and holiness. Jesus has compassion but does not tolerate sin. A white lie is still a lie for Him. Still today he can turn upside down a worship place like He did when merchants were making the temple a den of robbers.

Since Jesus’ character and teachings do not change, we cannot expect that after 2000 years there will be some improvements to it. Perfection does not require improvement. We often hear people claiming that they got new revelations from the Spirit. The question to ask is whether these revelations are necessary and are biblically correct. In Jesus we have everything and we lack nothing outside of Him. He is the Vine and we are the branches.

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” Col 2:8

The gospel preached 2000 years ago is still the same today. If someone who claims to be a prophet, teacher, pastor or apostle comes with a new gospel, woe to him. Even if an angel comes and reveals another Gospel, that would not change God’s message to humanity.

Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. ” Gal 1:8

False teachings are everywhere and we need to bear in mind that anything which is not the pure gospel of Christ is deception. Adding spices to the gospel or removing teachings are deceptions. The devil twisted the scripture while tempting Jesus in the wilderness and there’s no reason why he’ll stop doing it today.

The readers were probably having issues with their Judaism environment which wanted to keep them under the law. When these Christians were no longer following the rules of Judaism concerning the sabbath, food and festivals they were probably despised and rejected by those around them.

Jesus is the fulness of God. There’re many teachings which aim to make you appear more spiritual. It can be about abstaining from some food, fasting excessively, severe self discipline, seeking super natural experiences or depriving oneself from pleasures.  There’re many teachings which try to bring you to a state of non biblical self-denial. This kind of doctrine is a Pharisaical approach of making people self righteous. Teachers of such doctrines have a hidden agenda. They want to keep you under captivity and control.  These false teachings aim at making you do sacrifices to appear being more pious or consecrated. These are deceptive illusions.  If you feel frustrated, anguished and inadequate when following some rules, you’re probably following some twisted doctrines of the scripture. These rules are not of any use but keep people away from Christ. They make you self-centered instead of Christ centered. These teachings are man-made doctrines about Christ without actually being Christ’s will for you. Paul says in Col. 2 that Christ is the reality and to be careful about legalistic teachings.

So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud,and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”

Jesus came to set free, give joy, peace and love. He has not changed and neither His teachings. He still heal, saves souls and does miracles.

Posted September 22, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (13:7)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” Hebrews 13:7

  • Admonition to the followers

Take some time and consider the life of those godly christian leaders. Observe their faith, character, fruits, love and commitment. See how many lives have been blessed through their ministry. Imitate the example of these servants of Christ.

The Amplified Bible puts it as such:

Remember your leaders and superiors in authority [for it was they] who brought to you the Word of God. Observe attentively and consider their manner of living (the outcome of their well-spent lives) and imitate their faith (their conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ, and their leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness).”

Paul said: “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” Phil 3:17

And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” 1 Cor 11:1, 4:16

There’re unfortunately few of these godly leaders whom we can pattern our lives after. Such people emanate Christ’s fragrance and are living proofs of Christ’s character. We know who they are.

Still in Hebrews 13, our author tells us: “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” Hebrews 13:17

Do you understand your responsibility to support these leaders and not add loads to their burden?

Paul said in 1 Thes. 5:12 “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”

A little word of encouragement can lift up the head of a leader. You do not know their tears and pains. Acknowledge the hard work done by those who care for God’s flock. Show them consideration and love. This could also be in term of financial support. For example we read this admonition in Timothy:

Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well,especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching.For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” 1 Tim 5:17

It is a recurrent exhortation to the church to show recognition to those who toil hard :

Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them.” Gal 6:6

I will not follow a leader who does not have Christ’s attitude or is lazy.  We know that there’re no perfect spiritual leaders. But by God’s Spirit, we can discern those who have godly motives and it is our responsibility to support them. Human nature is to rebel against authority. Here the author is telling us that it is for our own soul that these spiritual leaders have been appointed to lead us. They are accountable to God for what they do and we should not make their tasks harder. They are humans like us and can get discouraged without the support of those they care for. Our author is telling us to submit to the authority of these godly leaders.  They are overseers of our soul. Leaders and followers must have mutual consideration. The leaders tasks are to bring out spiritual maturity in the followers and the followers are to allow the leaders to do it. It is noteworthy to say that depending on the circumstance , we can be a leader who is a blessing to others and at the same time a follower who is blessed by the leadership of others. We all need each other.

  • Admonition to the leaders

And to the leaders, Peter said:  “ Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over themnot because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2

Shepherds of God’s flock should willingly care for God’s sheep. Grumbles and murmurs are unhealthy attitudes. No one forced me to do what I’m called to do. I do it willingly without expectation because it is simply what I am called to do. I’m unfulfilled if I do not do what God called me to do. Those serving in leadership position should not be money minded or abuse their position of authority. Basically, they should have Christ’s attitude, not be lovers of money but be generous. They should be eager to serve others with all their heart and not with reticence.

Paul said in Romans 12:8 “If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

If God has appointed you to do something, do it well. Do it at it’s best because He equipped you for that. If you find yourself barren in a spiritual position, it is either because you’re no longer remaining in the Vine or you’re in the wrong leadership position. If it is not your responsibility to operate in a particular leadership position, you’re probably doing it grudgingly and not being fulfilled in your soul. The body of Christ is not blessed if you’re in a position you should not and not where you should be. We will be accountable to how we used the gifts God entrusted us.

If you’re called to serve others, serve them well. If you’re a teacher, diligently prepare your teachings. If you’re giving, give wholeheartedly and generously. If you’re appointed to administrate the church, do not take it lightly but have a godly vision. If you’re in this leadership position, it is because you’ve been given the ability to make things move and not to remain idle. Whatever you do, do it gladly. There’re different leaders who are called to lead different ministries. There’s no such thing as a “multi-ministry” leader. A leader who thinks he should lead all ministries is neglecting what God has called him to do, is disobedient, prideful and hindering other leaders from doing their tasks. It is clearly portrayed in 1 Cor 12 that a hand cannot do the task of a foot. There should be unity in the body through diversity of functionality of its members.

Posted September 14, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (13:5-6)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you. So we can say with confidence, The Lord is my helper,so I will have no fear.What can mere people do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

Our author now tackles another theme which many Christians struggle with. Be careful of avarice. Cupidity makes you prideful and faithless. When you’re avid of money, your eyes are not on the divine Provider but on yourself. Contentment is a cure to cupidity. It helps you enjoy what you have and not covet what you have not. Paul says:

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 1 Tim 6:6-10

The love of money, says Paul, is the root of all kinds of evil. Money has caused people to become selfish, to murder, steal, fall into corruption and vices. Jesus said we cannot serve 2 masters in Luke 16:13. The greed for wealth is idolatry. It’s worshiping Mamon, the god of money.

The Amplified bible renders this verse in Hebrews 13 as such:

Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.  [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

Adam Clarke said about this verse:

The words are peculiarly emphatic: Ου μη σε ανω, ουδ’ ου μη σε εγκαταλιπω. There are no less than five negatives in this short sentence, and these connected with two verbs and one pronoun twice repeated. To give a literal translation is scarcely possible; it would run in this way: “No, I will not leave thee; no, neither will I not utterly forsake thee.” Those who understand the genius of the Greek language, and look at the manner in which these negatives are placed in the sentence, will perceive at once how much the meaning is strengthened by them, and to what an emphatic and energetic affirmative they amountNo, I will never leave thee; not I: I will never, never cast thee off.”

You might not be wealthy but if your attitude is to covet and crave for possessions, you’re already sinning. Being satisfied with what God has given you honors Him. God will never forsake us. God will test our faith by allowing us go through deserts but never will He leave His saints dying when they cry to Him. God feeds the birds and will care for those who trusts Him. God will not fail us but will be faithful.

Jesus knew that men struggle with managing their possessions. So He wisely said:

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”   Mat 6:19

Do not worry Jesus said. This is a teaching most Christians heard in a sermon. Worrying is synonymous to faithlessness. You doubt God’s abilities when you worry. Jesus knows the heart of man and He reassured us through these words:

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.” Mat 6:31

Turn your eyes off the worldly treasures for they are temporary and you’ll be being satisfied with what you have. If your treasure is your money, your heart will be there. When you lose what you have, your heart also starts to fail and worry. Basically, if you want to be freed from the sin of cupidity you have to be content with what you have. And how to be content with what you have? It is by turning your eyes on heavenly things. Have faith. It is tough to keep our eyes on God the Father when there’s turmoil around us.

Many like amassing treasures but few of us enjoy giving. But giving really helps in freeing ourselves from selfishness and cupidity. I sometimes struggle in giving because of my personal needs. Paul said: “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Do you realise who said He will not abandon you?  It’s when we do not know who God is that we refuse to live by faith. Relax dear readers. God will rescue you and no man can oppose His will. If you have put your hope in God, He is in control. If God manages your finances and what you earn, do not fear. By the way, is not it Him who has given you health to acquire wealth? Surrender yourself. Do not rely on what you have for in a twinkle of an eye you can lose all. What good is it to have a huge wealth but you’re unable to enjoy it? But it is a gift of God to be able to enjoy what you toiled for. To accept once lot in life and happily enjoy what you have is a blessing from God.

Ecclesiastes tells us:  “Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” Ecc 5:18-20

It is not because we possess more that we will be more happy. This is the wisdom the teacher in Ecclesiastes wants to tell us. But the grace of being able to enjoy what you possess is a blessing.  I personally know a very rich man who was in constant conflict with his wife and ended up selling all his possessions and got divorced. He is still cleaving to his wealth and fears to spend. What a miserable man!

Proverbs 17:1 tells us: “Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict.”

I would prefer love and peace amidst poverty in my home than constant conflict amidst overflowing wealth. To be satisfied with what you have and enjoy your wealth is not a blessing given to every man. So do not compare your wealth with someone else. Be rather thankful that you can enjoy your wealth. Our God is a rich God. Everything belongs to Him. He likes when we put our faith in Him instead of borrowing to fill up holes. Let us reconsider our attitude towards money. Let us be faithful stewards and bless others with our wealth.

Posted September 9, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (13:4)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” Hebrews 13:4

Our author has brilliantly presented to us Christ exalted and argued magnificently about doctrines. The author is not only concerned about our relationship to Christ but also about our attitude towards men. He wanted to exhort the readers to persevere in the faith while going through trials.  In the last chapter of our epistle, our author is briefly listing down some important recommendations about loving one another, doing good works and caring for the needy. Our epistle is in itself a complete kit for Christians to know God’s will.

In such a hugely doctrinally packed epistle, our author does not miss to give a short recommendation on marriage. Marriage was instituted in Eden by God Himself. God blesses marriage and hates divorce (Mal 2:16).

The amplified bible renders this verse as such:

Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things. And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled (kept undishonored); for God will judge and punish the unchaste [all guilty of sexual vice] and adulterous.”

Let respect be given to those choosing to follow God’s guidelines as male and female. Let families, parents and the society praise such an honorable act. Jesus honored a wedding in Cana by His presence and also performed His first miracle there. Marriage is not a banality or a certificate like acquired at college. Marriage is an honorable act before God. Christian couples should be the happiest on this earth because the 2 individuals have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. The Holy Spirit makes these 2 individuals develop divine love like the one described in 1 Cor 13.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment between 2 individuals. Every sexual union involves life and God has His say in it. Adulterers and homosexuals dishonor God but those who follow rightfully His plan honor Him.  There is a mystery which happens when 2 bodies unite together. This is why adultery and polygamy are not within God’s plan. Sexual union is divinely approved and blessed only within marriage. Sexual relations outside marriage make you a rebel against God’s authority.

Paul tried to portray marriage as such:

As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Eph 5:31

When a husband and wife unite themselves together, there’s a bonding which occurs in the spiritual realm. Though we do not physically see it, the wife has been knitted to the husband through marriage by God. If the husband understands Jesus’ love and submit to His authority, his wife will not find it difficult to submit and respect him.

The husband’s body is no longer his own but also that of his wife. The wife’s flesh is no longer hers but also that of his husband. The 2 become one flesh and if the 2 separate, they are no longer one but half.

Paul described it as such:

In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.” Eph 5:28

Sexual purity and fidelity are therefore adamant in such bonds. Paul portrays the relationship of a husband to his wife as of Christ with the church.  The husband should treat his wife as his own body like Christ cares for the church which is His body. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Christ is the groom and the church is represented as His bride which He dearly cherishes. Jesus went to the extent of purchasing her through His death. Christ is faithful to His bride and does everything for Her. Such should be the husband’s attitude towards his wife. Esteem highly the act of marriage for it honors God to see a husband committing himself to his wife.  Do you understand how a serious engagement it is? Let the man cleave to his wife and the marriage bed be undefiled says the author. Some people marry for the wrong reasons and eventually find themselves unhappy. It is always better to remain single than marrying the wrong person and struggle. Think well before you take that step.

Sexual immorality should not be even mentioned in the church Paul said in Ephesians 5. However, in the Corinthians church it happened and Paul said:

But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Cor 7:2-5

It is the responsibility of husband and wife to fulfill their marital duty. Paul also described the husband as not having authority on his own body but should rather yield his body to his wife and vice versa. The bible encourages sexual relations between husband and wife but heavily condemns fornication, adultery and homosexuality.  The sexually immoral will not inherit God’s kingdom (Rev 22:15, Gal 5:19, Eph 5:5).

Though I am not yet married and don’t know much about it, I believe that God is involved in it and He will stand as Judge to the vows said before Him. Give your congratulations to a newly married couple. Shake the hands of these genuine lovers. Watch also over them when they struggle.

Epistle to the Hebrews (13:2-3)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” Hebrews 13:2-3

At the time the author was speaking there were probably not many inns where people could stay. We are living in a corrupted society and for security reasons no one likes to take the risk to host strangers in his home. The author is probably making allusion to strangers serving God. For example, Abraham and Lot hosted strangers without knowing they were angels.

When I was on a mission trip this year, a family hosted me and some other team members. What marked me was their attitude in caring for me. It was not really about what they could offer but about their willingness to help. It cost them their time, energy and money to host me and they did it with all their heart. This couple and children did much sacrifice and this is something I could not repay back. It was not about money but about the host’s attitude for demonstrating hospitality.

Still on the mission trip, I did not have the opportunity to visit prisoners but some of my team members were able to. Their visit at prison marked them for life. Going there and experience the atmosphere was a unique experience. We could all have been behind the bars if Christ did not snatch us from our depravity. A fit of rage could have led us to make an unrepairable mistake like crime of passion. Without the Spirit in us to tame us, we don’t know if we would have had issues with law today. Some people in prisons did a stupid mistake during the immature days of their youth and now they are behind the bars.

Some have been caught up with drugs due to bad influence or poverty. No one wants to go to jail. Being deprived of his liberty is a very hard blow for a man. Many prisoners regret what they did but unfortunately it’s too late. The author is not asking us to get people out of prison but rather visit them. Show them love even though they are despised by the society. Remember you were also a prisoner of sin and it’s not something you’re proud of(Eph 2:1-3). One day someone visited you in your spiritual prison to present you Christ. Christ has redeemed you and you now have spiritual liberty. Think of those who are physically deprived of their liberty and are imprisoned in their sins. A prisoner is often stigmatized by the society and still unloved when released.  Remember you could also have been one of them if you were in similar situations as them. I had the opportunity to visit drug addicts in a detoxification centre. These people resemble you and I but the difference is that they are trapped in a vice and shouting for help. They know that by themselves they are unable to leave their drugs and alcohol. They are miserable men and women. They saw their families destroyed by their own hands. These men love their wives and kids and miss them. It is so easy to judge and despise these people. But listen to their story. Ask them what led them to that state. Ask them what happened while under influence of drugs/alcohol. I saw a man whose legs and hands were broken and was almost dead when alcohol was flowing in his veins. No one takes pleasure to suffer like that. But the fact is that these people messed up somewhere and we cannot just wash our hands. They need Jesus, they need hope, peace and love. Who can pass on this genuine hope and love if not us who have the Spirit indwelling us? Think also about those who suffer and persecuted unfairly.  When you’re in prison or addicted to drug, your status no longer matters. You’re trapped and imprisoned. Let us go back to the basics brothers and sisters. We often boast about the great events organised in our churches or how great the sermon was. But remember the poor, remember the prisoners and those enslaved in vices. I am personally guilty of failing to pass on Christ’s love. Jesus said that it’s a serious offense unto Him if we never visited one of His followers who was jailed. He portrayed it as such:

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink.I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Mat 25:40-46

Demonstrate consideration and care for those who are stigmatised and tagged by the society as “problems”. Jesus came to save sinners irrespective of who they are and what they did.

Posted September 7, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (13:1)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

 “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 13:1

Loving one another forms part of the central teaching of Jesus.  Loving God and people were explicitly described as being the greatest commandments.

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Mat 22:37

In the Gospel of Mark 12:29, Jesus described love as a commandment for which there’s no greater than it.

We cannot talk about Christianity without mentioning love. It’s because God so loved the world that He gave His son.

John says in his letter:

This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” 1 John 3:11

If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.” 1 John 3:14

Loving one another is not just a teaching but a command. Loving others is an evidence that we are children of light and passed from death to life. Why is love so central to Christianity?

Paul described love as a debt.

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Romans 13:8, Gal 5:14

The entire law is based on loving God and loving people. If we love God we will not sin against Him and when we love people we won’t hurt them. If you love God, you won’t commit idolatry and if you love your wife, you won’t commit adultery. From love was the law derived. The laws given by God were to make people draw closer to Him and take care of others.

Much has been written and many will write on this very deep word – Love. The media twists love as being a feeling or sexual. But love is not a feeling but a commitment. Love is all about giving yourself for someone else.

Paul describes love as such:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Cor 13:4-7

When we love someone, we’re patient with that person’s weaknesses. When we are impatient, it’s probably because of selfishness. God has been very patient with me and it’s something I do not deserve at all. Love is also kind, it is gentle and caring. Love is not harsh or bullying but demonstrates tenderness. Love is not arrogant. Love is also not envious and jealous. When someone is envious, it is probably because that person compares what he has with what others owe and is unsatisfied. Love is not boastful or proud because it has nothing to prove. Love is either genuine or not. It is not conceited. This love does not look down on others. Love is humble and seeks not to be placed on a footstool and praised. It tries not to impress or is double-faced. Love gives without expecting anything in return. It does not boast at how much it did but naturally serves others. Love seeks not it’s own interest but that of someone else. Love is also not rude but respectful. Love does not insist on its own rights but rather gives up his rights to bind the relationship. It accepts to lose and sacrifice it’s ego for the sake of that relationship.

Let us look at a verse which describes Jesus’ attitude as giving up:
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.Though he was God,he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.Instead, he gave up his divine privilegesPhil 2:3-5

Love is quick to forgive and slow to get angry:

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Col 3:12-13

Love gets over an offense and seeks to heal the wounds quickly. Love forgives and forgets. It is not resentful. Love makes allowances for others faults and is slow to judge. Love is not irritable. It cannot be provoked to withhold good when wronged. It does not retort or aims to return wrong for wrong. Love never ceases to forgive and does not count how much forgiving or good it has been.  It will be ready to forgive wholeheartedly even – 70 times 7(Mat 18:23). It never says it has done enough or forgave much. It keeps on seeking to serve others. Love rejoices when good is done and does not tolerate injustice. It has no part in injustice but rather condemns it. Love is not suspicious but trusts. Love is innocent to evil. It is hopeful and will endure. Spiritual gifts will cease, heaven and earth will pass away but love will still remain as being the character God expects to see in us for eternity.  Love is a permanent command. Love faces adversity and storms but feelings are attenuated with them. Real love is a commitment and is long-suffering. The more love rubs with difficulties the brighter it shines.

Keep on loving others with this love.

Posted September 1, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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