Archive for November 2013

The Absolute Necessity Of Faith   Leave a comment

George Müller

George Müller

In the 19th century, England was blessed to have on its soil a faithful man – George Müller. This man was renowned for his daring attitude of absolute dependance on God’s provision. He vowed that he would not make any request to man but to God alone. He was not a rich man, he took no debts but God provided a colossal amount of money worth about  £100 million today. Orphanages were built, orphans educated and fed freely. His determination of trusting God was a result of his knowledge of His Savior. God proved to be faithful to him in many ways before he embarked on this penniless adventure.

Churches around the world preach about justification by faith alone for salvation. Christians believe that they don’t have to do good works  to earn God’s favor for salvation. It’s all of grace.

It is noteworthy to say that being justified by faith is not a New Testament concept. Abraham was justified by faith even before Christ came. Hebrews 11 has a list of old testament figures who were commended by God because of their faith. Christ’s coming demonstrated powerfully how faith in God was the only means  for justification.

James 2:19-21 says:

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.”

Paul has powerfully set the foundation for justification by faith alone in his epistles (Romans 3:23-30). Law observance and good deeds could not save anyone. Here James is talking about the evidence of our faith. It is because we have faith in God that it results in good deeds. Our good deeds do not justify us but ther are visible proofs of the genuineness of our faith. Many preachers boast about salvation by grace through faith but the tragedy is that they stop at that faith which brought them salvation. This is where James is  raising the warning. Since we have been saved by faith in the Son of God, we need to continue living by faith in Him.

Hebrews 10:38 says:

And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”

We have trusted Jesus for the salvation of our soul. We need to continue trust Him for our daily needs also.

Paul rejoiced when he heard about the faith of churches (Col 1:3, 1 Thes 1:3, 1 Thes 1:3, 3:6). Faith of the believers is an indication of their spiritual health.

Jesus expects to see faith in us.

He said:  “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” Luke 18:8

George Muller had faith in Jesus for the salvation of his soul. He did not stop there. His daily faith in God’s provision proved the genuineness of his trust in God.

The opposite of faith is doubt and fear. Faith is a firm assurance of what we hope for. (Hebrews 11:1)

For example, when Jesus calmed down the storm on the sea of Galilee, He said to His disciples:

Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Mat 8:26

He said to Peter : “You have so little faith, Jesus said. Why did you doubt me?” Mat 14:31

Jesus knew that we often have worries, fears and doubts. He said :

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” Mat 6:30-31

In the eyes of God, faith is of capital importance. What good is it to have a deep theological knowledge of the scripture but there is no evidence of faith in action?  Faith is about how much we surrender and trust Him. Was not Jesus amazed with the faith of the Roman officer? He even said that such people who have faith will feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

We read: “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Mat 8:10

Mary and Martha had faith that if Jesus was there Lazarus would not have died. They could not see further. They gave up their hope when their brother passed away.

Mary said: “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” John 11:32

When Jesus asked to roll away the stone, Martha protested and said: “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” John 11:39

But Jesus said: “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?

It was like Jesus sigh and said : “Martha, Martha, did not I repeatedly discoursed to you that if you would entrust yourself to me that you will gaze God’s glory? Did not I?

In the eyes of men, our Lord was late by 4 days. They reasoned that if Jesus was there, Lazarus would not have died. However, Jesus intentionally waited 4 days to go and this resulted to a greater miracle. The bible records that a huge crowd believed as a result of this miracle . The pharisees even wanted to kill Lazarus because of that miracle (John 12:10).

Our Lord was seeking for faith in Peter when he walked on water, faith in the disciples when there was the storm, faith in Martha when her brother died and faith in the Roman officer.  His teachings to the crowd were also to lead them to trust God for their everyday needs. We could also mention the woman who was bleeding and who was healed because of her faith (Mat 9:22) or the 2 blind men (Mat 9:29). These were His words:

Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” Mat 9:22

Because of your faith, it will happen” Mat 9:29

Salvation, healing, blessings are rooted in faith in God. There’s an absolute necessity of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Hebrews 11:6 says: “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

Many of us want to know how to please God. One powerful way is to have faith in Him. This is the kind of fruit God is looking in us. Trust in Jesus for your soul and needs.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent…For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” John 6:29,40

If we want growth in our relationship with Christ, we absolutely need to have faith in Him. Without faith it is impossible to please Him Hebrews 11:6 says. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews encouraged the readers to look at those who were before us and ran that race of faith:

Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.” Hebrews 6:12

There is like a huge crowd of witnesses sitting down in a stadium and watching us running this race of faith. Abraham the father of faith is one of these people watching us. There’re many stages of faith. Moses did not panic in front of the red sea. Why? Because his faith gradually grew through the previous miracles he saw. Abraham reached the peak of his faith when he offered his son Isaac wholeheartedly. It was after many years of seeing God providing for him that he was able to reach this maturity of faith. He had a strong faith in God’s promise for a descendant. Obedience to offer the promised son seemed therefore to be a conflicting request from above. It did not make sense. He still obeyed though. Abraham tried to reconcile how the promise God made could still stand through his obedience in offering the promised son. The amazing thing is that he figured out that God could raise Isaac from the dead even after sacrificing/burning him! He was throughly determined to sacrifice Isaac and also determined that from this same Isaac a large posterity will come!

Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death” Hebrews 11:19

How could a man reach such a mature faith? It was because throughout his life, he learned surrendering and trusting God. The evidence of his faith was proved when he obeyed.

Let us “run” the bible says, run with endurance this individual race. Jesus is Himself the One who initiates faith in us and wants it to grow.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” Hebrews 12:1

The epistle to the Hebrews warns about the danger of unbelief:

So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest“. Hebrews 3:19

The Jews could not enter Canaan because they did not have faith for it.  “For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.” Hebrews 4:2

The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness because they failed to have faith that God could give them Canaan.

Numbers 14:33 “Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.”

Apart from Joshua and Caleb, the whole generation of those who complained perished in the wilderness.This was the gravity of unbelief. Number 14:38

Let us not take lightly the absolute necessity of living by faith. The Israelites were saved from Egypt but did not continue to live by faith. So it is for us. We have been saved from sins and God expects that we continue to live by faith.

God blesses us with trials to help us grow in our faith. It is abnormal if a Christian does not have trials. When God prunes and works in us, we should be glad about it. If it does not happen it is probably because we have not surrendered ourselves to Him.

James 1:3 says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

The testing of our faith takes time. We need to persevere so as to grow up in maturity.

Posted November 23, 2013 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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The 5 love languages [1]   Leave a comment

5 love languages

5 love languages

I read the book “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and found out in it an interesting source of information regarding people’s response to love. Did it ever happen to you that you demonstrate much love to someone and he/she seems not realise it? Or maybe you’re frustrated or feel unloved even if people around say they love you? Gary Chapman has skilfully portrayed 5 categories of love languages that people understand. This is of course not an absolute way of categorizing it but I found it making sense on several aspects. There’s of course some overlapping between these languages but categorizing them help to see clearer.

  • The Gift Language

Some people feel loved or valued when a gift is given to them. It does not necessarily mean an expensive one but the intention. It can be when you give yourself, your time, a nice meal, flowers or invest your money. The person who is sensible to this language feels “Oh look what he/she did for me!”. Some people assume that the more they give to someone, the more the person should feel loved. However, they can still be deceived that the person did not appreciate their gifts. In this case, the gift language is probably the one of the giver and not that of the receiver. This love language remembers me Jesus giving His life for us (John 15:13).

  • Acts of service Language

It refers to people who feel loved when service are rendered to them. It can be about ironing the clothes, putting out the garbage, cleaning the house or washing the dishes. Doing household activities for your spouse, children or parents can be very meaningful if the one to whom the service is rendered is sensible to that language. It can also be about what you do for your colleagues at work or friends at school. Taken alternatively, if the person does not receive help for domestic chores, no one puts out the dustbin and no one proposes to wash the dishes it makes the person feel unloved. The person feels that he/she always do for others and no one do for him/her. Of course, the service language does not limit itself to household activities. It can be when you help a colleague complete his/her work or propose to carry the heavy groceries of someone leaving a shop. This remembers me Jesus washing the feet of His disciples like a servant (John 13:16).

  • Words of affirmation

It’s mainly about things said to value someone. Many are quick to criticize and if the person to whom the #1 love language are words of affirmation, this person will feel inadequate. Destructive criticism has no goal to help, it tears from within the hearer. However, constructive criticism has growth as objective. When someone criticizes constructively, his/her love is genuine and does not have on his/her agenda the intention to say “You’re a loser, incapable, stupid, good for nothing”. Issues has to be addressed in relationships and suppressing feelings will not help at all. It’s not about who will win the argument. Genuine words of affirmation can easily be distinguished from fake ones. When you say for example the dish was excellent when it was not, you’re fooling yourself and if the hearer discerns it you’ll lose her/his respect. However, if you fail to say/see the qualities of someone, it causes that person to feel inadequate. Many people feel insecure with their physical appearance, intelligence or abilities. They have probably been hurt in the past because of some inappropriate remarks and they closed their hearts to express how they feel. Their parents were probably always making them reproach and they feel that they cannot achieve anything good. Words of affirmation renders the hearer his/her value and dignity. Words like “You’re beautiful, intelligent, awesome, a hard-worker” can really lift up someone who has low self-esteem or some sort of inferior complexity. Sometimes, how you say things has more impact than what you actually say. The tonality used can paralyzed the hearer and traumatized him/her. You probably know the qualities of your parents, friends and spouse but if you fail to praise them how will they know your appreciations? Maybe in their minds they are just waiting for a “Thank you”. Praising someone honestly can be powerful and encouraging. This remembers me Jesus calling His disciples friends (John 15:15).

  • Physical touch

Physical touch is a powerful way of expressing one’s affection and love. This is probably because it deals with the body. We have all been wired to respond to touch. This is a chemical/biological respond of our body which gives some good sensations. However, we must realize that one can still be unfulfilled in his emotions even if touched in erogenous places. If someone’s #1 language are words of affirmation and you have always belittled her/him how do you think that person will feel? That person will feel used. Sometimes, what happens psychologically has more impact than the physical. Many men think that sex is what can make them feel loved. But taken in the right perspective, it is mainly their masculinity which make them desire it. One can still be unfulfilled even after having sex. It is probably because there’re other issues which do not render physical contact pleasurable. What will happen if you abstain to touch someone who feels loved when touched? That person will think you do not desire him/her and will slowly avoid you by respect. Hugs or kisses not given to someone whose love language is physical touch can lead him/her seek for it elsewhere. This remembers me John leaning on Jesus’ bosom (John 13:25) and Jesus touching lepers, those people deprived of physical contact.

  • Quality moments

This love language is what I understand as intimate moments. It can be about spent time together laughing, discussing about plans, sharing secrets, playing games, running together, playing tennis, cooking together or just resting in each others arms. It’s not necessarily about how much time is spent together but about the activities done together. Two people can spend a whole day together without actually making the most of these moments. It can also be about being together without saying anything. It’s the presence of the person which matters. There is a high need of mutual trust and transparency. This remembers me the time spent by Jesus with His disciples in prayers and teachings (John 17).

Chapman also mentioned that there’re many dialects in those 5 languages. For example a man and a woman will not enjoy the same kind of physical touch, same kind of gifts, praises, services and activities.  There’re different ways of expressing each other.

One important thing in relationship between spouses, friends, colleagues and in the family is to know others love languages and one’s personal love language.  By this way we can learn a new language and thus communicate our love and affectation through the channel that is best understood by the receiver. A Chinese and an African can be madly in love, however unless they talk the same language they won’t be able to communicate their love. It requires efforts to learn a new language. It is also important to say that this kind of love is not self-seeking but aims at loving someone else. The interesting thing is that when you love someone without expecting anything in return, this person will love you back. Honest discussions can help improve significantly relationships. Last but not the least, it is essential to mention that the efforts made by an individual to practice the love language of someone having a difficult character will be useless unless the heart is renewed by Christ. The heart of man is evil, selfish and deceitful by nature. The knowledge of the 5 languages will be of no value unless divine love finds its way.

1 Corinthians 13 says:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].”

The God who closes doors [1]   2 comments

Closed Door

Closed Door

What he opens, no one can close;and what he closes, no one can open” Rev 3:7

These words were addressed by Jesus to the church of Philadelphia to encourage them. The same words were used in Isaiah 22:22 to demonstrate the authority of our Lord.

Adam Clarke said of this verse:

Key is the emblem of authority and knowledge; the key of David is the legal right or authority of David. David could shut or open the kingdom of Israel to whom he pleased. He was not bound to leave the kingdom even to his eldest son.He could choose whom he pleased to succeed him. The kingdom of the Gospel, and the kingdom of heaven, are at the disposal of Christ. He can shut against whom he will; he can open to whom he pleases. If he shuts, no man can open; if he opens, no man can shut. His determinations all stand fast, and none can reverse them.”

Basically, Christ has absolute authority on His government. He is King and Ruler of heaven and does what He wants. No one can oppose or thwart His plans.

Our God is in the heavens,and he does as he wishes.” Ps 115:3

For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” Is 14:27

The crowds and Pharisees rejoiced that finally Jesus was defeated. Pilate tried to intimidate Him and said:

“Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?

Jesus said with serenity: “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above” John 19:11

The supreme court of a country has itself God as its authority. Paul said :

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” Rom 13:1

Colossians 2:10 says:

So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

Before He left, Jesus affirmed: “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth” Mat 28:18

The reason of this post is first to establish that Jesus is above our boss, the head of our pastor and the One who has supremacy over any powerful authority. It might appear strange to you but if you’re within God’s will, there’s nothing which will happen to you that Jesus is not in control of.

If you’re obedient and submit to the Spirit’s voice, God will faithfully lead you where He wants you to be. When an authority oppresses you, think about what our Lord said:  “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above“.

Many times we call out to God to open doors but forget that this God equally closes doors. God has His own way of doing things. He has His own timing, plan and purpose. We cannot impose God deadlines and constraints. God is never late or lose control. When Saul saw that Samuel was late, he panicked and offered the sacrifice himself.

Jesus knew that Lazarus would die but still did not go instantly to heal him. When Jesus reached Bethany, Lazarus was already in the tomb for 4 days (John 11:39).  Mary and Martha thought it was over.

Martha with her little faith said: “if you had been here, my brother would not have died

But Jesus said:

Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40

When all has been said and done, the One who has the power over life mightily stood and called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”. Jesus not healing Lazarus was a closed door for Mary. For Jesus, it was an opened door for a mighty miracle. Was the Lord late to heal? In human eyes yes. No one thought Jesus had in mind to let Lazarus die and raise him back from the dead. It was for His own glory He did that. The result of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead was more spectacular than just healing him. As a result a huge crowd believed in Him.

God often does spectacular things at the last moment to test the genuineness of our faith.  Remember the Israelites holding their breath between the Egyptians and the Red sea? There was visibly no way out. However, what the Israelites thought was a closed door(Red sea) was actually the exit door.

Many times we pray to God and ask Him to lead us and take control of our lives. The irony is that when He does it, we start to rebel. We do not understand why doors are closed and things not done as we wish. We are anxious, frustrated and feel lost. Rejoice! For God is at work to form your character and make you grow in your faith. In these moments, you will learn to pray and know Him more. If doors were always opened we would not seek God or recognize His hands. I tried by my own efforts to do certain things thinking I had the capacity to manage it all. It just did not work out the way I wanted. I was astonished because it never happened in my life that doors were closed like that. It had to be the loving Father up there closing all these doors. Then I remembered that I asked God to guide my steps about my projects. It was so tough to surrender what my hands were grabbing so tightly. I wanted to be in control of my destiny and happiness and finally left it all to God. Dear readers, if you want to be within God’s will, expect that God can also close door before you. If you want to exclude God from your life then you’ll be your own master and doors you knock will probably be opened.  But beware, the grass given by the Good Shepherd is not greener elsewhere.

Many who have excluded God in their lives are rich and prosperous. They have a happy family, healthy and enjoy life. But the tragedy is that they have rejected God’s plan for them. They are rebels and opposing God.

Peter said : “For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble.Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you” 1 Pet 5:6 AMP

  • When God closes doors, let us not persist. If God opened a door for you, He will carry you through. I prefer walking alone with God on the narrow road than walking with many companions on promising projects.
  • When God closes doors, He takes you out of your comfort zone for His own purpose. We do not like insecurity and we fear walking by faith like Abraham to a place we do not know.
  • When God closes doors, you stop relying on your money, management abilities, relatives and contacts. It’s then your knees start to feel how hard the floor is.
  • When God closes doors, you learn to be patient, know Him and grow in your faith.

James said: “Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.” James 1:3-4 AMP

  • When God closes door, it is probably because it is not yet the time. Closed doors are a blessing because God protects and loves you. Even when proclaiming the Gospel, God closed doors.  This is what happened to Paul and Silas:

When Paul and Silas passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia they having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Word in the province of Asia.” Acts 16:6

If God is at the center of your life and you did not get a job you were looking for, a relationship did not work out or a project failed to concretize, then there’re good reasons to be grateful. We have no idea of what really awaits us behind a closed door. When we pray to God and the answer is ‘NO’, we are skeptic because we’re not getting what we want. Is not it wiser to just obey instead of trying to force the door?

Dear readers also rejoice that when God opens a door, no one can close it.

Posted November 9, 2013 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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