Where is liberty? Are you free?

In a world plagued with addiction, there is a search for freedom – true freedom; liberty from all the things that enslave us. The Bible teaches us that where the Holy Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17) and he whom the Son of God (Jesus Christ) makes free is free indeed (John 8:36).

Points to ponder:
Are you free or under bondage? In other words, do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and is He the Lord of your life, for where His Holy Spirit is, there is liberty. When we walk after the Spirit and not after our flesh, there is true liberty and no condemnation (Romans 8:1).

2 Corinthians 3:17 (KJV)
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

John 8:36 (KJV)
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Family God

Divorce plagues our society and the deception is that divorce brings about liberation while in the contrary it actually brings about loneliness. The antidote to loneliness is a God – a Family God – the God of the Bible.

When God told Noah, a just man, to come into the ark, that would save him, he told Noah to bring his family  (his wife, his sons and their wives) with him (Genesis 6:18). When Rahab, the prostitute helped the spies of God, in addition to herself, her family was promised Salvation as well (Joshua 2:18; Joshua 6:16-18).

Points to ponder:
The God of the Bible is a Family God. He cares for all, especially those who are justified by their belief in Jesus, and his promise (covenant) extends to the family of those who are in Christ, the ARK of Salvation. Irrespective of the adulterous lifestyle we have lived in the past, as long as we have repented of our sinful ways, and acted on our faith in Jesus, believing that only in him is victory over death, his scarlet blood will save us and our families (who believe and are in the household of God) – for he is a Family God who cares. Jesus promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20) and that means that he is the only antidote to loneliness and only in him is true liberation, when we divorce sin.

Genesis 6:18 (KJV)
18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.

Joshua 2:18 (KJV)
18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.

Joshua 6:16-17 (KJV)
16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.
17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

Matthew 28:20 (KJV)
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Food on the table or for the Soul

Many in the world today are caught in the hamster wheel of life, so much so that despite all the steps they take, they go nowhere in God’s plan for their lives. They struggle harder and continue to live unfulfilled lives. While speaking with a friend of mine, he was expressing as to how he was dejected in finding out from his believer friends that they spend very little, if at all any time, reading from the Bible and meditating on the word of God, recorded in the Holy Bible. These friends he said were believers, who emulated Jesus in character (for the most part), were loving to their spouses and children, physically motivated and exercising, successful in their work places and leaders in their community. They would tell him that they are very busy, busy to put food on the table, as providers in their family. As we engaged in conversation, it dawned on us that the deception of the devil is to keep us busy with earthly things which hinder us from fulfilling the plan of God in our lives. To be so busy that we don’t have time for God is to BUSY – Be Under Satan’s Yoke. The devil tricks God’s people into being so busy that they focus on working to put food on the table as opposed to working for the Lord and getting food for the Soul from the word of God. In other words, there are many “Starving Christians” in the world today.

Points to ponder:
It is essential to work for providing for our families, but not at the expense of not working for the Lord. Remember Jesus’ words – “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Seek ye first the kingdom of God (food for your Soul) and all these things (food on the table) shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33). What are you working for? Putting food on the table or for your Soul? Are you a starving Christian?

Matthew 4:4 (KJV)
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Matthew 6:30-33 (KJV)
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Busy Hands for God

The Bible says that we ought to be doers of the word and not mere hearers of it, lest we deceive ourselves (James 1:22). Jesus likened the man who does what he hears of the word of God to be like the wise man who built his house on a rock (solid foundation) (Matthew 7:24). While it is important to recognize that we are saved solely by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by any of our own works (Ephesians 2:8), we are called to do good works (Ephesians 2:10) – works that glorify God the Father, who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). We must not only hear, for faith comes by hearing, but upon our response to Christ Jesus’ call, we must be busy in God’s kingdom business, of reconciling man unto God (2 Corinthians 5:20), by doing his will and not our own in our lives (Luke 22:42). In other words, we must act on our faith, by faith, for faith without action is dead (James 2:17)

Points to ponder:
One knows that time is counting when they see the hands of the clock busy and moving. In the same manner, one will know that the time of our life counts when they see our hands busy and moving, working for the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not waste our lives. Just like the builders in the time of Nehemiah, took on one hand, weapons and with the other carried materials to do the work of God (Nehemiah 4:17), we must take on the word of God (which is the weapon (Sword) of the Spirit) on one hand, and work for the Lord with the other. Jesus’ hands were pierced so ours did not have to be. The least we can do is use our hands to work for him. The word of God and the work of God go hand in hand, and our hands must be busy for God, with both.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

James 1:22 (KJV)
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Proverbs 18:9 (KJV)
9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

Nehemiah 4:17-18 (KJV)
17 They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.
18 For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.

Are you making a living or a life?

Many today are in the pursuit of making a living and seldom take time to make a life. I once read the following statement in a book entitled, “God’s Little Devotional Book” – “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

Points to ponder:
Are you making a living or making a life? In other words, are you getting or giving? Giving is the expression of love. God so LOVED the world, that he GAVE his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16), who GAVE himself willingly for the salvation of our souls (John 10:17-18). Have you given your life to and for Jesus as he has given his life for you? It is more blessed to make a life for Jesus than to make a living for ourselves. Think about it.

Acts 20:35 (KJV)
35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

A king’s dream (of an everlasting kingdom)

In addition to my mother, Dr. Iris Paul’s birthday (Happy Birthday Amma), on January 21st, 2013, we celebrated MLK day, celebrating the birth of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who is well known for his fight against racial discrimination and his famous “I have a dream” speech. In that speech, Dr. King, Jr. expressed his dream of seeing America one day without any discrimination on the basis of race.

The Bible records in Daniel 2:31-45 , the dream of another king, king Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler over Babylon, and this was his dream –
He saw standing before him a huge, shining statue of a man, which was a frightening sight. The head of the statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, its legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. As he watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.

God’s servant, Daniel interprets this dream as the events that are and that are to come saying “The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is trustworthy (certain)”.

King Nebuchadnezzar is the head of gold and prophet Jeremiah calls Babylon, a gold cup in the Lord’s hand (Jeremiah 51:7). But after his kingdom comes to an end, another kingdom (Medo-Persian led by Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian), inferior to his, will rise to take his place. After that kingdom has fallen, yet a third kingdom (Grecian lead by Alexander the Great), represented by bronze, will rise to rule the world. Following that kingdom, there will be a fourth one (Roman empire), as strong as iron. That kingdom will smash and crush all previous empires, just as iron smashes and crushes everything it strikes. The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron. But while some parts of it will be as strong as iron, other parts will be as weak as clay. This mixture of iron and clay also shows that these kingdoms will try to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with each other through intermarriage. But they will not hold together, just as iron and clay do not mix. During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom (Jesus’ kingdom, for he was God’s Only begotten Son, not fashioned by the hands of any man) that will never be destroyed or conquered. Jesus’ kingdom will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. That is the meaning of the rock (Jesus the Rock of our Salvation) cut from the mountain (Mount Golgotha/Calvary), though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold.

When Jesus was born, it was asked of him “Where is he, who is born THE KING (of the Jews)?” (Matthew 2:2) When Jesus was killed, it was inscribed in the titulus placed over his head, on the Cross, the inscription “This is Jesus THE KING (of the Jews)” (Matthew 27:37). And when you believe in Jesus, there is no Jew or Gentile discrimination, for we all become the children of God (Galatians 3:28) and he is the Sovereign King over all. His kingdom is indestructible and indomitable, one without end, ever expanding to cover the whole earth and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:11)

Points to ponder:
Only those who have trusted in Jesus and have been born again by the Spirit of God belong to the indestructible, indomitable, never-ending, non-discriminating Kingdom of God? (John 3:1-18). Do you belong to the kingdom of Jesus Christ? The kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).

Galatians 3:26-28 (KJV)
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Revelation 11:15 (KJV)
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

Mark 1:15 (KJV)
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Daniel 2:44 (KJV)
44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

Inheriting God’s favor (in a Son)

Reuben, our beloved firstborn son, turned 7 years old yesterday (January 20, 2013) and as we reflect, on this precious gift of God the Father (Abishai) unto us, we are grateful to God for his goodness and grace that we experience in and through Reuben. God has blessed him with many talents and gifts, in faith, academics and in sports. He is gifted with a good sense of memory, memorizes Bible verses speedily, prays with faith, was identified and placed in the gifted an talented program at his School, participates in gymnastics, swimming and is a 2nd degree Brown belt in Shaolin-Do Kung Fu.

The Bible says that “Children are a heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:2) and the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word ‘Heritage’ as ‘property that is descended to an heir.’ As we reflect on these 7 years with Reuben as our Son, we recognize that “Reuben is a heritage of the Lord.”, a loan from above. In other words, he is God’s property given to us as a gift, as we are God’s heirs because of what Jesus Christ victoriously accomplished. Jesus restored the relationship of fallen man, with God, by his death and resurrection, and gives to all who believes in him, his Spirit of adoption, by which we can call God, Abba Father (Romans 8:15), making us co-heirs with him (Romans 8:17), and our prayer is that we will always be cognizant of God’s favor in Reuben whom we have inherited.

Our prayer for him is, as he grows up, he is first is a follower of Jesus Christ and secondly a Godly son to us and a Godly brother to his sibling Ittai; that he grows with wisdom, in stature and in favor of God and man (as Jesus did – Luke 2:52).

Points to ponder:
My beloved wife, Sangeetha and I have personally inherited God’s favor in our son, Reuben. But the whole world is eligible of personally inheriting God’s favor in his Only Begotten heavenly Son, Jesus Christ, if only they believe in Jesus. Have you inherited God’s favor in his Son, Jesus Christ?

Psalm 127:3 (KJV)
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

John 1:12 (KJV)
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Romans 8:15-17 (KJV)
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Put First Things First :: Preach (Give)

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus, writes, “I delivered unto you that which I also received” and tells us what he received – the Gospel of Salvation i.e., Jesus Christ died for ours sins, according to the scriptures, and he was buried, and he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Jesus said, “As you go, preach” … “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:7-8).

Those of us who have received the good news of Salvation and believed in Jesus as Lord, must preach (give) the good news freely to others who have not yet believed in the Name of Jesus. This is our commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

Putting First Things First, we must preach the good news of Jesus’ death for our sins, his burial and resurrection, but before we can do that, we must first receive.

Points to ponder:
Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord, Savior and King? If you have not, please tarry no further. If you have, are you freely giving him by preaching him to the nations? Freely you have received, freely give.  First Receive, First of all,  Preach (Give). The kingdom of heaven is at hand!

Matthew 10:7-8 (KJV)
And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (KJV)
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Put First Things First :: Know

The Apostle Peter records that “Know this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Peter 1:20-21).

Many is the world have attempted and some still continue to attempt to discredit the authority and credibility of the Holy Bible, which is in reality a love story of God unto man. It is the autobiography of Jesus, from the beginning (Genesis) until the final unveiling of him in all of his glory (Revelation). I sometimes wonder how a love story can be hated so much and when vile and baseless words are spoken against the Bible, the followers of Christ need not be discouraged or dejected, but instead take solace in the fact that all Scripture (every word of God in the Holy Bible) is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) and the holy men who wrote the words of God, wrote not out of their own will, but after being moved by the Holy Spirit of God (1 Peter 1:21).

While this may seem to be a point in an apologetic defense of the Christian faith, what is of importance is to first know that “All Scripture is from God, about God, a blueprint for man to conform into God’s Image and not conform to the patterns of this world” (Romans 8:29; Romans 12:2). This conformance begins with first knowing God and his Son Jesus Christ, and this knowing is eternal life (John 17:3). At the same, this is also a warning for the Christ follower, that the words of God is not for private interpretation, for anyone who adds or subtracts from the scripture will be held accountable (Revelation 22:18-19). Unless, we have the Holy Spirit of God within us, who comes upon our belief in God’s Son, Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we cannot be moved to interpret this love story of God unto man.

Putting First Things First, we must first Know Jesus Christ and upon knowing him, we can be sure that his words (Scripture) are given unto man from God, the Ultimate Authority over all the worlds, to tell us his Love Story, and we can take him at his word.

Points to ponder:
Are you assured of Eternal Life? In other words, do you know God and his Son Jesus Christ, for eternal life is defined as knowing the One Trust God and his Son, Christ Jesus, whom God sent into the world to save sinners (John 3:17). First Know Jesus Christ. Also, know this first, that the Bible is from God and it is about God. It is given unto man as a blueprint for us to conform into God’s Image. It is his Love Story for you and me and he loves us. Do you love him? Do I love him?

1 Peter 1:20-21 (KJV)
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

John 17:3 (KJV)
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Put First Things First :: Judge (self)

Christians are often branded as people who “judge” by the secular world and rightfully so, they must be. To judge someone does not mean that we are condemning someone as most mistakenly understand it to be but instead it is to form an opinion after careful evaluation of the evidence and testing of premises.

Unfortunately, for the most part, many Christians are raised with the idea that they must not judge others. This mistaken understanding stems from taking the words of Jesus partially as opposed to the totality of what Jesus expressed. Jesus said, “Judge not so that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1), but he continued that counsel by saying that “By whatever judgment you judge, that same measure will be used in your judgment.” (Matthew 7:2) and then proceeded to establish a very crucial aspect of judging, which is “First, judge yourself before judging others.” Not doing so will make us a hypocrite according to Jesus (Matthew 7:3-5).

Say someone is playing with fire. If we lack judgment, we would have no qualms of joining together with them and playing with fire ourselves, which could lead to us being burned along with them. If we exercise judgment and go and tell them that they should not be playing with fire, while holding a lighted torch in our own hands, then that advice will fall on deaf ears as they would turn back and point their fingers at us, expecting the same from us. But if we exercise judgment first on ourselves and put away the torch that can burn us and others, and then tell others that they must not play with fire, then we cannot be judged for that same reason.

Christians must judge i.e., form an opinion after careful evaluation of the evidence and testing of premises, between what is Godly and that which is not, for unholiness has no part with God. We must judge so we can discern between what is of God and what is evil and we must shun evil and not be partakers of it. But when we judge, let us first remember to judge ourselves so that the sin that we warn others about is not the same sin that we are captive to. For if we judge ourselves, then we should not be judged (1 Corinthians 11:31), but if we judge others without judging ourselves first, then by that same measure will we be judged. When we are judged by God, it is not for condemnation but for chastening (1 Corinthians 11:32). We must introspect and repent first and sin no more (as Jesus asked the adulterous woman) so that the beam of sin is removed from our own lives first, before preaching the good news of the Salvation in Jesus Christ and trying to remove the mote of that same sin in someone else.

Putting First Things First, we must first introspect and judge ourselves so that there is no sin within us that displeases God. Only then can we preach Christ. Remember, David’s words when he committed the sins of adultery and murder that displeased God. Before he could say, “I will teach transgressors (sinners) your ways to convert them”, he had to pray “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” In other words, he judged himself and was found wanting of a clean heart and a renewed spirit and asked God to judge (chasten) him. Only then could he judge others and find them wanting of Salvation. (Psalm 51:10-13)

Points to ponder:
People are playing with hell fire and before we take to them the message of Salvation found solely in Jesus Christ, let us make sure that we are ourselves not playing with sin that will put us in hell fire, but let us first introspect and put away every sin that can so easily can beset us by repenting before preaching. Let us judge (ourselves)  first before judging others.

Judge others first and you will be judged (by that same measure)
Judge yourself first and you will not be judged.

Matthew 7:1-5 (KJV)
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 (KJV)
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Psalm 51:10-13 (KJV)
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.