PRAYING TO KNOW THE POWER OF PRAYER

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” — Matthew 7:7 
  INTRODUCTION

We ask for everything but are still not happy because we didn’t see the kind of answered prayers we desired.   You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. — James 4:3 Prayer is not just asking for things, far more important, prayer is talking with God. It’s getting close to and spending time with the One you love. It’s seeking Him first, touching Him, getting to know Him better, being with Him, and waiting in His presence. It’s acknowledging Him as the source of power upon whom you depend. It’s taking the time to say, Speak to my heart, Lord, and tell me what I need to hear.   

GOD KNOWS WHAT WE NEED For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. — Matthew 6:8  God already knows what we need, why do we even need to ask for anything?”   God knows our thoughts, but He responds to our prayers. We have to come to a place of realizing that prayer is a privilege that is always ours, but the power in prayer is always His. Without God, we can’t do it. Without us, God won’t do it.    Things wouldn’t happen in our lives unless we prayed. And we no longer just ask for things, but partner with God. Aligning our spirit with His, and together we would see that His perfect will would be done.    

HOW TO PRAY EFFECTIVELY  

We all know that when friends don’t see each other and communicate frequently, they can become emotionally separated. Well, it’s the same with us and God. If we don’t keep in touch with Him, we begin to feel distant from Him even when we’re not. This is why we must pray daily. Also, When we are in the presence of God, His character is formed in us.   Many of us are especially vulnerable to the enemy’s attack on our self-worth. It doesn’t take much to discourage us, and feeling distant from God will do it. That’s why it’s important to start the day with some kind of prayer. We have to establish ourselves and our lives as being connected to Him.   We can’t receive God’s best for our lives, and we can’t push back the things that were never God’s will for us, except through prayer. We have to learn that we can’t leave our lives to chance. We have to pray over anything that concerns us, no matter how big — “With God, nothing will be impossible” – Luke 1:37 — or how small — “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” – Matthew 10:30.      


FIFTEEN REASONS TO PRAY:
To seek the face of the Lord and know Him better (Psalm 27:8)  
To get your eyes off your problems and onto the Lord (Psalm 121:1)  
To speak to God (1 Peter 3:12)  
To unburden your heart (Psalm 142:1–2)  
To make your requests known to God (Matthew 21:22)  
To hear God (Proverbs 8:34)  
To be free of suffering (James 5:13)  
To resist temptation (Matthew 26:41)  
To be rescued from distress (Psalm 107:19)  
To receive God’s reward (Matthew 6:6)  
To withstand evil (Ephesians 6:13)  
To have joy (John 16:24)  
To get close to God (Isaiah 64:7)  
To be healed emotionally (James 5:13)  
To have peace (Philippians 4:6–7

CONCLUSION

Do whatever you have to do to secure a place and time to pray. Sometimes we have to revise our plans, but securing a time and place to be alone with God is worth any effort.   We don’t ever feel inhibited because we think we can’t pray. If we can talk, we can pray. And don’t be concerned about prayer talk, church talk, or Christianese talk. The Bible tells us the only qualifications we need:   He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. — Hebrews 11:6 

We just have to believe that He is a good God.   The more we pray, the more we will find to pray about, and the more we’ll be led to pray for others: family members, friends, enemies, and all those in authority in any area of your life (pastor, teacher, boss, governor, president). You’ll pray for them not only because they influence our emotional health and because part of the peace we experience will result directly from that type of praying, but because Jesus asked us to do it.

Prayer is powerful! There are so many reasons to pray beyond the top 15. What are you praying about? Who are you praying for? Stay Blessed! Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sunday 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 FM – Saturdays 7:30 pm, YFM 107.9 – Sundays 6.30am; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymn and their Stories.  

CALLED INTO THE WORLD

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. – John 17:18

INTRODUCTION

Should followers of Christ withdraw from the world to set up their own exclusive communities or retreat from society into “Christian ghettos”? Not if they are to fulfill Christ’s prayer in John 17:18. Engagement, not isolation, is His desire.

Some early Christians sought refuge in the catacombs of Rome. But that practice was only temporary, and they were forced there only by the most extreme persecutions. Normally, they could be found actively participating in the society.

Actually, Scripture recognizes a tension between separation and involvement. Passages like Romans 12:2; Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will and 1 Peter 1:14-16 – As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”; urge us to pursue a distinctive, holy lifestyle. Our commitments, character, and conduct should contrast vividly with those of people who do not follow God. On the other hand, Jesus calls us to live and work side by side with those very same people. He sends us into the world to make an impact.

Naturally, that can lead to conflict. If our loyalty is given to Christ, we can expect tension with others who follow a different course.

Whether we undergo mild teasing and insults or open hostility and even violence, “normal” Christianity involves conflict with the world to which we are called. Fortunately, the New Testament gives us plenty of examples to follow:

1. JESUS.

The Lord Himself came into the world to offer a new relationship with God. He didn’t have to. He could have remained in His heavenly position. Yet He voluntarily left it all to die for us, and to deliver to a rebellious humanity God’s offer of forgiveness, love, and acceptance. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:5-8.

When Christ came into the world, His listeners showed initial interest. Yet gradually most of them turned against Him. Knowing full well the fate that awaited Him, He entered Jerusalem, ready to face persecution, arrest, and even death. His followers tried to divert Him, but He was determined to follow God’s call into the world. Isolation and safety were not options.

2. PAUL.

The church’s greatest messenger started out having anyone who followed Jesus. Yet Christ Himself stopped him in his vengeful tracks and redirected his life to become a globetrotting messenger of faith and forgiveness.

However, Paul’s first days as a Christian were spent in an isolated “retreat” in Arabia. But this withdrawal lasted only for a time, and only so that Saul could emerge as Paul, the apostle. He crisscrossed the empire, bringing the gospel to dozens of cities and towns. These encounters led to numerous misunderstandings, deportations, arrests, physical abuse and attempts on his life. Probably Paul sometimes longed for the safer, quitter days of his Arabian retreat. But once he responded to God’s call to engage the world, there was no turning back. He also challenged others to live, work, and witness among the lost.

3.PETER.

Peter struggled throughout his life to break out the separatist mentality he had grown up with. He didn’t like the prospects of suffering and rejection, and at times took steps to forestall it. He liked even less the idea of sharing God’s good news of salvation with Samaritans and Gentiles.

But Christ kept calling Peter back, to reengage the world. In the end, he learned the necessity and the value of suffering and called others to do likewise. “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” – 1 Peter 4:1-2

4. BARNABAS.

A respected landowner, Barnabas enjoyed relatively “safe” calling as a leader of the infant church in Jerusalem. But he accepted an assignment to visit Antioch and investigate rumours of Gentile converts to the predominantly Jewish movement. Sure enough, he found that God was bringing all nations into the fellowship. So he sought on Paul, an unknown, to help him establish the new converts in the faith.

Later, they travelled to Jerusalem to defend and extend this new “worldly” thrust in the growing work of God.

CONCLUSION

Jesus didn’t ask God to take believers out of the world but instead to use them in the world. Because Jesus sends us into the world, we should not try to escape from the world, nor should we avoid all relationships with non-Christians. We are called to be salt and light: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16, and we are to do the work that God sent us to do not only in church but in our offices , and other areas of professional work.

Stay blessed!

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CAN LAITY GET THE JOB DONE?

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. – Luke 9:1-2.

INTRODUCTION

“Laity” is defined in the Cambridge dictionary as “all the people who are involved with a Church but who are not priests or the clergy”. Thus, people who are involved with a church but who do not hold official religious positions.

Are you surprised at Jesus’ choice of His leadership team? A close reading of Luke Chapter 9 suggest that the Twelve were not exactly prize recruits for new spiritual movement. They showed some frightening patterns and embarrassing traits that might cause a manager to wonder, “Who hired these people? How in the world can they possibly get the job done?”

Jesus recruited them, and He delegated real power and authority to them to get the job done, not just token responsibilities as often happens when leaders “delegate” task to their subordinates. When they reported back from their first assignment, He took them aside for a “performance review” at a private place near Bethsaida, small fishing village on the north Galilee and home town of several team members.

From that point, the Twelve made eight identifiable mistakes that we might be tempted to assume would disqualify them from leadership:

1. They acted from a short- sighted vision.  When their retreat was interrupted by a crowd eager to meet Jesus all they could see was their limited resources in a desert place.

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.”  – Luke 9:12-13

2. Some of them fell asleep at a moment of great opportunity. When Jesus met with Moses and Elijah, two of the greatest leaders in Israel’s history, Peter, James and John were caught napping.

 About eight days after Jesus said this, He took Peter, John and James with Him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about His departure,which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and His companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. – Luke 9:28-32.

3. They tried to preserve the status quo. Peter wanted to hang on to a good experience and build monuments to it.

As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to Him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen. – Luke 9:33-36

4. They gave way to fear of the unknown. Jesus healed an epileptic boy, but then fear caused the Twelve not to ask questions when they were confused.

And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, He said to his disciples, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask Him about it. – Luke 9:43-45.

5. They competed to see who would be top dog. The disciples argued over greatness and privilege rather than concern themselves with serving others. Contrast that with Jesus’ treatment of seekers, especially “children” and “the least”.

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside Him. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” – Luke 9:46-48.

6. They dallied in partisan politics. Encountering a rival teacher, the disciples tried to claim exclusive rights to God’s activity. By contrast, Jesus included any and all who were sincerely interested in serving God in His name.

“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” – Luke 9:49-50

7. They plotted a dirty tricks campaign. When their ethnic enemies proved inhospitable, the Twelve turned vicious. Jesus replied by issuing one of His strongest rebukes.

As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for Him; but the people there did not welcome Him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then He and His disciples went to another village. – Luke 9:51-56.

8. They bit off ore than they could chew. As they travelled along, Jesus’ followers overstated their commitment; in the end they failed to deliver what they promised.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:57-62

CONCLUSION

Despite these shortcomings, Jesus not only kept the Twelve on His team, He kept them as His first team! He showed that undeveloped freshmen can be developed into servant-leaders – over time. Even though they were weak, competitive, self-centered, unrealistic about themselves, and insensitive to others, He kept working with them.

The Lord’s hopes were rewarded, but only after His death and resurrection. Luke Chapter 9 is merely the beginning of the story. The outcome can be found in Acts, where Luke goes on to show that God uses empowered laypeople like the Twelve – and like us today – to do His work.

Can we as laity do the work of God? Absolutely! But as we do, we need to take a serious look at ourselves and ask God to help us purge out those mistaken attitudes that we share with Jesus’ early leaders.

Stay Blessed!

Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sunday 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 FM – Saturdays 7:30 pm, YFM 107.9 – Sundays 6.30am; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymn and their Stories.

THE RESURRECTION: ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked Him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

 “What things?” He asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if He were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.

When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” – Luke 24:13-34

INTRODUCTION

The resurrection of Christ is the supreme miracle. Let’s accept it, and we can accept all the others. It is unique, unlike all other miracles – even the raising of Jairus’s daughter, the widow’s son, and Lazarus. The evidence for the resurrection miracle here is twofold: the empty tomb and His presence with His doubting friends. The body of Jesus, though recognizable by faith, was not bound by time and space. The two travelers to Emmaus could not recognize Him immediately. He then “disappeared from their sight”. From Emmaus they returned to the Eleven in Jerusalem, and Jesus appeared suddenly in their midst. The resurrection miracle fulfilled Scripture and Jesus’s own predictions. It is the strongest evidence Jesus is the Messiah promised Israel and the Saviour given to the world.

Today we will study some of the verses of the resurrection story in Luke chapter 24:13-34.

LUKE 24:13 – The two followers returning to Emmaus at first missed the significance of history’s greatest event because they were too focused on their disappointment and problems. In fact, they didn’t recognize Jesus when He was walking beside them. To compound the problem, they were walking in the wrong direction – away from the fellowship of the believers in Jerusalem. We are likely to miss Jesus and withdraw from the strength found in other believers when we become preoccupied with our dashed hopes and frustrated plans. Only when we are looking for Jesus in our midst will we experience the power and help He can bring.

LUKE 24:21 – These followers from Emmaus had been counting on Jesus to redeem Israel, that is, to rescue the nation from its enemies. Most Jews believed that the Old Testament prophecies pointed to a military and political Messiah; they didn’t realize that the Messiah had come to redeem people from slavery to sin. When Jesus died they lost all hope. They didn’t understand that Jesus’ death offered the greatest hope possible.

LUKE 24:24 – These followers knew that the tomb was empty but didn’t understand that Jesus had risen, and they were filled with sadness. Despite the women’s witness, which was verified by some of the disciples, and despite the biblical prophecies of this very event, they still didn’t believe. Today the Resurrection still catches people by surprise. In spite of 2,000 years of evidence and witness, many people refuse to believe. What more will it take? For these disciples it took the living Jesus in their midst. For many people today, it takes the presence of alive Christians.

LUKE 24:25 – Even though these Jewish men knew the biblical prophecies well, they failed to understand that Christ’s suffering was His path to glory. They could not understand why God had not intervened to save Jesus from the cross. They were so caught up in the world’s admiration for political power and military might that they were blind to God’s kingdom values – the last will be first, and that life grows out of death. The world has not changed its values. The suffering servant is no more popular today than He was 2,000 years ago. But we have not only the witness of the Old Testament prophets; we also have the witness of the New Testament apostles and the history of the Christian church testifying to Jesus’ victory over death. Will we confront the values of our culture and put our faith in Jesus? Or will we foolishly continue to ignore this Good News.

LUKE 24:25-27 – After the two followers had explained their sadness and confusion. Jesus responded by going to scripture and applying it to His ministry. When we are puzzled by questions or problems, we too, can go to Scripture and find authoritative help.

JESUS OPENS OUR EYES 

The journey to Emmaus is both a literal and a spiritual journey. On one hand it recounts the story of two disciples who, after the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord, walk seven miles from Jerusalem to their village of Emmaus. On the other hand, it outlines for us the journey that we all take from not recognizing Jesus, to understanding what the Scripture says about Him, to recognizing Him for who He is, and finally to our giving witness of what we have experienced.

There were several reasons they did not recognize Jesus:

A. GOD DID NOT WANT THEM TO RECOGNIZE HIM

The original language conveys the sense that they were kept from recognizing Him because God had a purpose in blinding their eyes from reality. His gradual revelation of Himself allows them to learn certain lessons about trusting God’s promises. The disciples had been told about these events many times, but they had not believed.

B. EVENTS HAD NOT HAPPENED AS EXPECTED

They had a preconceived idea of who Jesus was, what He had come to do, and how He should do it. But when things did not turn out like they thought they should, they dismissed the whole thing as a mere failure, as misplaced hope and trust.

While God always has a plan, we are not always privy to that plan. When things don’t turn out like we expect, instead of giving up and admitting defeat, perhaps we would be wise to see things differently, to see if maybe God is up to something we simply do not understand.

C. THEY HAD LITTLE FAITH

They had heard the reports of the women who went to the tomb and yet they had not believed.

We need to be careful not to make the same mistake, to discount what God has done simply because we cannot explain it or understand it. While God often uses natural things to accomplish His will, He also does things we can neither explain nor understand. These two disciples knew something had happened, but it was beyond their level of faith to see things as they truly were.

Just because they knew about Jesus does not mean they knew Him. Just because they could see Him does not mean they could see who He was. Many people today know who Jesus is. They have heard about Him, read about Him, use His name, and many even claim to know Him. They would not recognized Him if they saw Him. Their eyes have not been opened. Knowing about Him and knowing Him are two different things.

CONCLUSION

God prevented these two disciples from recognizing Jesus to convey a deep truth: Even if we were to see, we might still not believe. We must trust the testimony of Scripture.

Jesus tells us that we must have the scriptural truth to understand who He is. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

Outside of the word of God there is no reliable witness to who Jesus really is.

The Scripture tells us the truth about Jesus.

SOURCE: Life Application Study Bible

Stay blessed!

JESUS HAS RISEN

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered His words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. – Luke 24:1-12

INTRODUCTION

Jesus’s death predictions helped His followers understand Him and His mission in light of the resurrection, but the resurrection message remained meaningless even to the disciples without personal experience of the empty tomb and resurrected Christ. Without the resurrection appearance, disciples could point to Jesus only as a powerful prophet who had apparently failed to fulfill their messianic hopes. Jesus could show He was Messiah by explaining the old Testament  Scriptures correctly and by breaking bread, a symbolic reminder of the Lord’s Supper. Fellowship with the risen Christ leads to faith in the resurrection.

VERSE BY VERSE STUDY

LUKE 24:1 – The women brought spices to the tomb as we would bring flowers – as a sign of love and respect. The women went home and kept the Sabbath as the law required, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, before gathering up their spices and perfumes and returning to the tomb.

LUKE 24:1-9 – The two angels asked the women why they were looking in a tomb for someone who was alive. Often we run into people who are looking for God among the dead. They study the Bible as a mere historical document and go to church as if going to a memorial service. But Jesus is not among the dead – He lives! He reigns in the hearts of Christians, and He is the head of His church. Do we look for Jesus among the living? Do we expect Him to be active in the world and in the church? Let us look for signs of His power – they are all around us.

LUKE 24 – The angels reminded the women that Jesus had accurately predicted all that had happened to Him.

LUKE 24:6-7 – The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the central fact of Christian history. On it, the church is built; without it, there would be no Christian church today. Jesus’ resurrection is unique. Other religions have a strong ethical systems, concepts about paradise and other the afterlife, and various holy scriptures. Only Christianity has a God who became human, literally died for His people, and was raised again in power and glory to rule His church forever.

WHY IS THE RESURRECTION SO IMPORTANT?

1. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we know that the Kingdom of Heaven has broken into earth’s history. Our world is now headed for redemption, not disaster. God’s mighty power is at work destroying sin, creating new lives, and preparing us for Jesus’ second coming.

2. Because of the Resurrection, we know that death has been conquered and we, too, will be raised from the dead to live forever with Christ.

3. The Resurrection gives authority to the church’s witness in the world. Look at the early evangelistic sermons in the book of Acts: The apostles’ most important message was the proclamation that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead!

4. The Resurrection gives meaning to the church’s sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

5. The Resurrection helps us find meaning even in great tragedy. No matter what happens to us as we walk with the Lord, the Resurrection gives us hope for the future.

6. The Resurrection assures us that Christ is alive and ruling His kingdom. He is not a legend; He is alive and real.

7. God’s power that brought Jesus back from the dead is available to us so that we can live for Him in an evil world.

LUKE 24:11, 12 – People who hear about the Resurrection for the first time may need time before  they can comprehend this amazing story. Like the disciples, they may pass through four stages of belief:

A. At first, they may think it is a fairy tale, impossible to believe.

B. Like Peter, they may check out the facts but still be puzzled about what happened.

C. Only when they encounter Jesus personally will they be able to accept the fact of the Resurrection.

D. Then, as they commit themselves to Jesus and devote their lives to serving Him, they will begin fully to understand the reality of His presence with them.

VERSE FOR MEDITAION

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27

Stay Blessed!

6 CHARACTER TRAITS OF JESUS TO EMULATE

Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. – John 7:18

Passion Week (or Holy Week) begins with commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, climaxing with the Last Supper and Passion of Jesus on Good Friday, ending with His sabbath rest in the grave on Holy Saturday. The resurrection of Jesus on eighth day, is celebrated as Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of His people.

During this passion week, we remember the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and recognize how important it is to emulate His life.

1. JESUS ALWAYS SPEAKS THE TRUTH.

In Matthew 12:34, Jesus called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers”. Jesus speaks the truth without fear of repercussions. He’s concerned with sharing His message, not gaining political support.

Nor is Jesus using hard-hitting truths as a way to rile up anger from people already on His side. Whether or not it’s to His advantage, and even if it means He will lose followers, He speaks the truth. Because the truth — undiluted — is what sets us free.

2. JESUS ASKS FOR MORE AND OFFERS MORE.

While Jesus says that His yoke is easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30), His plan has a steep joining fee. He says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” – Matthew 16:24.

3. JESUS VALUES US MORE.

Why is Jesus willing to tell us to deny ourselves and follow Him? Because He loves us, and that’s what it will take to have a relationship with Him.

Jesus values us so much that He paid our debt of sin with His death. Paul tells us that, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame …”- Hebrews 12:2. The joy of fellowship with us was greater to Him than the pain of the cross.

4. JESUS VALUES ALL OF US.

Jesus does not only spend time with people the world rejects but also goes looking for them. He seeks out the ostracized, poor, sick, weak, and people deemed “worthless”.

The story of Zacchaeus is a beautiful example of this (Luke 19). Zacchaeus is a despised tax collector working for the Roman government, a cheater, and a sinner. Because he’s not tall enough to see over the crowds, Zacchaeus had to climb a tree just to catch a glimpse of Jesus. If anyone else noticed Zacchaeus at all, they would have expected Jesus to walk on by.

5. JESUS IS MOTIVATED BY COMPASSION.

We see this clearly right after John the Baptist’s death. Jesus withdraws to a remote area to be alone (Matthew 14:13). So often surrounded by crowds, Jesus wanted to be alone after the death of someone important to him. But the crowds of people heard about where he was going, and rather than giving him some space, they followed him and pressed in around him, eager to have their own needs filled.

When we’re already tired or sad, the last thing we want is to be confronted by other people’s demands, and we often react harshly. But Jesus looked out at the crowds and “had compassion on them and healed their sick(Matthew 14:14). He set His own needs aside to minister to others, not because he had too, but because His compassion made Him want to.

6. JESUS FORGIVES.

True repentance should be met with true forgiveness. That kind of forgiveness sets us free to be the people God created us to be.

In the book of Matthew, we see Peter trying to be generous by asking Jesus if He should forgive someone “up to seven times(Matthew 18:21). Jesus shocks Him by replying that He shouldn’t forgive seven times, but “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). Basically, however much we think we should forgive, we should forgive more.

Jesus doesn’t forgive to “be nice” or because it’s the socially acceptable thing to do, He forgives to set people free. He doesn’t want anything blocking people from living in life in all its fullness (John 10:10).

CONCLUSION

Christians agree that Jesus is the best role model to have. From His faith, perseverance, generosity, and even His intelligence, people see the best qualities that mankind can possess. The Bible teaches us to become more like Jesus each and every day, so it’s helpful to learn about some of character traits He had.

Stay Blessed!

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PASSION WEEK

INTRODUCTION

Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. Passion Week is described in Matthew chapters 21-27; Mark chapters 11-15; Luke chapters 19-23; and John chapters 12-19. Passion Week begins with the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

During this passion week we will talk about some significant things that happened.

JESUS ANNOINTED AT BETHANY

Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus secretly and kill Him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

While He was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand Him over. – Mark 14:1-11

THE LORD’S SUPPER

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

So He sent two of His disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow Him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

They were saddened, and one by one they said to Him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

“It is one of the Twelve,” He replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” He said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – Mark 14:12-26

JESUS PREDICTS PETER’S DENIAL

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice[e] you yourself will disown me three times.”

But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same. – Mark 14:27-31.

GETHSEMANE

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” He said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Once more He went away and prayed the same thing. When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to Him.

Returning the third time, He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” – Mark 14:32-42

JESUS ARRESTED

Just as He was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest Him and lead Him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. The men seized Jesus and arrested Him. Then one of those standing near drew His sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off His ear.

“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” Then everyone deserted Him and fled.

A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. – Mark 14:43-52

JESUS BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN

They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against Him, but their statements did not agree.

Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked Him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The high priest tore His clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned Him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at Him; they blindfolded Him, struck Him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took Him and beat Him. – Mark 14:53-65.

Stay blessed!

For further inquiries please contact us on Tel Nos. 0302-772013 or 0268130615

Email: saltnlightministries@gmail.com
Website:
saltandlightministriesgh.org

CHRIST OUR LORD

Dear Reader,

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday but instead of focusing on the usual story of the Triumphal Entry, important though it is, we would like to share with you how the gospel of Luke handles Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and His actions thereafter.

The Triumphal Approach to Jerusalem:  Luke 19:28-40

After Jesus said this, He went on in front of them toward Jerusalem. As He came near Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, He sent two disciples ahead with these instructions: “Go to the village there ahead of you; as you go in, you will find a colt tied up that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If someone asks you why you are untying it, tell him that the Master needs it.”  They went on their way and found everything just as Jesus had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying it?”  “The Master needs it,” they answered,and they took the colt to Jesus. Then they threw their cloaks over the animal and helped Jesus get on. As He rode on, people spread their cloaks on the road.  When He came near Jerusalem, at the place where the road went down the Mount of Olives, the large crowd of His disciples began to thank God and praise Him in loud voices for all the great things that they had seen:“God bless the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory to God!”  Then some of the Pharisees in the crowd spoke to Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “command your disciples to be quiet!”  Jesus answered, “I tell you that if they keep quiet, the stones themselves will start shouting.”  – (Good News)

Let us now continue with why Christ died.  The hymn writer, Henry Francis Lyte (1793 – 1847) puts it so appropriately in one of his hymns.

“PRAISE, my soul, the King of heaven, To His feet thy tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Who like thee His praise should sing?
Praise Him! Praise Him!  Praise the everlasting King.”  – MHB 12: Stanza 1

And it is true Christ died that we would be delivered from bondage of sin – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Rom. 6:23 (NIV).  Christ died to Ransom us, Heal us, Restore us and Forgive us.

As you enjoy this article, please commit yourself again to the Lord Jesus Christ whom to known is “Eternal Life.”  Let Him ride into the “Jerusalem of your heart.”  Weep over your sins and cleanse your heart which is the temple of the Holy Spirit from all that does not please our Holy, loving God.

WHY CHRIST DIED

When God first created mankind, He intended that an intimate relationship should exist between the Creator and His creatures.  But the first man and woman chose to disobey God and therefore forfeited the privilege of this close friendship with God.  Moreover, through their disobedience, sin made its entry into the world: ‘Sin came into the world through one man.’ – Romans 5:12

This sin gave Satan the firm foothold he had been looking for.  Sin and Satan now held the world in a vice-like grip.  God’s people now walked in darkness: oppressed by Satan.  Spiritually speaking, they lived in a never-ending winter: rarely experiencing the warmth of God’s love.  Enslaved by sin as they were, they were doomed to die both physically and spiritually.  ‘(Adam’s) sin brought death with it. As a result, death has spread to the whole human race because everyone has sinned.’ – Romans 5:12

Who could rescue God’s creation from the curse of Satan, the enemy?  Mankind’s rescuer would need to be someone strong enough to engage in battle against the power of Satan; someone who would fight compromise with evil, for evil cannot combat evil; only goodness can do that.  There was only one person who could even attempt the rescue bid: God Himself.  So God entered the world in the form of the perfect man: Jesus Christ. ‘God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself.’ – 2 Corinthians 5:19

Jesus knew the solution to the sin-problem.  He, the man-who-never-sinned, would need to take upon Himself every sin each individual in the world had ever committed and would ever commit.  It would be as though He Himself had committed the crimes of the cosmos.  He would therefore pay the penalty in person.  He would die:  ‘Without beauty, without majesty (we saw him), no looks to attract our eyes; a thing despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, a man to make people screen their faces He was despised and we took no account of Him.

And yet ours were the sufferings He bore, ours the sorrows He carried.  But we, we thought of Him as someone punished, struck by God, and brought low.  Yet He was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins.  On Him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through His wounds we are healed.  We had all gone astray like sheep, each taking his own way, and Yahweh burdened Him with the sins of all of us.’ – Isaiah 53:2-6

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, help me to drink in these facts:

Mine were the sufferings you bore

Mine the sorrows you carried

You were pierced through for my faults

Crushed because of my sin

God laid on you the punishment that brought me

Peace

Joy

And a whole new start in life

Help me to say an adequate

Thank you.

RANSOMED

A man was once caught stealing from his employers.  When the court case was heard, the judge imposed a fine of GH¢50.  Failure to pay the prescribed fine, he said, would result in imprisonment.  The night of the court hearing, the man despaired.  He had no money.  That was why he had resorted to stealing in the first place.  How was he to pay the fine?  The thought of a period in prison filled him with horror.  Next morning, a brown envelope fell through this man’s letter-box.  It contained ten, crisp, new five Ghana Cedis notes and a hand-written explanation: To pay off the debt.  The offender never discovered where the money had come from.  The only information he could glean was that a member of the nearby church heard of his plight and decided to set him free from the threat of imprisonment.

When Jesus died on the cruel cross, He brought our release from the clutches of the evil one.  He also set us free from the bondage to sin in which we had been trapped.  And He delivered us from the effects of the sin-stained past and from the guilt that enshrouded us:  The death of Christ ‘One act of perfect righteousness, presents all men freely acquitted in the sight of God.’  – Romans 5:18. ‘God loved the world so much that He gave his only Son, that everyone who has faith in Him may not die but have eternal life.’ – John 3:16

This article has been heavily inspired by Joyce Hugget in “Approaching Easter, Meditations for Lent.”

STAY BLESSED!

For further inquiries please contact us on Tel Nos. 0302-772013 or 0268130615

Email:  saltnlightministries@gmail.com

Website:  saltandlightgh.org

THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to the, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her.  Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” – Matt. 21:1-3 (NIV)

Evidence of the Supernatural

Jesus informed the disciples that as they entered the village they would find a female donkey securely tied and with her would be a colt, also hitched.  The disciples were to unloose and bring back both animals and that they would be questioned by the animals’ owners – “As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” – Luke 19:33 – (NIV) as to what they were doing and their response was to be, “The Lord has need of them.”  This was not a pre-arranged agreement, rather, it provides a dramatic example of the Lord’s exercise of supernatural knowledge whenever the circumstances demanded.  The owners of these donkeys were obviously disciples of Jesus as they did not hesitate to give the donkeys out.

The Adoring Crowds

As the Saviour rode down the road towards Jerusalem, two groups of people converged upon Him – a massive crowd coming out of the city and another group following Him “The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, ”Hosanna to the Son of David!”  “Blessed is He who comes in the name of Lord!”  “Hosanna in the highest!” – Matt. 21:9 (NIV).  These people were mostly those who had been surprised by the effect of the Lord’s miracles, especially the resurrection of Lazarus which was current – “When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen” – Luke 19:37 (NIV).  Some paved the road with their garments and others with palm branches shouting hosanna – a symbol of submission.

Fulfilled Prophecy

Jesus fulfils prophecy in Zechariah 9:9Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  By His entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus publicly testifies that He is the predicted King and Messiah.

Jesus is not justa conquering King” to fight the oppressive Roman regime.  Rather He rides in to Jerusalem in humility – ready to take up the cross and die to save mankind from the oppressive rule of Satan and conquer sin and death.  Jesus’ humble entry is a deliberate symbolic act to show that His Kingdom is not of this earth and that He did not come to rule the world with force or violence.  His kingdom is spiritual, He is the Prince of Peace.  He did not choose to ride into Jerusalem on a horse – a symbol of war, but on a foal of a donkey – a symbol of peace.

A Moment of Sadness

When Jesus came near to Jerusalem, He looked across the city and wept – “As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it” – Luke 19:41 (NIV).  This is one of the three instances in the New Testament where Christ shed tears.  The Man of Sorrows grieved over the fact that so many of His people had closed their eyes to the truth of His identity and mission – “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him” – John 1:11; and that the very peace they sought would be taken from them and, in its place would come their enemies – the Roman armies – actually God’s armies.

A FEW THINGS WORTHY OF NOTE

 Jesus’ Divine Sovereignty 

He asked the disciples to go to the village and untie a donkey and bring it for His use and when questioned to say that the Lord has need of it.  It is noteworthy that:

  • The disciples obeyed and went;
  • They were questioned as Jesus had said, the owner unhesitatingly released   

   the donkey;                 

  • The colt yielded to the Lord’s ride – though no one had ever ridden on it, it was not afraid; 
  • Adoring crowds – They came from everywhere and responded spontaneously.  They recognised the coming King and shouted in praise and adoration – Hosanna – originally meaning save us now but also used to praise;
  • They recognised Jesus as one coming in the name of the Lord;
  • They identified Jesus as the promised heir of the throne of David – salvation would accompany His work;
  • He would be enthroned as King to usher in His Kingdom Luke 1:32-33;
  • Peace would result and God would be glorified.
  • There was strong opposition from the Pharisees. 
  • They wanted Jesus to silence the adoration, praise and joy of the crowds!  But Jesus says that the stones will take up the praise if the people are stopped – when God is doing something no one can thwart Him.

End Piece

All the gospels speak about Jesus’ Triumphal Entry which we call “Palm Sunday,” the day when a whole city threw a parade for Jesus.  As He rode into the city, the people threw palm branches in anticipation of His coming as Messiah as we read in Zech. 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” – (NIV).  The day marked the celebration of Jesus being worshipped and praised.  But barely a week later, the same crowd that shouted “Hosanna,” “Hosanna” were loud with their “Crucify Him,” “Crucify Him.” 

Many of them were following Jesus as part of the crowd and did not really know Him. 

What about you?  Hosanna means “Save Us.”  Do you want Jesus to save you from sin, Satan and death?  Or you are just following the crowd?  Think about it!   

Stay Blessed!

RIGHT LIVING FOR BELIEVERS

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. – Titus 2:11-14

INTRODUCTION

In the book of Titus, Paul emphasizes the importance of good deeds in the life of Christians. The letter is brief, but is an important link in the discipleship process.

THE BLUE PRINT

1. Leadership in the church.

2. Right living in the church.

3. Right living in society.

Paul calls for church order and right living on an island known for laziness, gluttony, lying and evil. The Christians are to be self-disciplined as individuals, and they must be orderly as people who form one body, the church. We need to obey this message in our day when discipline is not respected or rewarded by our society. Although others may not appreciate our efforts, we must live upright lives, obey the government, and control our speech. We should live together peacefully in the church and be living examples of our faith to contemporary society.

THEMES

A GOOD LIFE

The Good News of salvation is that we can’t be saved by a living good life; we are saved only by faith in Jesus Christ. But the gospel transforms people’s lives, so that they eventually perform good deeds. Our service won’t save us, but we are saved to serve. A good life is a witness to the gospel’s power. As Christians, we must have commitment and discipline to serve. Are you putting your faith into action by serving others?

CHARACTER

It’s not enough to be educated or to have a loyal following to be Christ’s kind of leader. We must have self-control, spiritual and moral fitness, and Christian character. Who we are is just as important as what we can do.

CHURCH RELATIONSHIPS

Church teaching must relate to various groups. Older Christians were to teach and to be examples to younger men and women. People of every age and group have a lesson to learn and role to play. Right living and right relationships go along with right doctrine. Treat relationships with others as an outgrowth of your faith.

CITIZENSHIP

Christians must be good citizens in society, not just in church. Believers must obey the government and work honestly. How we fulfill our civic duties is a witness to the watching world. Our community life should reflect Christ’s love as much as our church life does.

PROMOTE RIGHT TEACHING

Paul brings out two aspects of Christian living that must be stressed today. “We should live in this evil…while we look forward with hope.” Both aspects of living and looking forward are essential to our Christian sanity in this present evil age. The living is made bearable because we live for God – seeking to build His Kingdom with whatever gifts He has given us. And it is that very Kingdom to which we are looking forward. As we live and look forward, we anticipate three great benefits of Christ’s return:

1. Christ’s personal presence – we look forward to being with Him.

2. Redemption from our sinful nature – we long for the end of the battle with sin and our perfection in Christ.

3. Restoration of creation – we anticipate the complete rule of grace when the image of God will be fully realized in people and when the created order will be restored.

THE GRACE OF GOD

Titus 2:11-14 describe the character and purpose of God’s saving grace and the effect it should have on believers’ lives. According to Paul, saving grace is a gift of God that:

a) causes God to make spiritual salvation available to all people through the sin-covering sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.

b) enables us to accept Christ by faith and enter a personal relationship with God.

c) instructs believers to reject without compromise the ungodly passions, pleasures and values of the world and embrace the purposes of God.

d) commands and empowers Christ’s followers to live “upright and godly lives” while waiting expectantly for the “blessed hope” – the return of Christ.

IT TEACHES US TO SAY “NO” TO UNGODLINESS.

In order for the believer’s behaviour to please and glorify God, it must be based on right beliefs and grounded in a right relationship with God. Our primary reason for doing good and living right should not be out of religious duty but the response of our love and gratitude toward God. His undeserved love shown to us through Jesus Christ while we were still opposed to Him should be our motivation for serving God and saying “no” to anything that might compromise His standards or take away from our devotion to Him.

THE “BLESSED HOPE” that every faithful Christian deeply desires is “the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ,” and the anticipation of being with Him for eternity. This hope could be realized and fulfilled at any time. We should always be prepared for Jesus’ return, never giving up the hope that today could be the day He comes to rescue them from the oppressive world and bring them to their heavenly home.

GAVE HIMSELF FOR US

Jesus willingly gave His own perfect life in our place to pay the complete penalty for our sins and offenses against God. He did this in order to redeem us from all wickedness and from our own selfish desire to defy God’s law and standards and to make us a holy people – spiritually purified, separated from evil and reserved as God’s very own special possession. When facing struggles with our own sinful desires and Satan’s power, we must realize that if Jesus died to restore us to a personal relationship with God, how much more will He now give us enough help and strength necessary to live victoriously over the power of sin and evil and “to do what is good”.

Source: Culled from The Life Application Bible & Fire Bible – Global Study Edition.

Stay Blessed!