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!

JESUS TEACHES US TO PRAY

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.  When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” -Luke 11:1 (NIV)

INTRODUCTION

Generally, prayer is a special act of communication through which requests are made by one, of another. So, for example, in a courtroom lawyers “pray” judges to grant some requests. Such requests or petitions are usually offered in different settings to one who is perceived to be able to meet those needs. These special requests can be presented directly by the one in need, or on his behalf by another person. Depending on the setting where prayers are offered—courtroom, parliament, church, etc.—prayer can be offered for different reasons.

In every religion prayer—this special act of communication—forms a core part of worship. The requirements for the petitions to be granted vary, depending on the type of religion and the deity prayed to. But every genuine worshipper wants to get it right, and ensure that when praying to his god, he is doing so in an acceptable manner. Sometimes, priests and diviners in different religions function as intermediaries for this purpose, and communicate guidelines from the deities to their worshippers on how best to pray to the gods.

In Christianity, prayer is a not merely an integral part of worship, but is actually a relationship with God the Creator. Prayer reveals the bond between the believer and his God and may even convey the terms of that relationship. This is why Jesus taught Christians how to pray. In Matthew 6:5-13, Christ established best practices, and used specific examples to emphasise His points. This prayer is today known as the “Model Prayer” or the “Lord’s Prayer.”

The Model Prayer

There is much controversy in Christianity over how to pray. For instance, some think that you need to be positioned a certain way before prayers can be acceptable. But we know that there is no one correct posture for prayer, for the Bible gives us a snapshot of people who prayed on their knees – 1 Kings 8:54, bowing – Exodus 4:31, on their faces before God – 2 Chronicles 20:18; Matthew 26:39, and standing – 1 Kings 8:22. It is even possible to pray with eyes opened or closed, quietly or loudly—what matters is a posture that facilitates maximum concentration and the least distraction.

There are also other controversies ranging from the right name of God to use to pray, what special words to use, how frequently to use them, which intermediary or intercessor, the loudness or volume of one’s voice in prayer, etc. But Jesus’ Model Prayer debunks all esoteric molds that are wont to shroud the subject of Christian prayer, and teach guidelines that address all controversies so that Christians can enjoy prayer.  

What makes this Model Prayer most fascinating is that it was Jesus Himself who taught it. He gave the promise: If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”John 14:14.  How beautiful then that the One to ask for things through prayer is also the One who has taught us how to do the asking! This is far superior to what any intermediary, however good or well-meaning, can teach.

Why Pray?

There are many reasons why Christians need to pray earnestly to God. Let us briefly look at a few of these:

1.   Prayer is a tool that is needed by the one praying, and not the One we pray to. For this reason, Jesus commands us in Matthew 7:7 to Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

As D.L. Moody describes: Prayer does not mean that I am to bring God down to my thoughts and my purposes, and bend his government according to my foolish, silly, and sometimes sinful notions. Prayer means that I am to be raised up into feeling, into union and design with Him; that I am to enter into His counsel and carry out His purpose fully.”

2.    Jesus explained that we need prayer as a shield against the devil’s snares: Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak! – Matthew 26:41

3.    Prayer strengthens our persistence which in turn strengthens our faith in God. Hence, Jesus told His disciples that theyought always to pray and not lose heart.”Luke 18:1

4.    Prayer strengthens the bond between us and God. The act of praying to God, and in His name is one that deepens the bonds between us. Jesus asked: If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!Matthew 7:11. This process of asking, responding, and accepting the response, though we might not understand or appreciate at the time, helps to strengthen the relationship in ways that singing, Bible study, and other disciplines of Christianity cannot accomplish. 

5.   Prayer strengthens the bond between us and other believers. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”Ephesians 6:18.  James added: Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.James 5:16. This is why Charles Spurgeon said that “a prayerless church member is a hindrance. He is in the body like a rotting bone or a decayed tooth. Before long, since he does not contribute to the benefit of his brethren, he will become a danger and a sorrow to them. Neglect of private prayer is the locust which devours the strength of the church.”

What to Pray?

The content of prayer is one that has many Christians in a bind. Jesus warned us not to make ‘much ado about nothing.’ He said: And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.Matthew 6:7-8.

The use of “empty phrases” and “many words” is emphasized here. Neither of the two guarantees answers to prayers, otherwise stammerers, those without eloquence and oratorical skills, and many of those without formal schooling in certain languages will have no hope. If Jesus died for all men, and has placed no restriction on whosoever believes in Him, why would He then restrict the prayers of those who pray to Him because of their inability to use words in a certain way? That is not at all the case, hence Jesus’ emphatic warning, “Do not be like them,that is, those who rely on “empty phrases” and “many words.”

Solomon also lends his voice to the same caution: “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”Ecclesiastes 5:2 

But Christ did not end at just the use of “empty phrases” and “many words.” He reminds us that God, the Father, knows what we need even before we ask Him in our prayers, so there’s no need for words or phrases calculated to flatter, cajole, or confuse Him into granting what we need. After all, we are not presenting something unknown to Him. He not only knows our needs, but He knows when they should be provided and in what quantity.

Sometimes, people serve food on their plates based on how hungry they think they are. Then midway they get full and cannot finish what is still heaped on their plates. There is no room for that with God. He knows what, when, and how much we need. He will therefore not be stampeded into action by us. This is why the apostle Paul counselled later that we should be calm and not fuss about our requests: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6. 

When to Pray?

There is no good or bad time to pray; anytime—morning, noon, evening, night is fine.

Apostle Paul said: “Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  David said: “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” – Psalm 5:3. He added: Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and He hears my voice.” – Psalm 55:17.  Daniel: got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” – Daniel 6:10.  And it is said of Jesus, that he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” – Luke 6:12.

TO PONDER:

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. – Proverbs 4:14-17

Stay blessed!

For further inquiries please contact us on Tel Nos. 0302-772013 or 0268130615Email: saltnlightministries@gmail.com
Website:
saltandlightministriesgh.org

GOD IS WATCHING

“Where could I go from Your Spirit?  Or where could I flee from your presence?  If I ascend up into Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” – Ps. 139:7-10 (Amplified Version)

God is Everywhere

The Lord is watching everywhere and keeps His eye on both the evil and the good – Prov. 15:3 (Living Bible).  God is present everywhere and that is why He is called Omnipotent.  Because of this He sees everything, and we ourselves can never be lost to His Spirits.  On the one hand, this is good news because it means that those who have a close relationship with God have the assurance that no matter what we do, no matter where we go, we can never be far from God’s comforting presence as we read in Romans 8:35-39.  It also means that we ourselves can never hide from God.  Nor can we hide any of our actions from Him – He even knows our thoughts – Psalm 44:21.

The knowledge that God is Omnipotent – present everywhere should make us want to do what is right at all times.  The following article story, which I read in a Christian newspaper gives much food for thought.

The Two-way Mirror

I saw the mirror at the back of the drug store but paid little attention to it.  I made my purchase and left.   Later, the son of the Pharmacist, a personal acquaintance of mine, told me about a woman who had a prescription filled in the same drug store.  While she waited, the druggist went into his little back room to prepare the medication.

The woman glanced in the mirror and touched up her hair.  Then she wandered over to the perfume counter.  Being alone and seeing her favourite perfume, she slipped a bottle into her purse.  Few minutes later the pharmacist laid the filled prescription on the counter and named a price.  The woman asked why it was so expensive.  The druggist explained the price of the prescription and added the price of the perfume: “For the bottle you have in your purse.” 

Surprised, the woman said: “Oh, I forgot about that!”  That mirror was a two-way one, and the Pharmacist had been watching the woman’s every move.

God is always present, always watching.  He is Omniscient.  He doesn’t need a two-way mirror to know what we are doing.

The Unseen Stealing

A fortune can be made from cheating, but there is a curse that goes with it – Prov. 20:21 (LIVING).  It is quite easy to say: “Well, I wouldn’t take anything that doesn’t belong to me”, but there are other ways of stealing.  Some people think themselves to be upright because they do not break the law.  Yet if they take a little money in a shady deal or slightly misrepresent a product, their character is no better than that of the outright thief.

Concerning any questionable business deal, some businessmen have been known to say: “Well, business is business.”  Everybody does it!  No everybody does it though but the excuse satisfies the unconscionable people.  However, God, who is watching, even though it may be undetected by the customer, sees every shady deal.

There are those who deny it, but gambling may be another way of stealing.  The gambler will tell you it’s his business what he does with his money.  But that statement is questionable if his wife and children have nothing to eat and the rent goes unpaid.

Christians: The World’s Bible

Christians ought to pay all their bills.  Many worldly people judge Christ and His Church by the way professing Christians pay their bills.  If a man is a Christian and his grocer is not, the grocer may feel there is nothing to Christianity when the Christian runs up a bill and never pays.  The outside world does not read the Bible, it reads Christians.

Stealing From God

Then there is the thievery of stealing from God.  This is done by not giving Him His “tithes and offerings” – Malachi 3:8.  We must give God what is rightfully His.  There is an old saying – “The love of money is the root of all evil;” but the greatest evil about money is when it is stolen from God. 

Jesus: God’s Mirror in Your Heart

A man’s conscience is the Lord’s searchlight exposing his hidden motives – Prov. 20:27 – (Living Bible).  There is a remedy that covers dishonesty – the same remedy applies to all sin – Jesus Christ in the heart is the remedy!  When Jesus truly resides in the heart of the believer, Satan’s temptations are easily overcome.

The woman in the drug store who slipped the perfume in her bag was not accused of doing wrong.  Nor were the police called to arrest her and carry her to jail.  The Pharmacist handled the woman and not wanting to embarrass her and not wanting to lose a customer, he simply asked for his money.  He got it and there is no doubt that the woman was totally honest the next time she entered the store.

The God who is watching handles us wisely.  He provides us with a Saviour – His most effective prescription for sin.  He sees every misdeed through the ‘mirror’ of heaven, but He also hears every confession.  Just as the woman had to pay for the stolen goods, so the unrepentant sinner will be made to pay for every wrongdoing.

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.

LENTEN MEDITATIONS

Come to me, all you who are very weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11: 28-30

INTRODUCTION

Lent started on Wednesday 17th February with Ash Wednesday and would continue until Saturday 3rd April, a day before Easter Sunday. Originally, Lent was kept as a pre-Easter retreat: a prolonged period of time when Christians would “tone up” spiritually. Their “spiritual aerobics” were not unlike the intensive training an athlete undergoes before an important race or the strict diet a person goes on in order to lose weight for medical or cosmetic purpose.

The reason why Christians took Lent so seriously from the days of the Early Church onwards is that Easter Day was the highlight of their year. On this day, like us, they celebrated the amazing fact that Jesus’ body was not left in the grave. He rose from dead! But on this day, they also welcomed converts to Christianity into full fellowship of the church and welcomed back people who had once believed in God but whose faith in Him had grown dim and whose love for Him had grown cold. Throughout Lent, these people would prepare for Easter by becoming familiar with the basic teaching essential to understanding of Christianity. They would be encouraged to repent of the past failures and be shown how to live life God’s way. Committed Christians did not escape the rigours of the Lenten season. They, too, took Lent seriously and used it as a time to examine their life-style, to turn their backs on the sin that so easily creeps into their lives and to re-dedicate their lives to God.

Lent means to sacrifice your most precious commodity, time: quality time for God. During Lent we should devote our time to extra prayer, extra Bible meditation, extra reflection and serious repentance. Such dedicated time to God would make a difference to the way we worship when Easter Day arrives.

LENT IS THEREFORE:

  1. A time for spiritual spring-cleaning; a challenge to combat evil in our lives. And Lent is a time to turn back to God. The Prophet Joel puts the invitation this way: ‘Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.’ (Joel 2:13 NIV)
  • A time for new beginnings. New beginnings start with repentance. Repentance is not negative. True repentance is an active, positive attitude which effects real and deep changes. Repentance involves recognizing the wrong, and, where possible, putting it right. And when we repent, we are determining in our minds that we will live differently.  John the Baptist said ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near’ (Matthew 3:2). Repentance means to face up honestly to the past and turn from it… Our own repentance conjures up feelings of being sorry or guilty for something. The biblical meaning is far deeper and richer. In the New Testament usage, repentance turns us from sin, selfishness, darkness, idols, habits, bondages and demons both private and public. Jim Wallis puts it this way: ‘We turn from all that binds and oppresses us and others, from all the false worship that has controlled us. Ultimately, repentance is turning from the powers of death. These ominous forces no longer hold us in their grip; they no longer have the last word’.Repentance and receiving God’s forgiveness go hand in hand. The Apostle John writes: ‘If we confess our sins to God, He will keep His promise…He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.’ (1 John 1:9). After we have confessed, we must move on to receive and embrace God’s forgiveness and love. To fail to do so implies that we give greater importance to our sinful self than to God’s goodness. We must learn to accept that God’s goodness is greater than our ‘badness’; that there is joy in God’s heart in extending to us the forgiving love which sets us free from past sin. So, we must refuse to nurse a sense of guilt and accept the healing God offers.
  • A glorious forty-day retreat. A retreat is a time to stand back; to ask; ‘what have I been doing with my life?’ What has God been teaching me? Where have I succeeded in living life God’s way? Where have I failed? What do I need to confess to God or to change?’  Lenten retreat is a time to recognize our wanderings and to determine to go back to God. Like the young man in the story of the prodigal son, we are to make a calculated choice to come back to our Father: ‘I will get up and go to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son: treat me as one of your hired workers.’ (Luke 15: 20-24) :and enjoy our Father’s joyful restoration.   
  • A time to hope. Unending love is what God is. Lent is a time to experience that love all over again. For this reason, God ‘woos’and assures us that though we have failed Him, He will not forsake us: ‘How can I give you up?… How can I abandon you?… My heart will not let me do it! My love for you is too strong.’ (Hosea 11:8). Now is the time to make a personal response to God invitation: ‘Return to the Lord your God and let this prayer be your offering to Him: “Forgive all our sins and accept our prayer, and we will praise you as we have promised”’(Hosea 14:2) . Because God’s love is perfect, when we return to Him, we enjoy security. He has promised that He will never abandon us nor banish us from His presence — ‘Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the son of her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you. See, I have branded you on the palms of my hands.’
  • A time to re-focus; to turn away from the business which pre-occupies us for most of the year and concentrate on Jesus.  

END NOTE

Lent is a wonderful time we should not miss. Let us go through the rigours of the 40 days spiritual disciplines of fasting and prayers and enjoy prolific change and growth in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Stay Blessed!

LET US LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

INTRODUCTION

Today we would like to invite you to study a systematic study of 1 John chapter 4:7-21, where we learn so much about God’s love.

God’s love is not static or self-centered; it reaches out and draws others in. God sets the pattern for true love, the basis for all love relationships – when we love someone dearly, we are willing to give freely to the point of self-sacrifice. God paid dearly with the life of His Son, the highest price He could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that He had bought for us. When we share the Good News with others, our love must be like Jesus’ willingly giving up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving God’s love.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. – 1 John 4:7-21.

VERSE BY VERSE STUDY

A. 4:7 – Everyone believes that love is important, but love is usually thought of a feeling. In reality, love is a choice and an action, as 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 shows. God is the source of our love. He loved us enough to sacrifice His Son for us. Jesus is our example of what it means to love; everything He did in life and death was supremely loving. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to love; He lives in our heart and makes us more and more like Christ. God’s love always involves a choice and an action, and our love should be like His. How well do we display our love for God in the choices we make and the actions we take?

B. 4:8 – John says, “God is love”, not “Love is God”. Our world, with its shallow and selfish view of love, has turned these words around and contaminated our understanding of love. The world thinks that love is what makes a person feel good and that it is all right to sacrifice moral principles and others’ rights in order to obtain such “love”. But that isn’t real love; it is the exact opposite -selfishness. And God is not that kind of “love”. Real love is like God, who is holy, just, and perfect. If we truly know God, we will love as He does.

C. 4:9, 10 – EXPLAINS:

1. Why God creates – because He loves, He creates people to love.

2. Why God cares – because He Loves them, He cares for sinful people.

3. Why we are free to choose – God wants a loving response from us.

4. Why Christ died – His love for us caused Him to offer a solution to the problem of sin.

5. Why we receive eternal life – God’ love expresses itself to us forever.

Nothing sinful or evil can exist in God’s presence. He is absolute goodness. He cannot overlook, condone, or excuse sin as though it never happened. He loves us, but His love does not make Him morally lax. If we trust in Christ, however, we will not have to bear the penalty for our sins. We will be acquitted by His atoning sacrifice.

D. 4:12 – Jesus is the complete expression of God in human form, and He has revealed God to us. When we love one another, the invisible God reveals Himself to others through us, and His love is made complete.

Some people simply enjoy being with others. They make friends with strangers easily and always are surrounded by friends. Other people are shy or reserved. They have a few friends and are frequently uncomfortable talking with people they don’t know or mingling in crowds. Shy people don’t need to become extroverts in order to love others. John isn’t telling us how many people to love, but how much to love the people we already know. Our job is to love faithfully the people God has given us to love, whether there are two or two hundred of them. If God sees that we are ready to love others, He will bring them to us. No matter how shy we are, we don’t need to be afraid of the love commandment. God provides us the strength to do what He asks.

E. 4:13 – When we become Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit, God’s presence in our life is proof that we really belong to Him. He also gives us the power to love. Let us rely on that power as we reach out to others.

F. 4:18 – If we ever are afraid of the future, eternity, or God’s judgement, we can remind ourselves of God’s love. We know that He loves us perfectly. We can resolve our fears first by focusing on His immeasurable love for us, and then by allowing Him to love others through us. His love will quiet our fears and give us confidence.

G. 4:19 – God’s love is the source of all human love, and it spreads like fire. In loving His children, God kindles a flame in their hearts. In turn, they love others, who are warmed by God’s love through them.

H. 4:20, 21. – It is easy to say we love God when that, love doesn’t cost us anything more than weekly attendance at religious services. But the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us – our family members and fellow believers. We cannot truly love God while neglecting to love those who are created in His image.

Stay blessed!

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

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

FIXING MY EYES ON JESUS

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

INTRODUCTION

Every one of us has problems that feel like we are walking through a “fiery” time in life. What fuel has God the Refiner added to the fire of our life, as He works to reveal Jesus in and through us? Has the heat intensified to an almost unbearable level? Maybe it’s marriage problems, and your spouse walked out? Or financial problems, and now the bank says it will no longer give you time to pay? Or challenges at work, and now the boss says they no longer need you because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Whatever the situation or intensity of the heat, be encouraged! When a refiner purifies gold, he melts it in a pot over a fire. He keeps turning up the heat until the dross, or impurities, rise to the surface. He then bends over the gold to skim off the dross and continues doing so, until he can see his face reflected in the surface of the liquid gold.

JUST LOOK UP!

Gold refined in the fire is a meaningful visual of how God refines us. “But who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness” – Malachi 3:2-3. He knows exactly how hot the “fire” needs to be to bring the impurities in our hearts, minds and lives to the surface of our attention, enabling Him to skim them off until He can see His own image reflected in us. When He turns up the heat, we need to fix our eyes on Him, totally trusting Him to know exactly what He’s doing.

Has the Refiner added fuel to the fire? Perhaps a dear one died suddenly or after a very short illness? Or perhaps there is a dangerous disease such as cancer?

Praise God! The cross, the blood of God’s Lamb, trumps anything the devil can throw at us or assign to us!

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” – 1 Peter 1:6-7.

So please let us fix our eyes on the Refiner … the One ultimately in control of everything, trusting Him especially with the intensity of the heat.

Let’s be confident that there will be a healing not just an answer to our prayers, but the prayers of others for us, whether healing without surgery, with surgery, with surgery plus follow-up treatment, or through the greater miracle of the resurrection. And our healing — physical, emotional, spiritual or mental — may also be an answered prayer for others as their faith strengthens ours.

I found the following poem written by a 9 year old which seems appropriate for the situation:

Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee.

Trust Him when thy strength is small.

Trust Him when to simply trust Him

Is the hardest thing of all.

Trust Him, He is ever faithful.

Trust Him for His will is best.

Trust Him for the heart of Jesus

Is the only place to rest.

Trust Him then through tears and sunshine,

All thy cares upon Him cast,

‘Til the storms of life are over,

And the trusting days are past.

As we follow the Good Shepherd through this Valley of the Shadow, we must firmly fixi our eyes on Jesus with a heart of absolute trust. May our prayers be that our faith would be purified, God would be glorified, and Jesus would be magnified through every step we take on this new journey, until the Refiner sees His own reflection mirrored in our lives.

Father God, help me trust You as my faith is purified, until my faith becomes sight, when I see You face-to-face, and the trusting days are past. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

As we continually look to Jesus, He will be the author and finisher” of your faith. He will lead us to overwhelming victory, even amid the storms of life.

TO PONDER

The Lenten season, the period of 40 days fast, repentance and prayer prior to the celebration of Easter Sunday has begun. Please let us deepen our relationship with the Lord.

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.

10 POWERFUL PRAYERS TO PRAY FOR THE CHURCH

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:18

INTRODUCTION

The Bible is filled with reminders of how important it is to pray for one another. Jesus gave us the best example as He prayed for those who followed Him. Paul also left us prayers written for the churches he had visited over time.

If we are called to pray for the “church,” what is the church, exactly? The Bible reminds us that the church is more than just a building or a gathering place of people. It’s much bigger than any single denomination, social status, or country. The church quite simply is the body of believers all around the world who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. It is referred to in the Bible as the Greek word “ekklesia” and is defined as “an assembly,” or the “called out ones.”

In a world that is often very dark, and in times that we know the end is drawing nearer, may we be found faithfully praying for one another until Christ’s return. Many believers are persecuted, even killed, daily all around our world. Many are being intimidated by others around them, or are ridiculed and attacked because of their beliefs. We can be sure of this – Satan is very aware of the power of our prayers. And he will do everything he can to render us ineffective and to silence our voices. May God help us to recognize those traps and do all we can to show His love and light in this world that so desperately needs Christ’s hope and healing.

1. PRAY FOR UNITY IN THE CHURCH.

“I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3

2. PRAY THAT GOD WOULD BE GLORIFIED IN ALL THINGS AND THAT THE NAME OF CHRIST IS EXALTED.

“To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

3. PRAY THAT GOD’S SPIRIT AND POWER WOULD FILL THE CHURCH.

“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

4. PRAY THAT THE BODY OF CHRIST WOULD FAITHFULLY SHOW LOVE TO A HURTING WORLD IN HIS NAME.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:14

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

5. PRAY FOR GOD’S PROVISION AND THAT THE CHURCH WOULD BE FAITHFUL TO GIVE GENEROUSLY.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

6. PRAY THAT THE CHURCH WOULD BE FAITHFUL TO GO INTO ALL THE WORLD AND SHARE THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15

7. PRAY FOR THE LEADERS OF EVERY CHURCH, THAT THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS ARE DIRECTED TOWARDS CHRIST.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

8. PRAY FOR THE CHURCH TO HAVE A LOVE FOR GOD’S WORD AND TO WALK IN HIS WISDOM, HUMILITY, AND STRENGTH.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

9. PRAY FOR GOD’S POWER AND PROTECTION AGAINST THE ATTACKS OF THE ENEMY.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

10. PRAY THAT GOD WOULD WAKE UP THE CHURCH AND STIR US TO ACTION.

“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” – Ephesians 6:18.

HEAD OF THY CHURCH TRIUMPHANT – MHB 411

1 Head of Thy Church triumphant,

We joyfully adore Thee;

Till Thou appear, Thy members here

Shall sing like those in glory.

We lift our hearts and voices

With blest anticipation,

And cry aloud, and give to God

The praise of our salvation.

Charles Wesley – 1701-1788

CONCLUSION

It is our privilege to come into God’s throne room to intercede and lift up our church and its leaders. Church is not a place, it’s a body. It is family, with blood ties through Jesus Christ. 

Let us make prayer our life and our lives a prayer while living in a world that needs God’s powerful influence. We also should pray for all believers in Christ; so pray for Christians you know and for the church around the world.

Stay blessed!

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

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

6 WAYS TO SHOW LOVE THIS YEAR

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39

INTRODUCTION

God loves everyone—and He calls us to do the same selflessly, without expectation of something in return. Love is given utmost importance in His Word the Bible. We are expected to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind—and to love our neighbour as the Lord Jesus tells us in Luke 10:27He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”.

What is love?

The ‘Love Verse’ at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is an oft-quoted Scripture that reminds us love is patient and kind; not envious, boastful, or full of pride. How can we apply this in 2021?

LOVING GOD

We build our relationship with God mainly through Bible Study, praying and fellowship with other believers. The Lord has provided His Word as a means to grow in our faith. Praying regularly, going to church, and spending time with our church family will also encourage us in our love for God, but there is more we need to do. We may love Him, but how can we truly serve Him if we ignore the most important thing we are commanded: to love? Loving God means loving others—an important detail we must never overlook. GOD IS LOVE.

…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:2

LOVE IS BIGGER THAN FEELINGS

Love is more than just an emotion. Feeling can be a part of love—we have romantic relationships, share friendships, and develop a fondness for other people—but that does not define love. Love is also action, service, courtesy, and forgiveness. Sending an encouraging card or words of sympathy when someone is going through a difficult time will remind them that they are loved—by God and the people in their life. You don’t have to carry the feeling of love in order to share love with others.

Love is a choice. We can choose to respond thoughtfully in any situation when we allow our decisions to be guided by His love.

Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14

LOVE IS HOSPITALITY

Let’s open our hearts to others. Hospitality is not hosting a party to impress others, but rather a way to show our love for our family, friends, and neighbours.

We don’t need to go beyond our means to show our loving care. Meet a need in someone’s life—provide a ride to a doctor’s appointment for an elderly person from your community or send a jacket and packaged meal to someone who may be less fortunate. Offering what you can in someone’s time of need shows the love we are expected to have for our neighbor.

Jesus was able to offer Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, His unconditional, irrevocable, pure love and forgiveness for her sins. Mary responded with an act that showed her gratitude to Jesus—she poured out her love and devotion when she washed His feet with her tears, dried them with her own hair, then anointed Him with an expensive perfume as we read in John 12: 1- 8. When onlookers criticized the act as wasteful, Jesus reminded them that her great sins had been forgiven through an act of His own love—in return, she provided Him a beautiful gesture of love in the way she was able.

WHEN LOVE IS DIFFICULT

Love can be a sacrifice, as God Himself showed when He sent us His Son. Jesus showed us the same love when He went to the cross to die for our sins. Loving somebody may be difficult as well, but Jesus calls for us to love our enemies. Who are the enemies in our lives? Who are difficult to love? Maybe we have an overbearing relative, someone from work we don’t get along with, or a neighbour who just seems impossible.

Loving our enemies simply means we treat them with respect—regardless of whether they show us respect in return. We must pray to the Lord for strength and guidance in order to fulfill His commandment, especially since we cannot often find it within ourselves. Loving our enemies may mean pledging not to cause harm—even to their reputation or feelings. We do not speak ill of those with whom we do not get along, nor do we wish them ill. Loving someone may mean offering forgiveness or withholding judgement. “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” – Luke 6:35

THREE STRATEGIES TO CHOOSE LOVE IN 2021

1) Love through prayer. The Lord has commanded us to love, but He does not expect us to do it on our own. Let us pray for His guidance, asking Him to help us see people through His eyes. Through God, we can gain the strength to love those who may be difficult to love. Let’s humble ourselves before the Lord—because sometimes we may be difficult to love as well.

2) Love through action. Though love isn’t all service, it is a large part of it. We serve God by loving each other, and we can serve others in love. Let’s put love into action by volunteering, helping our neighbour with some work, or introducing someone to the love of God found in His Word.

3) Love through attentiveness. Family and friends love to feel loved. Let us offer recognition of the time and effort put into the dinner on the table, concern when they’re unhappy, or words of affirmation when they need some encouragement. Simply being available can show our love in big ways.

CONCLUSION

We know how it feels to be on the receiving end of love, so let us joyfully spread love to others. When we consider the gift of God’s unconditional love, we realize how truly blessed we are to be loved by Him. Loving others is therefore how we show Him we are listening and want to do as He does. Not only does sharing love make others feel good, it lifts you up as well. Go into the new year with a heart full of love. Jesus puts it beautifully in John 15:9-11: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

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.