What Are You Reading? 22-01-2018

  1. Love One Another: …Since Christ sacrificed all he had for our sake, we as his followers are called to do the same for our fellow brothers and sisters.
  2. Warning Concerning Prayer: …I need to sound a warning. In our day, many people have rediscovered the power of prayer… However, some carry this to an extreme and jump to the conclusion that prayer is something of a magic wand, that if we do prayer with the right sound, in the right manner, with the right phrases, and in the right posture, God is obligated to answer.
  3. Dissect Your Discouragement: …It’s one thing to feel a wave of discouragement; it’s another to sit in a puddle of self-pity. Dissecting our discouragement paves a way to Christ that neither denies discouragement nor allows it to dictate.
  4. Have Bible Quoters Replaced Bible Readers?: …“They have the capacity to recall a relevant biblical text in support of a particular doctrinal point, or in opposition to a hot spot in the cultural wars, or in hope of emotional support when times get tough. They approach the Bible as a sort of reference book, a collection of useful God-quotes that can be looked up as one would locate words in a dictionary or an entry in an encyclopedia.”
  5. Making Sense of Scripture’s ‘Inconsistency’: …“If I believe Jesus is the resurrected Son of God, I can’t follow all the ‘clean laws’ of diet and practice, and I can’t offer animal sacrifices. All that would be to deny the power of Christ’s death on the cross. And so those who really believe in Christ must follow some Old Testament texts and not others.”
  6. Can we really know what the Bible means?: The bonus for today is a short video that answers this simple question.

Love One Another

1 John 3:11-24 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (12) Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. (13) Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. (14) We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. (15) Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

(16) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (17) If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (18) Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

(19) This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: (20) If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (21) Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God (22) and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. (23) And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (24) The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

What does is it mean to love one another as christians? We follow the ultimate example of Christ who shows us what love is: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers”(v16). If it wasn’t any clearer, the point is emphasized in the next verse: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”. I think these verses lie at the heart of this passage.

Love becomes more than just mere sentimentality instead it is how we act towards each other. Since Christ sacrificed all he had for our sake, we as his followers are called to do the same for our fellow brothers and sisters. In recent times, the call to be generous and to help each other materially is generally self-focused. If you want [money, prosperity, health etc] then be generous with your finances. This passage says: If you claim to have God’s love and are in Christ, then you will be generous.

I would also suggest that if we are truly generous and follow God’s commandment to love one another, it will show in what we ask for when we pray. And the Lord will give us whatever we ask, because what we ask will please Him and be in line with His commandment (v22-24). Its about a life truly transformed by the Holy Spirit so much so that our ambitions, dreams, hopes etc are all shaped by the gospel and stands in stark contrast to the what the world values. This is seen by how we are about to care for one another’s needs: both spiritual and physical.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35

 

What Are You Reading? 15-01-2018

  1. The Day I Made My Biggest Mistake in Evangelism: “… Friends, never underestimate the power of God’s Word. It is a fire that can melt and a hammer that can break even the hardest hearts… We can schedule meetings—but thanks be to God, he schedules conversions
  2. Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think It Is): “…We are justified by faith alone, saved by grace alone, and redeemed from our sin by Christ alone. Moralism produces sinners who are (potentially) better behaved. The Gospel of Christ transforms sinners into the adopted sons and daughters of God
  3. Why repentant pastors should be forgiven but not restored to the pulpit: A very good take on what it means for a pastor to be “above reproach”. “… To be a pastor, you at least need to meet the qualifications Paul gave to his disciple Timothy … “Above reproach” doesn’t mean a pastor is sinless. It means that if everything about his life is brought into the light, people would still trust him and follow him in the way of godliness.
  4. What Does “Gospel” Mean? Philippians 1:27–28: Grab your Bible, a notebook and some highlighters. “… How do you define ‘the gospel of Christ’ in Philippians 1:27–28? If all you had was the Bible, how could you find the definition?

Children of God

1 John 3:1-10 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (2) Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (3) And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(4) Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (5) You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. (6) No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (7) Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. (8) Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (9) No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. (10) By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Are you a child of God? In this passage, we see what characterizes children of God. The references to “children of…” seem to point to who we follow or the one who leads us. The children of God are those who have been loved by the Father (3:1), who are looking forward to the coming of Christ (3:2) and hope in Him for their purification (3:3). Those who are children of God practice righteousness (3:7 and 3:10) and this is shown by how they love each other (3:10).

On the other hand, those who practice sin and makes a habit of it are not of God. “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (3:6). “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (3:8). This might seem very harsh but it almost mirrors Jesus’ statement in the book of John:  “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44)”.

What the Apostle John has been emphasizing from the beginning of this book is that those of us who received the word of life proclaimed by the Apostles (1:1-4), and are in fellowship with God(1:5-10) should live a life that is characterized by keeping God’s commandments(2:1-6) which is summarized by loving each other (2:7-17) and we should stay away from practicing sin but rather pursue righteousness (3:1-10). We do all this by the power of the anointing (2:18-29). The biggest take away for myself is that sin is not something to be trifled with and we should be very wary of making a habit of it. Also we can’t say we are practicing righteousness if we don’t consider how we love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

What Are You Reading? 09-01-2018

On this week’s list:

  1. Fragmentary Notes on Mark’s Gospel (Mark 1): Thabiti Anywabile puts together some of his thoughts on the first chapter of Mark’s gospel.
  2. 12 Principles on How to Disagree with Other Christians: How do you go about disagreeing with other christians. These principles are very helpful
  3. Keep Technology in Its Proper Place in 2018: The technology space is rapidly evolving the way we live our lives and interact with each other. Knowing how to use technology in a beneficial way is something we all need to learn. “The proper place for technology won’t be exactly the same for every family, and it isn’t the same at every season of our lives. Figuring out the proper place for technology in our particular family and stage of life requires discernment rather than a simple formula. But almost anything is better than letting technology overwhelm us with its default settings, taking over our lives and stunting our growth in the ways that really matter…”
  4. How To Make Your Church Uncomfortable: Comfortable churches are common. In a comfortable church, people come from the same class, are the same color, live in similar neighborhoods, enjoy the same kinds of music and worship styles, get their news and political ideas from the same sources, and welcome more people like themselves…”

Gospel Music – Shai Linne

I’m not ashamed of the gospel, y’all
It’s the power of God that can save us all
In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed
And who lives by faith? The righteous will!

On the Playlist today is an amazing song by Shai Linne titled “Gospel Music” from the “13 Letters” album. This album has various Christian rap artistes summarizing Paul’s epistles. This particular song is breakdown of the letter to the Romans. It is just really great to see this level of creativity used in expressing God’s word. Here’s just a snippet of Shai Linne’s take on Romans:

Awake from your slumber, rise! A letter from the wise
The book of Romans- the Christian faith summarized
By Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus
Called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel
Chapter 1: 16-17 is the thesis
Because our sins are colossal, hearts are harder than fossils
That’s everybody’s plight; cant’ solve it- goodnight!
How do sinners get right in a Holy God’s sight?
Amazing is the answer, see- Romans states it candidly
The first three chapters- God’s case against humanity
Whether it’s idolatry or religious hypocrisy
No one can possibly see the charges and say “It’s not for me”
Everybody’s guilty, everybody’s filthy
Before God on judgment day is where everybody will be
For those who believe in Jesus who suffered and died
“It feels so good to be justified”

Check out this song and the whole album in fact.

Deezer Link

Itunes Link

Spotify Link

What Are You Reading: 01-01-2018

Every week we will try and give out recommendations of some great articles you can read. Here is this week’s list:

  1. What Makes a Good Sermon? Five Questions to Ask – Sometimes we mistake eloquence for a good sermon. This article does a great job of making us think critically about the sermons we hear.
  2. How Do You Define God’s Holiness – What do we mean when we say God is holy… God’s holiness is his infinite value as the absolutely unique, morally perfect, permanent person that he is and who by grace made himself accessible — his infinite value as the absolutely unique, morally perfect, permanent person that he is. This is another great read
  3. What I believe About The Bible (A Poem) – Just a awesome poem about the Bible.
  4. Subtle Ways to Abandon the Authority of Scripture in our Lives – For those looking for a more ‘heavy’ read, check out this article on the authority of scripture by Don Carson on Themelios. Themelios is a journal for students of theology.

 

 

Free Yourself of Human Praise

Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
(John 12:42-43, NIV)

How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
(John 5:44, NIV)

He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
(Luke 16:15, NIV)

“These people really disgraced themselves”. “Is wedding by force?” “If you can’t afford it,don’t do it”. “What a shame?” “No, no, it was bad!” “It was not nice at all”. These are quotes from a conversation two people had after attending a wedding ceremony. Apparently, they had not been impressed at all by the wedding ceremony. “It was too cheap”, they said. Most people will not want their weddings to be spoken of this way. They will prefer people spoke well of their weddings. As a result, they will be careful to organize the wedding in such a manner as to attract the praises rather than the scorn of others. This illustrates well how human praises normally influence what people do. It is not just what people will say about our weddings but what they will say about our cars or lack of cars, what they will say about what we wear, where we live, which school we go to, where we work and so on. Consciously or unconsciously, we make many life choices based on attracting human praises and avoiding derision.

This would be alright if people praised what God praised and scorned what God scorned. If that were the case, being influenced by human praises will lead to one doing what God wants since people will only praise you for doing what God wants. Alas, that is not the case! People praise things God doesn’t care about. For instance, the “classiness” of your wedding or car or whatever means squat to God even though it attracts a lot of praises from people. Sometimes, people even praise things God scorns. As Luke 16:15 says “what people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” As a result, human praises often direct us away from the will of God. Those who concern themselves with human praises end up in the opposite direction of where God will have them. They end up outside the will of God. God’s will was for the people to believe but they could not because “they loved human praise more than praise from God”.

Pray that God will deliver you from the penchant of human praises. This is important because as long as you are concerned about the praises of people, you will not use your resources in the most optimum way possible to serve the Lord and the poor since you will spend inordinate amounts of your resources doing things that will attract human praises even if they do not matter.

Will Your Anchor Hold?

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain”
Hebrews 6:19

Priscilla Owens, born on 21st July, 1829 in Baltimore, Maryland, wrote this hymn. She worked with youth groups and was a Sunday School teacher at the Union Square Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Most hymns written by her, including this hymn, were written for her Sunday School students.

Hebrews 6:19 was the inspiration for this hymn. When sung at the door of dying Mary Maude (Hymn Writer), she (Mary Maude) sent her singers this message: “Tell them it does not fail. It holds.”

Priscilla Owens died on December, 5,1907 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Indeed in Jesus Christ, we have an anchor that is able to keep us through the many storms of this life and secures our souls for eternity.

Verse 1

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,

When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?

When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,

Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

Refrain

We have an anchor that keeps the soul

Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,

Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,

Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

Verse 2

It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand,

For ’tis well secured by the Savior’s hand;

And the cables passed from His heart to mine,

Can defy the blast, through strength divine.

Verse 3

It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,

When the breakers have told the reef is near;

Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,

Not an angry wave shall our bark o’erflow.

Verse 4

It will surely hold in the floods of death,

When the waters cold chill our latest breath;

On the rising tide it can never fail,

While our hopes abide within the veil.