Fear and Serve God

“Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” (1 Sam 12:24-25, ESV2011).

“Fear the Lord! Serve the Lord!” These are not any more very common teachings in many Western churches. Rather, God is presented as a sugar daddy. Christianity became more about what can we get from God to spoil ourselves instead of fearing and serving God. However, the concepts of fearing and serving the Lord have dominated both the Old and the New Testaments. Lives of many great man of God like Moses, David, Peter and Paul were all marked with their fear of God and service to God.

Solomon concluded his analysis of life’s experiences and life’s meaning with “fear God and keep His commandments…” (Ecc 12:13, NKJV).

Jesus’ parable of the talents also teach about serving God with fear (Mat 25:14-30). Likewise, Paul’s teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit also imply our responsibility to serve God according to our calling and gifts (1 Cor 12:1-11).

In conclusion, Christian life is a life of fearing and serving God as much as growing in God’s love and grace. Thus do not be fooled by the self-centred feel good sermons or consumer friendly teachings of prosperity preachers. You are here to fear and serve God.

Unselfish Christianity

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mat 10:37-39, ESV2011).

This might sound rather difficult to accept but, this is exactly what Christ demands from His followers: unselfish love, unselfish commitment. If you cannot value Christ more than your own life, if you cannot love Him more than all your family, friends and everything else, you are not worthy of Him. That means you shall not even call yourselves Christian if your life is not totally and unconditionally committed to Christ. In the post-modern Western culture, there is the great movement of making Christianity as cheap and as easy as possible. That is called consumer friendly or politically correct Christianity. Sadly, by many popular preachers and authors Christianity is portrayed as a mere lip service to God or as a self-help gimmick. However, this Western way of understanding and promoting Christianity is neither biblical nor in line with Christ’s calling.

True and truly biblical Christianity starts and ends with a radical commitment and undiluted love for Christ.

Jesus please forgive me for my selfish Christianity and half hearted commitment to you. Jesus, today, I decide to love you more than all and commit myself to you totally and unconditionally. Amen.

 

Submission in prayer

My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mat 26:39, ESV2011).

Although Jesus was God he was also man. Although he came earth to do God’s will he also knew the great suffering and humiliation that he was going to face. Thus He prayed: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”

However, Jesus was humble and submissive in His prayer, thus He ended with “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

That I call submissive prayer. This is exactly the opposite of stubborn prayer where one stubbornly asks God what he wants and never even thinks about God’s will.

Essentially, submissive prayer is God centred, while stubborn prayer is self-centred. Submissive prayer sees God as the King of universe to whom we must submit. Stubborn prayer, sees God as a sugar daddy in the heavens whose job is to give us all we ask.

Submissive prayer thinks that it is about God and what God wants. Stubborn prayer is selfish and arrogant enough to think that it is all about me and what I want.

Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 is another good example of submissive prayer. Jesus and Paul did not rebel against God when their requests were not granted, but they simply submitted to Father’s decision.

Heavenly Father, please teach me to pray not stubbornly but submissively. May I be God-centred and not self-centred in my prayers Amen.

If you keep quiet…

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esth 4:14, ESV2011).

Jews were facing a total destruction from Haman. Although Esther was not Haman’s immediate victim, safe in king’s palace, she was called to speak up for others.

Similarly, today, Jews in Israel are under attack, and face intense pressure from the rest of the world. At the same time, across the world millions of Christians face persecution and murder on a daily basis. However we, South African Christians, are still free and safe as Esther was in the palace. Just like Esther, we are also called to speak up for the relief and deliverance of God’s people.

Our safety and freedom should not lead us to indifference to the sufferings of other Christians and also Jews. On contrary, we shall see freedom and safety as God’s empowerment to stand up and speak against the atrocities committed to God’s people (Jews and Christians) across the world. We shall use freedom to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defend those who cannot defend themselves, fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Perhaps, God put you in this place at this moment in history so that you may speak up and defend Jews and Christians. Also remember, if you keep silent at this time God’s relief and deliverance for His people will come from somewhere else but you and your house may perish.

Love God’s People

Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people” (Esth 10:3 ESV2011).

Mordecai cared enough to take and raise Esther when her parents died (Esth 2:7). He faithfully served king Ahasuerus and saved him from a possible assassination (Esth 2:19-23). When Haman decreed the destruction of all Jews, Mordecai stepped forward and eventually saved his people (Esth 4).

Mordecai did not only love God, but he also loved God’s people to the extend of taking risks to save them.

His love for Esther meant that he should take and raise her as his own child. His love for God’s people meant that he should face the enemy to stop the massacre of God’s people.

There is so much to learn for us from the legacy of Mordecai. Many of us claim to love God and our neighbours. But do we love God’s people to the extend of facing the enemy to save them?

Today, Christians (God’s adopted people) are attacked from every corner intellectually, physically, politically and economically. Today, Jews (God’s chosen people) are fighting for their survival as Muslims are attacking them with the determination to kill every Jew until none is left. More and more the nations of the world are turning against Israel and supporting Islamic destruction of Jews. Today there is so much need for Christian men like Mordecai who will stand up and defend Jews and Christians from the attacks of the enemy.

Farther, forgive my selfishness and cowardice. May I love and stand up for your people. Bless me with love for them and boldness to defend them.

Serving God with your heart

“I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.” (Ps 89:20-21, ESV2011).

God found, anointed and empowered the little shepherd boy David to kill Goliath, to rule the nation of Israel and to pave the way for Messiah. Although he made mistakes, he lived for God, worked for God, fought for God and left behind a great legacy and a great kingdom.

But the question is, was David merely an obedient servant who only did what God said or was he more than that? The answer is found in Acts 13:22: David was not only a servant, but a man after God’s heart who would do all God’s will. He was not merely obeying God, but passionately trying to fulfil God’s desires. He was not merely a labourer but a passionate man of God. He did not just put in his labour but firstly his heart, then all he had to see God’s will done.

That is the kind of servant God looks for. If you work for a corporation, it will be enough if you put in your expertise and labour. But if work for God, your expertise, labour and even your obedience will not be enough. First and foremost you must give your heart as David did.

May the Lord give us His heart, passion and desires so that we may be a people after His own heart.

Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth, … You are the light of the world…” (Mat 5:13-14, ESV2011).

Salt has preserving and flavouring abilities and is used to preserve and make food tastier. In the same way, God meant that Christians should act as preserving and flavouring agents in this constantly decaying and tasteless world.

Light is what chases away darkness and makes any place pleasant and habitable. In the same way, God meant Christians to be light in this dark and corrupt world.

Since the days of Christ, God used many Jews and Christians as salt and light to make this world a more habitable, pleasant and flavourful place. For example: the hospitals and the medical system, education and universities, equality and freedom of all men were introduced and implemented in this world by Christians. God used Christians like William Wilberforce to fight against the slave trade and to establish the concept of freedom for all men. God used Christians like George Muller to establish orphanages and care for abandoned children. God used Christians like Corrie Ten Boom to protect and shelter Jews from the Nazis during the 2nd World War. Today God is using many Christians to shelter and provide for victims of Islamic violence and terrorism in the Middle east and North Africa. Islamic armies arrive to kill, destroy and kidnap. Christians arrive to save, shelter and give life.

What is your role in God’s work? Where does God want you to be salt and light? Where does God want you to save, shelter and give life?

Father God, please use me as salt and light in this dark and bitter world. Use me to preserve what is good and pleasant and to fight against what is evil. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Fruitfulness

… make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:5-8, HCSB).

Faith is a gift of God and it comes first. However, we still need to work on adding these qualifications onto our faith. Goodness (“virtue” as some translations say), knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection and love are the things we need to develop and make part of our life to be fruitful servants of Christ. Often, these qualifications are contrary to our nature, culture and default behaviour patterns. Thus it requires intentional work and prayer to make them part of who we are. Sadly, without these, our faith and knowledge of Christ will remain only in theory, unable to produce fruit in our own lives and in our circles of influence. As James (2:20) said “faith without works is dead”, faith without these qualifications is fruitless just like a dead and dry tree. However, the man who supplements his faith with these qualifications is like fruitful tree by streams of water bearing lots of fruit in season (Ps 1:-3).

Father thank you for blessing me with faith in Christ. Father, please help me also to add these characteristics onto my faith and my personality so that I my lead a fruitful life.

Friends and enemies of God

“You adulterers! Don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility with God? So whoever wants to be a friend of this world is an enemy of God” (Jam 4:4).

Although this verse begins with “You adulterers!” it is actually applicable to everyone. One cannot be promoting the principles and values of this world and still be a friend of God. One is either God’s enemy or God’s friend based on what he favours: the values and principles of God or the values and principles of the world. Only those who favour God and His values and principles are His friends and true Christians. Those who claim to be Christian and at the same time promote the things that God hates such as homosexuality, adultery, abortion, etc. are not actually God’s friends but enemies.

Sadly, in our post-modern world, we have many so-called Christians, who are pro-world and anti-Bible. They support the politically correct ideas of the world against the radical teachings of the Bible. On the one hand claiming to be Christian, on the other hand fighting against God and His values. Thus, they are the friends of this world and enemies of God no matter how much they claim to be Christians.

However, those who will obey and promote the Bible’s teachings and the values of God are the friends of God and the true Christians.

May, God give us reverence and fear for His name, bless us with an undiluted commitment to Himself and all His principles and values. May we be faithful to Him and His Word.

Faith in Action

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (Jam 2:19-20).

Faith without works is dead. In other words, its the practical faith that gives life not the theoretical faith. If your faith in God is only a theory then it is good for nothing. True faith is practical and fruitful. If you are only a spectator Christian who is scared or unwilling to take a step forward, make a stand for what you believe, afraid to take risks, afraid to be politically incorrect then I am sorry to say that your theoretical Christianity is fruitless and your faith is useless. True faith is practical in nature and demands action. Be bold! Take a step forward! Stand up for what you believe! Otherwise, do not even call yourself a Christian. Only those who can stand up for what they believe can influence and change the world. Only those who can take risk and step forward in faith can be the salt and the light in this dark and suffering world. Only those who are willing to fight spiritual battles can win victories. All the rest will go down to history as useless theoretical Christians.

Jesus, help me to be a practical Christian not theoretical. Help me Jesus to be bold and stand up for your truth. Help me Jesus to step forward and do what you called me to do. Amen.