Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Christians must be readers

A group of about 35 people from our church are participating in a reading challenge this year. It is both exciting and challenging (obviously). The challenge has different categories where one chooses to read 1 book a month, 2 books a months, 4 books a month or 8 books a month through the year. I have no doubt everyone involved will benefit greatly from the reading, I mean what’s the worst thing that could come out of reading good Christian books!

Show me a growing, mature Christian and I will show you someone who is devoted to reading. The Christian faith is a faith of the book. So to be grounded in the faith, you have to read the book(s). This obviously means that you read the bible. There is no substitute for the bible, it is our only rule of faith and practice. The children are on to something when they sing “read your bible pray every day and you grow, grow, grow” and the opposite is equally true “neglect your bible forget to pray and you will shrink”. In other words, reading is not optional for the serious Christian particularly reading the bible. I always encourage two ways of reading and studying the bible. Firstly strive to read through the bible in a year, four chapters a day takes you through the whole bible. One of the things the audio bible has done is show us that it only takes 72 hours (3days) to read through the bible. The second is patiently studying a book of the bible chapter by chapter until you have fully exhausted it. I will warn you that it will take time and effort but you will be able to behold wondrous things from the word.

Dear Christian I also encourage you to read good Christian books. Christians past and present have written some great and helpful books to enhance our growth; Make the most of them. Obviously you cannot read everything that has been written, as Solomon says “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecc 12:12). Not every book is worth the time. Some are pure gold to be treasured while some are chaff to be thrown in the fire. 

Read widely but selectively. Read commentaries, study bibles and expositions of the bible. Commentaries are not just for preachers, they will add value to your understanding of the scriptures. Dig into the meat and bones of Christian doctrine, these are books that summarize what the bible teaches on topics (i.e. God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Church, Man etc.). Take time to read books on Christian living, these are books that deal with issues Christians face in everyday life. Read church history and biographies to learn from those who have gone before you.  I would lastly recommend reading journals and magazines. These are published periodically and tend to be current with issues facing the church. Reading has to be intentional and not accidental.

With all this in mind the need for books becomes ever more urgent. Firstly make use of libraries you may have access to and read. Secondly develop your own library and buy books. Most of us have smart phones, computers and i-pads. Sign up with kindle and start buying e-books bit by bit, it is a cheaper and easier way to build a library. Make regular visits to book shops and buy books for yourself. Do not content yourself with borrowing! Dear Christian develop the discipline of reading so that you may grow in grace.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Why Dying is Gain for the Christian

“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. That’s the bold declaration Paul makes in his letter to the Philippians. In essence Paul was saying, in life or in death his life is not his but Christ’s. Therefore, in life, he will live recklessly abandoned to the cause of Jesus Christ and do His bidding and in death he gains eternal fellowship with Christ himself! A Christian cannot faithfully live his life without a biblical perspective of death. And yet it is those who live well, who die well. Living in light of our death is something the bible encourages, for it appointed for man to die and afterwards judgement (Hebrews 9:27), teach us to number our days (Psalm 90:12) or what is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and vanishes (James 4:14). For those who live for Christ, dying will always be gain and here are some reasons from scripture why death is gain.

We will be with Christ forever
As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Philippians 1:20-24

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be. John 14:1-3

Our Spirits will be finally perfect
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18-25

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. Hebrews 12:22-23

We will know everlasting joy
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 51:11

We will be rewarded for all our labors
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8

The fear of dying can cripple you and cause anxiety in your soul but for the one who lives faithfully for Christ- To live is Christ and to die is gain. Live well so you may die well. 

Monday, January 9, 2017


It first begins as an occasional habit and it soon degenerates into a way of living. I am talking about Christians missing church! It may seem innocent and excusable but it is actually very dangerous for one’s spiritual well-being and I can at least think of four problems with a Christian habitually missing church.  

You disobey God
The Lord exhorts us through the writer of Hebrews when he says “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Here the Lord commands us to stir and encourage one another as we meet corporately. Meeting together will look different from church to church, however that looks like in your church? Be sure to attend. Missing church is refusing to obey God’s word and that is both unwise and dangerous.

You set yourself up for a fall
Despite our best efforts to appear strong and independent we all need people in our lives. Two are better than one the bible says (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Whenever you chose to neglect meetings of the church, you isolate yourself and remove yourself from the safeguard of brothers and sisters. You invariably open yourself up to all kinds of company, temptations and sin. There is some kind correlation between missing church and falling in sin. In the jungle the lion always pounces on animals that isolate themselves from the herd. Remember the devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 peter 5:8).

You are saying to people your God is not worthy of worship
We give our dedication to the things we value and think are essential to our lives and the people around us know what we consider to be of utter most importance. I.e. our jobs, school and favorite sports team. The Christian’s devotion to been in the house of the Lord and worshipping him is a great testimony to the watching world. It is a way of saying God is first in my life and I will dedicate time and energy to worship him by regularly meeting with other believers. Inconsistent church attendance on the other hand is saying God is not that important and meeting with others to worship him is not such a big deal.

Clarifying thoughts  

I am not in any way saying every person who goes to church is spiritual or a Christian for that matter. Church attendance in itself does not make you a Christian nor transform you in the likeness of Christ. Neither may I saying there are no legitimate reasons for someone missing church i.e. sickness, bereavement and others. I am however saying the church is God’s primary agent of carrying out his purposes including spiritual growth and habitually missing church is both dangerous and problematic in many ways.    

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year to you! 2016 went by like a flash and believe it or not 2017 is here. A new year in many ways comes with both a promise of a fresh start as well as a lot of uncertainties. We have before us 363 days of promise and uncertainty and can potentially be a source of noise and anxiety. We can however draw great encouragement and comfort from Psalm 121.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

The psalmist, when faced with uncertainty looks to the heavens and draws encouragement from two certain truths about the Lord:

The Lord is the powerful creator
The psalmist looks to the creator of the heavens and earth in his time of need. The Lord who flung everything into place also ordained the days, months and years and everything in them. So while we are in the first week of the year the Lord already knows what the entire year has in store and he will daily order our steps throughout 2017. Therefore, though we do not know what tomorrow holds, the Lord knows and that should comfort those who are His children.

The Lord never sleeps
The second powerful truth this little psalm teaches us is that the Lord never sleeps! He is ever working 24/7. He never takes a break, he never gets tired nor does he take a day off. While we are asleep the Lord is at work keeping watch over His Children- protecting, sustaining providing and guiding. As the prophet Isaiah proclaimed “when you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:3-4).

Dear friend as you make your plans and resolutions for 2017 trust in the Lord. Yes the year will come with many uncertainties and we will be in dire need for help, do not fret for our God is a powerful creator who is in control and He never sleeps. The entire year is before Him and in His wisdom only gives us grace for the day. Therefore look to the Lord and trust Him in the uncertainty that comes with a new year.