Salvation

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Are you a modern day Pharisee?


The Pharisees in Jesus’ time were revered by the people, but Jesus had very harsh words for them.

These pompous, holier than thou men towered over the people like mighty guardians. They were members of a religious sect who often clashed with Jesus over His interpretation of the Law.

The name Pharisee means (separated one). Hence, the Pharisees separated themselves from society to study and teach the law, but they also separated themselves from the common people and labelled them religiously unclean.

Regardless, the Pharisees commanded respect from the masses because of their pious persona. Still, Jesus was not impressed. He saw them as empty shells and scolded the group for unnecessary punishments they placed on the poor.

In a scathing rebuke of the Pharisees found in Matthew 23 and Luke 11, Jesus called them hypocrites and exposed their sins. He compared the Pharisees to whitewashed tombs, which are beautiful on the outside but  are filled with dead men’s bones and uncleanness on the inside.

 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. ” (Matthew 23:13).

“Woe to you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things” (Matthew 23:23).

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs that indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28).

Getting into the boat with Jesus does not mean you trust Him


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Jesus had just finished healing the sick and casting out demons. The crowd overwhelmed Him. He needed a break, so He instructed His disciples to crossed on the other side of the lake.

The Bible said, ” Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You are men little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him” (Matthew 8:23-27).

Apparently, the disciples, who had been with Jesus for a long time did not know Him. They had seen Him cast out demons and healed the sick, yet they did not trust Him. Do you?

When do you trust God?


Many people turn to God in times of need, but in times of plenty they do not think God is necessary. For those people God is the last resort. Quite the contrary, Jesus demands that His followers depend on God for everything, including provision and security. Not only when their backs are against a wall but also when things are going good..

Therefore, one should avoid using God as last resort.The practice is dangerous and seldom bears the desired fruit in a timely manner. If anything, it is akin to a soldier waiting until he or she gets caught in a fire-fight before putting on the armor. Further, God do not work according to man’s timing. The Bible says: “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). Therefore, your last-minute request for deliverance may not be forthcoming according to your timing.

Let’s suppose Daniel waits until the guards threw him into the fiery furnace or the den of hungry lions before he starts reaching for God’s protection. What do you surmise would have happened to him? Do you think the Book of Psalm would have been in existence, if young David had put off trusting God  until he confronted Goliath?  Not a chance. Instead, David, who was not a stranger to adversity, challenged and defeated the mighty philistine. He knew God was his helper, and God never fails.

So, despite the critics, good things do happen when people trust God, but one should not wait until the last-minute to do so. The Psalmist said: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, (Cloth yourself in His armor and leave the rest to Him) and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:4-6).

The narrow way


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Jesus said: “I am the door. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures” (John 10:9). 

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many  go in by it. But narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

 

God is not dead


clouds5 That one‘s troubles multiply daily and the list of unanswered prayers keeps growing by the minute, are not proof that God is dead–or He is a myth–or He does not care–or He is not listening. If anything, such occurrences could mean God’s timing and your timing are not in sync, or, perhaps you may have been too nonchalant in making your requests. Furthermore, the thorn you seek to remove maybe the link that keeps the chain together. In that case, God grace is sufficient for you.

We know with great certainty both from our own experiences and James’ writing in the book of the same name that the nonchalant prayer requests do not avail much: But, as James rightly puts it: “.. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). But James did not stop there. In verses 17-18 He called into remembrance Elijah’s petition for drought and rain through fervent prayer.
Less anyone thinks Elijah was some kind of a supernatural being, here is what James says: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit,” (James 5:16-18).

So, contrary to atheistic thinking, God is alive. He is not a myth. He cares, He listens, and He answers prayers. However, sometimes God’s people have to fight for their blessing like Jacob did. Other times it takes patience and faith like Job’s.

 

The trial you face could be a test from God


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Of course God tests His chosen! There is a mountain of Biblical evidence that God often uses hardship to test His chosen. Moreover, quite often those tests resemble the trials and tribulation the devil place upon you.

So, aside from the hardships that come naturally on your Christian journey, there are also more than a few difficult situations that God uses to test your commitment and resiliency. Therefore, as you navigate this narrow path, it is of paramount importance that you understand that not every trial you face is design to destroy you. The Bible says, ..”the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” (Hebrews 12:6).

For example, Job 1: 1-3 states, “There once was a man named Job, who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.”

Still yet, God allows Satan to visit terrible trials upon Job to test him. And in a short period, Job lost all his livestock.  Then a desert wind blows down his house, killing all of his ten children. And when Job did not falter, Satan double down and afflicts him with painful sores all over his body. Unable to help her husband, Job’s wife urges him to curse God and die. However, Job stays true to his commitment to God.

And in the end, “the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” ( Job 42:10)…He lived for another 140 years.