Twenty-sixteen was a challenging year for many, including myself. But I will not dwell on the past. Instead, my mindset will be like that of the beloved apostle Paul, when he declared. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Like Paul, I compare the Christian life to a race; a marathon. You never know what’s coming up next. Some days it’s like a piece of cake, other days the obstacles are more than you can handle. And as long as you continue to press on you will never be comfortable. The enemy is your competitor, and he is much smarter and trickier than you are.
Some Christians will tell you that their troubles ended when they accepted Christ. But that’s so contrary to what Jesus and the apostles taught us. As Christians, we are vulnerable to the schemes of the enemy, and we will fail sometimes, but we must not quit. If anything, we must continue to press on toward the goal to win the prize.
So, my friends, as we usher in the new year, let’s not become complacent, conceited or self-righteous. Rather, let us be humble at heart as the beloved apostle was when he wrote. “Brothers and sisters, I don’t consider that I have taken hold of it yet, (the prize). But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me. So, I push myself forward toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself.” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Happy New Year!
“You shall love your neighbour as yourself” is a command from God. But most Christians struggle to obey it, and rightly so. How can we give up our prejudices and love our neighbour as we love ourselves? Humans are naturally programmed to favour self, family and friends over everybody else. Even Jesus had a disciple who the Bible referred to as the disciple whom Jesus loved.
Still, despite our prejudices, and our history. Everyone can be compassionate and helpful to people of different race, culture or class. And I firmly believe that’s the message Jesus intended to get across when He told the parable of The Good Samaritan (Read Luke 10:25-37).
So, my friends, it is time for a new mindset and a new way of thinking.
Don’t wait until the ark door is close before you surrender. I am sure none of you wants to hear the following words when you appeared before Jesus:
41 “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes, and you did not clothe me, I was ill and in prison, and you did not look after me.”
44 ‘They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or ill or in prison, and did not help you?”
45 ‘He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
46 ‘Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46).
Life is a long winding and sometimes lonely road with lots of signs. Often many of us follow the wrong sign, and before we realise, our world comes crashing down. Some of us have little or no problem getting back up and starting all over. For others of us, it is not so easy to get back up.
If you are a victim of life’s curve ball, and you are searching for encouraging words, here are a few inspirational Bible verses that will help you get back on the right track.
1 Samuel 30:6
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him because all the people were bitter in the soul. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. (ESV).
Those that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint. (KJV)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are call according to his purpose for them. (NLT)
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is reveal in Christ Jesus our Lord.(NLT)
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (NLT)
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (NASB)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest, who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. (NLT)
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
Every person who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior pledged to follow Him for the rest of life. But many of us soon realize that Jesus doesn’t always take the smooth path to get to His next stop. Sometimes His journey takes Him through winding roads, hills, and valleys, peaks, and mountains. Other times He travels through thorns and thistle.
Thus, following Jesus comes with challenges, but you do not have to be a victim of your circumstances. Jesus never allowed His circumstances to get the better of Him. He carried out His father’s Will despite facing many challenges. And the beauty of it is, Jesus never faltered, or wavered. He kept His promise to the father until the end.
Likewise, you and I can keep our promise to follow Jesus. But first, we have to stay focus on the path His footsteps lead us. We cannot allow ourselves to get trapped with the sideshows. For as you know quite well, Jesus has encountered more that enough sideshows in His time. But He never allowed any of them to distract Him.
For example, in John 8:3-7 He gave us a perfect demonstration of how not get distracted by sideshows. “Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, we found this woman committing adultery. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such offense is punishable by stoning. But what do You say?” They were hoping He would err, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So, they continue to press Him. Then He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.” That was all it took to silence those who seek to distract Jesus.
Some of us may not be able to do all the great works Jesus did, but we sure can replicate His examples for our benefits.
1 Chronicles 16:23-31New King James Version (NKJV)
23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
24 Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all people.
25 For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is also to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the people are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
27 Honor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and gladness are in His place.
28 Give to the Lord, O families of the people,
Give to the Lord glory and strength.
29 Give to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him.
Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
30 Tremble before Him, all the earth.
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved.
31 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”