It is with thanksgiving and jubilation that I greet and welcome you into 2018. We certainly did not get here on our own merits; rather it is the grace and mercy of God that have brought us to this point in time. I am sure you may already have, but in the event you haven’t, I would invite you to have a serious reflection on your experiences over the past year. Like me, I am sure you have come through some trying times; you would also have had some experiences that you thought would have floored you. However, again, like me, you survived. Can you honestly identify what you did to overcome those situations that seemed so insurmountable? How did you do it? Well, again, like me, if you cannot rationally articulate how you orchestrated those victories, then I submit to you that God made a way for your escape.
One of my favourite scriptures provides a very comprehensive framework of our life with God. The passage to which I am referring is taken form Isaiah 43: 1-5. However, I will highlight the first five verses at this point and let them speak for themselves: “1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: …”
For a precious moment, stop and listen to the doom and gloom that are being verbalized by world leaders for 2018 and beyond. You will become acutely aware that the trajectory of our political, social and economic structures, along with their various component parts, do not present a bright prospect for the conceivable future. The new “world order” cannot hold; it must collapse and plunge humanity into a dark abyss. Here is the point to be made - the people of God should not be surprised or dismayed by the world’s steady march from a democratic governmental system into despotic regimes, which will eventually cede power to one dominant world leader. Do you see where this is going?
Earlier I said that children of God should not be surprised by world events. I say that because we have been warned. Just take some time to read Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. The alarming thing is that experts will have plausible explanations for the collapsing world systems. However, none of these explanations will persuade people to turn to God. The Bible tells us in Hosea 4:6 that “…My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children…” The world is not interested in knowing God, therefore, it cannot comprehend the things of God because “ …the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned…” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
What shall we do for 2018 to preserve our salvation? “…Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near…” (Isaiah 55: 5). We have an obligation to propagate the gospel in order to help others to repent and give their lives to God. Isaiah 55: 7 tells us to “…Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon…”
For us the children of the Lord Jesus Christ, 2018 and beyond will be busy; the future looks bright and prosperous as we fulfil our mandate to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world. Our CEO has informed us that we are short-staffed and that there is need for an aggressive recruitment drive. He says “…The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few…” (Matthew 9:37). Not only should we “…Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth labourers into his harvest…” (Matthew 9:38), but we should also “…Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [bid] them to come…”
There are many persons across the world who have a very dismal and pessimistic outlook for their future based on current happenings. However, as Children of the Living God, we ought to resist being caught up in that narrative because we do have much to rejoice about. We walk by faith and not by sight. Our light should always be shining so that we may provide light to those who are lost. There is much work to be done as Christian Soldiers marching in the Lord’s Army. As we work together for the Lord, let us keep our eyes on Him, because any day now He will be coming back for us. That is His promise, and we ought to stand firm on His promises because His words will never fail. God bless you. We know our future is bright with God because He is the lamp unto our feet. We will continue to walk into our victory in Jesus for 2018 and beyond.
While I am cognizant of the historical circumstances associated with the origin of Christmas, and all the anti-celebration debates, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018. Here is my position, I totally agree that what we now have as Christmas emerged from a dark past and rooted in an ancient Roman practice. However, over the years, there has been a transformation (not a masking) from then to now, which gives credence to some Christian virtues.
I agree that we do not know exactly when Jesus was born, and despite numerous postulations there is nothing to validate December 25th is the actual date of the Messiah’s birth. The various proposed dates have all been contradicted. With this in mind, I have decided that it is futile to spend time debating the origin and merits of Christmas. Instead, I am focusing on Jesus Christ as God giving himself to humanity in a fashion that we can identify with; as a man. In other words, I am not going to be stuck debating when the gift was delivered, instead, I will focus on optimizing the full benefits of the gift; Jesus Christ. Consequently, this blog is not to relitigate or rehash any debate about when Jesus was born.
I am so glad that God robed Himself in flesh and came into this world as Jesus Christ, “to save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). It doesn’t matter to me when He came (when Christ was born), the important thing is, He did. The quintessential or imperative here is that God came in that flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), so that there could be a spotless lamb, whose blood would be shed for the remission (removal, washing away) of our sin, The bible; my road map to eternal life, tells me that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrew 9:22). First and foremost He; Jesus Christ is incontrovertibly God in the flesh: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). He came as a man and yet being God, to be an example for us while we are here on earth. Jesus’ life demonstrates that although we are living in a sinful world we can guard again living a sinful life, Hebrews 4:15 tells us “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” This speaks to an aspect of the theological and humanistic purpose of Jesus’ life on earth,
Jesus is our gift to have eternal life with Him “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Every single human being will have eternal life in the immortal body which we all will be given when He returns. However, unless we accept Christ (the gift of life), as our saviour, we will not be able to spend eternity with Jesus. It is for this reason and more that I have decided to dedicate my life and try to be like Him. The operative phrase is try to be like Jesus because I am still clothed in the flesh and living in a sinful world. The word of God reminds me that there is a constant struggle between the spirit and the flesh “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:17). Like Isaiah, I want to say “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).
Let us also observe that despite its origin, Christmas has evolved into an occasion that typifies Christ-like qualities. Jesus demonstrated a depth of compassion for the poor and needy, for example, “Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do” (Galatians 2:10). Here is the key, the qualities of benevolence displayed at Christmas, should not be seasonal, rather, they should be perennial. Benevolence should be a life style because it is a Christ-like quality. Jesus served lovingly and selflessly, so should we, in so doing there will be Christmas year round.
Let us not waste precious time to engage in protracted debate about when Jesus Christ was born and lose sight of the significance of his birth. Also, let us not get bogged down in arguments about His genealogy, these things only engender strife “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:9). Here is what we should do, celebrate Jesus by serving Him, in this way, we are fulfilling God’s requirement for humanity. Our purpose is clearly presented in Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
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My Observation of unfolding events around the world leads me to conclude that we are living in the closing days of time. I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt, that the coming of the Lord is imminent. I might say we are in the 12th hour. This implies that children of God need to be more vigilant and ready for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:8). The scripture informs us that the enemy of our soul is on a rampage to deceive and destroy anyone who is not maintaining their salvation.
The Bible provides an insight of the swiftness and suddenness of Jesus’ return; the rapture or catching away of the Saints. As a matter of fact, 1 Corinthians 15: 52a tells us that the Lord’s coming will be “…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye...” Wow! Let me try to clarify this scripture with a scientific fact. Scientists have concluded that the average person blinks between 15 - 20 times per minute, or between 3 – 4 times per second. When this scientific fact is used as an indicator of the speed of Christ’s second coming, it is alarming, frightening if you will. The implication is that there will be no time to get ready. We have to be ready and waiting.
Because of the swiftness of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (the rapture, or the catching away of the saints), many will be caught off guard. As a matter of fact the Bible tells us “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night...” (2 Peter 3:10). I am reminded of the parable of ten virgins, five were wise and five were foolish (see Matthew 25: 1 – 13. Verse 13 of Matthew 25, admonishes us to “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
Not only will the coming of the Lord be quick, but, He will be coming back to reward one of us based on how we lived our life. Revelation 22:12 reiterates the rapidity of the Lord’s second coming and affirms that He, Jesus, will be the one to recompense everyone consistent with the life lived. Revelation 22:12 states that “behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” There will be no partiality or favoritism; Jesus is the righteous just Judge.
In conclusion, I want to tell you, my friend, that there will be those (agents of the devil) who will try to distract us by introducing erroneous ideology to facilitate ‘Easy Believism’ and other doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1). Their sole purpose and intent is that we lose our joy in the Lord and be lost. But thank God, as believers we are warned to hold on to our salvation. The bible in Revelation 3:11 tells us “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Hold onto your salvation...God bless and keep you.