What is the Meaning of Life?

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These  are few thought:
‘Life is one crisis after another.’ Richard Nixon
‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’ John Lennon
‘Life is what you make it – and I can make it UNBEARABLE!’ Dennis the Menace
‘The man who regards his life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unhappy but hardly fit for life.’ Albert Einstein
Numerous people replied that the meaning and purpose of life was to be found in Jesus Christ. Not only Mother Theresa and Billy Graham, but actors, scientists and the Lord Chancellor at the time. The Chief Cashier of the Bank of England, Graham Kentfield (whose signature was on every banknote at the time) said, ‘I am clear that the meaning of life can only be properly understood in the context of our relationship with God.’

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Psalm 117:1-2
1. Life is about love and worship
This short psalm says so much about what life is all about. The key is your relationship with God. You should ‘praise’ and ‘extol’ the Lord (v.1) because of his great ‘love’ for you and ‘faithfulness’ towards you (v.2). The psalmist gives us a beautiful summary of God’s attitude to you, and what your attitude to him should be.
Lord, how can I ever praise you enough for the greatness of your love towards me? Thank you that Jesus laid down his life for me. Thank you that I am a child of God. Thank you that the love of God is poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit who has been given to me (Romans 5:5).

 

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Colossians 1:24-2:5
2. The meaning of life is found in Jesus Christ
The meaning of your life is found in Jesus Christ. Christianity is Christ. This passage highlights how Paul’s entire life, thinking and preaching are focussed on Jesus Christ.

Paul is in prison suffering for the sake of Christ’s body, that is the church (1:24). Paul is a servant of Christ, commissioned to disclose the mystery that was kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now revealed (v.26). God has ‘chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (v.27).
There will always be an emptiness in your heart until it is filled by Christ living within you. The minute you put your faith in him he comes to live within you by his Spirit. You experience, right now, ‘the glorious riches of this mystery’ and you have ‘the hope of glory’ (v.27).
Jesus Christ should be at the centre of all our teaching and preaching in the church. Paul writes, ‘We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ’ (v.28).
Not only is Christ in you, but you are also ‘in Christ’. Paul’s desire is that everyone should grow and mature in this relationship. This is what drives him: ‘To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me’ (v.29).
This provides an excellent model for pastoral care, discipleship and mentoring:

Aim
Paul’s aim was to bring ‘each person to maturity’ in Christ (v.28, MSG).

First, our concern should be for each person. As a good pastor, Paul did not want to lose any of his sheep.
Second, aim for spiritual maturity. This does not happen overnight. It takes a lifetime.
Third, aim for maturity in Christ. We do not want to attach people to ourselves, but to Christ. In the same way that good parents encourage their children to be independent, Paul encouraged the independence of believers – not to be dependent upon him, but strengthened to cling to Christ.

Method
Our method should be to proclaim Christ. Paul wrote, ‘We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom’ (v.28). Jesus Christ is the key to spiritual maturity. As your knowledge of and intimacy with Christ increases, you grow in maturity.

That is why it is so important to prioritise the things in your life that feed that knowledge and intimacy – such as worship, prayer and Bible reading.

Commitment
Paul writes, ‘To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy which so powerfully works in me’ (v.29). In Paul’s ministry there was a balance between God’s grace and his own responsibility. There was an element of ‘toiling’ and ‘striving’ which all effective Christian ministry involves. It requires time and effort, overcoming disappointments and difficulties.

On the other hand, you can only do it through God’s grace. You do not ‘labour’ and ‘struggle’ on your own. You do it with ‘all his energy which so powerfully works in [you]’. You need his help and his power for each and every task.
The whole purpose of Paul’s life revolved around Jesus. ‘I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focussed on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else’ (2:2–3, MSG). What delights Paul is to see ‘how firm’ the Colossians ‘faith in Christ is’ (v.5).

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Jeremiah 9:17-11:17
3. Knowing God is what it is all about
Today some people still literally worship idols. Others worship a different type of ‘idol’. We are tempted to worship success, intelligence, money, power, celebrity or sensual indulgence. Advertisements play on our desire for these things, even though they fail to bring us true happiness.

Malcolm Muggeridge wrote that he had never met anyone ‘made happy by worldly success or sensual indulgence, still less by the stupefaction of drugs or alcohol. Yet we all, in one way or another, pursue these ends as the advertiser well knows.’
Jeremiah proclaims that God’s judgment is coming on his people because they have missed the very purpose of their lives. They are worshipping idols who cannot speak and can do neither harm nor good (10:5).
Yet this is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let those who boast boast about this: that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord’ (9:23–24a).
In other words, Jeremiah says that what matters in life is not your brains (wisdom), nor your body (strength), nor your bank account (riches). None of these provide the purpose of your life. The purpose of your life is to understand and know God (v.24a). If you know God and his kindness, justice and righteousness, then you will imitate him and bring him delight (v.24b).
God’s concern is for your heart. It is not true that the Old Testament was concerned with physical circumcision and the New Testament with circumcision of the heart. God has always looked at the heart and regarded it as far more important than the outward sign (vv.25–26).
God is always looking for leaders of his people who know him and listen to him: ‘It’s because our leaders are stupid. They never asked God for counsel’ (10:21, MSG). They didn’t realise that ‘mere mortals can’t run their own lives’ (v.23, MSG).
Jeremiah on the other hand did listen to the Lord, constantly proclaiming: ‘The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord’ (11:1).
The great strength of Jeremiah, and of all powerful preachers, is that they wait on the Lord and preach what the Lord tells them to, rather than simply relying on human understanding. God speaks in public through those who first speak to him in private. As Father Raniero Cantalamessa says, ‘The more you are called to speak, the more you are called to listen.’ Amen.

New Year Prayer:
Father, help us to grow into maturity in my knowledge of you and to hear the words of Jesus speaking to me clearly. Help me to proclaim Jesus with authority and power, so that many will put their faith in Christ and find the purpose of their lives.

God Bless and Happy New Year!

The Mercy that Justifies

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JESUS CARES LIFE CHURCH ANNUAL CONVENTION

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Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

Don’t miss out, God has something special important for you.

God bless.

 

Intimate Relationship

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Something we should know and understand is that we are created for an intimate relationship – with God and with one another. There is a hunger deep in our souls for an intimate relationship with God. There is also a hunger for intimate relationships with other human beings.



Psalm 99:1-9


1. Intimacy with God. 

You and I are created for an intimate relationship with God. It is personal: ‘The Lord our God’ (v.9). Yet intimacy with God is not to be taken for granted. God is mighty, holy and just. That’s just it🙇🏽
‘The Lord reigns… he sits enthroned between the cherubim’ (v.1). The cherubim are the symbol of God’s holiness (see Genesis 3:24, Ezekiel 1:4,10:1). It means God’s throne is pictured, ‘between the two cherubim’ (Numbers 7:89). This is the place from which God speaks.
This psalm emphasises the holiness of God. The word ‘holy’ (Psalm 99:3) emphasises the distance between God and human beings. God is not only mighty and holy, he is also just: ‘He loves justice’ (v.4). The appropriate response is to ‘worship at his footstool’ (v.5).
Somehow, this gulf between God and us has been bridged. We know now that this is through Jesus and what he did for us by the cross and resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This psalm anticipates the intimacy with this God of power, holiness and justice made possible through Christ.
God ‘spoke to them’ (v.7). He spoke to Moses and Aaron and Samuel (v.6). He spoke to individuals. He speaks to us individually. ‘They prayed to God and he answered them’ (v.6, MSG).
Not only is he a God of justice, he is a God of mercy and forgiveness – ‘a forgiving God’ (v.8). He is ‘our God’ (vv.8–9).

‘The majesty is undiminished, but the last word is now given to intimacy.’ Derek Kidner


1 Corinthians 12:1-26

2. Intimacy with one another.

There is so much loneliness in our society. Many, especially young people today, have nowhere to process their pain. They turn to alcohol, drugs, promiscuity or some other way in an attempt to deal with their pain. The elderly are also often marginalised, isolated and alone.

You and I are not meant to live alone. God created us for a community – a community as close and as interdependent as the various parts of the human body. Paul develops the analogy of the church being like the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit has given different gifts to every member of the church (vv.1–11).
‘The body is a unit’ but ‘it is made up of many parts’ (v.12). People come into the church from all different backgrounds, nationalities and positions in society – ‘Jews or Greeks, slave or free’ (v.13b). Yet regardless of where we have come from, ‘Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain – his Spirit – where we all come to drink’ (v.13, MSG).
We now belong to one another. Our relationships are as intimate as the different parts of a body. We are utterly dependent on each other (vv.12–13).
The more different we are, the more we need each other. The eye needs a hand more than it needs lots of other eyes (vv.16–17). Variety is essential (v.17b). This is true not just of the local church but of the global church. We should not look at the different parts of the body of Christ and say, ‘They are different, there must be something wrong with them.’ Rather, we should say, ‘They are different, we really need them.’
It is time to drop the labels – describing ourselves or others as a particular type of Christian. ‘The old labels we once used to identify ourselves… are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive’ (v.13, MSG).
God has designed the body so that there will be this mutual dependence. ‘I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of’ (vv.19–20, MSG).
We particularly need the parts that ‘seem to be weaker’ (v.22). Our internal organs ‘seem to be weaker’ in the sense of being more vulnerable. That is why they need protection. However, they are ‘indispensable’ (v.22). Likewise, those parts of the body that are ‘unpresentable’ are treated with ‘special modesty’ (v.23). No one would suggest that these parts are not important. Indeed, they are vital.
Because we need each other so much there should be ‘equal concern for each other’ (v.25). There should be such intimacy and love that ‘if one part suffers, every part suffers with it’ (v.26a). This is the community we need where people can process their pain. It is also a place where people can share their joys: ‘If one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it’ (v.26b).

An intimate relationship with God is when we realize that the abundant life we are looking for will never be found in a person but God.

God bless🙏🙇🏽

His Power Through My Weakness

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          ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
As someone who is very aware of my own weaknesses, I find it encouraging that when I feel weak, I am not alone. As I put my faith in God he turns my weakness into strength.

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Psalm 59:1-8
1. Faith and opposition
God is our strength in times of difficulty. Belief in God is not the recipe for an easy life. In fact, the reverse is the case. You are likely to face all kinds of opposition.
David’s life was under threat. Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him. He finds himself surrounded by ‘enemies… mutineers… dirty tricks… hit men… desperadoes… ambush… they’re after me, determined to get me’ (vv.1–4, MSG).
Yet, in the midst of this, David prays, ‘Rescue me…’ (vv.1–2, MSG) and has total confidence that the Lord can and will deliver him (v.8). Later in the psalm, twice David calls on God: ‘O my Strength’ (vv.9,17).
The reason that David was under attack was not because of his own sin. He is able to say, ‘I did nothing to deserve this, God, crossed no one, wronged no one’ (v.4, MSG). Of course, we know from the account of David’s life that there were times when he did wrong (see, for example, 2 Samuel 11). However, on this occasion, the opposition did not arise from his own sin.
We too can cry out to God for help in times of personal difficulties. David prays a personal prayer, ‘Arise to help me; look on my plight’ (Psalm 59:4b). We can also cry out to God for help at times of international crisis. The very next sentence is a prayer for the nation (v.5a). At whatever level the opposition appears, ask the Lord for his deliverance, help and intervention.

John 6:25-59
2. Faith and emptiness
Jesus taught about the centrality of faith. When asked, ‘“What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent”’ (vv.28–29).
When they asked for bread from heaven, Jesus says, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (v.35). As Joyce Meyer points out, we are called, primarily, ‘believers’, not ‘achievers’. The way we achieve is by first believing.
When we are physically hungry we crave food. But as well as physical needs we have spiritual needs and a spiritual hunger. Faith in Jesus fills the emptiness we experience and satisfies our spiritual hunger for purpose, permanence and pardon.
-Purpose
Physical bread is not enough. Material things alone do not satisfy. Money, homes, cars, success and even human relationships do not satisfy our desire for ultimate purpose in life.
The bread that does satisfy is the ‘bread of life’. This is not a commodity that Jesus supplies. He is the gift and the giver. The words, ‘I’ or ‘me’ appear thirty-five times in this discussion. ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (v.35).
It is easy, even once you have put your faith in Jesus, to get caught up either in material things or the trappings of religion. But it is actually only a relationship with Jesus that satisfies our spiritual hunger.
The expressions, ‘Believe in me’ (v.29), ‘Come to me’ (v.35), ‘Look to the Son’ (v.40), ‘Eat my flesh and drink my blood’ (v.53 onwards) describe living in an intimately close relationship with Jesus.
-Permanence
We are all going to die. Death is the great unmentionable reality. Jesus says this life is not the end: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever… I will raise them up on the last day’ (vv.51,54).
Jesus promises to raise us up at the last day and that we will live forever. We can have absolute assurance that our relationship with Jesus will outlast death.
There is both a present and a future dimension to this eternal life. They said, ‘From now on give us this bread’ (v.34). Jesus says it can be received immediately. Yet he also made clear that it will last forever.
-Pardon
Forgiveness is actually our greatest need. The atheist philosopher, Marghanita Laski, said, ‘What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness. I have no one to forgive me.’ We all want to know that we are pardoned for all that we have done wrong.
Jesus said, ‘This bread is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world’ (v.51). His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins. Every time we receive communion, we are reminded that Jesus gave his life so that we could be forgiven.
How do we receive this bread? Jesus says, ‘I tell you the truth, whoever believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life’ (vv.47–48). While there is no separate account of Jesus’ institution of Holy Communion in John’s Gospel, here we see Jesus’ teaching on communion set in the context of faith. Among other things, communion is a visible sign that helps us receive Christ by faith.
Through faith in Him, we have a lasting purpose in every expect of out life.

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Judges 10:1-11:40
3. Faith and fallibility
As we read through the ongoing saga of the people of God sinning, crying out to the Lord and being rescued by Judges, we come across one of the most disturbing stories in the entire Bible.
Jephthah is described as a ‘mighty warrior’ (11:1). His mother was a prostitute (v.1). His half-brothers drove him away (v.2). He gathered a group of adventurers around him (v.3). He became a remarkable leader. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him (v.29), and he was used by God to secure victory over the Ammonites – ‘the Lord gave them into his hands’ (v.32).
However, there is an incident in his life that is almost unbearable to read. He made a vow to God that if God gave him victory, he would sacrifice whatever came out of the door of his house to meet him upon his return. It was his daughter, his only child. And, it appears, that is what he did (vv.29–40).
It is important to note that God never asked him to make this vow. Nor did he ask him to carry out the sacrifice. Indeed, it went against all the teaching of the Old Testament, which forbade child sacrifice. Jephthah never actually seeks God’s will in this situation. It seems to be his own pride that drives him to put his reputation above the life of his daughter. This shows the fallibility of even great people of faith.
In spite of his weakness, he is listed in the book of Hebrews as one of the heroes of faith whose weakness was turned into strength (Hebrews 11:32–34).

How is your level of faith in God?

God Bless.

Six Steps to a God-Centered Life

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William Temple, like his father before him, was Archbishop of Canterbury (1942–1944). Among his many remarkable achievements, he wrote a superb commentary on the Gospel of John. He wrote the entire commentary, entitled Readings in St John’s Gospel, whilst praying on his knees before God.
About worship, he wrote:
‘Worship is a submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose – and all this gathered up in adoration.’
Worship saves us from being self-centred and makes us God-centred. You were created to live in a relationship with God. That should be your number one priority. If you put God first in your life all kinds of blessings follow. Because God loves you he warns you of the dangers of disregarding the design for your life.
But what does it mean to lead a God-centred life and what steps do you need to take in order to get there?
Worship GodPsalm 47:1-9
1. Worship God
The psalmist calls us to worship God. (The original context may have been that God had given his people victory in battle.)
Worship in this psalm sounds quite emotional and noisy: ‘Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy… God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets’. It also includes lots of singing.
There is great exuberance to their worship, as their adoration and amazement of God bubbles over in extravagant action.
These are all outward ways of expressing our worship of the Lord. Worship includes the use of emotions to express your love and gratitude to God and to bring him honour.
As Joyce Meyer writes, ‘God gave us emotions for more purposes than just being enthusiastic at a ball game or about a new car. Surely God wants us to employ our emotions in expressing our love and gratitude to Him… If we had a proper emotional release during praise and worship, we might not release emotions at other times in improper ways.’

Luke 18:1-30
2. Pray consistently
The God-centred life is a life of consistent prayer. Jesus taught his disciples to ‘always pray and not give up’ (v.1). You can talk to God not just in church or in set times of prayer, but anywhere and at anytime. I was taught very early in my Christian life to ‘talk as you walk’ through the day.
Jesus tells the parable of the widow and the unjust judge who eventually gives in to her demands in order to stop her bothering him and wearing him out. Jesus says that if an unjust judge will listen to a widow’s plea, how much more will God listen to those who ‘cry out to him day and night?’.
3. Humble yourself
Humility is not something that happens to you. It is something that you are supposed to do to yourself. Rather than exalting yourself, you are supposed to ‘humble [your]self’. God promises that he will exalt you (v.14).
If we compare ourselves with others, we may become like the Pharisee, thanking God that we are not like other people – ‘robbers, evildoers, adulterers’ (v.11). The Pharisee was ‘confident of his own righteousness’ (v.9). He fell into the trap of trusting himself. If our lives are truly God-centred (our consciences quickened by his holiness), we compare ourselves with him and all we can say is, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (v.13). The truth is that we are all sinners, and we are all in need of God’s mercy.
I find it very easy to read this passage and to thank God that I am not like the Pharisee. But by doing so I fall into the very trap that Jesus is describing – thinking I am more righteous than others, rather than recognising my sin and need for God. This is exactly the sin of the Pharisee.
4. Be childlike
Sometimes the ‘babies’ (v.15), children or young people in a church are described as ‘the church of the future’. But, according to Jesus, they are not just the church of the future, they are the church of today. ‘The kingdom of God belongs to such as these’.
Jesus calls us to become like children. He never tells us to be childish (in the sense of being simplistic), but he does tell us to be childlike.
To be childlike is the opposite of being independent and ‘grown up’. Children tend to be open, receptive, trusting, humble, loving and forgiving. The God-centred life is a life of childlike dependence on him.
You become like a child again when you show and share your honest feelings, acknowledge how fragile and vulnerable you are and how much you need God and other people.
Children have an insatiable curiosity; always asking ‘Why?’ or ‘How?’ They are instinctively driven to explore and discover. Children don’t dwell in the past or even settle for the present, but are always looking to what will be – fuelled by wonder and an immense capacity for enjoyment. It’s been said that the healthy child is creative, imaginative and curious.
We are to cultivate this freedom to respond instinctively, like a child, and to feel and express wonder, awe, love and joy. To rush in and eagerly explore, probe and discover things for ourselves.
We need to pray and ask God for childlike faith and dependence if we really want God to talk to us.
5. Follow Jesus
There is nothing more rewarding than following Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘We have left all we had to follow you!’ (v.28). Jesus replies, ‘I tell you the truth… no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life’ (vv.29–30)
Jesus calls the rich young ruler to the God-centred life. He calls him to give up everything else and follow him. Perhaps Jesus saw in him the potential to be like the apostle Peter, or Matthew, or one of the others who responded positively when Jesus said, ‘follow me’.
The more we accumulate the harder it is to live God-centred lives. The rich young ruler ‘became very sad, because he was very wealthy. It is not impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of God (v.27), but it is very hard (vv.24–25) – not because the standards are higher, but because the risk appears greater.
In fact, it is impossible for any one of us, including the rich, to enter the kingdom of God on the strength of our own performance. Yet with God it is possible for anyone, including the rich, to enter the kingdom of God. Neither your past failings nor your present circumstances need determine your future. With God all things are possible.

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Deuteronomy 28:15-68
6. Serve God
In this passage we see the disastrous consequences of not living the God-centred life, not  the law, not carefully following his command and not serving the Lord. We also see the disastrous consequences of this within Israel’s own history.
In my own life, I have seen a glimpse of some of the things described, especially in the years before I experienced a relationship with God: ‘The sky over your head will be bronze’ (v.23). I have experienced the sense of what seems to be a great separation from God.
We see how ‘the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread, both night and day, never sure of your life’ (vv.65–66). These verses describe a life that is the opposite of the peace and joy that Jesus offers.
Of course, even since coming to faith in Christ I have not always lived a God-centred life. Many times I have failed to serve, obey and follow his command. The wonderful news of the New Testament is that Jesus has rescued us from the deserved punishment and curses that would have otherwise followed: ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us’ (Galatians 3:13).

God Bless.

Salvation : God’s Part and Your Part.

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Our salvation brings together two important decisions. The first decision is the one God made long ago to send His Son into the world to be our one and only Savior. The second is our decision to receive His Son as YOUR Savior.

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 

GRACE is defined as unmerited or unearned favor. Grace is God’s part in salvation, and He extends His favor to mankind in the form of the perfect gift, Jesus Christ. Through the cross, Jesus made the full payment for the penalty of our sins. And through Jesus, the personified grace of God, no amount of good works is required of us, or could ever be paid by us. We cannot earn our salvation; it is a free gift available to all, requiring no payment on our part.🙇🏽🙌

FAITH is defined as evidence that something exists even though it cannot be physically seen or touched. Faith is needed for our part in salvation, and by faith, as an act of our will, we choose to surrender our lives to God by making Jesus the Lord of our life. Having received by faith God’s grace through Jesus Christ, you are undoubtedly, without question destined for an eternity with God in heaven. You can be 100% certain of that fact! 🙇🏽💒
While good works cannot earn our salvation, they do play an important role in living out our Christian life after we’ve received Jesus.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

God has a specific purpose for each of our lives, the details of which are largely between you and Him. But God has a common purpose for all of His children, and that is that we put our faith into action by doing good works. When we do, we fulfill an important part of God’s plan for our lives, and we have the privilege of shining His love to others. Salvation is both a new beginning and an ending and is cause for celebration. You are a new creation, forever changed!

 God Bless and Happy Sunday.

God’s Intimate Friendship

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God's Intimate Friendship
‘Transcendence’ and ‘immanence’ describe the almost paradoxical nature of our relationship with God. The transcendence of God means that God exists apart from, and is not subject to the limitations of, the material universe. He is above and beyond, surpassing and excelling, greatly superior to us.
On the other hand, the immanence of God means that it is possible to experience his immediate friendship. 
It is only when we understand the transcendence of God that we see how amazing his immanence is, and what a huge privilege it is to be able to enjoy God’s intimate friendship. In each of the passages for today we get a glimpse of both his transcendence and his immanence.

ThewayweworkshipPsalm 18:7-15

1. Worship the transcendent God and love his awesome presence
David speaks of the awesome presence of God. ‘The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook… Out of the brightness of his presence… The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded’ (vv.7,12–13).
In this psalm we see both the power and the anger of the transcendent God. ‘They trembled because he was angry’ (v.7). God’s anger (though never malicious) is his personal reaction against sin.
If we look at human trafficking, the abuse of children, institutional torture or some other terrible injustice, without feeling any anger, we are failing to love. Indignation against evil is an essential element of goodness. In this psalm we see that God’s anger is the reverse side of his love.
Yet, this is a psalm in which David expresses his intimate friendship with God. It begins, ‘I love you, O Lord, my strength’ (v.1). David did not take it for granted. He understood the immense privilege of having an intimate friendship with the transcendent God.

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Matthew 21:33-22:14

2. Accept God’s invitation and enjoy his intimate friendship
The last big royal wedding in the UK was between Prince William and Catherine Middleton – now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Imagine what it would have been like to open the post and find an invitation to their wedding. Jesus says that all of us receive an invitation to the greatest royal wedding of all time.
Jesus describes the kingdom of God as being like a vineyard and like a wedding banquet. Both of these pictures speak again of God’s generosity and his amazing love for you.
But God’s love is not sentimental. Again, we see the reverse side of God’s love and mercy, which is his judgment on those who reject his love and do evil (21:35 onwards). When the tenants ‘seized his servants… beat one, killed another, and stoned a third’ (v.35), and in a final act of rebellion, when they took his son ‘and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him’ (v.39), there was a judgment (v.41).
Jesus is prophesying about his own death. He is the ‘son’ and ‘heir’ (vv.37–38) whom God sent. Yet, they ‘killed him’ (v.39). He is the stone ‘the builders rejected [who] has become the capstone’ (v.42). He is the one who executes judgment (v.44). The judgment was to come about because of their rejection of Jesus (they were looking for a way to arrest Jesus, v.46).
Likewise, in the case of the wedding banquet, God issues an open invitation for an intimate friendship with him. It would have been a huge privilege to have received an invitation to the wedding of Prince William. It is an even greater privilege to be invited to this royal wedding (v.2). It is a costly invitation (v.4) and an open invitation (vv.9–10). Everyone is invited. The invitation is repeated over and over again (vv.1–4).
I find it fascinating that Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a party. This is the opposite of how many people think about God, church and faith. They think it is something sombre, dull and boring. But Jesus says the kingdom of God is a party. It is a celebration – like a wedding reception; a fun, joyous occasion with lots of laughter and feasting.
However, there were some who, when reminded of their invitation, ‘only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop’ (22:5, MSG). Their possessions and their jobs were higher priorities than a relationship with Jesus. Some were extraordinarily rude and hostile – they ‘seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them’ (v.6). Jesus says, ‘The king was enraged’ (v.7).
God’s invitation is not something you should take lightly or flippantly. It is an amazing and wonderful invitation. It is a huge privilege that a transcendent God invites you to have an intimate friendship with him. However, it is not enough simply to go along. You need the right wedding clothes (vv.11–13). You cannot enter the kingdom of heaven on your own terms – only on Jesus’ terms. Thankfully, through his death and resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus has provided the clothes you need.

slide_11Job 25:1-29:25

3. Understand the transcendence of God and know his immanence
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the problems and difficulties you are facing? Do you doubt whether God has the power or the desire to help you?
Job understood the transcendence of God. He says, ‘I will teach you about the power of God’ (27:11a). He points out that everything we see of God’s power in the natural world around is only ‘the outer fringe of his works’ (v.12).
God is powerful enough to help you.
God is not only powerful enough to help you, he also loves you enough to do so. Job knew all about the immanence of God. He had experienced ‘God’s intimate friendship’ (29:4) where true wisdom is to be found.
‘Fear-of-the-Lord – that’s Wisdom, and Insight means shunning evil’ (v.28, MSG). The ‘fear-of-the-Lord’ means respect for God. It is in this respectful relationship with God that we find wisdom. Now we know that Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. It is in an intimate friendship with him that you find true wisdom.
Job describes the immense value of this wisdom. ‘Where can wisdom be found?… It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed in silver… God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells… “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding”’ (28:12,15–28).
What kind of life does this lead to? It will lead to shunning evil (v.28) and serving the poor (29:12). Job describes a truly righteous life as helping ‘the poor… the fatherless… [the] dying… the widow… the blind… the lame… the needy… the stranger’ (29:12–16). Job was concerned not only with poverty but also with justice. ‘I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban… I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth’ (vv.14,17).
As you draw close to God in intimate friendship, his concerns become your concerns. Like Job, you will desire to help the poor, the fatherless, the homeless and the widows. You want to rescue victims of injustice. You will seek to look after the blind, the lame, the needy and the strangers in your land.
Job had not actually lost his intimate friendship with God. But, at the point that he was writing, he had lost any tangible feeling of it. He was going through the most appalling suffering. It seemed to him that God was miles away. You may be experiencing something like this at the moment. If you are, be encouraged by the story of Job.
When we come to the end of the book of Job, we understand that God had never left him. God was going to bless him more than he could ever ask or even imagine. God would restore to him the sense of his intimate friendship.
Now, through Jesus, all of us can experience an intimate friendship with the transcendent God and know his ultimate blessing on our lives.

God Bless!

Yerios.