Must I hate my family before following Jesus ? (Luke 14:26-27)

Jesus is not teaching a new commandment of hating people. He is teaching about the
cost of following Him.

The clue is in Luke 14:33 when Jesus says: “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

It’s about what we must be prepared to do to follow Jesus. It’s about giving up everything, even our very lives for Him. He
doesn’t say, “by doing this you will get into
heaven”.
Jesus clearly teaches that through
faith in Him we have eternal life ( John 3:16).
Through His death on the cross, we have the forgiveness of sins ( Romans 6:23).

However, as His followers, are we willing to place Him in first position and place the
most important people in our lives in second place ?

Let’s paint the scene. In Luke 14:25, large crowds were travelling with Jesus because
they had seen him healing people, feeding people and teaching people at no cost. Why
not follow Jesus? You can get something for nothing. However, in this passage we see
Jesus turn around to them that following him is not without cost – you have to place
him before other important people in your lives.
You even have to place him before
yourselves.

To get his point across he uses very emotive and challenging language – you must hate everyone else. In so doing he is not saying
that you do it literally but you must be prepared to put everything else second. So if
your parent forbids you from following him then you must disobey them and so on.

Thankfully many of us have never been put in a situation where we have had to choose
between Christ and our loved ones. But imagine if you had been captured by religious terrorists and they demand that
you deny Christ or watch one of your friends die what would you choose ? Jesus is saying
you must choose him.

But it can be more subtle than this. In the stress of working and making ends meet
we can be tempted to cut down of church activities, reading the bible or praying because we don’t have time. It may be the
things you are working hard for are good things that will allow (say) your kids to have
a better education. Jesus is saying don’t pursue these things at my expense – nothing, not even your wife and kids, is
more important than following me and obeying me.

Its not easy but Jesus promises that he will provide for all our needs (Matt 6:25-34, Mark 10:17-31). Both these passages talk of God’s rich provision for
those who seek to follow Jesus above and beyond everything else.

Advertisements
Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Night clubs: Should Christians go clubbing ? what does the Bible say ?

To put it bluntly, nightclubs are part of the world which is controlled by Satan.
They are designed for the purpose of giving oneself over to sinful desires.

Nightclubs exist primarily for two purposes: drinking alcohol and meeting members of the
opposite sex, most often with sexual activity in mind. Yes, there are music and dancing,
but primarily singles in particular go clubbing to drink and meet someone.

Nightclubs are of the world, and, while Christians are to be in the world, we are not
to be of it.
Being of the world means to be interested in and desiring those things that
appeal to the sinful nature.

Paul, speaking to Christians, addresses the issue of worldly practices in Ephesians 4:17-24, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the
Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding
and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all
sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind
of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ
that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth
that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off
your old self, which is being corrupted by its
deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Here Paul describes those who exclude God and give
themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Obviously, God does not desire us to give ourselves over to sin so easily and willfully.
Notice what God says here, “put off your old
self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.”
It’s interesting to note that God
says when we give ourselves over to our sin nature, we are being deceived by our desires. Satan is a master counterfeiter. In
other words, Satan presents something that appears on the surface to be attractive. The
lure of clubbing is that it is very enjoyable, fun, and exciting. What we don’t see are the
consequences because Satan keeps the sensual attraction at the forefront of our
minds. Sex, alcohol, and drugs—all found in most nightclubs—are very destructive, both physically and spiritually. God has a place for sex where it is the most enjoyable—in
monogamous marriage, where there are no STD’s, HIV, guilt, aloneness—and those who
don’t believe God in this are short-changing themselves.

God desires for us to be righteous and holybecause He created us to be that way. The
benefits of living the life that God intended far exceed the petty, short-lived thrills that
this world offers. Many who are or used to be in the nightclub lifestyle say the same
thing—there is no joy, there is no fulfillment; there is only emptiness.
Only God can fulfill our needs and give us the joy and happiness we all seek.

Clubbing offers nothing more than a very cheap imitation.
There is no lasting joy to be found in nightclubs, only temptation to sin.

Such places are most especially not for Christians. Aside from the obvious temptations, there is the issue of our Christian witness in the world. When unbelievers see a professing Christian engaging in a sinful lifestyle, Christ is
maligned and demeaned. We are to let our lights shine before men so they see our good works and glorify our Father who is in
heaven ( Matthew 5:16). It’s hard to see how the light of our new life in Christ can shine in a nightclub. Even if the Christian is not indulging in the sinful activities, the witness
he or she presents to the watching world by just being there is destructive and must be
avoided.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Telling jokes: Is it a sin ?

Joking is an interesting topic and difficult to paint with one broad brush. Biblically speaking, joking itself is not regarded as sin, although in some instances, it certainly can be.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us
that “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its
fruit.”
James 3:3-12 compares the tongue to
a bit in a horse’s mouth, a ship’s rudder, and a fire. The tongue is a powerful thing, and words can either bring great life or great
hurt. There are ways to joke that edify. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs
17:22). The Psalms are full of references to laughter, which is what good joking produces. But there is also a way to joke
that is demeaning and harmful, and we are called to “not let any unwholesome talk
come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to
their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”
(Ephesians 4:29).

Our words should always honor God and communicate that we value that which He
has made. The best way to know whether our joking is bordering on the sinful is to seek the Holy Spirit and ask for His
conviction. He can make us sensitive to when a joke is appropriate and when it may not be. If there is any doubt in our minds, or if our consciences are being pricked by our
joking, it is probably best to forego it.

There is also the issue of making others stumble, which we can easily do with jokes that we
may feel are perfectly innocent, but which others see as offensive or hurtful.
Our liberty
should never be exercised at the expense of another’s conscience ( Romans 14:13-17).
Occasional jokes and jesting, if they are appropriate, are probably for the most part innocent. But there are those who make
jokes so often that they can hardly say a sentence without it containing a joke of
some sort. This is hardly the most
appropriate lifestyle for a Christian, however,
as we are told to “live soberly, righteously,
and godly, in this present world”
(Titus
2:12). As with all “gray areas” in the Christian life, seeking God’s wisdom regarding our speech is the most profitable
way to go
(James 1:5).

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Whether or not Christians should run for political office is one of those “hot-button” issues that provoke strong responses on both sides of the question.
There are no direct references in the Bible to Christians running for political office. But there are Christian principles we can bring to bear on the decision whether or not to seek political office. Anyone considering running for office would do well to consider these principles and prayerfully seek God’s will for his/her own life.

There is no doubt that countries where political officials are elected by the citizens are countries that promote freedom. Christians in many countries in this world are oppressed and persecuted, suffering under governments they are powerless to change and governments that hate their faith and silence their voices. These believers preach the gospel of Jesus Christ at risk of their own lives.

The leaders we elect have great influence on our freedoms. They can choose to protect our right to worship and spread the gospel, or they can restrict those rights. They can lead our nation toward righteousness or toward moral disaster. Clearly, the more committed Christians that are part of government—whether at the local, state, or federal level—the more our religious freedoms will be guarded. Christians in politics can effect desperately needed changes in the culture.

At the same time, there is an old saying: “politics is a dirty game.” Politicians, even those with the best of motives, are in danger of being corrupted by a system that deals in power. Those in political office, especially at the federal level, are courted by those who hope to gain favor in an effort to advance their own agendas. Wherever money and power are concentrated, greed and covetousness are always nearby. There is great danger for Christians who are involved in worldly political systems, and great care must be taken to be in that world, but not of it. Perhaps nowhere in life is it more true that “bad company corrupts good character” (1Corinthians 15:33) than in the seats of political power.

Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). The kingdom of Christ is not connected with earthly political systems or national governments, all of which are in rebellion against God. The world Christians are to be concerned with is the spiritual realm, not the temporal. There is nothing wrong with Christians being involved in politics, as long as they remember that we are to be ambassadors for Christ on earth. That is our primary job description, and our goal is to appeal to others to be reconciled to God through Jesus (2Corinthians 5:20).

So should a Christian run for political office ?
For some Christians, the answer is a definite no; for others, a definite yes. This is a personal decision that requires prayer and the wisdom only God can provide and which He promises to grant to those who truly seek it (James 1:5). Christian politicians must remember that their duty to the Lord must take precedence over the duties of their office. Paul tells us that whatever we do, we are to do it for the glory of the Lord, not our own (1Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17).

If a Christian does seek office, it should only be if he/she can faithfully execute the duties of that office to the glory of God and without compromising Christian principles.

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Will mentally-ill people make Heaven ?

The Bible does not specifically
say whether or not mentally ill people go to heaven. However, there is some
biblical evidence that anyone who is not
able to make a decision for salvation is
covered by Christ’s death. This is similar
to how it is commonly believed that
children are automatically taken to
heaven when they die until they reach
the point in which they are able to make
a decision for or against Christ. David
had a child die, and he comforted
himself with the thought, “Can I bring
him back again? I will go to him, but he
will not return to me” ( 2 Samuel 12:23).
David knew that he would see his child
in heaven one day. From that statement,
we can assume that babies and young
children were, by God’s grace, covered
for salvation by Christ’s death.
We can postulate that mentally
handicapped people are covered by this
principle as well. The Word of God does
not specifically say this, however.
Knowing the love, grace, and mercy of
God, this would seem consistent with His
character. Any person who is mentally
challenged to the extent that he could
not be aware of his sinful state and
believe in Christ for salvation is in the
same category as a child, and it is not
unreasonable to assume that person is
saved by the grace and mercy of the
same God who saves babies and small
children.
As in everything, however, we must be
careful not to be dogmatic about any
issue the Bible does not specifically
address. We do know that Jesus receives
as His own all whom the Father has
given to Him and He will lose none of
them along the way (John 6:39). Jesus
said of these, “And I give to them eternal
life, and they shall never ever perish, and
not anyone shall pluck them out of My
hand” ( John 10:28). We can take comfort
in knowing that our God’s plan is always
perfect, He always does what is right and
just, and His love and mercy are infinite
and everlasting.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Will I see/recognize my family/Loved ones in Heaven ?

Many people say that the first thing they want to do when they arrive in heaven is see all their friends and loved ones who have passed on before them. In eternity, there will be plenty of time to see, know, and spend time with our friends and family members.

However, that will not be our primary focus in heaven. We will be far more occupied with worshipping God and enjoying the wonders of heaven. Our reunions with loved ones are more likely to be filled with recounting the grace and glory of God in our lives, His wondrous love, and His mighty works. We will rejoice all the more because we can praise and worship the Lord in the company of other believers, especially those we loved on earth.

What does the Bible say about whether we will be able to recognize people in the afterlife?

King Saul recognized Samuel when the witch of Endor summoned Samuel from the realm of the dead (1Samuel 28:8-17). When David’s infant son died, David declared, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23). David assumed that he would be able to recognize his son in heaven, despite the fact that he died as a baby. In Luke 16:19-31, Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man were all recognizable after death.

At the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were recognizable (Matthew 17:3-4). In these examples, the Bible does seem to indicate that we will be recognizable after death.

The Bible declares that when we arrive in heaven, we will “be like him [Jesus]; for we shall see him as he is” (1John 3:2). Just as our earthly bodies were of the first man Adam, so will our resurrection bodies be just like Christ’s (1Corinthians 15:47). “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1Corinthians 15:49, 53). Many people recognized Jesus after His resurrection (John 20:16, 20; 21:12; 1Corinthians 15:4-7). If Jesus was recognizable in His glorified body, we also will be recognizable in our glorified bodies. Being able to see our loved ones is a glorious aspect of heaven, but heaven is far more about God, and far less about us. What a pleasure it will be to be reunited with our loved ones and worship God with them for all eternity.

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How can I be forgiven ?

“Forgive and forget” is how the old saying goes. But is it that simple ?

A boy who was dumped by his girlfriend says, “She really hurt my feelings. How can I ever forgive her for what she did to me ?”

A girl whose father sexually abused her for years asks, “Why should I forgive him for that ?”

The drug dealer who wants to turn his life around wonders, “Will God really forgive me for all I have done ?”

How do we forgive others who have wronged us? How do we accept God’s forgiveness ?

The real need for forgiveness
God hates sin; He cannot stand to look at its ugliness. Therefore, unconfessed sinin our lives comes between us and damages our relationship with the Lord.
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, or his ear too dull to hear, but your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that He will not hear.
(Isaiah 59:1-2)

Not only does unforgiveness come between us and God, it also breaks our relationships with others.
“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)

The requirements for forgiveness
Because God hates sin, the price for forgiveness is high. Scripture gives the following requirements for forgiveness:

Sacrifice: Hebrews 9:22 says that “without the shedding of Blood, there is no forgiveness.” In the Old Testament, a sacrifice of an unblemished lamb was required to satisfy God’s wrath. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, died on the cross and became the ultimate sacrifice for sin. Jesus bought our forgiveness when he died on the cross.
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteousfor the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1Peter 3:18)

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Forgiveness of others: Another requirement for forgiveness of sins in that we forgive others. 1Corinthians 13:5 says that “real love keeps no record of wrongs.” Remember that Proverbs 17:9 tells us that a real friend will forgive. God has also made forgiving others a requirement for receiving His forgiveness.
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Confession of sin: We must admit our sins to God if our relationship with Him is to be restored completely. Looking back at the real need for forgiveness, we see that unconfessed sin can separate us in our relationship with God. Confession is the way to restore that relationship with the Lord, remembering that it is for our own benefit that we confess to return to the Lord because He is faithful even when we are not (2Timothy 2:13).

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

Repentance: We must decide to change, to turn from our sins.

“Therefore this is what the Lord says, ‘If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me.’”
(Jeremiah 15:19a)

The results of forgiveness
The Bible promises the following benefits of God’s forgiveness:

Happiness. When we know God’s forgiveness, we are blessed (happy).
“Blessed (happy) is he whose transgressions are forgiven, who sins are covered. Blessed (happy) is the man whose sin the Lord doesn’t count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.”
(Psalm 32:1-2)

God chooses not to hold our sins against us; Another result of forgiveness is that God doesn’t keep a record of our sins, He does not hold them against us. Because the blood of Christ covered our sins, God chooses to put them out of His mind.
“I, even I, am he who blotsout your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25).

God removes our sin from us.“It is possible for the Lord to look at us without seeing our sins because when he forgave us, he removed our sins as far as the east is from the west” ( Psalm 103:12)

We can forgive ourselves: When we are forgiven, we can forgive ourselves and go on with our lives.
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 3:13,14)

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment