Taking stock

We are almost halfway through 2020! Can you believe that? When I cast my eyes back to the beginning of the year it seems the appropriate amount of time has passed and yet it also feels like yesterday when we rang in the new year and the COVID-19 virus was just a virus in China. This Sunday, the pastor shared a sermon from the book of revelations and all of a sudden I found myself taking stock of my year.

To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Rev 3:1-2 NIV

As I read that scripture, my mind went back to my new year resolutions and all the plans I had laid out for myself for the year. And I could almost hear God saying to me “I have found your deeds unfinished!” I have slacked in a lot of the things I set out to do. I started the year hot and ready to tackle life with God’s help and now I am halfway through and I find the zeal is quenching if not extinguished on some of my projects. I am starting to drag my feet on reading my bible every day and praying every day. My spiritual commitments to God have waned and I blame the unprecedented times in which we now live. I am so tired by the end of the day… certainly, God understands.

So although the sermon was not about what I am just sharing, I could not help but be stuck on the warning, “Wake up!  and strengthen what remains and is about to die.” We are halfway through the year and God is giving me a wake-up call. I feel like He’s saying to me “girl.. you are slacking!!!” So today as I take stock, I encourage you to do the same. Are there any areas of your life where you have to wake up and strengthen what remains? Can you salvage what little momentum you have left and fan into flames the zeal you had for the things of God at the beginning of the year? Is there a project that you have so procrastinated on starting or following through with so much so that God would describe it as “unfinished”?

Well it’s not too late…. this is your wake-up call. Do not snooze the clock. Wake up and strengthen what remains.

Yours Truly.

P.s. don’t forget to share this with your friends.

Unwavering Faith

So let’s talk about faith. The bible describes Abraham as the father of faith and Romans  4 says that because Abraham believed in the One who had promised, that faith was credited to him as righteousness.

Abraham heard the word of God that he would be the father of many nations. He waited and waited for the promise to be fulfilled with his wife Sarah and when that did not happen, he thought he will help the promise along by having a baby with a servant. For the longest time, Abraham assumed the promise had been fulfilled until God appeared to Him again and reminded him that the promised child will be born of Sarah. At this point, both he and Sarah were so old it was laughable but Romans tells us he held on to that promise unwaveringly.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Romans 4: 20-21 NIV

Abraham heard the word of God and it built up and strengthened his faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17 KJV). This weekend my family gathered together for a celebration and a discussion about the new age Christianity “name it and claim it ” doctrine ensued (shout out to my dad for sharing his thoughts on the subject). For those of you who do not know what the name it and claim it practice is it is where Christians are taught that what so ever they desire they can receive it as long as it is claimed in faith. Although this doctrine seems legitimate on the surface, it is flawed in its premise and this is why: sometimes the things people are naming to claim are not in God’s will for them and hence the faith they possess is not based on the word of God.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3 NIV

When one’s motivations for praying for anything are rooted in the will of God and based on the word of God, it builds up faith. And when faith is engaged appropriately in that circumstance, then one can truly say to mountains be removed and they will obey. So my question for you today is this: Is your faith rooted in the word of God and upon the fact that the One who promises is faithful?

P.S. I’ll chase this post with a dive into more about the nature of faith in a few days. Until then stay safe and be intentional in living out your faith.

Yours Truly.

So how does God judge?

This is a continuation of the last post (and if you missed it, I encourage you to read it here) so let us jump right into it shall we?

Since the Garden of Eden, when Adam apportioned blame on his wife and years later when their son Cain singlehandedly decided that his brother did not deserve to live, humankind has been inclined to sit in judgement over each other, deciding who and what is right or wrong.

A couple weeks ago, my pastor in his sermon said, “We judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intent” and that is so true of myself. I get upset when I think I have been judged too harshly by others if my intentions were noble! I say things like “God knows my heart”… or “God knows I never meant to…” and that brings me to another truth I have discovered about God in Romans: God knows all things! Let’s break that down a little further.

Romans 2:16 assures us that a day is coming when God will judge all men’s secrets and nothing will be hidden from him. His judgment will be based on one thing and one thing alone: TRUTH (Romans 2:2). But how do we know what is the truth about anything?

  1. There is something within each and every one of us that that points us to what is right. Romans 2:14-15 says we demonstrate that each one has a moral compass of right and wrong written in our hearts and this compass is policed by our consciences which either accuses or defends us. The problem with our conscience though is that when sin takes over a person’s heart, the standard by which the needle of our consciences moves is tainted and can become skewed through hypocrisy (which are the lies we tell ourselves). So if our conscience can be led astray through falsehood, and God’s judgement is based on truth, then we are in trouble.
  2. How about the law or a set of rules (described as the embodiment of knowledge and truth in Romans 2:20)? What if we follow a set of rules and live by them? That is all well and good but the thing about rules is that it is all or none. Once you break one rule, you are considered a rule breaker (Romans 2: 25-27) and therefore stand condemned. The purpose of the law or rules, therefore, is to help our consciences along by creating a consciousness of sin.
  3.  This is how we are justified: by our faith in Jesus Christ who himself is described as the Spirit of truth or Truth (Romans 3, 1 John 5:6). When we believe in Jesus Christ and belong to his fold, we are no longer condemned (Romans 8: 1).

So back to my initial thought. God knows all things and his knowledge is infinite and based on truth. So how will God judge the world? In truth! What is truth? Our limited minds cannot fully fathom what truth is and that is why God promises us that His spirit will lead us into all truth; because only God knows the “whole truth.”  Therefore how God will judge those that never got the opportunity to hear and know Jesus is really within his infinite knowledge of the truth (answer to last week’s question). However, today you and I are blessed with the opportunity to have heard of Jesus and what I do know is that JESUS IS TRUTH and if I believe in him, I will not be condemned when I stand before the Great Judge.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Yours Truly.

Hello, my name is GOD

This week I started reading the book of Romans and I think this is the one book of the bible which is like a manual for understanding Christianity. Paul was explaining the gospel message to the Romans, gentiles who would not necessarily have grown up with the same sensibilities of God as the Jews would have.  So essentially, the book of Romans is Christianity 101. It teaches the foundations of the  Christian faith and so it is with the posture of strengthening my foundational beliefs that I approach the book of Romans.

Growing up, I had so many questions about God and how God “worked” and one of my biggest questions was how God will judge someone who never hears about Him, particularly if someone was born into a household, family, culture, or country where Jesus is not an everyday experience as He is for me? A few years ago, I encountered a scripture that shed some light on some fundamental truths about God and that question:

…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20 NIV

So here is one big truth about God:

God desires a relationship with each and every one and creates countless opportunities for this relationship to develop and hopefully blossom. His omniscience and omnipotence are manifest in creation itself and so one does not even have to look beyond himself or herself  or immediate surroundings to see God. David so eloquently described this when he said:

 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4 NIV

Everyday you are alive is an opportunity to get to know God a little bit more because God is revealed in everything around us. Even if it difficult to see beyond one’s immediate environs to behold the majesty of God, God still creates opportunities for an encounter and a relationship with Him; case in point, Moses. Moses grew up in ancient Egypt where almost all of creation was attributed to some god. For example, a gorgeous sunrise would be attributed to Ra the sun god and yet God made a way for Moses to experience him through a unique and unexplainable phenomenon of the burning bush that did not burn. All God needed from Moses was for him to be curious enough to draw close.

There are many things about God that are mysterious. After all, “the LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us…” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NLT). The things God wants us to know about Him, he has made plain to us even if it is merely in the admiration of a sunset (Romans 1:19) and this is why no one will have an excuse.  (I know this does not answer the question of how God will judge a person who never gets to know him, we will explore that concept another day… baby steps)

As we embark upon this journey of Romans together, I pray that your faith be strengthened as God provides you with countless opportunities to encounter Him in His word.

Yours Truly.