“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord..” Malachi 4:5
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know and believe in the will of God that was worked through John the Baptist. John the Baptist, the messenger whom God sent, was the person who testified that Jesus is the Lamb of God Who had come to take charge of the sins of the world. John 1:29.
Among those born of women, there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist. John was the last prophet of the OT who represented all mankind. He was the person who was capable of doing the duties of the last High Priest. Let us identify some of the scriptural basis that validate the united ministry of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist that fulfilled all righteousness of God. Listed below are the righteous work divinely carried out by John the Baptist as the messenger of God.
- John The Baptist Was Sent To Prepare The Way For The Lord
John the Baptist’s birth and his family background are explained well in Luke 1. If we look at the birth of John the Baptist through the recorded Word of God, we get to know that he was born to do the special work of the providence of God’s salvation. Luke 1:76-79 Also, the book of Malachi in the OT prophesized that God would send John the Baptist to this earth with the spirit and power like that of Elijah in the OT. Mal 4:5; Mt 11:12-14; Isa 40:3; Mal 3:1-3
- John The Baptist Was Sent To Reconcile Men To God
John the Baptist came to this earth by the spirit and power of Elijah to reconcile men to God. Mal 4:5-6 This means that God sent John the Baptist to transfer the sins of everyone in this world to Jesus Christ. The prophet Elijah was the servant of God who had enormous power to make the people of Israel who were distant from God because of idol worship returned to Him. Likewise, in NT times, John the Baptist was God’s messenger who could transfer at once the sins of mankind to Jesus in order to fulfill all righteousness of God. Mt 3:13-17 Hence, through the ministry of John and Jesus as the peace offering, God reconciled Himself with sinful men.
- John The Baptist Was Sent To Serve As The Last High Priest
If John the Baptist had not been born in the house of Aaron the High Priest, he would not have been capable of doing the duties of the last High Priest on this earth. In order to be able to do so, he absolutely had to be born into the house of Zacharias, a descendant of Aaron the High Priest. There was a requirement in the OT that only the High Priest could lay his hands on the unblemished scapegoat and transfer on to it the sins which the Israelites committed over the last year. John the Baptist had to be born into the house of the High Priest in order to fulfill the Word of prophecy of the OT. John the Baptist carried out the everlasting statute established by God and was able to represent all people, baptized Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God and transfer all the sins of this world to Him once and for all. Heb 10:3-4 God established an eternal, unchanging offering of salvation rather than the imperfect offerings that had to be offered repeatedly every year by the High Priest. Lev 16:15-16 The eternal sacrifice of redemption ordained by God was fulfilled when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist as the High Priest under the Levitical priesthood. Rom 3:23-24
- John The Baptist Was Sent To Us By The Way Of Righteousness
John the Baptist approached us with the ‘way of righteousness.’ Mt 21:32 The ‘way of righteousness’ that John the Baptist came with refers to the transferring of all people’s sin to Jesus. Whoever knows and believes in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection receives salvation from sin. No matter who it is or what sins they have committed, everyone must receive the cleansing of their sins through the baptism that Jesus received through John the Baptist. To fulfill God’s Righteousness, Jesus carried and cleansed all our sins, was nailed and hung on the cross, died, resurrected in three days and saved from sin all those who believed. There is no other path for us to go to heaven besides believing in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. John the Baptist was sent from heaven to witness the righteous act of Jesus so that all men will believe in the Savior. John 1:6-7
- John The Baptist Was Sent To Help Us Understand The Gospel
We came to understand the work of Jesus correctly only when we believe properly the ministry of John the Baptist. It is recorded in the Bible, ‘and from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence.’ Mt 11:12 ‘Violence’ refers to use of physical force. Then, why did God say that the Kingdom of Heaven would suffer violence from the days of John the Baptist. It is because the work of John is indispensable. The time from the beginning of OT to the time before Jesus’ resurrection were the age of the Law. The prophecies of the age of the Law said that Jesus would come to this earth in the future and take charge of all sins of humanity. Jesus could completely fulfill these things through the baptism that John gave Him. Violent implies bold faith. It means, through bold faith in God’s righteousness everyone is qualified to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
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“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thess 5:23
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know what keeps us pure as God’s messengers. Elects are God’s messengers on earth who set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfection of God Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
God’s elect are sent into the world as God’s messenger to represent and proclaim God’s true holiness and righteousness. How God makes us into who He sees us to be? What keeps us pure? This is the question behind a key point of biblical theology called sanctification. There were so many articles on sanctification that I grew confused until I met the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Let us examine how God purifies and sanctifies His messengers before they are sent into the world to serve the Gospel.
- What Is Sanctification?
Sanctification is the Spirit of Christ in us – making us to be in reality what God sees us to be already through justification. Plainly stated: God has already made us ‘just’ or ‘righteous’ in His eyes and that is wonderful holiness. Now God is bringing this holiness down to our practical lives. This is the work of the Spirit of Christ in us – to conform us to what God already sees us to be. 1 Thess 5:23 Paul writes ‘for this is the will of God, your sanctification…..that each of us should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor.’ 1 Thess 4:3-4 The Apostle is saying, it is God’s will that we live a holy life, that no sin has power or dominion over us. The Bible clearly states “for sin shall not have dominion over us, for we are not under law but under grace.” Rom 6:14 The Lord intends for every godly messengers to have a controlling power in one’s life and real authority to reign over sin. Rom 5:17 The Greek word for ‘reign’ here means ‘to rule from a foundation of power.’ When Paul talks about ‘reigning in life’ he is talking about having ruling power over sin and not just in heaven but in this present life. Godly messengers are to reign over everything demonic, every lust and every principality that comes against us. This is true sanctification. Another powerful truth in this verse is ‘those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness.’ Paul calls righteousness as a gift. It is something given to us, put into our possession and something we can touch and feel.
- How God’s Messengers Are Sanctified?
When we establish our faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we were adopted as sons and made joint heirs with God’s own Son. At that moment, God sent forth the very Spirit of Christ to abide in us. Abiding means Christ living in us, empowering us and actually living our lives for us. 2 Cor 13:5 Jesus is the only victor over sin, flesh, devil, death, world and in broader sense, the Law. Jesus alone is the conqueror, the Lion of Judah. God sends forth the Spirit of His mighty warrior to be our Sanctifier. We have no power in ourselves. All power to overcome the hostile forces is in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Who dwells in us. Do you think God would justify us but then leave us totally powerless against the principalities and powers of darkness? Christ did not do battle with the devil, defeat him, return to the Father and then quit on us. No, our blessed Savior ascended to Heaven with total victory over all the power of the enemy. He is still there now, as God and as victorious Son of Man, sitting in glory at the right hand of the Father. He has sent His Spirit, Who abides in every true messengers of the Gospel Truth of the water and Spirit. John 14:17 We are never to face the devil in our own strength. Nothing we have is adequate. 1 John 4:4; Eph 3:20
- How God’s Messengers Reign In Life?
Godly messengers reign in life only when we allow the Spirit of Christ to live this life in us and through us. Rom 8:13 All power over the tyrant forces lies in the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Eph 3:16 Every sin that enslaves us and every demonic stronghold demands a miracle from God. Only God knows how to deliver His people out of the power of darkness. It must be done supernaturally. God works miracles not for those who labor under their own power but for those who trust Him to do it completely. Gal 3:5 Paul says the life of Christ was released in him through a faith that worked by love. Gal 2:20 Paul was convinced the Lord loved him. Rom 8:37 Indeed, this whole concept of reigning is all about God’s love unto us. Paul further says, ‘God loved us even when we were dead in sins.’ Eph 2:4-5 Now that we trust in God’s love, He gives us resurrection power to reign in life. God has the power to purify and sanctify us to reign as His messengers. That power is available to us only as we rest in knowing that we are God’s children and that His love for us is unconditional. 1 John 3:1-3 When God speaks to us, the inevitable result is always peace and power to reign. Claim the miracle by the hearing of faith and not by the power of the flesh.
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“ 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Rom 3:23-24
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know the significance of God’s free gift of Righteousness. The ‘gift of righteousness’ is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. All righteousness of God was justified by Jesus Christ through His baptism, death and resurrection.
The Bible declares that no man can ever stand un-condemned in the sight of God, the Judge of all, unless he receives righteousness as the gift of God’s grace. As elects at NCCkl, we are so grateful to God that the Lord Jesus Christ took the condemnation and judgment for our sins upon Himself. He did it through His baptism by John at the River Jordan and willingly faced the vicarious judgment at Calvary so that His righteousness might be imputed to us by grace through faith. Let us examine Rom 3:23-24 which tells us our true condition as human beings and what God has done to save those who put their trust in His Son, Jesus.
- Unshakeable Foundation Rom 3:23-24
If the truth of these two verses become the foundation of our lives, we will be able to overcome all crises and circumstances. If these verses become the sun in the solar system of our lives, all our planets will orbit in harmony around the will of God. However, if we put these verses on the rim of our lives, then we need not be surprised if there is confusion, uncertainty, fear and weakness in our lives. There are some truths that are so foundational and so central that elects should memorize, meditate and bind them to our mind and heart. Many so called professing Christians are very weak and pretty much like unbelievers because they don’t hold on to these verses the way a drowning man hold of his rescuer’s arm. Verse 23 gives the universal need ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ All of us have sinned. No exceptions. That was the point of Rom 1:18-3:20. The outworking of that sin is that we are falling short of God’s glory. Falling short is literally ‘lacking’. What does this mean? It doesn’t mean that we are supposed to be as glorious as God is but we aren’t and so we lack glory. In describing those who ‘suppress the truth in unrighteousness’ Rom 1:18, Paul says in Rom 1:23, they changed the glory of the incorruptible God for an image. In Rom 1:28, Paul says ‘they disapproved of having God in their knowledge.’ The picture we have is that all have sinned and that sin is essentially rejection of God and His glory as the supreme value of our lives. Sin considers God and His glory and instead of loving God’s glory and treasuring God’s glory, sin exchanges God’s glory for something else. That is what sin is. Sin has to do with God, mainly. It is not mainly hurting people, though it does hurt people. Mainly, it is dishonoring God. Sin is belittling God’s glory by not trusting Him, treasuring Him and wanting Him as the foundation and the center of our lives. How shall we get right with God and be saved from this God-dishonoring condition of sin? How shall we ever be accepted in eternity by God when all of us have scorned His infinite Word so deeply by treating Him as if He had less worth than everything else.
- God’s Action For Sinners Rom 3:24
In verse 24, the answer is given with 4 descriptions of God’s action for sinners. What is so great of this verse is that it is all about what God has done to save us, not what we do to save ourselves.
- Justified – Consider the phrase, ‘being justified.’ Notice three things about it. First, the verb is passive, it says, ‘being justified’ not ‘justifying.’ We are not doing this, it is being done to us. Justifying is something that God does, not something that we do, Second, notice that the word ‘justified’ is the word ‘just.’ Now, ‘just’ is essentially the same as ‘righteous.’ Justification is the act of God, once for all declaring us just and righteous in His sight. Third observation about the phrase ‘being justified.’ In what sense do we receive righteousness? It is an act of God that declares us righteous. Righteousness is attained through faith in the Gospel Truth of Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection for all who believe.
- Gift– This great act is done for us as a ‘gift.’ That is the next phrase in verse 24. Being justified ‘as a gift.’ The point is that we are justified in a way that we cannot pay for it. We cannot purchase our justification. It is a gift. It is free. There are no payment we can make. God’s act of justification is a gift.
- Grace – Now this is underlined in the third phrase, ‘by His grace,’ Being justified is a gift by His grace. This is one of the most important words in the letters of Paul. He uses it 95 times. What does Paul mean here that God’s act of justifying is by His grace. The easiest way to see it is to look a few verses later in Rom 4:4. If we work for somebody, we don’t get grace, we get wages. If we work for someone, what we bring about is not grace but debt. This is why it is an abomination to try to work for God. God cannot be put in anyone’s debt. Rom 11:35
- Redemption – Now can God declare a sinner to be righteous? If we don’t pay for it, we don’t work for it, then what is the basis of it? How can it be just to justify the ungodly? The last phrase in verse 24 gives the answer. It is provided through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. What does redemption mean? It means deliverance at a cost or release by payment of a price. In other words, the idea of redemption is deliverance or release by payment of a ransom. In redemption, someone’s release or deliverance is accomplished at the cost of a ransom payment. The answer is that the life of the Son of Man is the ransom paid in redemption. Redemption is in Christ Jesus because Jesus is the ransom. From what? From the guilt, condemnation and power of sin which is the universal problem of verse 23. The basis of justification is not in ourselves or anything we do, it is through the redemption that is found in Christ Jesus.
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“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth..” John 1:14
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know what the Word of God is capable of doing. Elects cannot underestimate the importance of God’s Word in our daily lives and church ministries.
The Word of God is God’s chosen instrument to create, convict, connect and conform His people. God gives life, health and holiness to His people through the agency of Scripture. God’s Word is His spiritual power for accomplishing His spiritual work. Our eloquence, innovations and programs are nothing compared to the manifestation of God’s Word. Preaching and teaching the content and intent of God’s Word is what unleashes the power of God for building His people in the Spirit. This will only happen as elects immerse themselves in God’s Word.
- Why Elects Must Immerse Themselves In The Word
Scripture is the source of saving truth. 2 Tm 3:15 Scripture implies the blessed Word that God spoke and fulfilled towards mankind. Paul told Timothy that he was taught from a child the holy scripture that were able to make him wise unto salvation. The Scripture themselves do not provide salvation but they do point us to the Savior Who has redeemed us through His baptism, death and resurrection. Therefore, the heart and soul of effective ministry consists of the faithful teaching, preaching and witnessing of the Gospel Truth as it is revealed in Scripture. Scripture comes from God and it is powerful. Heb 4:12 Scripture is God-breathed meaning that it is given by inspiration of God. Scripture point us to Jesus Christ and Him being baptized, crucified and raised from the dead for the sake of sinners. From Genesis to Revelation the Word reveals to man the way of redemption that God has planned and how it is to be attained through faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The Word is life- giving. That is why we liken God’s Word to food. Food imparts life just like the Word does. The more of the Word ingest the more abundant the life in Christ. Furthermore, the Word of God is powerful which means effective. It is effective for discerning our hearts. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The Word of God will reach into the deep recesses of the human heart, probes, will leave nothing hidden and will lay bare the motives of our heart.
- How The Word Works In Elects
How does the Word equip elects for ‘every good work.’ The Word does not equip us for every good work by telling us the specific choice to make for every new situation. Good works are done from a heart that treasures God, His help and from a heart that loves to display the glory of Christ. Rom 14:23; Rom 7:4 Bearing fruit in ‘every good work’ means that it comes out on the branches of our life naturally from something that has changed inside. What has changed is that we are dead to the law that constrains from the outside and are now united to Jesus Christ through His baptism and death. This newfound relationship does something new where God’s obedience which comes from within serves as the desire of our heart. The Word, day after day, reveals to us the righteousness, grace, power, wisdom and the mercy of all that God is for us in Christ so that by the power of the Spirit we find our joy in Him. The ways of sin becomes distasteful, indeed ugly and repugnant. The Word equips us for every good work by changing what we find satisfaction in so that our obedience comes from within freely, not by coercion from without.
- What Are The Benefits Of Immersing In The Word
The Word of God is profitable for teaching, reproofing, correcting and training. 2 Tim 3:16-17 Doctrine means teaching, not the process but the content. It teaches us about God. Whether the reproof is personal or doctrinal, Word can show sinners their failure, clarify the part of the mistake and lead them to a new sense of peace and wholeness. Correction means to make upright. It is a positive term. We are to be in the Word because of the correcting effect of our lives. Training is to provide moral exercise that leads to righteous living. The great reservoir of the power that belongs to God is His own Word. If we are to obtain fullness of power in life and service, we must feed upon the Word of God. There is no other food so strengthening. We cannot obtain power and maintain power in our lives and in our work for God, unless there is a deep and frequent reading, meditation and memorizing of the Word of God. Ps 1:2-3 Listening to the Word being preached adds tremendous value in preparing us to do good works for the glory of God. The Word full of God’s vitality and energy is effective to show us if we are living for eternity or for this present life. Many Christians are still looking for peace today, longing for peace and praying for peace. In fact, deep peace of heart comes from the study of the Word of God.
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“ Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel,”
2 Tim 2:8
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is the heart of our message and the basis of our unity in the faith. Paul often declares it is ‘My Gospel’ to emphasize the reason why he exist after being born again in Christ.
In the end the doctrine does not save us, the Gospel saves. Yes, we need the correct doctrine to tell us who Jesus is, who we are and how we can be saved according to the Scriptures. However, it is Christ alone through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that saves. It is not enough to know the truth, elects must believe and walk in the truth. It is not enough to possess the Gospel truth, the Gospel truth must possess the elect. Paul called it ‘my gospel’. Can we say that now in our new creation life?
- Our Gospel
The Gospel of God’s Righteousness is good news, the best and most important news in the world. It is good news because it tells us what Jesus Christ has done for us through His baptism, death and resurrection. It is good news because it can change our lives. The Gospel Word is the reason why NCCkl exists. Our mission statement is : Endeavoring through Spirit and Word centered ministries to empower elects to emulate, endure and reign with Christ. God has put heavily upon my heart that we must reaffirm the Gospel of God’s Righteousness as our central message in 2020. We must be bold in our proclamation, bolder in the future than in the past. The Gospel of God’s Righteousness is the central message of the Bible. Therefore, elects must know it. That means knowing enough to oppose any and every false gospel. We must get the gospel right. We must have the courage to point out when someone else (who may be a nice person) gets it wrong. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is truly preaching the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The Gospel is God’s plan for salvation. Therefore, we must believe it. The Gospel of God’s Righteousness is meant for everyone. Therefore we must preach it since it is everything. It is our only message. The Gospel teaches us that in Christ our sins are being forgiven and that all righteousness of Christ is added to us the moment we trust in Him. It happens by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
- God’s Gospel
In Rom 1:1, Paul called himself an apostle of ‘the gospel of God.’ The Gospel begins with God. God made the first move and if He didn’t make the first move, we would make no move at all. The Gospel is not about us. It is about what God has done for us through the baptism and death of Jesus Christ. God is the author of the Gospel. When confronted with human rebellion, God chose to become our Redeemer and our Deliverer. That is why the Bible tells us that the Father sent the Son to the earth. John 17:3 It is not as if a group of people petitioned God to send Jesus to the earth. That was entirely God’s doing. Furthermore, what we know about the gospel comes from God Himself. We know what we know because God has revealed His secrets and mysteries of the gospel to us in His Word. The truth of the Gospel does not depend on the church, human tradition or any particular denomination. Therefore, we base what we say on the authority of God’s Word. We deny there is any gospel other than the one revealed in the Bible. Not only does the gospel begin with God, it centers upon the Lord Jesus Christ – Who He is and what He accomplished through His baptism, death and resurrection. To say it in this way means that the gospel doesn’t center in our feelings or our sentimental notions. The gospel is rooted in time and space, in the facts of history, in the Incarnation and in the truth of what God did when He sent His Son to the earth.
- Only Gospel
There are many reasons why the Gospel of God’s Righteousness should be preached in every sermon. If we are not preaching the Gospel, then what message of hope are we possibly bringing to our congregation. Throughout history God’s servants have reigned as kings and prophets in this fallen world by proclaiming the baptism of Jesus, the blood stained cross of Christ and the empty tomb of our Risen Savior as central to their message. Preaching the message is absurd to those who are perishing but to us who are saved it is the power of God unto salvation. Preaching the only Gospel of God’s Righteousness honors the Lord Rom 5:5-6, sanctifies the believers 1 Cor 1:18, elevates Jesus Christ Rom 15:16-17, reaches the lost Rom 10:14, matures the church Col 1:28-29, advances God’s Kingdom Col 1:6, opens the door to spiritual intimacy with Christ Phil 3:8-10, accomplishes the eternal purposes of God Eph 3:7-11, unleashes the power of the Holy Spirit 1 Cor 2:4-5 and frustrates the forces of darkness Acts 26:16-18.
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“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isa 6:8
It is pertinent for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that NCCkl is purpose driven. What makes a healthy church, not necessarily a growing church but a healthy church? I believe health creates healthy church. I don’t have to tell my children to grow. If they are healthy, they grow automatically.
Every church that is going to be healthy has to worship, has to evangelize, has to help elects grow (discipleship), has to do ministry and has to have fellowship. If you notice, this is the approach I adopted throughout 2019. In fact, I derived this approach from the Lord’s royal commandment and the Great Commission for our 2019 theme ‘Send Me.’
The Royal Commandment
The royal commandment gives us two purposes. The royal commandment expects us to love God with all our heart, soul and strength, that is worship. Worship is expressing our love to God. Secondly, the royal commandment expects us to love our neighbor as ourselves, that is ministry. Ministry is serving one another. Two purposes of the church, worship and ministry comes from the royal commandment.
The Great Commission
The Great Commission gives us three purposes. The Great Commission says to go and make disciples, that is evangelism. It says to teach them to do everything that I have commanded you, that is discipleship. Right in the middle it says, to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Why did God put baptism in between these two great purposes of evangelism and discipleship? I think because of what it represents. Baptism doesn’t just represent new life in Christ. It represents incorporation into the body of Christ. Only faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection has the power to save one’s soul and unite us into the body of Christ, the church. Spiritual baptism is our union with Christ. Water baptism is a symbolic act of declaring what has happened inwardly in the heart of one who has truly believed in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Without faith in the baptism of Jesus, one has no spiritual connection and a relationship with Jesus’ death and resurrection.
NCCkl Is Purpose Driven
If we fail to have a strategy or structure to balance the five purposes derived from the royal commandment and The Great Commission intentionally, the church may tend to over-emphasize certain purposes and neglect the others. For instance, if we focus too much on teaching, then there are possibilities we may neglect winning new souls. If our focus is too much on evangelism, we may tend to produce a soul winning church where there is no depth. We can have gifts in the area of worship and build what I call an ‘experiencing God’ church but no ministry or fellowship. Our objective at NCCkl is to ensure we meet the five purposes of a purpose driven church without neglecting any one of them.
How worship with others changes us? When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment was, His answer was to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. As human beings, we have all been hard-wired to worship or express our love. We were made to be loved by God. When we do what we were made to do, God will bless us in ways we didn’t know was possible.
Sharing our hope with others. Everyone wants to leave a legacy. The only way to make an eternal impact is to bring someone else into God’s family. We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ. God has qualified us with His power, ability and sufficiency to be the dispenser of His New Covenant message. We are privileged to preach the Gospel Truth to others.
The secret to greatness. How do we become successful? How do we become the greatest? According to Jesus, the secret to greatness is serving. In Mt 23, Jesus said, “the greatest among you will be your servant.” Being a servant may sound like being weak or a push over but the fact of the matter is, serving will transform our lives in great ways.
We need others for spiritual support. In today’s world, dependency is often considered a weakness. We are taught that we don’t need anyone to figure things out on our own. God did not create us to be alone. God created us to depend on a spiritual family for support. The church today is God’s answer to loneliness, fatigue, defeat and despair.
Discipleship is teaching biblical precepts, while modelling and guiding others toward living righteously as followers of Jesus. This should be a cyclical process–meaning once we are discipled, we are to disciple others.
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“remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.” 1 Thess 1:3
It is pertinent for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that elects are divinely appointed to make an impact for Jesus. Why me? Each elect needs to be an evangelist. Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.
Think about the day you got saved by the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. As for me, I remember how clean I felt after making my confession of faith in the Gospel Word of the water and Spirit. I remember the joy that was in my heart when I realized my sins were forgiven forever. I also remember the desire that I had to see others being saved by this beautiful Gospel. Over the years, I never failed to witness the Gospel that saved me no matter what the circumstances was. Our church will never rise higher than the leadership. Everything in the church rises and falls in leadership. At NCCkl, our battle cry is for souls, fighting till the end and never to give up to any other gospel besides the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that saved our souls. In 1 Thess 1:3, Paul shows three evidences of a life that has an impact for Jesus Christ.
Elect’s Life That Is Marked By Change
Let your lives prove the change of heart. I am afraid there are going to be some who think that they are saved, who in reality are still lost. Show me a life that has no real change and I will show you a life that does not have Christ. 2 Cor 5:17; Eze 18:31; Rom 6:4-6 Anyone who rejects or is not completely faithful to the Gospel of God’s Righteousness and its clear teaching is usually lost. Mt 5:20; Mt 7:18-23; 1 John 5:21 Someone may be thinking that I am judging them and trying to make them doubt their salvation. Let me warn them of the thoughts that Satan will try to fill their hearts. Satan will try to convince them that everything is okay. True change is when an elect’s life is marked by a change of direction and a desire to serve the living and true God. 1 Thess 1:9; Phil 3:10a; Mt 5:6.
Elect’s Life That Is Marked By Commitment
If an elect say that he or she is saved and do not serve God, that person is a spiritual fraud. 1 Thess 2:3-5 When we do not serve God, we have a love problem. Remember when Peter denied the Lord Jesus three times. When the Lord showed up on the shore with breakfast, I believe Peter had a hard time looking Jesus in the face. Instead, Christ, I believe, took him alone and dealt with the root of Peter’s sin. John 21:15-17 If we don’t have a genuine commitment to Christ, then we have a love problem. When we don’t read the Word, we have a love problem. When we don’t pray, we have a love problem. When we don’t witness, we have a love problem. When we are not faithful to the things of God, we have a love problem. The commitment to Christ means following His command. John 14:15; John 15:14; 1 John 3:22 Elects share the fellowship of the suffering Messiah and are called to preach the Gospel without fear or favor by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have been sealed as God’s possession and have crossed over into the Kingdom of God. The decision has been made. We are not going to look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. Our past is redeemed, our present makes sense and our future is secure. Our goal is heaven, our road is narrow, our way rough, our companions few, our Guide reliable and our mission clear. We cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turn back or deluded. We are disciples of Jesus. We must serve until He comes, offer ourselves until we run dry, preach until all know the Gospel and work until God stops us. When Jesus comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing us – our banner will be clear.
Elect’s Life That Is Marked By A Confidence
This ‘patience of hope’ in verse 3 means a steadfastness. The Thessalonians had been saved only for three weeks and they lost their pastor. Yet, they were steadfast and geared up to the return of Jesus Christ. 1 Thess 1:10; 1 Thess 2:19; 1 Thess 4:13-18 The foundation of this confidence is rested solely on their faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus lives, we can face tomorrow. Jesus lives and all fear is gone. We know who holds the future and life is worth the living just because He lives. The fulfilment of the confidence is that Jesus rescued the believers through His baptism, death and resurrection. Jesus rescued us from the wrath to come, from power of the devil and eternal damnation. The Thessalonians were under fire but did not quit. They had the confidence that Jesus would come again and they wanted to be found waiting and working for Him.
Why me? Are our lives having an impact for Christ? Will NCCkl have an impact on the lost souls in these last days? We could if our lives are marked by a change, commitment and a confidence in Christ Jesus.
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Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar……. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, ……… words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord;……And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” Luke 3:1-6
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that elects are to herald the imminent coming of the King. The King of course, is Jesus Christ. When Jesus was born, the angels came and trumpeted His birth and gave Him a kingly welcome.
In Luke 3:1-6, the herald ‘the one who will announce Jesus’ coming is John the Baptist. John has come as a herald to make sure that the King’s subjects are well prepared for the King’s coming. John prepares the way by preaching baptism and repentance to invoke positive impact on those who were under the bondage of sin. The Scripture provides a very detailed timeframe, about who God uses and why sinners must repent before accepting the Savior.
God’s Time For Positive Impact Lk 3:1-2a
Through this passage, we know exactly when this event took place. Luke, the author included several names to set the date for us and to show how far Israel had fallen away from God. Politically, the Jews were ruled by foreigners and religiously, Ananias and Caiaphas had been illegally put into their position by the Roman authorities. The Roman officials constantly use their power to line their own pockets and increase their own authority. The situation is a clear reference to the prophecy in Gen 49 that the scepter has departed from Judah because of the moral decadence of the people. The political and religious condition caused the Messiah to be revealed. Likewise, the world is fallen and utterly corrupted these days. It is imminent for the Messiah to be revealed in our time and the elects are chosen to call the people back to God like how John the Baptist impacted the people in his days.
God’s Servant For Positive Impact Lk 3:2b
God can only use the elects who are born of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. At the end of Luke 3:2, with distinctively OT terminology, elects are introduced to the last of the OT prophet. We read there that the Word of God came to John the Baptist, the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. Zacharias was told by the angel that his son, John would be a prophet in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Lk 1:17 Now, 30 years later, this promise comes to pass, John is living in the wilderness and the Word of the Lord comes to him. Though, we have earlier read in Lk 3:1-2a of one emperor, one governor, three tetrarchs, 2 religious high priests and many prominent and prestigious people in the world, the Word of God does not come to them. It comes to a relatively unknown man living in the wilderness. Do not feel that we have to be somebody well known and of good influence to be used by God. God uses us, not the most prominent or popular. Just walk habitually with God by contending for the precious faith in the righteousness of God and God will use us. That is what we see here with John. He was in the wilderness and the Word of God came to him. John received the Word of God because of two things. In Luke 1:80 we read, “so the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.” First it says, John grew and became strong in spirit. If we want to become strong in the spirit, we simply need to become strong in the Word. Elects need to chew, meditate and practise the Word of God to become spiritually strong. Secondly, he lived in the desert. This shows us that John lived a life separate from the world. Being separate from the world means we choose not to participate in worldly things or habits. Instead, we decide to fill our lives with things that matter to God’s Kingdom. To live life separate from the world is to be a light in the darkness for people to seek out.
God’s Preparation For Positive Impact Lk 3:3-6
Lk 3:4-6 is a quotation from Isaiah 40. We learn from these verses that John is the herald for the Messiah. What herald would declare is exactly what John declares here about the Messiah. It is prophesied that John will tell the people to make the paths straight and the rough ways smooth. To fill the valleys and bring every mountain low. Notice this prophecy from Isaiah even mentions that the herald would come from the wilderness, just as was true of John. John was in the region of the Jordan River also point to him being the Prophet Elijah who spent his last days there. 2 Kings 2:1-13 John was to come in the spirit and power of Elijah to herald the way for a King. It says in Lk 3:4, that this King will be LORD. John was announcing the salvation of God that would be for all flesh, in other words, salvation made available for all people. John the Baptist was teaching them that in order to get saved they must repent and be baptized. In fact, John is preparing the way for the Messiah Who will fulfill all righteousness with him when he lays and baptizes Jesus Who will carry the sins of the world and die on the cross for all men.
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For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that elects are designed for service unto the Lord. Have you ever considered the impact service has? Why did Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory say, ‘I didn’t come to be served but to serve.’ Isn’t a symbol of success the idea of people serving us?
Fundamentally as elects, we are called to ‘serve’ not ‘be served.’ In my message today on ‘Significance of Service’ after reading Mt 20:28 I discovered that the Bible extends practical help to make us become more like Jesus in the area of service. Let us identify the common misconception of godly service before dealing with the matter of service.
Misconception of Service
There is a tendency today to think of Bible characters as almost fantasy. For instance, most times we think of the disciples as ‘spiritual giants’ who live above sin, yet the Bible seem to teach us that they were just as fallible as we are. They experience some of the same feelings and problems. When I think about Jesus’ disciples, Peter would probably be the one who epitomizes the same type of struggles and recklessness that we endure. However, Peter wasn’t the only one who had problems and shortcomings. It seem that James and John had their set of problems which was generational, being adults they even got their mum involved in fighting for their rights for position and prominence. There are many more cases in the Bible that openly reveals the vulnerability of those who served God in their time. The Bible does not sugarcoat to make God’s servant look good at all times.
Service is a matter of:
Elects Health Is Paramount
Do elects realize that our bodies and mind were regenerated for activity? Not for passivity. I personally had to take a hard knock before realizing this simple truth. God’s elect ought to use their strength and godly knowledge for action. In fact, today many elects have become so lethargic and fatigue simply because they fail to maintain a good health for godly service. Adequate exercise and good eating habits play a pivotal role for us to render effective service with an able body. It is the responsibility of the elects to cultivate and care for their bodies and mind. When we are serving others, our health is strong. Listen, it involves both our physical health as well as our mental health. If we are serving others, we have no time to idle.
Elects Happiness is Paramount
Now, there are some notable exceptions but as a general rule people who serve because they ‘want to’ are generally happy people. Watch, they are happy because they are healthy and they have meaning in their lives. Jesus’ concerns were not for the things of this world but rather the eternally lost souls. The tears He shed were never for Himself but rather for those who were like sheep with no shepherd. Jesus’ happiness came from helping others. Show me a cranky, grumpy, bitter person and I will show you one who doesn’t serve. Even if they serve, they do it for the praise of men and not the praise of God. Know why?
Elects Heart is Paramount
The entire expression of our lives comes down to our heart. We will never find happiness if we expect to be served as if the world owes us something. We will never be healthy physically and emotionally if we expect others to look out after us and thus become ‘takers’ and never giving anything. I want to challenge every elects at NCCkl to find a way ‘where you are’ in your own ‘path of life’ to find a way to serve. No matter what station of life you are in, God has a plan to prosper you in all that you do. It does not matter who you are or where you are, you can make a difference, if you only serve the Gospel of God’s Righteousness and His Church.
Elects Heritage is Paramount
If we choose to serve, which is by the way our free choice, the heritage that we leave will be long lasting. Maybe we will impact the next generation of seekers for Christ. Maybe seeing us serve will be exactly what they need in order to serve unselfishly, with integrity and honesty. We don’t want to be in a statistic of people whereby the impact of service is least appreciated today.
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Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…..to Timothy, a beloved son……. I remember you in my prayers night and day….. when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. 2 Tim 1:1-5
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know the power of influence. What is influence? Influence is the ability of a person to compel others to think, feel or behave in a specific manner.
In 2 Tim 1:1-5, we discover that Timothy had the influence of his mother, grandmother, father and the Apostle Paul. In our message, ‘Everyday Influence’ I would like to show how we as elects can play a role in helping the unsaved become mighty for Christ through our everyday influence.
Power Of Influence
The future belongs to those who believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Elects ought to thank the church for helping us embrace our future in this beautiful Gospel Truth. Elects would not have attained true salvation for their souls if it wasn’t for the support God has provided each step of the way through His Word. Through every setbacks, struggles or unexpected twist, the church has encouraged us to press on and persevere. Most importantly, the church taught us the importance of having spiritual dreams and necessity of making our relationship with God the very center of our future. Though elects are continuously being bombarded by people and things trying to influence us but the church never fails to help us to become the individuals that we are today. Even as your pastor, I hope that my life would influence you in a positive way to encourage elects to love the Lord more by walking in the way He has prepared in advance for us.
Influence In Timothy’s Life
Timothy received tremendous influence within his family circle namely, grandmother, mother and father. In Acts 16:1, we read something that is very important concerning influence in Timothy’s life. Luke says, Timothy’s father was a Greek, indicating he was most likely an unbeliever. It is very possible that in addition to having the influence of a godly grandmother and mother, Timothy also may had the influence of an unsaved and ungodly father. Divided homes are not new to our time and culture and we know the effects of them. Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, appears to have been the first one to embrace the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. Her life influenced her daughter Eunice and both attempted to raise Timothy in the Christian faith. We have a responsibility to be godly influences in the lives of those in our family. We may not see them saved by our influence alone but we can plant the seeds of faith in the Gospel.
Influence Outside Of Family
It appears that it was the Apostle Paul that was the ultimate person that led Timothy to Christ. I believe there were many influences in Timothy’s life, both godly and ungodly. His mother and grandmother planted the seeds of faith in the Gospel Truth. The Apostle Paul watered those seeds and Jesus Christ brought the increase that empowered him to surrender his life to God. Pro 22:6
The Ultimate Choice Is Up To The Individual
How are we influencing the lives of people? Timothy had many influences in his life but it was ultimately his choice to serve Jesus Christ. He did it supergloriously by the power of the Holy Spirit in the most paganistic environment of his day. Timothy became a man who was mightily used by the Lord to set the tone on what it is to be an elect. The godly influence of the Apostle Paul had shaped Timothy’s spiritual life. A person can be instructed in spiritual things, understand Scriptures, know all the words of the water and Spirit and yet their heart not be changed. Instructions precedes conversion, conversion should follow transformation but it doesn’t always happen the way that we expect it or according to our timing. We must not forget that God is sovereign in all that happens. There are times I feel depressed, thinking that I am losing the battle with some elects at NCCkl when it pertains to their spiritual well being. I feel at times that I am working against major influences in their lives. I feel that I am not getting the support that I would like to have from them to keep them saved in Christ. However, the Lord keeps encouraging me to be a positive and godly influence at all costs. Not to give up on them but to keep imparting faith in God’s Righteousness, hoping that something beautiful will stimulate their love for the Lord. May 2020 bring a harvest of souls that we can make a positive impact on them.
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“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart…,”. Gal 6:9
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that in due season we shall reap if we do not give up. Elects who are so beautifully saved by water and the Spirit ought to know why we serve God. Is it for temporal benefits or more is involved? Job was accused of serving God for what he could get out of it at the present moment. Job 1:9 However, God knew Job would be faithful whether it was to Job’s advantage in the short term or not. Job 1:1-2:10
It is absolutely true that a life of righteousness will be rewarded but the primary reward comes to us when this life is over. Gal 6:9 teaches three important characteristics that is required by the elects for calling in their harvest.
- Elects Ought To Be Patient
Job is well known for this quality of character and it is essential for elects to possess it in these last days. Patience is the ability to endure, hold out, bear up and persevere. The person who is patient always takes the long view. Job was blessed for his endurance. James 5:10-11 When the nighttime closes in, elects must not forget the assurance that the Lord has given in the daytime. Patience is one of the great biblical virtues when elects are to call in their harvest. Heb 6:1-12; Heb 10:35-36 Jesus said by our patience we must possess our souls. Lk 21:19 Elects ought to know that by our endurance we will gain our lives.
- Elects Ought To See Themselves As Farmers
Those who work with living and growing things often know the most about patience and trust. Farmers get their reward only at the harvest, so they must wait for long term results. The farmer continuously gives and gets nothing in return until the harvest. Imagine a farmer who resented his ‘ungrateful’ fields because he waited and asked for them and they never gave anything to him until the whole growing season was over. James 5:7-8 Farmers must be willing to trust the growing process that has proven itself in the past. The farmer must not lose confidence in agriculture principles that have proven their trustworthiness. Imagine a farmer who long before the harvest, got worried that the laws of nature might not work this year. Gal 6:7-9 Elects ought to cultivate both their patience and the trust of the farmer if they want to call in their harvest.
- Elects Ought To Take The Long View
The elects at NCCkl ought to ask themselves whether they want to take a long term view of God’s blessing of the rewards of the righteousness of faith. In short term, what they assume that is right might not always ‘work’ or be ‘effective’ by their standard of judgment. Solomon observed that in this life the race is not always to the swift. Ecc 9:11 Elects must not take on an accusing attitude toward God and His servants for their seemingly indifference to one’s personal carnal expectation. Exo 5:22-23 If elects do not have the patience to wait till the end of the story as written, we ought not to draw premature conclusions even if we feel unjustly treated. We must have absolute confidence in God’s grace and faithfulness. 2 Cor 12:9 ; Heb 10:23 Elects’ main emphasis ought to be on the end of the story. Heb 12:1-2 ; Col 3:23-24 Heaven is worth even if we are facing challenges and testing in the short term. 2 Cor 4:17 ; Rom 8:18
If Satan were allowed to take away one by one, the temporal blessings God has allowed us to have, how many would have to be taken away before we quit serving God? What does God have to give us in this life to keep us on His side? Is Heaven’s blessings enough? Job 13:15 ; Job 19:25-26 God can deliver us from hardship, disappointment and hurts but even if He does not, it is still worth it to serve and live for Him. Nothing should separate us from the love that we have received in Christ Jesus. Therefore as the Scripture says, let us be steadfast, immovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labour is not in vain. 1 Cor 15:58 Let us not grow weary of doing good for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. Gal 6:9
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“that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Rom 8:4
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that when we sow in the spirit, we can live out the divine nature that God has given us. Every time we do this, we are asserting spiritual dominion and letting our flesh know that God reigns in us.
Life in the Spirit is a journey and there are many great passages throughout the Bible that discusses the benefits of salvation in Christ. In my message today, ‘Reap What?’ I want to use Romans 8 to describe the blessings that we can reap when we believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. How to live a life directed by God?
Elects Ought To Walk In The Spirit vs 4
There is no short cut to learning how to walk with the Spirit. It is not just for the pastors and spiritual leaders but it is for all elects to cultivate a habitual fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Walking in the Spirit is a life of continual acknowledgement of God’s Presence in our hearts. Walking in the Spirit is the central metaphor for describing what it means to live as an elect. The elect who walks according to the Spirit will in fact have the essence of the law fulfilled in his life.
Elects Ought To Set The Minds On the Things Of The Spirit vs 5
The elect who has been regenerated by the Spirit is not bound in sin. By the Spirit, the pull of the flesh can be resisted and replaced. To ‘put to death the deeds of the flesh’ is pretty much the same thing as saying no to sin. Just by saying no will never allow us to consistently overcome sin. Then what must we do? We must say no by the Spirit.
Elect Ought To Be Led BY The Spirit vs 14
The Holy Spirit leads us broadly most of the time but also more specifically at times. The Holy Spirit always leads us through the written Word, which was revealed to the prophets by the Holy Spirit. 2 Pet 1:20-21 Elects are to prayerfully, carefully and humbly apply broad biblical wisdom to the situations we face in our lives. Sometimes the Holy Spirit leads us directly. The Holy Spirit can choose to act in any way and according to any timetable that He wishes. We do not dictate to Him how and when He should move. An elect who submits to the Holy Spirit is well governed.
Elects Ought To Know Fatherhood Of God By The Spirit vs 15-17
Without the Holy Spirit, elects would never know their freedom and identity as God’s adoptive children. Thankfully, God has freely given us through His Spirit in Rom 8 some amazing facts about our adoption. Firstly, the Holy Spirit acts as the go-between Who takes us out of a place of slavery and brings us into a place of adoption and acceptance. Secondly, the Holy Spirit helps us to cry out to God as Father. Thirdly, the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are now children of God.
Elects Ought To Hope In The Spirit vs 22-25
The biblical concept represented by the English word ‘hope’ is so strong that it is almost a synonym for ‘eager expectation’ . The focus of the expectation isn’t that life will get better here but it is absorbed with the glorious life to come. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in all this? Rom 8:23 In this passage, it is precisely the presence of the Spirit within us that causes us to feel the yearning for our final redemption in the midst of a fallen world. In this way, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the stark contrast between the wonderful things God has prepared for us and this fallen world that is so full of sin, suffering and futility.
Elects Ought To Pray In The Spirit vs 26-28
These two verses are so rich and helpful in our lives in the Spirit. Firstly, we learn that we are weak when we come to prayer. Secondly, we learn that the Spirit joins to help us when we are struggling to know how to pray by interceding for us with wordless groaning. Thirdly, the Spirit is searching our hearts and knows that we have a mind set that is focused on Him, even if we do not know exactly what we are suppose to pray. Finally, the result is that our prayers are prayed ‘according to the will of God’ because the Holy Spirit is moving and guiding us to pray to the Father.
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“13 “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the Lord, “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’……18 Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.,”. Mal 3:13-18
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that to serve the Living God is the greatest privilege on earth. Serving God is utterly different from serving anyone else.
Do you ever get discouraged in serving God to the point that you feel like quitting? Prior to my saving knowledge in the Gospel Truth of God’s Righteousness, I have encountered many who have served God for years but they feel burned out and quit. In some cases they drop out from church altogether, claiming that they can worship God better by avoiding church. Apparently, they felt to serve God was too demanding and often unappreciated. Our text emphasizes , “why it is a privilege to serve God?.”
The people in Malachi’s day had grown indifferent to God’s great love. The prophets seeks to show them that the problem was not God’s part. The problem was their sinfully selfish and temporal perspective. Instead, they needed to see things from God’s eternal perspective and serve Him by faith in the Righteousness of God. Behind their wrong attitude was the age-old issue that is found in Mal 2:17, “why do the wicked prosper and the godly suffer even when they are serving God?” God knows that even the elects at NCCkl wrestle with it when we are tempted to think that it is vain to serve God. The prophet shows us that we should serve God because He notices and cares deeply for all who serve Him. There are two groups in our text. A group to avoid Mal 3:13-15 and a group to be in Mal 3:16-18.
A Group To Avoid Mal 3: 13-15
According to the text, this group grumbled against God, complaining that there is no reward for serving Him. They felt they may as well be an arrogant, wicked person who test God and escapes. This group spoke arrogantly or harshly against the Lord but when the prophet confronted them, they ask, “what have we spoken against You?” As vs 14-15 show, they weren’t directly shaking their fists at God, rather they were complaining to one another. These people were not God oriented and so they spoke brazenly to one another, voice their common complaints as if God was deaf and non-existent. Their complain was, “it is vain to serve God and by the way what privilege is it that they get in serving God?” They called the arrogant blessed and said that wicked people who don’t serve are not only prospering but also test God and escape. Vs 15 These people in this group have several characteristics that the elects should avoid namely, they are sitting in judgment on God rather than submitting to His dealings with them, they had a self centered attitude, they had lost motivation for holy living and they constantly focused on the seeming prosperity of the wicked and had lost the eternal perspective.
A Group To Be In Mal 3:16-18
According to the text, God notices and cares for those who fear and serve Him in spite of hardship and challenges. They were probably the minority group, numbers-wise. God always has a faithful remnant who takes it as a privilege to serve Him in spite of many difficulties. Note in Mal 3:18, those who serve God are called righteous whereas those who defy God are called wicked. That is not to say as serving earns the label of ‘righteous’. We can do nothing to commend ourselves to God. Our righteousness is only attained by our faith in the baptism, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rom 3:21-26 Serving God is a distinguishing mark of the righteous person whereas not serving God marks the wicked, who live for themselves. These people in this group possess several good characteristics namely, they fear God and esteem His Name above the opinions of others, they encourage one another in the face of surrounding evil and they are especially noticed and cared for by God.
The point is, we need fellowship with like minded elects in order to recognize the greatest privilege to serve God with our lives.
Serving with the right attitude will enable us to stand firm against wrong ideas that come from the world, the flesh and the devil.
If all that the elects do is attend church and leave but they don’t fellowship with other believers during weekly ministries, they will struggle to maintain a godly perspective in the face of the evil around them. That is why Heb 10:24-25 commands us to think about how to stimulate one another to serve and not to forsake assembling together but to encourage one another all the more as we see the day drawing near.
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“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,”. Heb 1:6
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that there are tremendous blessings for those who ‘give it all’.
Elects who ‘give it all’ will experience transformation of life, discover a dynamic spiritual life and constantly taste victories in life’s battle.
In Eze 47:1-12, the passage shows us on how to step into a current of the anointing that is going to accelerate our progress in the spiritual dimension. Ezekiel had to take steps to move into deeper waters. The river in the passage speaks of progression. This river went from ankle deep, to knee deep, to waist deep and eventually to a river that Ezekiel could not cross over and where he had to swim in.
Elects who stop at the ankle deep in their spiritual progress will not be able to see anything that God had bestowed upon them. This keeps many elects from making real spiritual progress. Ankle deep is a place in which elects refuse to grow up, become responsible and dependable. Elects ought to determine themselves to go deeper if they want more. Fear or uncertainty of the unknown could cause the elects to remain stagnant. God has invested too much in the elects to let us quit or drown. Elects should not allow the devil to impede their deeper growth in the knowledge of the Gospel Truth. The ankles speak of an end to the old but not really anything new happening yet. In other words, saved but still wrestling with sinful desires. Saved but constantly feeling like not too sanctified in the unrenewed mind. Saved but still self-centered. Ankle deep denotes one who is barely in the water, self- conscious and having unresolved issues in life. In the water but still seeking things that feed the old nature. Ankle deep elects are always stirring up, murmuring, complaining, envious and unappreciative because they just muddy up the waters everywhere they go.
Elects who are progressing to the knee deep begins to shift from self to Jesus, no longer worshipping the desires of the flesh. The knee speaks of worship, prayer and humility. It portrays an attitude seeking to please God. The deeper we go in the river, the less flesh we see. The deeper we go in the river, the less control we have. The deeper we go in the river, the stronger the influence of the rivers current becomes. The deeper we go in the river, the farther we get from the shore. The deeper we get in the river, the less pull and influence the things of this world will have upon the elects. The life of God for the elects begins in worship, prayer and humility. The knee deep suggests that such a lifestyle is maintained through worship, prayer and humility. There is no progress in God without a life of worship, prayer and humility. We will never be greater than our worship, prayer and a life of humility.
Elects who are progressing to waist deep water will experience a greater revelation knowledge and intimacy with the Lord. The waist (the loins) speaks of the reproductive powers. It speaks to the fact that as elects we should go beyond being barely saved (ankle) to a lifestyle of worship, prayer and humility (knee) and move on to a life of reproducing ourselves. In other words, Jesus reproduced Himself in 12 disciples, we also are to reproduce the Christ life that is in us, in others. I fully believe that every elect at NCCkl should progress to the point they are mentoring others in the faith. Notice Ezekiel was being led into this progressive revelation and experience of the Spirit of God on his own choice. Ezekiel had to take the steps to move into deeper waters by giving it all. This river originates from under the altar. The river symbolizes the life of the spirit of the elects. Notice in the passage, the man with the line in his hand went forth and measured again. The line is the teaching and the preaching of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Elects will never progress spiritually beyond their knowledge in the Gospel Word. Prayer and worship is great but knowledge must lead us to the next step in order to give it all unto the Lord. If elects want to go deeper with God, they must go deeper in the Gospel Word. It is the responsibility of the shepherd to stretch and expand the spiritual mind. Elects spiritual progress will largely be determined by their ability and willingness to give it all and grasp the Gospel Truth. After Ezekiel had reached the swimming waters in the passage, after he came to the place that was not crossable, so deep, he was brought back to the bank where there were many trees. Once elects have reached a place where to give it all, there may be more than what they want. In fact, elects have reached a place in which God can use them. Elects become qualified to show others the way out. Who was it that led Ezekiel out? We may be tempted to say an angel but the passage says it was a man.
At NCCkl, we are elects who want everything God has for us by giving it all to walk deeper in the river according to the flow of the Holy Spirit.
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“I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ”. Eze 37:14
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know the greatest labour of the church in this hour is to have the Spirit of the Lord upon us. In other words, we must have the anointing of the Lord to accomplish the spiritual labour entrusted to us.
In Luke 4:18-19, we see something very powerful in order to succeed in the labour of spiritual harvest.
We see that Jesus knew He was anointed to labour and what He was anointed to labour.
- Jesus Knew He Was Anointed To Labour
Jesus was consciously aware of an enduement, equipping and a supernatural endowment called anointing placed upon Him. It is the will of God that every elect at NCCkl are consciously aware of this anointing and able to declare ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon me.’ This is not simply an idea or an expression nor a figure of speech, we are talking about the tangible, manifested reality of the power of God resting upon the elects to labour in the harvest field. When anointing came upon Samson, he knew it. This was a conscious awareness that he had spiritual power and anointing upon him. Samson knew when this anointing was upon him and when it wasn’t. When this power, anointing and unction was upon him, he was unstoppable in his spiritual labour for the glory of God. That was a shadow, a type of anointing that was going to come permanently upon Jesus Christ and His covenanted elects whose faith are established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism and death. As God’s servant, I want to stress that this anointing for labour was not just for Jesus nor pastors, evangelists, prophets and teachers but also for all the elects born of water and Spirit. It is God’s will that the elects made sinless and righteous by faith at NCCkl could say with the same certainty and authority as Jesus declared ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He had anointed Me.’ The anointing is the divine enablement and empowerment to labour in the spiritual harvest field.
- Jesus Knew What He Was Anointed To Labour
Jesus was the pattern for us to follow with regard to knowing exactly what we are called to labour in the Kingdom of God. In Acts 18:38, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power when He went about doing good and healing all those who were oppressed by the devil because God was with Him. Jesus in His physical body is no longer here but His anointing is still here abiding in the hearts of those who believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The same Holy Spirit and power is in us and we are His body, hands, feet and voice to carry on His unfinished labour for the lost souls. We are anointed to preach the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, to cast out demons, to heal the sick, to deliver those in bondage, to release the oppressed and to set the captives free. This anointing is God’s power to break every yoke and to restore those who are heavy laden. Isa 10:27 ; 1 John 2:20
It is unbecoming for elects at times to sing songs claiming we got the power and yet not able to understand how much power we are given to serve His Righteousness and Church. The sad reality is, there are some elects who have never really tapped into the power supply even to this day. Unfortunately, they are living weak, inferior and anemic lives and are always looking for someone to bless them, encourage them and lift them up. In other words, some elects live their lives as professional patients whereby they live their lives always in need, always struggling, always hurting and always suffering. What God wants to do by the anointing of the Holy Spirt is to turn every patient into a spiritual doctor. It is God’s desire for the elects to function and minister by the same anointing and to inject God’s power that is able to heal and deliver others from their spiritual sicknesses. Acts 3:1-8
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“Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. 2 Kings 4:3
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that blessed are the empty. To a carnal mind, it may not make sense but with God less is more and nothing is everything.
In 2 Kings 4:1-6, the prophet says, “go borrow empty vessels and borrow not a few.” How strange it seems to the carnal mind that the answer to the woman’s dilemma did not begin with fullness but with emptiness. The natural mind would immediately begin to look for an overflow or a great supply to deliver her from the adverse situation. Instead God has always been in the business of making something out of nothing. There is nothing that attracts the attention of God like emptiness. Let me introduce three points on ‘blessed emptiness.’
- Blessed Emptiness Is A choice
There is a natural law that states nothing remains empty. It must be filled and it will be filled. Elects ought to recognize that since nothing can remain empty, then we must by deliberate act of our wills choose to be emptied. In our story, we do not know what various things may have filled the many vessels that were borrowed. All we do know is that under God’s command they were of no use to Him until they were first of all empty. Regardless of the condition of the vessel or how it was used, emptiness is an essential criteria. This emptiness we are speaking of is the heart condition. It is an attitude and disposition of the heart that places the entire life before God in total surrender. Only those born of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness have the providence to discern that they are nothing apart from God. It is a life wholly given and sustained by God. John 15:5; John 6:53 Elects are the most valuable to God when they are empty. When elects become nothing, then God can become everything. It is when elects are something that God become nothing. In reality, emptying ourselves is a choice elects must willingly take in order to serve God’s righteousness.
- Blessed Emptiness Will Be Filled
Elects ought to realize that when they empty themselves, God will fill them up. In 1 Sam 15:17 “Samuel said “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? Furthermore, there is a story in Judges where God uses emptiness in a very powerful way. In Judges 7:16 “Then he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers.” No swords, spears, knives or even stones were used. Just a trumpet, an empty pitcher and a candle. Judges 7:20 What was it that made the clay pitcher valuable to God’s purpose? It was not their beauty, shape, origin, make or who used it but it became valuable to God’s purpose because they were empty and can be filled by God. More so, the pitcher were breakable. Likewise, elects can only become valuable to God if we can be filled and remain breakable. If we want to get God’s attention, we need to show Him our emptiness, If you want to attract the heart of God, we need to show our brokenness. Elects can never serve God’s higher purposes until they are empty and broken. Contrary to the ways of the world, God does His best with broken things, broken pitchers, broken bread and broken hearts.
- Blessed Emptiness Will Be Filled With God’s Anointing
When elects are empty and ready to be filled, they will be able to house the divine treasure of God.
Elects’ brokenness would allow the light that was inside to be seen, released or exposed to the dark world. Unfortunately, many will not be used for God’s higher purpose because they refused to be emptied and filled by God. Hence, those who refuse to be emptied are not ready to be broken. It is the light inside that must be seen, that is the whole purpose. The sacred treasure, the divine holy anointing that must be manifested. Only emptiness can properly display God’s glory. Many elects have forgotten that our reason for being saved through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is not to have a better, comfortable, happy life and go to Heaven but to manifest the reality of a resurrected living Savior to the world. A Savior Who has the power to save, deliver, heal, loosen, fill and to set the captives free from the bondage of Satan. The emptiness we are speaking of is the emptying of the self life, a condition that must be maintained by us. As we maintain this condition, we can receive the divine flow of Christ’s life within us and among us. It is what we know as the abiding life in Christ. John 15:5-7; Acts 17:28
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“7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Gal 6:7-10
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that Jesus Christ is a Radical Seed. As elects we are the offspring of the Radical Seed. Hence, being radical in our pursuit for Christ is not a bad thing as long it is done with the right motive and love for lost souls.
One of the most persistent laws of God is that of sowing and reaping. This principle works in the natural, spiritual, emotional and intellectual realm. Let me highlight two areas of bearing seeds that elects need to be concerned with namely, what we are sowing in our lives and what we are sowing on other people’s lives.
- Sowing And Reaping Gal 6:7-10
The Bible teaches us that we should sow the seeds of righteousness in our lives and to sow the word of righteousness in others. Elects are called to be seed bearers. It is impossible to change the laws of God, we get exactly what we sow in the harvest. It is impossible to delude God on this unchanging principle. Unfortunately, we tend to be smarter with carnal sowing than we are about spiritual ones. What we sow eventually comes back in an identical way as the harvest. Elects can’t sow to the fallen flesh and hope to reap spiritually healthy things. Our lives today at NCCkl are the harvest of seeds planted in our lives. What kind of fruits are we experiencing? What kind of seeds are we putting in the ground right now? Like farmers, we need to realize that we will receive in our lives only that we have sown all along its pathway.
The one nice thing of the law of sowing and reaping is that if we are realizing a bad harvest because of poor seeds sown, we can plow up that field and ‘replant’. This almost sounds the same as ‘repent’ in the spiritual sense. This is the true essence of salvation and faith in the righteousness of God that provides spiritual transformation. It is sometimes reflected in the Bible as ‘plowing up our hearts’ or ‘breaking up the hard ground’. However, the biggest difficulty about this principle is the ‘waiting’ period. It takes time for the harvest to come forth after planting. Part of the frustration of the ‘waiting’ time between seeding and harvest however is the sense of continuous work with little reward for some time. This is why some get discouraged and quit too soon. We can become weary in doing good things and waiting for the fruit can be at times quite draining.
- Sowing And Responsibilities Lk 8:5-15
Jesus assumes all elects as sowers. This parable is about spreading the Word of righteousness around. It is apparent that the farmer sowed seeds every where even though some would have inadvertently fallen on bad soil. It becomes obvious that the sowers task was simply to spread the seed. The seeds are given to him to sow. The farmer cannot make the seed, it is provided to him. No farmer can guarantee the perfect conditions for every seed. Farmers can sow seeds freely everywhere but yet would not know whether every single seed would find the right condition. The farmer’s job is to scatter as widely as possible the seed provided for him. This is an individual responsibility. God has given us the best seed – the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The area to cover is the whole world and to hope for the best. The conditions would determine the quality of harvest. Good things will definitely multiply if good seeds are used. Likewise, if wicked seeds are used and the conditions are ripe, a larger harvest of wickedness will arise.
Jesus explains to the disciples that they have been given this good seed and when they are spread around, it will find a variety of soil conditions to fall upon. Some will produce brief life, some will produce weak life and some will produce huge harvest. There will be variety of responses to the good seed of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness but no matter what kind of response we receive, we should keep on sowing. There will be those who embrace the Gospel Truth for only personal gain and refuse to serve the Lord. There will be those too preoccupied with the affairs of this life to allow spiritual growth to reach maturity. There are those who produce a huge harvest from such small seeds entrusted to them. However, one thing is clear, if we don’t sow, there will be no growth no matter what the condition of the soil is.
Therefore, as elects we are called to be sowers of the seed of God’s Righteousness because only then the Gospel Word can sprout and bring life to the dead soul.
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“for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over.” Joshua 4:23
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that everyone has a Jordan to cross. It is something that stands between us and the inheritance of salvation that God has promised.
Jordan crossing is a critical point where we either breakdown or breakthrough. It is one thing to know about salvation but it is another thing to inherit that salvation. Jordan is a place that God had ordained and it acts as a dividing line. It is a place where we need to decide whether to sow faith in the Word or in the flesh to attain salvation. Joshua 3:1-17 teaches us on what it takes to get across Jordan.
- Sowing Into God’s Promise
God promised to send His Son into the world to save man from their eternal destruction. Likewise, God promised Abraham that He will give the land of Canaan to His descendants. In this passage, God does wonders among those who are willing to sow faith into the Word of promise. If there is anything that would keep us from crossing Jordan is unbelief and disobedience to the Word of promise. At the age of thirty, Jesus came to the same River Jordan as the Ark of the Covenant so that John the Baptist could pass all the sins of the world upon Him. None of us can cross Jordan on our own. One can only attain the true salvation of grace by sowing their faith in the Word of promise. Only those who are baptized into Jesus can be baptized by faith into His death in order to rise up again with Jesus to enter into the Kingdom of God (Canaan).
- Sowing Into God’s Righteousness
After the death of Moses, God appointed Joshua as the leader of Israel. Moses was the representative of the Law in the OT. If Moses had crossed the Jordan River with the people of Israel and arrived at Canaan, it would not have been necessary for Joshua to become the leader of the people. However, God made Moses reach the area just in front of the land of Canaan and prevented him from entering it. The reason why God gave man the Law (Moses) is to give one the knowledge of sin, to make the Law one’s tutor and lead him to Christ so that one could be justified by faith in the righteousness of God. Gal 3:24 After the death of Moses, God appointed Joshua, the leader of Israel and ordered him to enter the land of Canaan with the people of Israel. The name Joshua means ‘the Savior’ synonymous with ‘Jesus’. Joshua ordered the priest to bear the Ark of the Covenant and to cross the Jordan River while leading the people as God instructed. Through this incident, God teaches us that He had completely eliminated death caused by sin and subsequent judgment from mankind through the righteousness of God. This is reflected when Jesus insisted to be baptized by John the Baptist when He said, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Mt 3:15
- Sowing Into God’s Power
The Jordan River is the place where Jesus virtually became sin Who knew no sin so that in and through Him we can become sinless and righteous by God’s power. It is where the sins of the world were passed upon Jesus by John the Baptist who represented all man. The historical events surrounding the crossing of the Jordan River is recorded in the OT and NT. It is extremely an important act of faith to release God’s power for the deliverance from the curses and judgments arising from the sins of mankind. In this river, Jesus through His baptism received all the flow of sins that cannot be ceased by any human beings and later died on the cross by accepting judgment in our place for those sins. Throughout the history of humanity, all man were heading for destruction from their birth because of sin. Even though they try hard to control their sinful nature, they could not and that is why they were marching towards the river of judgment that leads to ultimate death. However, Jesus Who is the power of God, cut off the flow of sin and judgment. This story suggest that to be freed from sin, we must pay the wages of sins, which is death and that through Jesus’ baptism and death, we are purified from all our sins to enter Heaven.
It is recorded in the OT that when the priests dipped their feet into the River Jordan, the river turn into dry land. It is already miraculous enough that the water stopped but more than that it is incredible for the river turning into dry land.
This incident serve as a guarantee of God’s deliverance from sins through Jesus’ baptism and death.
The dry land represented the way that all the sins of the world would be forgiven in Christ. All sins went forth from Adam out to all mankind but the curse of judgment ended with Jesus’ baptism. Now all one needs to do to be forgiven of sins is simply to have faith in Christ and receive the Holy Spirit.
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“And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.” 1 Sam 22:2
Dear friends, Blessed 10th Anniversary!
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that NCCkl is ushering in a new season. The Scripture above depicts a picture of our spiritual condition when we first started at NCCkl 10 years ago. Don’t get mad at me, I do see that all of you are looking great today. Somewhere back down memory lane, we came bound, oppressed, distressed, debtors, angry and bitter. We came to Jesus with all our problems. Jesus received us just like we were, just like David did with these 400 men. The Lord saw something in us. He looked at the worst and saw the best.
- The Mission
Is anybody glad God saw something in us? David looked and accepted a bunch of rejects and decided to turn them into the greatest military fighting force the world has ever seen. They became an elite army of the highest level of courage, ability and integrity. The Lord is doing the same thing with us at NCCkl, building an army of soldiers to advance the Kingdom of God. An army held together by commitment to God, the church and the lost. An army made alive in Christ, full of force and energy. It is not in the defense but on the offense to fulfill the Great Commission forcefully and aggressively by engaging and overcoming resistance. Lk 10:19 Make no mistake, God is not speaking of everyone in the church. He is speaking specifically to the elects that are consumed with the kingdom mandate to proclaim His sovereign grace. The elects are chosen to serve in the frontline because they are best trained, best equipped and most qualified in the battlefield.
- The Vision
The Lord entrusted us with the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection so that we can set people free from demonic power and advance the Kingdom of God. NCCkl is marching forward into a new season when so many churches have become lukewarm, self seeking, self preserving and self centered. God is raising up a Vanguard Church. Not a place where we hide out from the devil and pray for Jesus to come and deliver us but a place where we are trained, equipped and mobilized to take the world for Jesus. I know this prophetic statement is not for everyone, it is a little too sharp and too penetrating for those who prefer comfort but there is a breed of people that know they were bred for battle. They know God did not save them to fly away to Heaven but serve His righteousness on earth. We are not just the family of God but we are also the army of God. An army is made up of different ranking officers, each is specifically trained and equipped to carry responsibilities and the authority of that rank. The higher the rank, the higher and the greater the responsibilities as well as the authority.
- The Commission
A Vanguard Church does not just happen. Much like the special forces of military services, the vanguard church is governed by God. It must go through a process where God has to identify and call His elect and separate them from the main stream. At first, this is very difficult because it feels like we are alone and isolated. To be a vanguard church, we have to know that we do not rely on majority consensus for our confirmation of God’s call for our lives. The vanguard church demands extreme commitment, extreme loyalty and extreme passion towards God. It is hard sometimes because we can be mistaken to be too fanatical. This happens because true radical devotion and commitment to Christ exposes luke-warmness, half-heartedness and indifference in those who are mere church goers. True unbridled passion and devotion to Christ always awakens criticism and persecution from nominal Christians. As your shepherd, I stand as a prophetic voice and declare what I am hearing what God is saying. God is saying that He is not looking for a low-flying, don’t rock the boat and don’t disturb anybody kind of church because they are so preoccupied with the world. God is looking for vanguard church. Vanguard church is going to lead the way passionately in sowing seeds of soul. We are going to bring the lost out of the darkness into the light.
I am anointed, called and appointed to lead the vanguard church of extreme radical Holy Spirit filled, devil hating and Jesus loving warriors into battle in the new season.
Vanguard means a position at the fore front of a new season with new ideas and development. Moving together with radical passionate worship in pursuit of the Presence and the glory of God. There will be a supernatural release of the Spirit and anointing of revelation that will begin to materialize in our minds like concepts and ideas, The concepts and ideas are going to be so revolutionary that they are going to place us immediately in positions of influence and resources. Let us stand today against the backdrop of carnality, slothfulness, spiritual indifference and take our place as the vanguard church of the Lord Jesus Christ in these last days.
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“And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering,.” Gen 4:4
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know what sacrifice pleases God. The first recorded offering made to God is found early in the book of Genesis. It says that God respected Abel and the sacrifice that he brought but it also said God did not respect Cain and the sacrifice that he brought. Was it the sacrifice? Was it the attitude? Was it both?
The sermon for today is titled ’Sacrifice what?’ I would like to highlight three points about the sacrifice that pleases God using Rom 12:1 which the Apostle Paul was urging, fervently asking us to become.
- Sacrifice Must Be Total
There are a number of different animal sacrifices instituted in the OT. In some of them, the complete animal was offered by fire and it would be totally consumed until nothing but the ashes were left. It was a total sacrifice. The animal could not just sacrifice part of his life and go on living the way it had before. The sacrifice was total, it was complete. It is clear that we are looking at such a sacrifice that had to die. If nothing had to die, then there was no sacrifice. Therefore, if we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, then something has to die. In Rom 8:13-14, Paul explains what needs to die so that we can go on being a living sacrifice.
A living sacrifice does not live according to the flesh because it leads to death but if by the Spirit, we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live.
When we become a living sacrifice, when we respond to God’s calling, we put off the old man, the old way that we used to live. The sacrifice is total, we cannot cling to even a little bit of our favorite former ways. Col 3:5-9 The totality of who we are must be committed to following God, our emotions, our thoughts, our desires, all of it. For us to become a living sacrifice does not mean that we literally sacrifice our physical body but it does mean that we completely turn that life, the life that we have, over to God to use as He sees fit. A total sacrifice is a continual sacrifice. When we are a living sacrifice, it is not just a one time event in our lives. It is something that has to be on-going throughout the rest of our lives. 1 Cor 15:31-32
- Sacrifice Must Be Holy
The verse in Rom 12:1 continues to allude that as living sacrifice we ought to present ourselves as holy. To be holy is to be like God for He is holy. A holy God wants to have a holy people. 1 Pet 1:13-16. Peter wrote that we are to be holy in all our conduct and behavior. He says we are to be obedient children. We must obey God to be holy. Peter also writes here that we are not to conform ourselves to the former lusts. It refers to the old desires that we had before we were born again by the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism and death. This is describing again on how we need to put to death the lusts of the flesh and be led by the Spirit to be holy as God is holy. To do that, we need to always have God’s Word in our mind and in our hearts to guide our actions. To be holy, we must continue to practice righteousness by consistently meditating on the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. God delights when we obey His voice. To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Sam 15:22 As a living sacrifice we need to be holy and pleasing to God. It is vitally important that we obey God’s voice and strive to walk by faith in the holiness of God.
- Sacrifice Must Be Acceptable
A living sacrifice means to be acceptable to God. Looking back to the sacrifice that Abel and Cain offered, God disrespected Cain’s offering because he denied that he was a sinful creature under the sentence of divine condemnation after the fall. Instead of accepting and approaching God’s way, he offered to God the fruits of the ground, which God had cursed. He presented the product of his own toil, the work of his own hands. God refused to accept it. This is to validate that salvation is only through grace by faith in the absolute finished work of Christ that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. However, Abel brought the first born of his flock and of the fats portion. It consisted the flesh, blood and fats of the lamb. This acceptable offering represents Jesus Christ Who is the Firstborn that came by the flesh, blood and the Spirit. Salvation is attained only when we bring Jesus, the perfect sacrifice given to us before God. Lev 22:17-21. As elects, after being saved by Jesus Who came by the baptism and death, we must continue to bring Jesus our acceptable offering before God in all that we do. A living sacrifice must be perfect without defect to be acceptable. Which of us are free of defect? Which of us are perfect? How can we ever fit that description? We can become an acceptable sacrifice, free from defects through Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us so that He can sanctify and make us holy. We have been washed from our sins by His pure water and blood. We have been made perfect by a single offering so that we can become an acceptable offering to God. Heb 10:14
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“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Rom 12:1-2
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that self preservation is natural but self sacrifice is supernatural. The entire design, finishing and materials of the tabernacle found in the OT sacrificial system depicts the portrait of Jesus Christ. There was only a single entrance to God’s Presence within the design which is the eastern gate. Jesus is that door or gate, the entrance to God. When we enter the tabernacle through the proper way, the first thing to greet us is the altar of sacrifice.
Most of us would have preferred to find the ‘table of showbread’ where God makes provision for us but we find ourselves first at a place of sacrifice. Nothing of real value comes to us without real sacrifice or we would not appreciate it.
A biblical faith is one that recognizes the priority of sacrifice and willingness to give rather than receive.
One cannot bypass the altar of sacrifice into God’s Presence. Let us examine the materials, message and manifestation of a true sacrifice.
- The Materials Exo 38:1-7
The ‘acacia’ wood was the basic material of the altar. It is a tree that grows in the desert under severe conditions. This wood was chosen for its quality of being nearly indestructible, a shadow of Christ Who is eternal. The wood was then covered with bronze. Bronze symbolizes judgment in the OT. The altar of sacrifice by its appearance reminded the believers of God’s judgment. It was on this altar that the sacrificial animal was presented for God’s judgment to be atoned for sin. It symbolizes Christ’s ultimate expression of sacrifice when He took our judgment of death after taking all the sins of the world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist at the River Jordan. There were four horns on the altar to bind the sacrificial animal. The wood of the altar symbolizes the humanity of Jesus and our sacrifices offered to God after being born again. There is no such faith for an elect that does not include the ‘sacrifice.’ Anyone that thinks they can live for God without a need for sacrifice will only find a dead Christianity. The order of approach to God cannot be ignored or replaced with other means.
- The Message 1 Kings 1:50
Unfortunately, today we hear much preaching that attempts to draw people into Christianity that promises all kinds of earthly ‘goodies.’ The preaching that expects no sacrifice by the hearer is a hollow Christianity. There is too much ‘shallow Christianity’ now in the world. Christians who only want but do not give. Jesus clearly taught us about sacrifice by His own statement, “I came into the world not to do my own will but to do the will of Him Who sent Me.” The search for the real God will always bring us first to the place of sacrifice. Sacrificial giving of an elect is displayed by one’s lifestyle, faith, resources and attitude. The ‘horns of the altar’ symbolizes our becoming a willing bound sacrifice. In 2 Sam 24:24, David clearly states that he could not accept for ‘free’ the land and the sacrifice from Araunah. David would not offer a sacrifice to God that cost him nothing. A commitment to Christ that is without sacrifice is no commitment. There are enough worldly calls that promise ‘at no cost.’ This doesn’t work in the Kingdom of God. A dynamic faith is real, it will not just have the appearance of sacrifice. Jesus sacrifice of Himself through His baptism and death was the greatest and costliest. He also brought us the greatest and most valuable gift, eternal life. There is no easy cheap way to give the finest gift. Faith in the righteousness of God and the quality of our new creation life will only be as good as the sacrifice we make because of it.
- The manifestation Rom 12:1-2
Paul spoke clearly in the NT, “….offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” What is symbolized by the altar of sacrifice? The elect ought to be a living sacrifice. One difference however, in the OT, the sacrifice was killed. In the NT, Christ’s baptism and death paid the price once and for all so that the elects do not need to physically die. We are to be ‘living’ sacrifices. One problem with this, unlike a dead sacrifice, living ones tend to want to crawl off the altar, especially when they feel the heat. This is when we need to take hold of the horns of the altar, to keep from leaving the altar of sacrifice. We too must be bound to the altar by constantly establishing ourselves in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. Paul says, “this is our spiritual act of worship” meaning the basis of spirituality is our sacrifice even in worship. A dynamic worship service is not so much about what I get, as much as what I give through my sacrifice of praises, offering, time and talents. The goal therefore is not to gain but to give. Ironically, when we give we do gain. The sweetest gaining come from giving. The will of God is found in our life of sacrifice. When we really give ourselves, we literally, ‘test and approve’ what God’s will is for us everyday and in every way.
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“In whose hand is the life of every living thing, the breath of all mankind?.” Job 12:10
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that our life is in God’s hand. This is to ascertain that our lives hangs by a thread of sovereign grace. God owns every soul. God made us and we belong to Him by virtue of His being our Creator.
When an elect cries out to God, ‘have your way’ in my life, it is a sign of acceptance that God can give and take life as He pleases according to His infinite wisdom. God never does anyone any wrong. Job 1:20-21 ; 1 Sam 2:6 ; Deut 32:39 ; James 4:13-16 Our life is not our own. It belongs to God and He decides what life is for. In our message today, let us examine what matters most to Jesus when it pertains to a life of sacrifice.
- Value The New Creation Life
Jesus does not want the elects to waste their lives after being born again. If God wills, many of us have several decades to live on earth before we go back home. All of us have to give an account of what we did with our lives. A person’s “life does not consists in the abundance of his possessions” Lk 12:15 Accumulating things is not what life is for. This night our life will be required of us and then whose will this possession be? No sane person on his deathbed ever was comforted by his possession. Lk 12:16-21 ; Mt 16:24-26 Is it possible to waste our life? After embracing the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, few things should make us tremble more than the possibility of taking this onetime gift of life and wasting it. More and more we smell eternity. How can we use our lives well for God’s glory. Life is so short and so fragile and so final. We got one chance to live our life and then a certain judgment. Heb 9:27 We should decide resolutely that our remaining energy and freedom, we will pour out for Christ and His Church so that when we meet Him, we will smile at His Word, ‘well done good and faithful servant.’
- Essence Of The New Creation Life
What is the essence of the new creation life? It is a life that puts the infinite value of Christ on display for the world to see. The passion of the new creation life is to joyfully display the supreme excellence of Christ by the way we live. Our new life is given to us so that we can use it to make much of Christ. Possessions are given to us so that by the way we use them, we can show that they are not our treasure but Christ is our treasure. Money is given to us so that we will use it in a way that shows money is not treasure but Christ is our treasure. The great passion of the new creation life is to magnify Christ. Phil 1:20-21 Paul’s all consuming passion was that in his life and his death Jesus Christ be honored, that is, that Jesus be made to look like the infinite treasure that He is. The reason we have new life is to make Jesus look great. Phil 3:7-8 Paul displays the worth of Christ by counting everything else as loss for Christ’s sake. It is a life that uses everything to show that Christ is more valuable than it is. Money is used to show that Christ is more valuable than money. Time and talent is used to show that Christ is more valuable than time and talent. Food is used to show that Christ is more valuable than food is. Houses, land and cars are used to show that Christ is more valuable than they are. Family, friends and our life are a place to show that Christ is more valuable than any of them. We display the supreme worth of Christ in our lives by treasuring Christ above all things.
- Essential Things For Living The New Creation Life
a. Life and death are given to us as a means to display the supreme value of Christ. Phil 1:20-23
b. The supreme value of Christ is displayed when we treasure Jesus Christ above all earthly things and all other earthly persons.
c. This treasuring of Jesus Christ above all earthly things and persons is most clearly seen in what we gladly willing to risk or to sacrifice in order to enjoy more of Him. 2 Cor 12:9-10
Are we going to waste our new creation life away with the rest of the world by striving to minimize our sacrifice and maximize our comforts in this life? Are we going to work for the bread that perishes? Build bigger barns? Lay up treasures on earth? Strive for the praise of man? Or will we see in Christ baptized, crucified and risen as all satisfying treasure of our life. I believe when God raises up a generation like us at NCCkl, a completion of the Great Commission will come to pass. It will not come to pass unless a generation is joyfully willing to lay down their lives.
If our passion is to display the worth of Christ, treasure Him above all things, risk and sacrifice for the display of His supreme value, then God will use us mightily to fulfill His purposes in these last days.
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“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” Heb 11:17-19
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know what is sacrifice at its highest point. Abraham came to the place where he gave back to God what was always God’s in the first place. Abraham’s faith teaches us to hold lightly what we value greatly.
Elects ought to know that it is the kindness of God that led Abraham to Moriah to offer Isaac. Likewise, it is God’s kindness that leads us back to the place of sacrifice where we yield up to Him our dreams, our desires, our plans, our hopes, the things we own, our loved ones and finally we give to God the life He gave us in the beginning.
It is God’s kindness that is on display in this story.
No wonder in Hebrews 11:17-19, the writer focusses on three aspects of Abraham’s amazing faith where sacrifice is demonstrated at its highest point.
- Sacrifice At The Highest – Test vs 17
In reality, this story presents several problems. How could a loving God ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son? Some critics have dismissed the story on the grounds that it presents a grotesque caricature of the God of the Bible. It would have been enough if God had simply said ‘take your son’. Instead, God qualified that phrase in three ways. ‘Your Only Son’ – not forgetting Ishmael was also his son but meaning that Isaac was the promised son. Isaac – the son for whom Abraham and Sarah had waited for 25 years. ‘Whom You Love’ – which might seem as if God was mocking him but these words were to reassure Abraham that God knew what He was asking. By saying it this way, Abraham would know that God understood what it would cost him to obey. This is what God told Abraham to do, sacrifice your Isaac by killing him and burning his body as an offering to God. At that point, the man of faith only had two options. Either you obey or you don’t. If you stop to argue, that in itself is a form of disobedience. If you try to talk God out of it, that too is disobedience. If you offer an alternate plan, that is also disobedience.
- Sacrifice At The Highest – Trust vs 18
At this point, the writer wants us to think about what was at stake. We naturally focus on the unimaginable sorrow of losing a child. Nothing in all the world seem more trying than for parents to bury their children. In this case, God told Abraham to offer his own son. Abraham was fully prepared to do it, so prepared. In fact, Heb 11:17 actually says that Abraham ‘offered’ Isaac as a sacrifice, meaning that when he laid his son on the altar and raise his knife, Abraham fully intended to put him to death. Naturally our minds focus on that aspect because it is so poignant and personal. In Gen 12:1-3, God had said that He would bring forth a nation from Isaac’s descendant. Here we are faced with what seems to be enormous contradiction. God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac while having promised to bring forth offspring through Isaac. The promise and the command seem to flatly contradict each other. Abraham did not know how God would do it. He just knew God would do it somehow. Herein lies a lesson for all of us. When God makes a promise, it is folly and disbelief to wonder how He will keep His word. Faith does not reckon with ‘how’. Faith believes and leaves the ‘how’ in the hands of God. There are times in life when our only job is to take the next step. We aren’t called to figure out the big picture or to explain where it will lead. This is the true life of faith.
- Sacrifice At The Highest – Triumph vs 19
In this verse, we learn something that is only hinted at in Gen 22. Twice in that chapter Abraham intimates that he expects that somehow, some way, God was going to work things out so that Isaac would live. Gen 22:5 Abraham believed that he and his son would somehow return together. The writer of Hebrews tells us why Abraham could talk like that. Abraham believed that God could raise the dead. Gen 22:7-8 Abraham reasoned from what he knew about God to what he knew about the situation. Abraham offered his son, the Father offered His Son. Isaac carried the wood, Jesus carried the cross. Isaac was laid on the altar, Jesus was nailed to the cross. Abraham was willing to put his son to death, the Father willed that His Son should die. The ram was offered in the place of Isaac, Christ was offered in the place of sinners. Abraham received his son back ‘figuratively’, Jesus literally rose from the dead.
What are we suppose to take away from this true story? In summary, God is saying, ‘I asked for your most precious possession and you gave it to me.’
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“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead…” Phil 3:10-11
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that Jesus is the greatest gift that God willingly shared with humanity. Born as a Man on earth, the Son of God came to share His life with all men. Through His baptism, Jesus took the sins of the world upon His body, experienced death for every individual person and was raised from the dead to secure our justification of faith in the righteousness of God.
Likewise, elects born of the Spirit of Christ ought to share their life with others. God has not stopped sharing His Son through us to those who believe in the righteous act of Jesus. In our text, the Apostle Paul nicely sums up what the elects are supposed to be before sharing with others. Christianity is definitely not a religion of rules and rituals that one must work to climb the ladder of heaven. In fact, it is a personal growing relationship with the risen Christ that results in our growing conformity to Him.
Our goal is to know Him and to become like Him in order to share our lives.
- The Goal Of The Elect Is To Know Christ
Jesus said the same thing when He prayed, “and this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent.” John 17:3 Christianity is primarily a growing relationship with the infinite God Who has revealed Himself through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. As with all relationships, it begins with an initial encounter. It is the same with our relationship with Jesus Christ. Everyone has a story about their first encounter with Jesus. However, we can know a lot about someone without knowing the person Himself. As such, ‘sharing becomes you’ requires us to know who Jesus claim to be, things He did and taught, understand His baptism and death for our sins and that He was raised bodily from the dead. Like any relationship, once we have met, we must cultivate that relationship. Cultivation requires time. Closeness and intimacy are essential to foster strong relationship. We cannot know the Triune God except as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us in the Word. Heb 1:1-3
- The Goal Of The Elect Is To Be Like Christ
When we met our future mate, fall in love and got married, our life was permanently changed. We would never be the same again. It is the same, only much more so, when we meet Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Jesus marks us for life, the more we spend growing to know Him, the more we are different. Phil 3:10-11 shows the components and direction of the change that goes along with knowing Christ.
a. To be like Christ requires knowing the power of His resurrection. Eph 2:4-6; Acts 26:18; Col 1:13
Changes to one’s life is accomplished not through human persuasion or through self improvement program. They require the same mighty power of God that raised Jesus from the dead.
b. To be like Christ requires knowing the fellowship of His sufferings. 1 Pet 4:19 ; Rom 8:17-25 ; 2 Cor 1:5
Our Savior came to suffer for our sins by accepting the baptism of righteousness and to be crucified on the cross. His entire ministry was marked by misunderstanding, rejection, opposition, betrayal and death. While we can never enter into His suffering in the same way that He suffered, yet there is a sense in which we can never be like Him if we do not go through suffering and learn to entrust our souls to our faithful Father in doing what is right. Fellowship points to closeness or intimacy.
c. To be like Christ requires being conformed to His death. Gal 2:20 ; Col 1:15 ; Rom 8:13
This phrase is related to ‘fellowship of His sufferings’ and grows out of it. It also has another dimension which Paul describes in many other places, that of dying to sin and self through the baptism and death of Christ. When we trust in Christ, we are placed ‘in Christ’ which means we are united with Jesus in His baptism, death and resurrection. We have to live experientially what is true of us positionally. This is what Jesus meant when He said that whoever follows Him must deny self and take up His cross daily. Lk 9:23
d. To be like Christ will be realized in the resurrection from the dead. Phil 3:11 ; Rom 8:17-21
Paul is referring to the future resurrection of the righteous at the return of Christ, when our mortal bodies will be transformed into the likeness of Christ resurrected body, free from sin. We will then share in His glory throughout eternity.
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“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world..” 1 John 4:17
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that it is God’s plan from the beginning to make man like Jesus Christ. Emulating our Master cannot be achieved without spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity in turn cannot be achieved without a deep understanding and persistent application of the virtues of Scripture. All we know, all we understand, all we believe about the truths of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness must come together into patterns of thinking which become habitual and then we must follow through with our words and our deeds as well.
The Gospel of God’s Righteousness not only saves us but also teaches us to emulate our Master’s faith, perseverance, generosity and His wisdom.
Let us identify some of the character traits of our Master that we the elects should emulate.
Without a doubt, Jesus was the ultimate servant. Although He was praised as a great teacher and had a great following, Jesus made sure to teach us to be servants by actually doing it Himself. Mk 10:45 Despite having the authority to get anything He wanted, have people praise and pamper Him, Jesus did the exact opposite by lowering Himself in serving others.
Jesus never looked away from people but He always looked upon them and had compassion. Mt 9:36 Whenever people were around him, Jesus understood what their real needs were and sought to address them. At times, for some, physical healing was necessary, for others the root issue was spiritual.
One of the most startling things said in Scripture is found in Luke 23:34, when Jesus was on the cross and proclaimed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Even while bleeding and experiencing pain, Jesus had His heart set on forgiveness – even forgiving those who put Him there in the first place!
Obviously, Jesus had a love for others. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t be compassionate nor a servant. Jesus claimed that there is no greater love than to die for others. If anyone doubts His love, all they have to do is to look upon His willingness to be baptized by John so that He may carry our sins upon Himself and die on the cross for our sakes. He endured with joy the horrible death so that we can be saved and sanctified in order to be rescued from this present wicked age and world order.
No matter how busy His ministry got, He found time to be alone and pray. Whether it is the Garden of Gethsemane or on a mountain top, Jesus constantly prayed. People always try to find Him and He never turned them away but He also made sure to make it a priority to spend time with His Heavenly Father.
Jesus had no lack of commitment whatsoever. Wherever He was, whoever He was with, He was fully committed to His goal and mission. Despite praying fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane to avoid the agony of bearing the cross, He stayed completely committed to the Father’s will. There were certainly many obstacles during His ministry but Jesus stayed on track and finished strong.
Jesus had every opportunity and right to demand praise and accolades for His miracles and teachings but He never did. Even when the crowd sought to make Him King, He rushed away from their grasp. He did not want to become a sideshow performance that people could enjoy. Instead, He wanted to seek and save the lost and offer forgiveness for the sinners.
8. Self Control
Prior to His earthly ministry, Jesus spend time being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Although He was offered food, power and privileges, Jesus controlled His desires and submitted to the will of the Father. Yes, He had desires for food and such but He had a greater desire to obey His Father and accomplish His will.
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