One Desire

Joseph writes his prison experience, giving an insight to what he was battling in his mind while still believing in the God given dream.

Son,

I’m blessed by God because He brought you into this world today. You are God’s treasured blessing that we (both your mother and I) cherish. I’m writing this letter to you, in hope that you will read it on your 18th birthday. This letter may seem strange at first but I’m hoping you will understand its reason once you finish reading.

Today, I held you for the very first time. I’m still unable to process the joy I have in my heart. I feel so overwhelmed about becoming a father. You are the reason for our celebration, which reminds me of God joyfully looking at us, while holding us as His little children.

Son, He has been so good to me. The list of blessings are endless. There is so much I want to share with you. I’m writing this mainly for you to remember God’s faithfulness; and not be oblivious of our past. I think it’s important to stay in touch with our roots, helps us to remind ourselves of who we are.

So here’s my story. I wasn’t born here in Egypt. I was raised in a place called Canaan. This is our Promised Land, promised by God to our forefather, Abraham. I lacked no good thing and everything was going so fine. But then my life changed. While it was happening, it seemed like I was going downhill and that everything that was happening was somehow my fault, but eventually I realized that this temporal phase was for better things to unfold.

Back home, I was taking care of my father’s flocks with my brothers. I was very close to my father and would tell him everything. Being my father’s favorite got me into my brothers’ bad books. They would speak to me rudely and always kept me away from their usual company. To make matters worse, God showed me a dream where my entire family was bowing down to me. In my innocence and excitement, I shared it with my family. I was so naive to think that my family would share my excitement. My brothers got furious at the very thought of submitting to me that it drove them crazy. In their hatred and anger they decided to teach me a lesson.

The day finally came when they found an opportunity to get back at me. My dad had sent me to the fields to look for them. I found them at a place afar instead of their usual spot. When they saw me walking towards them, they were conjuring among themselves to kill me, but my older brother Reuben was not completely convinced (Thank YOU God!). He suggested that I be thrown in a well to eventually die alone of hunger. But he had thought of coming back later and rescuing me.

But Reuben’s plan foiled, as my brothers sat down for lunch, they saw a caravan of Midianite merchants who happen to pass by. In Reuben’s absence, they sold me as a slave for merely twenty pieces of silver. At that time, it did hurt me seeing that my worth in their eyes was just twenty pieces of silver. Yes, that’s how much they valued me. It was so hard to accept reality. Sometimes harder dealing with the hurt of being left alone. I had nothing left to lose or gain. My life was not mine anymore and I had no control over anything that was happening to me.

And that’s how I was brought to Egypt, as a slave. I was only 17, struggling through the days with no one by my side. Oh, how I longed to be back home! I missed my father’s embrace. Being treated like a slave reminded me of all that I was missing at home, minus my brothers. Those days were traumatic, being in an unknown city, among foreigners and a different language. I would often cry out to God in my sleep. God was the only one I had in the middle of so much going on, and pouring my grief out to Him became the most important part of the day. No one could see it but it was only Him who was sustaining me during those days. No friends, no family, nobody !!

Apart from being mistreated, I was humiliated in the marketplace. During the auction of the slaves, they would strip me of my clothes in front of everyone and put a price tag showing my worth. I had to stand naked to guarantee my potential buyers that I had no contagious diseases on my body. It felt as if all eyes from those busy streets were only on me.

It was there in the market that Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh (at that time), bought me and took me to his home. Potiphar was very kind to me. He saw God’s favor upon my life and made me the overseer of the house. I was doing well because God was with me. When everything was going well, I thought to myself that this was the fulfillment of the dream. I held my hopes high.

But God had other plans.

Potiphar’s wife had her eyes on me from the very beginning and she would often try and seduce me. I would outrightly deny her, never giving her a foothold. She wrongly accused me of rape when she got tired and humiliated by my constant rejection. When Potiphar got to know about this, in his anger, he confined me to a prison without enquiring the truth. I was sent to jail for integrity.

Confinement in the prison really broke me. I felt I had hit rock bottom, never felt so low in my life. The walls of despair were higher than my walls of prison. Each passing day, the pain would consume me until my life was swallowed up by endless fears. Depression held me captive, inflicting scars for life.

I had so many questions for God, but the most important one was ‘why’. There were times earlier in my life when I felt broken and I knew that I deserved to be, because it was the result of the impulsive choices I had made. But being in jail wasn’t the consequence of my bad choice. Why the pain and suffering? What did I do to deserve this? What happened to the Dream? Do His Promises ever come true? I was put in jail despite of my upright walk with God.

These questions kept lurking at me. I was fed up of this constant roller coaster of emotions that I could no longer hide in self pity. After exhausting all my self help in vain, I ran to God for refuge as my last option. I had not forgotten how He had sustained me during my slavery time, and only He could help me with the help I really needed. Prayer and hope lead me into His presence.

That’s when it dawned on me that His presence had never left me. His presence was always there. Even in my darkest nights, He was gently sustaining me. The same presence that was with me when I was mistreated as a slave or being wrongly accused. It was His presence that gave me hope. That brought light into my darkness. It helped me let go off the need of having all the answers or making sense of what I was going through.

It took time but slowly, I was able to let go of my disappointments as I started embracing Him and He became my reality. All my desires didn’t matter anymore. My dreams held no priority. My hope and satisfaction was no more in things to come but right here in my secret place with God.

He became my One Desire.

Don’t get me wrong, dreams are important but not as important as the Dream-Giver. I was sold to slavery when I was 17. And my dream came true when I was 30. These 13 years of my life were full of pain, doubt and waiting. But it was not wasteful because I finally learnt something very valuable – to be satisfied in Him. As I was waiting on God’s promises, His promises didn’t matter anymore as I found delight in Him. He became the very promise I was desiring for. From then, it didn’t matter where I was as long as I could be conscious of His goodness and love. I no longer had to wait for my circumstances to change to praise Him. If my circumstances didn’t affect His thoughts about me, then why should mine? He taught me to celebrate life in spite of my wavering situations.

All I want to convey to you from what I have learnt is that – God is always with you. He will never leave you. And you can trust Him, no matter where you are. He is that good! You can make Him your One desire and see Him coming through.

With love,
Your Father
Joseph

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Letter from Heaven

Abraham is disappointed with the misinterpretation of his life. Finally, he decides to write a letter from heaven to clear out some serious speculations.

Hello 21st Century Christians,

Greetings to you from Heaven. Let me introduce myself. I’m Abraham that you read about in the book of Genesis. Forgive me for my poor english. Took me a while to learn your language and jargons. Some of the latest additions to heaven has really helped me out.

Well I have been noticing you all for the past 2000 years now. And finally thought to make some things clear to you. So I’m writing this, in hope to clear some speculations about myself, even though the scriptures that you read from the Bible are clear enough.

First of all, it baffles me to see when you exaggerate a portion of my life without looking at the entire context. Like for example, Genesis 22 talks about my sacrifice. I’m not saying that particular story isn’t important. But I can’t understand why you ask your kids to idolise me, by just focussing on that one instance of me choosing to obey God radically. I have been a different person before, and it is mentioned clearly in the scriptures. Nothing is hidden from you.

If you read from Genesis 12 where my life story actually begins, you will notice that I’m no where close to being a hero. I’m not the hero of my story. Please allow me to explain.

About 25 years before Isaac was born, I heard God’s voice for the first time. It was so clear and specific. He asked me to leave my relatives and put my trust in Him. I did step out in faith but not entirely. Even though God promised me that I will have a son of my own, I could not possibly believe that. I took Lot along because I saw in him as my possible heir then. So did I trust God completely then? No, not really.

But God stuck close to me like a good faithful friend through it all, even though He was aware that my faith wasn’t the kind of faith that He deserves. I began to see the consequences of my choice when strife happened between my servants and Lot’s. We had to part ways. Difficult as it was, I’m glad it happened. I can’t take the credit for that. It was my weakness in not trusting God completely that brought us to this awkward moment. But God made sure that I could get back on track, and of course I cannot take the credit of it.

Lying was also another item on my list of weaknesses. It was more convenient to hide than confront the truth. When we were in Egypt, I lied about my wife being my sister, out of fear for my own life. It was purely God who took us out safely. Can you believe that after seeing His faithfulness in my life repeatedly, I had the audacity to lie again to King Abimelech? Just like in Egypt, God had to intervene and set things right. Later in life, I wondered and reflected on how I could not fathom the mercies of God. He was always concerned about my wellbeing, but I was constantly doubtful, wondering if God might not come through so I kept lying.

So was I trusting God when I lied? No!

I was expecting God to be disappointed with me. Well, I was disappointed with myself. To my surprise, He responded to my distrust by renewing His promise. Countless times did He renew His promises, reminding me over and over again.

There was this one time which I remember that I kept on complaining. I figured Eliezer, my steward to be the heir. How could I just believe that I would have a son of my own? I was already old. It sounded impossible. But God was so gracious in His response to my stubborness to believe.

I got so engrossed in my whining, that I gave into my wife’s not-so-wise advice, of having a child with our maid, Hagar. After Ishmael was born, I did realise in my heart to what extent I had fallen in my unbelief. Right when I was losing all hope, God specifically renewed His promises three times and even came to me in person to remind me.

It was when Isaac was born that I could finally commend God for His faithfulness. All this while, I was so caught up in my self centered worries and dreams, I had left no room for trusting God. The Great Sacrifice which I am usually given the credit for, is not the proof of my faithfulness. Rather, it certifies that His faithfulness came through, in my life. The reminder of His faithfulness, gave me the strength to climb that mountain. His faithfulness did not change. It was His unchangeable stubborn love for me that kept transforming me.

So what I’m trying to say is that my life story in the Bible is not about me. It is about Him. It is about His faithfulness. My life on earth was just as ordinary as yours is. I too have a list of weaknesses, in which God perfected His strength. We can merely receive and respond. If God’s faithfulness can come through in my life, it can come through in anyone’s life.

I hope I was able to give you a fresh perspective on how you could read your scriptures. Stop focussing on the merits of one man, put your eyes on Him and see what all He has done in and through us.

May God bless you.

Lots of love,
Abraham

P.S – See you in heaven. FYI it is absolute fun here. You have no idea.

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The Man Who Climbed The Tree

Zacchaeus encounters Jesus and his life turns around. He gives up his belongings to the poor and repays to those he swindled. How did this all happen?

I’m writing this just to get the record straight about the recent events that had unfolded in our town. In short, yes it’s true that I gave away most of my belongings to the poor and repaid those from whom I had swindled. So yes, I’m acknowledging that I have abused my power of the position that I hold. And no, I was not blackmailed into giving back the money. I did what I did of my own accord. Since I understand your skepticism,  I wanted to clarify my side of the story.

Couple of months ago, I met Matthew, the tax collector, in Jerusalem. We have known each other for quite a long time. Went to the same school. We actually spent most of our childhood together. Those who know me would certify that I’m an introvert who does not have a lot of friends. But Matthew was always an exception. He was closest to the brother I never had. He understood me better than most people. As tax collectors, we are always misunderstood and looked down on as traitors because we extort money from our own people to establish Roman rule. We obviously shared the same pain of being ostracized from our own. We would spend hours together criticizing our own people, talking about politics and debating on the scriptures.

The ‘Matthew’ that I met last in Jerusalem was indeed a changed man. I could see that he was far more composed than I have ever seen him to be. In our whole course of conversation, he never brought up his share of hurt and pain. It seemed as if he was beyond that. As if he had been healed from all the hurt and it didn’t bother him anymore. There was so much compassion in his eyes. He mentioned that he had quit his job. His life had been turned around since the time he decided to follow Jesus, the Rabbi. I could not believe what I was seeing.

How was this even possible? Was Jesus really the man whom Matthew proclaimed? Seeing Matthew, I immediately recognized the depravity of my soul, how poor and sick I was. Compared to me, Matthew was always the better person. He never extorted money or took advantage of people like I did. On my way back, I kept wondering if there was any redemption for a person like me.

It was around noon yesterday, when I heard the news that Jesus was walking through my town. People in the town had varied opinions of him. Some thought he was a prophet. Others thought he was going to be the king of Israel who would eventually redeem us from the Romans. Some even thought he was a false prophet claiming to be the Messiah. I wanted to see who this Jesus was for myself. When I went to the town square to see him, I saw a multitude of crowd around him. Well, it was impossible to even have a glimpse of him since I am short. I was so desperate to see him that I decided to run ahead. I forgot everything and climbed a sycamore tree just to have a better look at him. It was also in the hope of remaining unnoticed.

As I was on the tree, waiting for Jesus, memories started flooding my mind. I was always the odd one out, the laughing stock of the family. In response, I became the rebellious kid. And as I became popular for all the wrong reasons, I was gradually left out from my own. I could not remember the last time I was invited to someone’s home. My parents and relatives were ashamed of me. I was ashamed of myself. I could not look myself in the mirror to see the person I had become.

Just as I was thinking about my life, I saw Jesus. He looked like anybody else. His appearance wasn’t impressive. But as he came closer to where I was, I could see what Matthew was talking about. There was something about him that got everyone’s attention. I could sense so much grace in him. And as I began to be nervous, I was hoping that he wouldn’t look up and notice me. But to my astonishment, he did.

When Jesus came to the place where I was, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because today I must stay at your house.”

“Zacchaeus!” He knew my name.

To be honest, I have no idea of what took hold of me. Immediately I came down and welcomed him. I was so full of joy. I can’t even begin to describe of all that was going within me. Spending time with him was like Heaven. Heaven indeed.

I saw the compassion in him. He could see right through my facade and yet chose to love me. I know it was not about deserving because I had done nothing good in my life. It was about belonging. Though lost I was, I belonged to him. He had somehow found my lost soul. I have never felt so whole in my life. Never felt so loved. This love burned within me to an extent that I was willing to give up everything I held most dear. And that’s what happened. I gave half my belongings to the poor and repaid four times to those I extorted. What I gave was nothing in comparison to what I received from Jesus. My friends, the Messiah is here. You don’t have to keep seeking him anymore, he will come seeking you.

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Radical Love

What I find attractive about Christianity compared to all other religions or philosophy is the radical kind of love. When we see Jesus and his time on earth, we do see this unusual kind of love. The good shepherd who would give his life for the sheep (John 10:11). The rabbi who would wash his disciples’ feet (John 13). And he was not only talk but did what he proclaimed.

 

In the first century, so many people started believing in Christ and automatically lived their lives in the expression of His love. They were not self focussed. And as an example, they gave up everything they had. This love got them to a point where what an average person holds dear, it meant nothing to them anymore!! Imagine that conviction, that made them give up everything they owned. So when the persecution broke out in Jerusalem, most of these new Christians were dispersed into the various ends of the Roman world. And the truth of the Gospel was spreading like wildfire. More people were accepting the new faith in spite of the great persecution. Something that makes me wonder is that most of these people were just commoners. They were not intellectuals or apologetics. Neither did they have access to the latest technology or had huge chunks of money for promotion. Yet something was so attractive about the gospel, which was beyond the philosophies and intellect of those times. Something so intriguing, that brought people to the truth.

 

It was love. Radical love as Christ loves us – changed the course of history.

 

History tells us that three centuries later, Christianity became an accepted popular faith in the Roman Empire. Christianity was properly institutionalized, having a lot of power in the government. And do you know what we did when we had so much power in our hands? The atrocities that were done to the church in the first century is far less compared to what we had done to the world. We killed in the name of Christ, abusing our power and hence steering ourselves into the dark ages.

 

What I’m trying to say is, that it is possible to forget the very essence of love when we focus on our doing than focusing on Him from whom this radical love flows. We are so caught up with the story of the good Samaritan, that we have forgotten the essence of it’s message. That’s it’s not just difficult to love but impossible to love unconditionally. We have been nurtured to be self focused. And so we end up doing our own versions of love which hurts rather than heal.

We cannot love on our own.

We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). The love that we experience from Jesus becomes a powerhouse and automatically flows from us. He is love and we merely respond. We were designed to live our lives in an automatic expression of His love. And it’s so important to stress on that. Stress on His love. Stress on His relationship with us. We can only love like Christ if we are constantly aware of His love. It’s our faith in Christ that’s reflected in our love for people. Church (we – the body of Christ) is not meant to be a place for us to point out who is right or wrong, but to walk with them in their struggles of faith. So the question you need to ask yourself is not, if you have enough love for people, but do you really know how much He loves you? If you do know then that knowledge of His love will surely flow from your life.

 

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Dear Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth,

I’m sorry that I took so long to respond to your mail. Anyways, I think today is the perfect day to write. I have some exciting news to share.

Last week, my brother Lazarus fell ill. We tried everything and he was just getting worse. And eventually, he died. We had his funeral too. This was 3 days ago. You must be wondering what the good news is.

Well, Jesus arrived this morning. When Lazarus got sick earlier, we had asked of him because we saw God working through him. When I saw him today, I had wished he had come earlier. The moment I heard about his arrival, I went out to meet him. Seeing him, I just poured my heart out to him, saying, “Lord, only if you had been here, this would not have happened. But even now, I believe that God works in and through you.” Looking back at that statement now, I realize that the people around me who heard me might have thought that I was still expecting a miracle. But, to be honest, I had no clue then that something more could happen. I was just confessing what I generally believed about Jesus. But on hearing that, Jesus replied, “Your brother will live again.” I was like, of course on the last day, at the resurrection. That’s when he said, “No, Martha, not on the last day. I’m talking about right now. I’m the resurrection and the life. Do you believe?” At this point, I really didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t think it was even a possibility to see my brother again. How could I? I saw him die. There was no light in his eyes. I buried him. How could he just come back to life? So, I just wrapped the conversation up, saying, “Yes you are Christ, the Son of God.”

Elizabeth, now what I am about to tell you might shock you, but this has turned my entire life around. Just before noon, we took Jesus to where Lazarus’ body was laid. By now, there was a foul stench around the cave. He asked us to remove the stone from the cave. He prayed a small prayer and called out to Lazarus. My head was spinning around by this time. I was a little embarrassed when he did that. The entire neighborhood was there. But every confusion, sorrow and unbelief vanished the moment I saw my brother walk out of that grave. The joy that took over me! Yes, Elizabeth, you read right. My brother was dead and is alive again! Jesus is the resurrection and life. He wasn’t talking about the last day of resurrection. He really meant it, that today I would see my brother alive.

I can’t tell you how happy I am. I have been yapping to everybody I meet. I’m so overjoyed and overwhelmed at the same time! I feel before today, I didn’t really believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but now I do.

He is in town for a week. I was wondering if you wanted to meet him. One encounter with him can change your life. I believe he is really the one we have been praying for, the Messiah. So excited for what God has planned!

Anyway, let’s meet up soon. Let me know if you are coming over.

Love,
Martha

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Children of God

I know that most of us believe that we are God’s children. If we are His children then why do we live in fear? Why are we fearful of being influenced by the world? Shouldn’t it be the other way round?

Don’t we have God’s grace that is superabundant over sin? Or Christ’s blessings that overrides any curse? Or God’s light that can breakthrough thick darkness?

If this is all true, then why do we act defenseless?

Romans 8:19-21
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We as children of God, bring freedom in this decaying world. Chosen to be a beacon of hope in the hopelessness that is around us. Hence, infecting His grace in the atmosphere.

Call me naive but I really believe that we are the changing agents of our surroundings.

When Paul was writing Romans, he was writing to a bunch of Christians who were going through extreme persecution. And he repeatedly reminds them to think beyond their present circumstances, to realise what it means to be a child of God. Our circumstances cannot be compared to the hope of our calling (Romans 8:18-19).

My friends, can we look beyond our circumstances? Can we be fearless of being infected by the world? We are called to be infectious, bringing heaven down on earth. Can we start acting on our right of being God’s children?

God Loves Us

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him…

So when did He begin to love us? Is it when we repented or acknowledged that we were sinners?

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Cross is the proof of Father God’s love for us. Since the fall, man has been hiding from God doubting His goodness and love. Sin corrupts our understanding of the Father. Our Father God was expressing His love at the cross. Love was the only motivation behind the cross.

So when did He begin to love us? Is it when we repented or acknowledged that we were sinners?

Ephesians 1:4For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love.

God loved us before the foundation of the world. That means He knew us before even we were born. Knowing all our weaknesses, faults, unfaithfulness and frailties He didn’t give up on us. God our Father knew we were going to go astray and before even we did He forgave us in Christ Jesus whom He foreordained (1 Peter 1:20). So even before we were lost in Adam He found us in Christ.

Isn’t this amazing? God the Father loves us and He cares for us. He is mindful of us (Psalms 8:4), knows our struggles and empathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). He is just like the father in the story of the lost son (Luke 15) who forgave his son before he repented and welcomed him back with open arms restoring his sonship.

Cross is not the end of His expression of love. God in the ages to come wants to show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7). Can we really comprehend what is the width and length and depth and height of His love (Ephesians 3:18)? Can we experience His love that is beyond knowledge (Ephesians 3:19)? The greatest feeling ever is to be loved. Know for sure that you are loved by Him.

Will You Go To Heaven?

If you die today will you go to heaven? Is Christianity about heaven and hell? If yes, then how is it different from any other religion?

“If you die today will you go to heaven?”

My Sunday School teacher would often ask me this question to make me repent. As a child I would have nightmares of missing the rapture.

Now when I think of it I ask myself, ‘if Christianity is indeed about heaven and hell, then how is it different from any other religion?‘

Before I begin, let me assure that I believe in the existence of both heaven and hell. Heaven is the presence of God and hell is the eternal separation from God. And on the last day God will save us (who believe in Christ) from the presence of sin by bringing us into His eternal glory.

But the question remains, is Christianity all about heaven, hell or the judgement day? If it is, then isn’t our whole belief system driven by fear? Is that what Christ preached? Is the gospel’s real focus on life after death?

 

Stereotypical Understanding

Somehow the gospel and the teachings of Christ is ultimately equated with us going to ‘heaven’ i.e. life after death.
Let us take some references for example:

1. Matthew 7:14, “… narrow the road that leads to life.”
General interpretation is “narrow is the road that leads to heaven”.

2. John 3:16, “… whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.”
General interpretation is “whoever believes in Him will go to heaven.”

3. John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
General interpretation is “Jesus is the way to heaven.”

I’m not saying that our general understanding is entirely wrong but we have definitely watered down the profoundness of what it really means.

 

What did Christ preach?

He spoke about the kingdom of God and eternal life. But did he ever equate them with ‘heaven’ a place after death?

John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Eternal life as defined by Jesus is knowing him and the Father. The important question is not ‘will you go to heaven?’ but instead should be ‘do you know Jesus?’. It is true that we will completely know Him when we see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). But while living on this earth we have been given this opportunity to know Him as He lives in us.

Luke 17:21, “… the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
You and me are the kingdom of God because God reigns in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). God establishes His kingdom on earth through us. He has partnered with us on this mission. What a great purpose all of us have! Yes we will go to heaven after death but progressively we are called to establish His kingdom on earth. Yes, the creation is decaying but is also in eager expectation of the children of God to be revealed (Romans 8:19-20).

 

What is Heaven?

If the “presence of God” is what heaven is, then isn’t it more appropriate to say that heaven is in us?
If we truly carry heaven and are ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom, then why is it that we only look forward to the future enjoyment of the benefits that heaven has to offer?
Are we really experiencing heaven on earth or are we still waiting for an after death experience?

The greatest miracle is that we are the chosen vessels of His presence (1 Corinthians 3:18). Christ in us, indeed the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Friends, it’s not about making it to heaven, or not making it to heaven. Nor is it about facing judgment. It is ONLY about knowing and believing Jesus Christ, the One who gave us eternal life. And because He makes His dwelling in us, God, through us establishes His Kingdom on the earth. The true purpose of Christian living is to preach and establish the Kingdom of God. Therein is the Gospel, i.e., GOOD NEWS, too good to be true.

What must I do?

We are all struggling through something or the other. Our struggles are are real.
If you like me are struggling today and just want to know what you must do? The answer is …

After hearing every sermon I would ask myself, “That was a good sermon but what is my responsibility?”
Like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16, who asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Or the Samaritan woman who asked Jesus for living water in John 4, we are all looking for practical solutions.

If climbing Mount Everest guaranteed salvation, many of us would have tried. Lets face it, at the end of the day we all look for solutions on how our lives can be changed. No wonder books like ‘7 tips to successful marriage’ or ‘5 tips to being successful’ are best-sellers. And in the quest for practical solutions, we become dependant on our own or someone else’s experiences. It is in our human nature to make efforts.

John 6:28Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

What must I do?

John 6:29Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Believe in Him.

Is it that simple?
Yes.

What do I believe?
Galatians 2:20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Believe that there is nothing you can do and Christ has done it all. How can you do something when you have been crucified with Christ? You are no longer living but Christ who is living in you. Only when you believe Christ died as you, then can you see yourself living as him.
We can only believe in Christ and on what He has done at the cross because only the cross defines who Christ is.
We will always struggle. Our struggles are never going to go away. And they are real. But we can’t lose hope because cross is the solution to all our problems. It is not just a one time event. The message of the cross is progressive in nature unleashing God’s power in our lives (1 Corinthians 1:18). If you are struggling like me and just want to know what you must do. The answer is simple, ‘believe in Him for what He has done’. He has completed His work.
Do you believe in His finished work?

Why did God raise Christ?

It is through Christ’s death on the cross that our sins are forgiven, then why did God raise Christ?

Ever wondered why God raised Christ?

After the fall in the garden of Eden, man could no longer have proper fellowship with God. Even though he was made in the very image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), he lost the confidence of facing Him due to guilt that engulfed him (Romans 3:23).

God promised that He would send us a Messiah whose name would be “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23), meaning ‘God with us’. He broke all stereotypes of religion. He dined with sinners and had a following of tax collectors and prostitutes (Luke 15:1). He was popular in attending parties and in one particular occasion self invited himself to a sinner’s home (Luke 19:5). He was so radical in his methods that the religious leaders were mad at him. They wanted to kill him but failed. The religious leaders could not kill Jesus, He gave up His own life (John 10:18) to save us.

Romans 10:9
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Our Christian walk begins in Christ when we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour. Surrendering our lives to His Lordship and believing that He has completely saved us from our sins. It is through Christ’s death on the cross that our sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7, Romans 3:24-25), then why the resurrection is the key to our salvation?

Romans 4:25
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

It is true that He indeed died for our sins and His work has been finished. God raised him up so that you and I will have the proof of our sins been forgiven at the cross.

In the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter the most holy of holies to present the annual sacrifice. While the sacrifice was offered, the people would wait for the return of their high priest. Seeing him alive would confirm that their sacrifice had been accepted by God. If something went wrong, the high priest would not return alive (Exodus 28:43).

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all, was the complete payment that obtained our sanctification (Hebrews 10:10). However, His resurrection from the dead is the receipt (proof) of payment for our sins. That is, He became our eternal High Priest (Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 6:20). Jesus was raised for our sakes so that we could find the confidence in believing that our sins are completely forgiven in him. Resurrection is God’s approval of Christ’s finished work.

Jesus while on earth was true to his name “Immanuel – God is with us”. But the story does not end there. This was just the beginning because His Spirit lives in those who believe in Him.

Jesus changed our status from ‘God with us’ to ‘God in us’ (Colossians 1:27).

We are finally reconciled to God in Christ having the boldness and confidence to access Him (Hebrews 4:16). That’s why the resurrection.