barnabas.in : Alexi George

How to stand firm when the world rejects you

All of society goes in one direction, but since you follow Jesus, you must go in a different direction. In such a situation, there are two great struggles: Who am I and how will I make it?

The believers at Pergamum struggled to live a life honoring God. Since their society was so vehemently opposed to God’s ways, it was an identity struggle as well. They constantly faced rejection because of their faith in Jesus. God promised two things to them: Hidden Manna and a white stone with a new name. (Rev 2:17) These were promises of sustenance and identity.

Surely it is a war within us when we go against the flow of the society. The one who overcomes will be sustained by God. This was represented by the words “hidden Manna” as the Manna sustained God’s people through the wilderness.

Your identity as God’s child is also firm. There’s not need to fear, no need to doubt. The believers at Pergamum were also reminded that they will be given a white stone with a new name. The new name is their identity as God’s child.

So go ahead and face society head on. Live a life pleasing to Christ. He will sustain you. You are his child.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website barnabas.in

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Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.

* For a Malayalam video of this post, visit my Facebook page.

* If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with others who may benefit from reading this.

* For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.


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Evangelism – Jesus’ Style

The typical approach to evangelism can be described with this statement: “What you believe is wrong and what I believe is correct. So stop believing what you believe and believe what I believe.” This approach often puts people on the defense and clearly works against our purpose.

Jesus’ approach was different. He sought out people who were needy and met their needs. After their needs were met, he invited them to God’s Kingdom.

Most of the encounters that Jesus had with people put him in the position where he was meeting their needs. For some, the need was healing or the dead being raised. Others received forgiveness of sin. Some needed his friendship or a kind word of mercy. Some were hungry and Jesus miraculously fed thousands of people with just a boy’s lunch.

Whatever their needs were, Jesus met them without any conditions. He never asked for anything in return. It was entirely a one – way giving by Jesus, expecting nothing in return. In fact, when he sent his disciples out to do the same kinds of works he did, he instructed them not to expect anything in return. He told them “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

Although many people were motivated only by their needs, Jesus did not put a restriction on them. He allowed them to enjoy the benefits he provided. It may have been this open hearted perspective of Jesus that paved the way for crowds to seek him out wherever he went.

There were even some who sought him out because of the food he provided. (John 6:26) Rather than walking away from them because their motives were temporal, he took the opportunity to teach them. He told them that although they hungered for bread that perishes, there is heavenly bread that leads to eternal life. In that conversation, he went on to say that he is the bread of life. He used the situation to teach them an important truth about eternal life that he provides.

The open minded perspective of Jesus was expressed through the parable of the weeds. (Matthew 13:24-30) A man sowed good seed expecting a good return from his field. But in the night his enemies came and sowed weeds among the good seed. When the seeds grew, the weeds also came up.

The workers came to the master and asked if they should pull up the weeds. But the master instructed them to allow the weeds to remain because in pulling up the weeds, the good wheat may also be pulled up and damaged. They were to wait till the harvest when they can separate the wheat and destroy the weeds.

Thus people with wrong or evil intent may be among the recipients to whom we show God’s mercy, but we are not to dissuade them. Let them remain and enjoy the benefits provided by the Master through us. There are many who are genuine in their need and desire for Jesus.

In fact, Jesus was so intent on focusing only on the needy that he gave his disciples an instruction that was quite surprising.

And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. (Matthew 10:14)

Although Jesus was clearly open and allowed anyone to come enjoy the benefits from his work, he made a clear distinction for those who wanted to be his disciples.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

The basic requirement for being a disciple of Jesus was too heavy for the masses. Self denial simply grinds against the common self centered human nature. And the concept of carrying the cross – simply identifies one as destined for death. What an incredulous identity to take upon oneself. Deny yourself and live like you’re destined for death!

No wonder there were so few disciples compared to the crowds that followed Jesus. There were 12 of his immediate disciples, but there is further record of a group of 70 and/or 72 disciples. In the book of Acts, in the upper room, there were 120 who gathered. There is another record of more than 500 who were followers of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:6). But these numbers are nothing compared to the masses that gathered around him.

But he never restricted the crowds. Later on, Jesus was described as one who “Went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38) This is the way he lived every day. He wasn’t focused on building a movement, it just became one. There was no intent of impressing anyone because his Father was already pleased with him (Matthew 3:17).

This statement may be a good summary of the approach or perspective that Jesus used in his ministry. He simply “Went about doing good.” He impacted huge multitudes with this approach – then invited the people to the Kingdom of his Father. What an awesome example Jesus has left for us to follow!

 


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What about those irritating people in your life? 

We all have such people in our lives. They demand more from the relationship than they ever return. Their contribution seems to be almost nothing compared to what they expect from you. These people may be irritating and obnoxious. We often wish we could run away from such people. But God has placed them there in our lives for a special purpose.

These people act the way they do because of their brokenness. There are various issues within them that have never been addressed. For many who are believers, the Holy Spirit is working on them, but the work is gradual. For some, that work is a lifelong process.

Recently I read the words Jesus spoke to his disciples just before miraculously feeding more than 5,000 people: “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14:16) With so many people to feed, the need was more than they could handle. They wanted to send the people away. Although that situation was regarding food, the concept is valid for people with any need.

Our natural reaction would be to stay away from such people, or “send them away.”  But as Kingdom people, we are to care for others and respond to their true need. First, we are to care for the community of faith, then others around us who are needy.

Of course, when people have needs that are beyond our capabilities and need professional help, it is good to refer them to others who are more qualified to help. But most of the time, a word of encouragement, prayer, and your gentle voice is crucial for their healing.

But these needy people will often seem like a bother to us, and we may respond as the disciples did. We get tired of their neediness. We may begin to see them as parasites, always taking but never giving.

Relationships with such people definitely seem like a one-way street when they are always on the receiving end and you are on the giving end. These are the type of relationships that we want to pull away from.

At this point Jesus says to us “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”  At another time Jesus said “Truly I say to you, as you did to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

What an opportunity to serve our Master as we serve the needy around us.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website barnabas.in

—————

Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.

* For a Malayalam video of this post, visit my Facebook page.

* If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with others who may benefit from reading this.

* For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.


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God is Gentle and Fierce at the Same Time

In the situation that you’re facing today, how do you need God to respond? Do you require a powerful, fierce approach that knocks out everything that threatens you? Or do you need a gentle touch from God that soothes your soul?

John experienced both facets of God. Here is what happened when he saw the powerful, magnificent side of God:

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.” (Revelations 1:17)

This duality of God is wonderful. His magnificent power is beyond compare. When he observed the fierceness of that power, John fell at his feet as though he was a dead man. But at the same time, God remains kind and compassionate.

What are the difficulties you face today? What impossibilities have blocked you and kept you from moving forward? Our God is awesome and fully capable of intervening on your behalf.

In what areas do you need God to be fierce? How about his mercy and gentleness? In each of those areas, God will place his hand on you and speak according to your need. 

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website barnabas.in

—————

Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.

* For a Malayalam video of this post, visit my Facebook page.

* If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with others who may benefit from reading this.

* For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.


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Have you given up trying to please God? Good

Are you troubled about the way the world is headed? Does it seem like everywhere you turn, God is ignored? For many, God’s grace is used as a crutch or license for their sinfulness. Someone said “God likes to forgive and I like to sin.” You look around you and realize that there is no fear of God.

Then you look within you and notice all your inconsistencies. Your good intentions just fall apart in the face of trials and temptations. In the past, you judged the world around you for its total disregard for God. You even judged the family of God for their lack of commitment to God’s ways. But now you realize you are guilty of the same things.

What can you do? Some will suggest you try harder to live holy and righteous. Others will condemn you for you inconsistencies. You have looked within and realized that the situation is helpless.

The Bible says Jesus is the only one who can keep you from stumbling and present you blameless before the presence of God. (Jude 24,25) Throw yourself at his mercy. That’s when his grace will begin to work in you to transform you into the image of God’s son, Jesus.

Are you still trying to please God? He is already pleased with you because of Jesus and what he did on the cross. Now as a result, he has given you his Holy Spirit to transform you from within.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website barnabas.in

—————

Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.

* For a Malayalam video of this post, visit my Facebook page.

* If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with others who may benefit from reading this.

* For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.


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It’s time for you to die so Christ can live in you

I remember the time we purchased this house we live in. The deal was finalized, the papers were signed, and we owned the home. But the previous owners asked to stay one extra day. That was not a problem, and the next day, they moved out and we moved in. Of course, they had to move out before we moved in. In fact if they had not moved out, we would not have been able to move into our own home.

Although our lives were corrupted by sin, Jesus purchased us by his death on the cross. Now that we belong to him, he asks us to die to self so He may live and reign in us. Paul referred to this by saying that he was crucified with Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Gal 2:20)

We must die to self as Christ wants to live in us. That dying to self is a daily process. Jesus said: “…if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Jesus wants to live in you every day. But for that to happen, you’ve got to die to self. As long as that doesn’t happen, Jesus stands at the door of your heart knocking, unable to come in. (Revelations 3:20)

Daily, let’s die to self, so Christ can live in us. He’s waiting at the door of your heart to move in.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website barnabas.in

—————

Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.

* For a Malayalam video of this post, visit my Facebook page.

* If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with others who may benefit from reading this.

* For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.


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How can it be well with your soul when you suffer so much?

Is it possible to suffer in extreme circumstances and still claim that it is well with your soul? Can people suffer extreme physical and emotional pain and still say that their inner person is strong and stable?

John’s third epistle was written to Gaius, a man who was facing many difficulties in his life. Even while selflessly supporting those who have given their lives for the ministry, he faced opposition from within the church. He was literally crushed between these situations. It was to this Gaius that John wrote:

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 John 2)

As a child of God, the condition of our souls can be well beyond our physical circumstances. We can live above our circumstances. Let the opposition come. Let the difficulties come. Whatever comes our way, we can live beyond all of that, and our souls can be well.

The key is that our relationship with Jesus keeps our soul in peace. John follows up the verse above with the affirmation that they are walking in the truth. Jesus affirmed that He is the truth when he proclaimed “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

As we continue to grow in our relationship with Jesus, we are fully engrossed in a new realm. This realm takes us (our soul) beyond the circumstances of life. We continue to face all the difficulties of life, but simultaneously enjoy the realm of our souls engrossed in relationship to Jesus.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website barnabas.in

—————

Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.

* For a Malayalam video of this post, visit my Facebook page.

* If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with others who may benefit from reading this.

* For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.


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Are You Tired of Trying and Failing? There Has to be A Better Way to Handle Sin

Don’t you hate it when you fall into sin? There is this feeling of guilt that gnaws at you and pulls you down. You find it difficult to face others and to communicate.

John wrote: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

So it is clear that we are not to sin, but if we do fall into sin, we have Jesus as our advocate. So this gives us confidence to move on without guilt or fear, because our weaknesses are covered by Jesus.

But is our life to be full of trying and failing, trying and failing? We have all had our fill of trying to be good, but that just is not enough.

John goes on to say: “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected” (1 John 2:4-5).

The key is not to try harder, but to grow in your love to God. The word “perfected” can be seen as a process rather than a one time event. As your love for God grows, our desire and leaning toward sin begins to shift. Our focus changes and gets permeated with God’s love.

So forget trying harder not to sin. Just grow in your love to God and let his love permeate your whole being.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website.

—————

Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.

* For a Malayalam language video summary of this post, visit my Facebook page.

* If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with others by using the sharing buttons below.

* My book recommendations on various topics are available at my Resources Page.

* For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.


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The God Who Weeps With Us

What are you weeping about today? What are the things in your life that cause deep sorrow and agony? We often think we are alone in our pain, that no one understands us. But the fact is that Jesus not only understands, he also weeps with us because of our sorrow.

John records that at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus wept (John 11:35). Since Jesus clearly knew that he was about to raise Lazarus from death, there was no sadness within him about the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus wept in response to the deep sorrow of Mary, Martha, and all the people gathered there. Though their sorrow was due to their lack of faith in Jesus to handle the situation, he wept with them.

So, the next time you experience painful situations, remember that Jesus experiences the same sorrow along with you. He fully understands your situation.

But there is a difference. His perspective transcends the current situation. He knows what’s on the other side of your sorrow. The best part is that he is there on the other side of your difficulty.

What are you weeping about today? Remember Jesus is right there with you experiencing the pain along with you. Just hold on to him.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website barnabas.in

—————

Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.

* For a Malayalam language video summary of this post, visit my Facebook page.

* If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with others by using the sharing buttons below.

* My book recommendations on various topics are available at my Resources Page.

* For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.


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How to Know if You are Walking in the Truth

The disciples of Jesus, including John, gave up everything in life so people of their day may come to know Jesus. Thus it was a matter of great rejoicing when John finds people who walk in the truth of Jesus. (2 John 4)

Walking in the truth of Jesus must be accompanied by loving one another. Living for Jesus assumes loving one another, demands loving one another, or requires loving one another.

If we claim to walk in the truth of Jesus but don’t love one another, we have a serious problem. John was delighted to now that those he brought to Christ, his children, were walking in the truth. But they didn’t talk about it, they lived it by loving one another.

That’s why John said “I rejoiced greatly.” In other words, “I am so happy” that you walk in the truth…and love one another.

I want the Father to look at us and say “I am so happy that you walk in the truth…and love one another.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website barnabas.in

—————

Alexi George is a pastor, teacher, and writer. He is devoted to helping people live their potential.

* For a Malayalam video of this post, visit my Facebook page.

* If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with others who may benefit from reading this.

* For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.


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