barnabas.in : Alexi George

Move Forward or Risk it All

It’s a major concern for me when we see people unable to move forward in their faith. They are still dealing with the basic factors of the faith. Somehow, they are not completely sure of their faith.

Since our faith rests on the finished work of Jesus on the cross, we have a confidence that it is firm. Our faith has a firm foundation. It is sure.

Now, it’s time to move forward.

But still, many continue to doubt if God loves them. They have difficulty believing that God accepts them and cares for them. Some are fearful that God will only accept them if they are good and live free from all sin. We want to live free of the bondage of sin and live for God, but that is not the measuring line which God uses to see if we are acceptable. We are accepted only because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Those who continue to struggle with these important foundational matters have the risk of falling away and abandoning their faith. For such people, it is quite difficult to return to the faith in Jesus.

Thus we are to move forward in our faith. Otherwise we risk it all. The twelve disciples and the seventy two disciples were sent out to heal the sick and teach people about the Kingdom of God. Instead of doubting, they simply believed the words of Jesus and moved forward. 

As quickly as possible, set your foundation in place. By faith, trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Then, spend your time bringing healing to people. The healing needs to be physical, emotional, mental, and relational. Then, teach people about God’s Kingdom. John Wimber had called this “doing the works of Jesus, and teaching His words.”

This is how we are to move forward. If we don’t, we risk everything.

Your Turn

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Choose Dead Heroes

* A Malayalam language video of this post is available at the bottom of this page.

We all have our “favorites” in the faith: Abraham, Paul, Peter, and other biblical characters who have exemplified faith and courage. In the modern world, some may choose Martin Luther, John Wesley, D. L. Moody, Billy Graham, John Wimber, and even some of the “faith” preachers.

I’ve got to be careful here, as Steve Brown warned against choosing our heroes before they are dead. While they are alive, they still have a chance to mess up their lives before they die. So, maybe I’ll stick to the dead ones as my heroes.

The Jewish people considered Moses to be the greatest individual in their history. For them, he was the greatest patriarch, prophet, leader, and deliverer. When these Jewish people came to faith in Jesus, their exaggerated focus on Moses continued. Along with their strong allegiance to Moses came their allegiance to the Law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible that the Jews call the Torah. This focus was not all that bad, but the writer of Hebrews wanted to make a strong statement that Jesus is worthy of the greatest honor.

By comparing and contrasting Moses and Jesus, Hebrews is focused on encouraging Jews to give Jesus the highest honor in the faith (Heb 3:1-6).

So who are your favorites? Who are the modern “heroes” of faith that have impacted your life? For me, some Christian leaders, preachers, Bible teachers, pastors, and musicians have had a great impact on my faith journey.

But there is none like Jesus. He is the one who deserved the greatest honor in my life.

In yours too.

Your Turn

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on 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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I Will Never Leave You Nor Forsake You

*** View a Malayalam video of this article at this link: www.facebook.com/barnabas.in

We often think of the above promise in general terms and we apply it to all areas of our lives. Yet the text in Hebrews 13:5-6 is dealing with financial difficulties.

Three areas of financial concerns are evident here. Focus identifies where your trust is, thus the term “love of money.” The practical issue of Contentment brings order to our lives. Finally, Trust is the foundational matter when it pertains to God’s providence for our sustenance. Fear is dissipated and replaced with confidence when we know that God is with us.

Focus

“Keep your lives free from the love of money.” This sentence focuses on the heart issue of where we put our trust. What we focus on is what we love. That’s where our hearts are drawn to.

So this phrase is a negative command. We are clearly instructed to keep away from loving money. Thus we are to turn our focus away from money and put it on God who is able to truly care for us.

Contentment

“Be satisfied with what you have.” Although this statement seems to be quite simple, and maybe simplistic, it points to an internal matter of contentment.

Being content requires a great struggle against feelings of inadequacy and want. It also grinds against the need to “cover” the losses we have faced in life with things that feel like an adequate substitute.

Trust

“For God has said ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you. Let us be bold, then, and say, ‘the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’” In the context of money and contentment, God says these words of comfort and strength.

Thus we have a place to put our trust when we struggle with finances. Focus on God, be content with what we have, and trust God.

Your Turn

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The Un-Sacrifice

*** View a Malayalam video of this article at the bottom of this post or at this link: www.facebook.com/barnabas.in

A sacrifice isn’t much of a sacrifice when the gain is so much. But the truth is, we like to complain. We compare ourselves with others and complain about what could have been, what should have been, and why others are in a much better position than we are.

I’ve always thought of Jesus’ sacrifices in life as a “no-brainer” as the very purpose of His life was to die. Then He knew that He would be in heaven after His resurrection. Thus His life was focused toward His death. He suffered with His eyes set on the Joy that awaited Him (Heb 12:1-2).

The heroes and martyrs of the faith did the same. They lived their lives as temporary residents, on their way to their homeland (Heb 11:16). They knew it was a better place, much better than anything available here on earth. They knew their lives were temporary and that their death only leads to greater things.

Unfortunately we continue with our heads down – focused on the “stuff” of this world. Let’s face it, this world has not served up a good deal for us. Our expectations have mostly been shattered by the systems of this world. The ancients knew this reality and they accepted that. Jesus realized that and brought hope. A hope for a better future in heaven.

So what about the sacrifices we make in life? Since we have so much to gain, our sacrifices are not much of a sacrifice anyway. Maybe it’s sort of an un-sacrifice.

Your Turn

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When You Don’t Get What You Hoped For

Regrets about the past are not uncommon — especially when our hopes and expectations did not come through here in this life. Sure, you love God with all your heart, but there is this gnawing feeling of loss as you have followed Christ.

What did you give up to follow Jesus? Did you sacrifice much? Do you often think of what you left behind? Was the sacrifice worth it?

Now, was it really a sacrifice? That depends on what you’ve been promised. Really, it depends on your expectations. The “heroes” of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 were looking forward to something beyond this life. They didn’t get much in this life. In fact, they surely got a raw deal in life and finished off their lives in horrendous death experiences.

But their expectations were promises much beyond this life. Those expectations drove them to live a life of contentment in the mindset of utter turmoil and pain. The raw deal they get in this life was not at all an issue for them as they were looking forward to a glorious future beyond this life.

Yes, Jesus did promises us some things in this life, but much more in the life to come. We need to shift our focus. Once that focus is shifted, we can begin to live this life with more freedom and satisfaction than you’ve ever imagined.

Your Turn

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An Indecent Invitation

When people are struggling with the guilt of their sins, why would God simply open up the Most Holy Place and say “come”?

Now, in the community where we live, any decent person would be selective of the people they invite into their homes. But this approach of Jesus to open up God’s house to anyone without limitation, is certainly questionable. At best, it is indecent.

But when we take him up on this offer, we won’t need to enter His presence and feel like an indecent, worthless person. Here’s what the writer of Hebrews says: “So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water” (Heb 10:22).

The invitation of Jesus is a package deal. It’s an invitation to experience the transforming power of God in every area of our lives. When you enter the presence of God on a regular basis, you will be changed.

Over the years I’ve noticed that if the person is resistant to changes, they eventually drop out and never return. They want to be in God’s presence, but are unwilling to be changed.

The invitation is always open. I am an invitee who continues to experience the “washing” and “purification” mentioned in Hebrews 10:22. He continues that work in us throughout our entire lives so we can be formed into the likeness of his Son Jesus.

Have you accepted that invitation? If not, are you ready to consider it? Click here to learn how to accept the invitation of Jesus. [Link to “Need a Change”]

Your Turn

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A Reason to Care

I had lunch with a young man who is actively considering a relationship with God. As we started eating, his friend, and former classmate showed up and sat with us to eat.

During the course of the conversation this young man asked his friend why. Ha hadn’t called him in such a long time. The reply was amazing: “Why should I call you if I have no reason to call?”

On the surface, the question is logical and reasonable, but quite selfish. There is no concern for the other person. No thought about the welfare of his friend. But of course, we would say that if either friend has a need, they can call.

While listening to this conversation I remembered Jesus. The Bible says he died for us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8). Before we realized our need, he took the initiative to take a costly step on our behalf. Before we asked for help. Now, the uniqueness of Christ’s offer is fabulous when we consider that he plans to do a major follow-up to his original plan.

Once again, Jesus will return to make good on His original plan. “In the same manner Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many. He will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting for him” (Rom 9:28).

What a deal. He gives up his life just because he loves us. Throughout our lives he promised to be with us. Then, he promised to return and finalize the process to take us with Him.

Our brokenness was enough to make Jesus respond. Our sin had made such a significant gap that he had to turn our way. We were the reason.

Your Turn

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What is God’s plan for you?

God has great plans for us as His children. He invites us to those places of greatness even before we are ready. He has a plan for us, and He will work in us to work out that plan within and through us. God’s plan for us can be seen clearly at the communion table.

At communion, we are doing much more than remembering the death of Jesus Christ. We are being given a lofty invitation. First, it’s an invitation to fellowship with God the creator of the universe. Second, we are invited to positions of authority that only children of the King can enjoy.

Invitations are commonly given to those of equal status, and to those who are deserving. In Luke 22, Jesus invited the disciples to a meal. His disciples were anything but deserving. Even at the table, they were arguing among themselves about who will be greatest among them (Luke 22). Jesus had to warn Peter of his impending betrayal (Luke 22:31). These and numerous other reasons are clear in the Gospels that they were undeserving of the invitation of Jesus.

When we look closely, we realize that the invitation goes much beyond this one meal together. He repeatedly mentioned the future Kingdom of God, where he will one day eat and drink with them (Luke 22:16, 18, 30).

But I am intrigued by the fact that the disciples behavior showed that they were undeserving of such a lofty invitation. In the coming kingdom, they were to eat together and rule together.

Sharing a meal is something that was only done together with equals. Never would someone eat with people of lower status. This is why the Jewish religious leaders were upset at Jesus. He regularly ate meals with those the society regarded as outcasts. Jesus considered this as part of His mission.

Being given the right to rule (Luke 22:29) was reserved only for sons. Kings in those days ensured that their sons were placed in positions of power and authority. After their death, the sons would continue the rule.

What an awesome invitation with a great expectation. Get ready. God is in the process of building you up according to His expectations.

Your Turn

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* Malayalam language video of this post is available on my Facebook page.

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Go Ahead, Live as You Please

Are you tired of rules and regulations? There is always someone ready to tell you what you should do. No matter how hard you try to be good, it’s never good enough.

In fact it’s so bad that you feel like you are living for someone else. You just can’t be yourself. You have to be someone you are not.

Maybe it’s not others telling you to conform. You yourself have realized the struggle to live a life pleasing to God. For the longest time, you’ve tried to live the Christian life, but you never seem to conquer yourself.

Your situation could be so bad that you are no longer in control. But it’s your life, and you should be able to live it as you wish. But even if you want to live a life pleasing to God, you just can’t.

Better than you trying, God has a better way. He wants to transform you from the inside out. Here is what the writer of Hebrews says about it:

I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. None of them will have to teach his fellow citizen or tell his fellow countryman, “know the Lord.” For they will all know me, from the least to the greatest (Heb 8:10-11 GNB).

Maybe it’s time to ask God to come and rewrite the “code” in your heart and mind. When this happens, God’s desire becomes your desire and your desire becomes God’s desire. It is a gradual process, but if you will open yourself up to the Holy Spirit, He will begin that work within you. Then, once your desire becomes God’s desire, go ahead and live as you please!

Your Turn

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Please share briefly in the comments section on the website.

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Malayalam language video of this post available on my Facebook page.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

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Short and Long Term Effects of Sufferings

Suffering produces short term responses and long term effects. The trouble is that during the process, we begin to feel like our fate is sealed.

The most common short term response is doubt expressed through questioning. We question God, people, and ultimately life itself. If we allow ourselves to continue on this track, we can become cynical and closed to input from others and God.

For some, their response is anger. Anger may be expressed outwardly where the person behaves like a short-fuse ready to blow at any moment. Periodically they may “explode” and cause others to pull away from such a person. Others suppress the anger within themselves. No one knows it’s there, but it slowly takes its toll on the person’s mind and body.

Still others respond with deep sorrow and pain. They pull away from others and allow the sorrow to pull them down into a deep pit. This cycle of sorrow, pain, and seclusion continues to repeat itself and finally this person may end up in depression.

Jesus responded to suffering by turning to His Father. His prayers were with loud cries and tears. He was heard because of his reverent submission (Heb 5:7). The next verse reveals that Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered.

While you suffer, turn to the Father and pour your heart out to Him. Put aside everything else and turn to Him again and again. He will hear you. Then in the long run, He will teach you — what you need to learn.

Your Turn

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

Please share briefly in the comments section on the website.

—————

* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

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

My Books:


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