THE KINGDOM PURPOSE

Image source: ChristKingdomFellowship

If humanity have spread around the world and are ruling the earth, it is because we all invest in achieving the Adamic purpose in the book of Genesis 1:28 to have children, fill the earth, and rule it. The reward for investing in the Adamic purpose is immediate – money, fame, power over others, Adamic glory here and now.

The Kingdom purpose, to be exact – the Biblical Kingdom purpose, calls on us to invest in building a heavenly nation, and not an earthly one. In Genesis Chapter 3 when Adam chose independence over obedience to God, his wife Eve was told she would have a son (Jesus) who would choose obedience over independence. The entire Old Testament showed all that God did to ensure that Jesus came in the flesh. The Kingdom purpose in the Old Testament was focused on the coming of Jesus. Now that Jesus has come and died and resurrected – what is the Kingdom purpose?

Let’s read Matthew 16:13-18 (Worsley’s New Testament) (shortened): “And when Jesus came into the parts of Cesarea… He asked his disciples… Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? And they answered, Some say thou art John the Baptist, others Elias, and others Jeremias… But, saith He unto them, whom do ye say that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God… Jesus replied… Blessed art thou Simon… for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven… as thou art called Peter, so upon this rock, which thou hast confessed, will I build my church…”

The resources of heaven are now focused on building the Church – this is the Kingdom purpose now. The Church is a kingdom with Jesus as King; the Church is a mighty nation with peoples from every ethnic group and from every generation present and past. Peter says in 1Peter 2:4-5 “Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. And now you are living stones being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God.”

How are we using our gifts, talents, skills, and capabilities to build this spiritual house under God? The immediate rewards for fulfilling the Adamic purpose are money, fame, and power; in the long-term these rewards fade, decay and die. The immediate rewards for fulfilling Kingdom purpose are love, joy, and peace; in the long-term, followers of Jesus will rule and reign with him in a new heaven and a new earth. Don’t just invest in the Adamic, invest in building the Kingdom!

To God the the glory – now and always, Amen!

THE ADAMIC PURPOSE

Image source: BeautifulGoodNews

Music, sports, inventing tools to make work easier and faster – where do all of these come from? They are from an abundance of talents and skills found in humanity everywhere in the world and across every generation.

Humanity have the wisdom, reasoning, and gifts to create and re-create, to invent and re-invent things endlessly. People find their purpose, and in some cases create or invent a purpose based on their skills, talents, capabilities, and interests. Where do these come from? The Bible provides answers in the book of Genesis.

We read in Genesis 1:28 (Good News Translation): “[God] blessed them [Adam and Eve], and said, “Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals.”

The above is the Adamic purpose – have children, fill the earth, and rule it. Responsibility comes with resources to fulfil the responsibility. The abundance of human skills, talents, capabilities, and variety of interests – are God-given resources for humanity to fulfil its Adamic purpose. When Adam was sent out of the Garden of Eden, the Adamic purpose did not change, it just became harder to fulfil without God leading the way. We have been driving a big car at night without lights!

All that humanity have achieved, all that humans do at home, at the farm, at school, at the office, the hospital, the play ground and the sports ground – all of these work together in fulfilment of the Adamic purpose. God blessed the Adamic purpose, that is why we have the talents, skills, and capabilities to fulfil it. We have indeed multiplied, built great cities, made great music, produced men and women with exceptional talents in music, sports, science, and government.

Adamic purpose produces Adamic achievements and Adamic glory. Adamic achievements and glory, get old, fade away, decay, and die, There is another, greater, more permanent, eternal purpose, that humans can sign up for, and that is the Kingdom purpose. We will look more into this next week, stay tuned!

To God be the glory, Amen!

JOY FROM FULFILMENT OF GOD-GIVEN PURPOSE

Image source: CompellingTruth

When we do things for which we have a natural ability, we feel a sense of joy. When we do things for which we have a purpose, a goal, a mission, we also feel a sense of joy. While we often identify our purpose through our skills and talents, we also dedicate ourselves to missions and purposes set by others as long as we believe in them. When we fulfil these missions and purposes based on our beliefs and convictions, we also feel a sense of joy. Let’s look at the case of Paul and Silas in the Bible.

The book of Acts Chapter 15 closes with Paul and Silas sent off on mission. In Chapter 16 and verse 9, after Paul and Silas had travelled through the Turkish cities of Derbe, Lystra, and Galatia, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia (Greece) begging him “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Paul and Silas left immediately for Greece convinced that God had given them a mission to go preach in Greece. The first Greek town where they started their preaching was Philippi.

At Philippi they met a slave girl who was a fortune-teller, and Paul cast out the spirit of fortune-telling from her. The slave girl’s owners were no longer able to make money, so they organized a city-wide protest against Paul and Silas. Both men were severely beaten and thrown in jail. Both men were sure they were fulfilling God’s purpose, and at midnight decided to pray and sing.

Acts 16:25-26 (NIV) says: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”

Paul and Silas could pray and sing while beaten and jailed because they were on mission; their circumstances did not determine their mood; fulfilling their God-given purpose determined their mood. Everyone will experience good times, hard times, bad times; if you stay on mission, on track to fulfil your God-given purpose, your joy will never be stolen from you. What is your God-given purpose? We will look into the old Adamic and the new Kingdom purpose next week, stay tuned!.

To God be the glory, great things he continues to do, Amen!

JOY IN AN UNSTABLE WORLD

Image source: ClarissaClineK

It is election week in America, we are electing representatives and senators who make up the house of congress. These are powerful elected leaders who can advance the agenda of the president or frustrate the president if they wish. These local level election period can be a very stressful time as the politicians fight viciously to get the votes they need to win. Christians get caught up in the tensions as some politicians sell themselves as the candidates that will do what Christian voters want.

These local elections happen every two years, sometimes the Republican Party wins and are in control, at other times the Democratic Party wins. This repeat cycle of Republicans today and Democrats tomorrow will never end as long as these two parties are the main choices the people have. Yet, every time these elections come around, a number of Christians experience severe stress and lose their joy. It is easy to get so involved with the elections that we forget that our hope and joy are built on Jesus and not on our national governments.

Paul says to the Roman Christians in Romans 15:13 (NIV): “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The Roman Christians were in Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, where you cannot escape the news about politics. They were also living in a city that was not kind to Christians – they were mocked, they were persecuted, and even killed for their faith. Yet, Paul says to them “May God fill you with joy… as you trust in him…”. Their joy did not depend on whether the Roman Emperor was kind to them or not; their joy depended on whether they trusted in God.

Christian joy comes from knowing that: “The hope of the righteous ends in gladness, but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing” (Proverbs 10:28). The Bible is saying faith in Jesus Christ will end in gladness for the believer, no matter what circumstances of life we pass through. Our joy has no boundary because it is a joy based on what God has done in redeeming us, and the gift of new life that we possess.

While we cast our votes in America, or anywhere else in the world, for the leaders of our countries, lets be intentional in not allowing election outcomes to steal our joy. The amazing grace of God upon us, the mercy and love of God that shines upon us, remain with us, irrespective of the outcome of elections. Whether my candidate wins or not, I continue to look to the Lord for joy, peace, and a new song in my heart.

To God be the Glory, Amen!

THESSALONIANS – STRONG FAITH, ENDURING HOPE, PRACTICAL LOVE

Image source: GraceBaptistChurch

The letters to the Thessalonians were the first letters Paul wrote to his converts, but they are somewhat overshadowed by other letters of Paul. We are often more knowledgeable of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and to the Galatians. Perhaps, this is because these other Churches had congregational problems similar to what we have in our Churches today. Nevertheless, the message in Thessalonians about strong faith, enduring hope, practical love, speaks to us all in the Churches today.

Studying First and Second Thessalonians has made me to look in the mirror. Paul’s high praise in both his letters to them – a congregation experiencing persecution, has made me to ask myself, do I have strong faith? Do I have enduring hope in Christ, a hope that passes the test of time? Am I thinking – Jesus has not returned and therefore will not return, so lets burn the Bible and live like there is no hope. Thirdly, how do I express love for the Church, for humanity?

Paul ends his message in 2 Thess. 3:16 (NIV) with: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

As we embrace the message to the Thessalonians, may the Lord give us peace, grace and joy to live it. We all need this empowerment as we live in a global culture that is sometimes uncaring and cruel, magnified in our times by social media. May our faith, hope, and love remain strong and bright wherever and whenever!

To God be the glory, Amen!

2 THESSALONIANS – CORRECTING ERRORS ABOUT THE ADVENT

Image source: RestonBibleChurch

William Miller preached that Jesus would return on 22 October 1844; some of his followers prepared themselves for this by withdrawing from normal human activities like having a regular job. More recently, Harold Camping, also preached that Jesus would return on 21 May 2011, it did not happen. The ‘Advent’, from which we get ‘Adventist’, refers to the second coming of Jesus. This is the great Christian hope, so no surprise that Christians are eager for it to happen sooner rather than later.

William Miller and Harold Camping were respected preachers with good intentions, but they got the date for the advent wrong, and it had consequences in the lives of their closest followers. Similarly, the Thessalonians were concerned about the advent, following on from their concern about their loved ones who had died. Recall that Paul told them in his first letter that their dead will rise at the second coming of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18); so they asked Paul for greater clarity about this event.

However, some Thessalonians had concluded that the advent would happen soonest, so these quit their jobs, became idlers dependent on others, while waiting for the advent to take them away. Paul had to push back against this misinterpretation of the gospel message and irresponsible lifestyle. This was the intent of his second letter to the Thessalonians; he starts with praise for the Thessalonians in Chapter 1, then teaches clearly in Chapter 2 about the future timing of the advent.

Paul then says in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 (NIV) (shortened): “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you… keep away from every believer who is idle… We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day… in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate… we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive… busybodies. Such people we command… to settle down and earn the food they eat… Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.”

In the 2000 years since the gospel has been preached, people from every corner of the planet have come to believe in Jesus. The new world will have people from every tribe and nation; we wait for it with patience, but we cannot be idlers and busybodies, we must earn the food we eat while we wait.

Lord, help us to be productive, while we wait for the advent, Amen!

1 THESSALONIANS – LIFE BEYOND THE GRAVE

Image source: RedemptionHillChurch

The Thessalonians had a quotation about death that said: “After death, no reviving, after the grave, no meeting again”. A Thessalonian graveyard tombstone had the words “‘I was not, I became, I am not, I care not.” Thessalonians believed death was the end, until Paul got there and preached the resurrection.

The resurrection of the dead was of concern to the Thessalonians because some had died, and these new believers were seeking clarity from Paul about their fate. They grew up hearing that “after death, no reviving”. Would their loved ones who died as Christians truly live again? Paul’s answer is a defite yes!

Paul says in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV) (shortened): “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope… According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive… will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come… with a loud command… and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Paul says – ‘therefore encourage one another with these words’. We have this hope of a new life, in a new earth, that will be better managed than this present one. This hope is taught in both the Old and New Testament – the Bible teaches that Jesus will form a world government that will govern with fairness, justice, truth, and compassion; these are qualities we are looking for in our leaders today.

The Thessalonians received Paul’s letter with joy, however, some decided that if Jesus is coming soon to give them a better life, they will not work or be productive. This led to Paul’s second letter to them to correct this irresponsible interpretation of his teachings. We will look into this in the next blog.

Lord, give us clear Biblical insights into life beyond the grave, Amen!

1 THESSALONIANS – OUTLINE OF THE BOOK

Image source: CommunityFellowshipChurchPA

Apostle Paul along with Silas and Timothy were in Thessalonica for just a few weeks. Thessalonica was a capital city in Macedonia, northern Greece; it was wealthy and had a Jewish community who were doing business there. In the book of Acts Chapter 17, we see that these Jews did not agree with Paul’s preaching, and they led a protest against Paul, and the leaders of the new Church. Paul and his team left Thessalonica and went south to Berea and later on to Corinth.

Paul wrote the letter to the Thessalonians from Corinth. He was worried about the young Church and the persecution they faced; so he sent Timothy to go find out how they were doing. Timothy came back with the good news that the Thessalonians had convictions of steel and were standng strong. He also brought back news that the Jews had continued to speak evil about Paul, and that the young Church had concerns about sexual behavior, and questions about life after death for Christians.

Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was written to address the concerns of the young Church. In Chapter 1, he praised the Thessalonians for their strong faith, love, and continued hope in Christ. In Chapter 2, he encourages them to compare his conduct with that of those who speak evil about him, he is saying “who do you think loves you and cares about you” – Paul makes it clear that he loves the Thessalonians deeply. In Chapter 3 we see Paul explaining why he sent Timothy to stregthen them, and how joyful he is to hear that they are strong in the face of continued persecution.

In Chapter 4:3-8 (NIV) (shortened) Paul writes: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before… anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God…”

Paul uses very strong words here, because in Thessalonica, like in other major cities like Corinth and Rome, sexual relations were very loose, anyone could partner with anyone else or anything, married or unmarried. Many historians have written about this, and how Christianity was radically different. In the lower half of Chapter 4, Paul addresses the issue of life after death by telling the Thessalonians that the dead in Christ will resurrect first before those who are alive, at the second coming of Jesus.

The first letter to the Thessalonians ends in Chapter 5, with exhortation to the young Church to remain prepared and alert as the second coming will happen unexpectedly. The letter closes with more encouragement to good behavior, faithful service, love for one another, holiness, and endurance.

May we be a source of joy to our Christian mentors and pastors who sincerely pray for us and work for our good, Amen!

THESSALONIANS – CONVICTIONS OF STEEL

Image source: RedeemerBibleChurch

Apostle Paul planted many Churches in Turkey and Greece. Among the Churches he planted, he spent considerable time in Ephesus (Turkey) and paid a lot of attention to solving problems in the Church of the Corinthians (Greece). The one that Paul planted that he thought was exemplary were the Thessalonians.

The book of Acts Chapter 17 tells the story of Paul and Silas at Thessaloniki. Paul and Silas preached to the Jews and to the Greeks who were there. Seeing the success of the efforts of Paul and Silas, some of the Jews were upset, they attacked the Church and were looking to harm Paul and Silas. The two missionaries had to leave Thessaloniki for Berea. In spite of this opposition, the Church thrived.

Paul had high praise for them in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 (The Message Bible): “Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience [endurance] of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ… It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.”

The Thessalonians had strong faith, love for one another, endurance built on hope in Jesus, and convictions of steel. While many of the early Churches were weak, like Corinth (Greece), Ephesus and Galatia (Turkey), the Thessalonians were strong. This explains why we don’t see Paul writing much to them about how to behave, instead he answers their questions about the ressurrection and the antichrist.

In the face of opposition and persecution, the Thessalonians remained a faithful, loving, and hopeful Church. How do we compare in our different parts of the world today? Are we angry and bitter because our faith is mocked by some, opposed by others, and persecuted in many places around the world?

May our October study of Thessalonians give us new hope, Amen!

A NEW HUMANITY

Adam and Eve used their freewill to walk away from God. In doing so, they gained the freedom to live according to their own rules, by their own brain power and physical strength. However, they were living in a very, very, big house they did not build – that is the earth. A house with many rooms and many good things, and with an enemy older and wiser than them both – the devil.

Adam and Eve had the brains and strength to build a life in this physical world, but they were no match for the devil. Imagine living in a big house you did not build and having to face an enemy who knows the house thoroughly, because the enemy was there when it was being built. The devil knows the earth better than we do, and knows humanity better than we know ourselves. The devil was there when we created and knows our capacity, our appetites, our strengths, our weaknesses.

Thus, the devil is a master at deceiving humans through lies about spiritual reality, and through selling us ideas and products that satisfy our appetites and keep us addicted – coming back for more. Adam and Eve and us their children, enjoy using our freewill, but we have a wise old enemy that is an expert at encouraging us to use our freewill to walk away from God. How can we use our freewill to make a choice to walk with God and not away from God?

In john 5:1-19 (Amplified Bible) (shortened) we read: “Later on there was a Jewish feast (festival), and Jesus went up to Jerusalem… There was a certain man there who had been ill for thirty-eight years… Jesus said to him, “Get up; pick up your pallet and walk.”… that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews kept saying to the man… “It is the Sabbath, and you are not permitted to pick up your pallet… [the man] told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews began to persecute Jesus… So Jesus answered them by saying, “…the Son can do nothing of Himself [of His own accord], unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever things the Father does, the Son [in His turn] also does in the same way.”

Jesus presents a new humanity, a humanity that do nothing independent of God, but in harmony with God. The life of Jesus shows that this new humanity is able to draw on divine resources to heal the sick, feed the multitude, rise from the dead. This new humanity sounds too good be true, sounds like a fairy tale, maybe! However, until you personally and sincerely give it a try, by calling on Jesus, the firstborn of this new humanity, to show it to you, it does not seem wise to just dismiss it.

Great God, teach us more about this new humanity, Amen!