Wednesday, November 27, 2013

THE ARMOR THAT HOLD'S UP:(The Belt of Truth)

            The manufacturer, Second Chance Body Armor Inc., has notified hundreds of police departments that it has stopped selling two widely used models of vests after random tests showed that the core material was degrading before their five-year warranties expired. This disclosure came after a law suite. When you're dealing with something as serious as bulletproof vests what margin of error is acceptable? When you got someone shooting at you, you want to know that the armor you're wearing is actually going to work, right?”[1]

Last week we learned that whether we know it or not; like it or not all believers from the moment of salvation are engaged in spiritual war. The enemy has a plan to destroy lives. He never takes a break. He works round the clock. The enemy is busy round the clock aiming at believers with his deceptive schemes. The bible calls them “the flaming missiles.” How can we protect ourselves from the enemy’s attacks?
            Let’s read Ephesians 6:10-17.Today we are going to explore the full armor of God. One thing we can be absolutely assured of -- this armor will hold up in the heat of all spiritual battles. What is the significance of the armor? What defensive and offensive weapons will aid us in the fight? What assurance do we have in the battle?
            In the passage we read the apostle Paul training the believers, to recognize that the nature of the war is not earthly but spiritual. The battle lines are drawn in the spiritual realm. Vs 12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
            Some times we mistake people as our enemies, no doubt they could be used as the agents of the devil but our real enemy is not people but the devil and his fallen angels. Since most of our fight does not happen on earth, we can not win this battle fighting in worldly ways, such as “Tit for Tat” or taking revenge, and paying back evil for evil or insult for insult, on the contrary spiritual war is waged by different principles, practices and weapons. II Corinthians 10:3-4, explains the nature of those weapons, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
            The strongholds here mean arguments, opinions against the knowledge of God and the plan of salvation through His Son. The divine weapons are powerful to demolish them. In other words nothing that sets itself against God can survive.
In any physical war soldiers know the importance of the armor. They never put themselves in combating situations without the armor because their life or death depends on the armor. Therefore they spend a great deal in studying and understanding the defensive and the offensives weapons, and go through rigorous training with the armor before they ever engage in combat.
            It works the same way in a spiritual war.  Similarly, provision is made in the Word of God for the assaults of Satan from all directions. Let’s explore the weapons in our combat gear?

            Using the Roman Soldier's armor as a visual example, (power point) the Apostle Paul describes the Armor of God in the book of Ephesians as both a defense and an offensive weapon. The full armor of God consist of six weapons: three were considered defensive: breast plate, shield and helmet. Two are considered offensive: sword and shoes. One is neutral: loin belt (girdle). We will study them one by one in depth. Today we will talk about the “Belt of Truth.”

            Vs 14a, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.. in the literal translation, it reads, “having girded your loins” After all, when we think of the armor of a soldier, we immediately think of the breastplate, that covered their vital organs, the helmet that protected their head, the shield which helped fend off the attacks of the enemy. Maybe we think of the sword, a vital part of the armor for defense and counter-attacks. But few of us ever think much about the belt. How important is that?

            Interestingly, Paul puts it very first on the list! This means it is one of the most important pieces. Why the belt?  What purpose did the belt serve for a Roman soldier? What purpose does the belt of truth serve for us? A Roman soldier’s belt was a multi purpose one, the belt held everything in place. It held the tunics they wore under their armor. It kept the breastplate tight and secure around the soldier, and kept it from banging against his chest when in battle, and the belt also held a sheath for his sword or dagger.
            A soldier without a belt amounts to nothing in the battle field in the same way believers can not hold the armor together without the belt of truth. Satan is a master deceiver, after deceiving Eve into committing sin he has cleverly deceived so many people through his lies.
The world we live in teaches that truth is what we make of it, that good and bad are relative and that there are no absolutes, only equally valid opinions.  
            Ravi Zacharias shares the story of a man who used to go to work at a factory and every day would stop outside a clockmaker’s store to synchronize his watch with the clock outside? At the end of several days the clockmaker stopped him and said, “Excuse me, sir, I do have a question for you. I see that every day you stop and adjust your watch with my clock. What kind of work do you do?”
            The man said, “I’m embarrassed to tell you this; I keep the time at the factory nearby, and I have to ring the bell at four o clock every afternoon when it is time for the people to go home. My watch doesn’t work very well, so I synchronize it with your clock.” The clockmaker says, “I’ve got bad news for you. My clock doesn’t work very well either, so I synchronize it with the bell that I hear from the factory at 4:00 every afternoon.” If you’ll pardon the grammar, what happens when two wrong watches correct themselves by each other? They will get wronger and wronger all the time."[2]
            In this world of conflicting opinions how do we know what the absolute truth is so that we could hold on to it?  Well that begs another question, “What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus the same question; and turned away from him and handed him over to be crucified. Many people have asked the same question but when they are presented with the answer they turn away from it. In order to answer the question what is truth we must turn to scriptures.  Jesus said "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."' (John 8:31-32) and '"Your word is truth."' (John 17:17).
            The truth is revealed in The Bible as the person and character of Jesus Christ, and His teachings, and the reality of God's promises. Jesus Christ is the truth; He is the absolute standard and embodiment of truth. The Holy Spirit of God gives the revelation of the truth to individual children, men, and women. Anything that does not agree with the revelation of this truth is falsehood, error, heresy, or deception. The Bible does not provide every answer to every question of life, but it does provide us the truth that God wants us to know about Himself, His Son, His Spirit, His purpose and man’s eternal destiny. The Bible provides standards and morals for living; separates truth from error, truth from deception, and right from wrong.
             Putting on the belt of truth means embracing Jesus Christ; accepting his forgiveness and abiding in His word. That is why it is so important that we regularly study truth from God’s word the Bible and try to live accordingly. Interesting thing is that the devil too knows God’s word but he twists it where by deceives many. But when we accurately use God’s word against Satan like Jesus did we can over come him. Rev 12:11, “they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.” May be keeping these words in the background the great Reformer Martin Luther wrote, “The prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.” It is only God’s word the truth, defeats the enemy, not our vain efforts.

            Coming back to our passage before advising the believers to put on the full armor of God the apostle encourages them with these assuring words. Vs 10-11Paul exhorts the believers, finally, “Be strong in the LORD, and in the strength of His might.” Put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

            As we conclude, I want us to leave with this advice. We are to never fight the spiritual battle alone. We must count on God. Stand strong in your faith in the Lord. Appropriate His mighty strength because the enemy you are facing is far more crafty, powerful and highly deceptive. But remember one thing, greater is he that is in us than the one who is in the world and through Christ we are more than conquerors. Amen


Sunday, November 24, 2013


Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, a familiar saying in our country. We remember from Pearl Harbor what it's like to get caught off guard. The enemy can be so deceptive: Japan's peace envoys were seated at the negotiating table at the very moment the attack was launched. Our country depends on a strong defense, on being watchful and on strong offense, so we are not surprised by a sneak attack we are prepared to fight when we have to.

On April 28, 1944, during World War II, Allied soldiers were engaged in Operation Tiger, a training exercise in amphibious beach landings in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Suddenly, enemy gunboats appeared and killed over 700 American servicemen in a surprise attack. Today, a monument stands on Slapton Sands to commemorate the sacrifice of those young men who died while training for battle but were never able to enter the conflict.[1]

That tragedy is a picture that warns the believer in Christ. For many of us war is not a new concept. Since 3600 B.C., the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed.  Perhaps what many Christians are not aware of is that there is another kind of war that has been waging since the creation of the world which is spiritual in nature.  

During my years in Christian ministry I met many Christians who were either ignorant or caught off guard by the schemes of the enemy as a result they shipwrecked their faith, lost their testimony, brought grief to themselves, to their loved ones, to everyone else and especially to the name and cause of Christ.

Spiritual war calls us to be vigilant. We combat with an enemy who is powerful and deceptive. If we are caught off guard and ignorant of the tactics of the enemy we too can be overcome and die spiritually and possibly physically too. That is why the apostle Peter warned: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9).(NKJV) Here Peter warned believers to  be self-controlled and to be alert by exposing the nature and intent of the Devil and finally he arms the believers how to fight the Devil. Let’s look at: Be Sober, Be vigilant.

I BE SOBER: (Vs 8)

First let’s look at what it means to “Be Sober”In the book “Addict Nation,” Jane-Velez-Mitchell highlights the top five addictions that the Americans are dealing with, namely: Prescription pill addiction, Food addiction, Crime and punishment, addiction to shopping and addiction to technology.”[2] For anyone struggling with any kind of addiction the final step in recovery is maintaining sober living as an individual.
Once out of sober living, it will be easy to fall into the same habits that led to the problem in the first place. To avoid this, avoid the situations. It may mean suggesting other options for activities with friends.

Coming back to the Apostle Peter’s letter, while advising believers regarding spiritual warfare, he uses similar recovery language. I  Peter 3:13-14 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. (NIV) In the NASB it reads, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,”

In other words what Peter saying here is that, “you used to live in addiction to sin and bondage to the Devil your former master. You did that out of ignorance, you couldn’t help it; but now you have come to know Christ as your savior, the light has dawned upon you; the truth has set you free from your former addictions therefore be ready for action; be sober completely; obey your new master and Lord; do not go back to your old way of living.

This is the position for every born again child of God. When we have accepted Christ; in fact when Christ has accepted us; we have made a transfer from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Our loyalties have changed therefore our current way of living must also change. We can not afford to continue to live in sin because grace abounds where sin abounds. When we do not maintain sober living, it is easy for us to fall back into the Devils trap and continue to live like the way we used to live.

What does being sober minded mean?  It means: being steadfast to the truth of God’s word; self control; clarity of mind; living in fellowship with Christians who pursue godly values. The sober Christian is correctly in charge of his priorities and not intoxicated with the various allurements of the world.  In other words we have to rid ourselves from certain debilitating habits and friendships and cultivate Christian disciplines and seek out godly friendships that enrich and strengthen our faith.

I have talked and prayed with several people who once had a vibrant relationship with God but now have almost given up of their faith. During those talks to my dismay I have discovered that these individuals slowly but surely have stopped living sober lives. Like the one that the Apostle Peter was talking about.  

They began to take things into their own hands and started to crave for what they had given up, or compromised in other ways; they let their spiritual guard down if you will. As a result they have plunged back into the same bondage or struggle where Christ has set them free from. What a sad proposition that is. It could happen to any one of us. I am concerned about a number of people who are struggling because they have ignored the warning signs. That brings us to talk about; being vigilant.

II. BE VIGILANT: (Vs 8)   
            Being sober minded calls for individual responsibility for the way we live our Christian lives, but being vigilant takes our focus away from us to our enemy, on the one who is about to strike us any moment when we are off guard. The Roman system of military communication provides an early example of how they used signals to alert the troops and the public about the threat of the enemy. In modern military terminology we call it “Human Intelligence” or abbreviated as “HUMINT” It is "a category of intelligence derived from information collected and provided by human sources, which involves interrogations and conversations with persons having access to information.[3]  
Similarly, God has an inbuilt intelligence in His word which is based on His dealings with the devil, his angels and their impact on the cream of his creation called the “Humans” God’s word is his intelligence for us which alerts us against the devil who is our arch enemy. While we can not blame the devil for all the evil that happens to us and in the world, certainly he has a lion’s share for which he is responsible and rightly so needs to be blamed for. We need to keep this tension in balance. With that in mind let’s look at what the scriptures say about the devil and his schemes against humanity even more so against believers so that we are not only informed but also can be vigilant. How can we recognize our enemy?

Satan has been so clever that he has almost totally disguised himself from fallen humanity, so that not one in ten thousand recognizes that he is inwardly motivated by another spirit. We just think it is we ourselves running our own lives! Satan has even managed to get himself smeared and laughed at as a ridiculous creature with horns and tail, so that none recognize the truth of his awful subtlety. Here are a few pointers that scriptures provide which exposes the true nature, purpose and the destructive plan of our enemy.

I Peter 5: 8 “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” This scripture shows that: the devil is not our friend but our enemy. He has a deceptive nature; he pretends to be like a lion but not an actual lion. He is constantly, 24/7 and 52 weeks of the year making his rounds and looking for someone to devour. The scriptures call him a murderer and a father of lies, he is known as the “accuser” He accuses God to men and men to God. In other words he spreads lies about God to men and about men to God.

Jesus has exposed Satan’s true nature when he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That is what Satan is doing in the world today. He is stealing our true joy, health, peace, he is killing lives through crime, and violence and he is destroying marriage, and families through lies and misunderstandings. Next time when you are faced with relational, and financial challenges, or debilitating addictive behaviors pause and think; could it be that your adversary is after you to destroy your life completely?  If that is the case then how can we overcome the onslaught of the devil? How can we live fulfilled and victorious lives? 

What hope are you and I given in the Scriptures?  Vs 9 “Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The key to victory here is not just resisting the devil but submitting to God first and then resisting the devil and he will free from us. So summing it all up; we talked about being sober, we have to come to terms with the fact that life is not a cruise but that we are involved in warfare.  Not only are we to be sober but also vigilant or in other words, aware and alert about the schemes of the enemy.  Being sober and alert is half of the battle.  In order to effectively fight the devil and win God has equipped believers with defensive and offensive weapons for spiritual warfare which we will look at next week.  For now as we close, remember you are more than a conqueror through Christ who loved you. Amen

[1] (From a sermon by Larry Wise, Facing the Roaring Lion, 8/1/2010)

[2] Jane-Velez-Mitchell, “Addict Nation”

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Someone has said that 90 percent of the work of a church is done by ten percent of the members. What do you think; could that be said of our Church too? In Mark Twain's book Tom Sawyer, young Tom is given the chore of whitewashing his Aunt Polly's fence. Tom grudgingly sets to work. As he paints, several acquaintances stop by. Each friend invites Tom to come and play, which certainly sounds like a lot more fun than painting a fence. Tom formulates a plan. If he can recruit some of his friends to help, the work will get done in half the time" Boy, your plans sound tempting," says Tom, "but I'm having way too much fun painting this fence." The idea that fence painting could be fun never occurred to Tom's friends until he made it look like an adventure.

If you know the story you'll remember that Tom ended up with a whole row of fence painters while he simply stood by and watched. Tom figured out that it takes one person a lot longer to complete a task than when many people pitch in.

Last week we learned that there are a lot of similarities in earthly families and the Church the family of God. One common thing is work. There's a lot of work in any family. Everyone must be fed, clothed, and organized. Likewise there is a lot of work too in the Church family. Who are called to do the work in the family of God? Is it only a handful of selected or elected individuals? In order to understand the dynamics of serving or working in the Church we will look at how the early Church practiced Christ’s model of servant hood, and hopefully by the end of our time we may understand what it is to serve as Christ Served in the family of God. Acts 2:42-47. The early Church in the Book of Acts Chapter 2 was founded by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Believers from all walks of life and backgrounds were devoted to worship, prayer and fellowship. They impacted their community through a life style of evangelism. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to any one as he had need. It was a community well connected to God and to one another as a result the LORD kept adding to the Church daily those who were getting saved.

What do we see happening here? Without anyone orchestrating and legislating we see a beautiful ministry of sharing & caring in operation. If you’ve been long around in Christian circles you may heave heard the word called “Ministry”. The word ministry simply means “service” For our context we understand it in terms of Christian ministry or Christian service. What is biblical ministry and how do you understand it?


Let’s take in Paul’s holistic view of life and ministry in his letter to the Colossian Christians in Col. 3:12-24 Paul lays out requirements for biblical ministry such as, holiness, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. He emphasizes right relationships in marriage, family and in the Church that are foundations for Christian ministry. Every relationship presents an opportunity for service.  In fact if you are married and have a family, your family is you’re first and foremost field of ministry.
Later Paul writing to Timothy stresses certain requirements for elders. One of the criteria for ministry there is that they must manage their own family well, they must see that their children obey them with proper respect, because if anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s Church? (I Timothy 3:1-5) Here Paul poses a challenge for all those who are aspiring to serve in the Church. The challenge here is; our serving God depends on how well we serve our families. In other words do not abdicate your God given responsibilities at home before accepting responsibilities in Church!

Over the years in my ministry I have seen several Christians who become workaholics for God. They are very busy for God. Their lives were filled with serving, and trying to love other people while their families at home suffer. They feel guilty to take rest and enjoy meaningful relationships with their family. They sacrifice their family on the altar of ministry. On the other hand I have also seen a number of good Christians overly concerned about their own needs and their families needs. They attend church and tithe regularly but never get involved in the Church. Both positions are not healthy. When it comes to serving whose model should we follow?  

Ministry is a distinctive Biblical idea which comes from a Greek word “doulos” this was the term used for a bond slave, one who was offered his freedom but voluntarily surrendered that freedom in order to remain a servant to the master he loved. In other words God never forces us to serve him. Ministry or service in Church is a voluntary choice. This idea typified Jesus’ purpose as described by Paul in Phil 2:6-7, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant(bond slave) being made in human likeness.” 

In Col 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Paul urges the slaves of those days to not to work for the approval of their earthly masters but with sincerity and respect, work for the Lord.  Isn’t that a redemptive view of work? 

Friends no matter how stress full your work place is, God may have placed you there for a purpose and you have an opportunity to lift your work to a whole different level of significance by doing it as unto the Lord. I believe that God calls all of us to serve him wholeheartedly; giving our best in the field of influence he has placed us.  However it is good to seek God, how you might specifically contribute your gifts to the building up of his Kingdom.

We want to model Christ in our servant hood. He voluntarily gave up everything in following the commandments of God. He maintained perfect balance. He worked hard all day preaching, teaching, casting out demons, healing the sick, and confronting the Pharisees. At times he prayed all night yet there are times where he stopped all ministry and rested. Not only he rested but encouraged His disciples to rest as well. Jesus modeled a ministry of compassion. He equated service to God with service to others. Remember the parable of the King separating the goat and the sheep at the end time in Matthew 25:31-46?

The essence of this parable is that when we minister to others who are in need we actually minister to Christ. And when we fail to do so we sin against God.  If we call ourselves followers of Christ then we become part of the family of God therefore we are called to follow his example. In reality all believers are “ministers’ therefore all believers are expected to serve without any exception. How can we serve in the family of God? If only we have the will to do it there will be no shortage of ways to do it.

In our text in Acts 2 we read how the early Church was involved in the ministry of compassion and of service. It was like one big family. They had everything in common, they voluntarily sold their possessions and goods, and they gave to any one as he had need. They genuinely loved and cared for each other. They were together and worked together for the common good of the rest of the family. We have learned that Church is like a family, the principles that apply to any family also apply to God’s family.

Let me illustrate. Let’s suppose you went for a dinner in a restaurant. There are people who wait on you. All you do is sit and order anything you want and in a matter of time it is brought to you. You can even complain about the food and they may put up with you. But that is not how it works at home in a family dinner, Right? You are called in to help set up the table; clean up your plates after you eat; at times you are expected to wash other members plates as well. You can’t bark order at your Mom; and say get me some ice cream!! Let alone complain about her food; otherwise your dad may have to say something to you.

What’s the difference here? It is the family; not the restaurant. In the restaurant you were treated like a special guest; whereas in the family you are one among the rest. You are expected to help out.  It works the same way in the family of God. You can’t remain a guest all the time; may be initially. But just like in any family you would be expected to share the work load. The best way of getting bonded with Church family is by way of getting involved in service. The sooner you participate in the church the sooner you feel like you belong here.

When we first joined Rivers Edge a small church plant in Malden in 2005, we offered our services as a family. My job was to place Church signs on the curb and collect them after the service. I did ushering, welcomed guests, collected and counted the offering and prayed every Sunday for three years. Wilma helped in the Sunday school. She also led Mom’s group. Together as a couple lead a small group at our house. Only after one year of serving did I get to preach in that Church for the very first time. In the process we felt at home with that church and were bonded with pastor’s family and till today we cherish their friendship.

My job as a Pastor at ECCOA is well defined, it is not to do all the ministry by myself but to equip you for works of service so that our Church may be built up (Eph 4:11-12). That is the reason why in our Church we do not encourage independent ministries; there is no room here for a one man or one woman show. We encourage team ministry. We must realize like Tom Sawyer did in the story. It takes one person a lot longer to complete a task than when many people pitch in.
Just recently Wilma and I cooked together a full meal and delivered it to someone within an hour. In the process we enjoyed working together and later realized the speed at which we worked because we each did our part.

If you consider this is your home church then you belong to this family. There are plenty of opportunities to serve such as: Hospitality, ushering, worship team, media, outreach, children’s ministry; sound and technology; communion set up etc. Or it could be teaching the Sunday school once a month or helping in the nursery or signing up to bring snacks for fellowship hour. Of course there are many more areas. If you have a desire to serve we have a place for you to serve.

Would you prayerfully consider where God would best have you serve, if so then take this information sheet sign it and hand it over to me or to anyone of the ministry leaders. Let’s together make a difference. Amen

Sunday, September 22, 2013


If I were to ask you what the Church is, what would you say? Is the church a building? Is it the place where believers gather to worship? Or is the church the people—the believers who follow Christ? How we understand and perceive the church is quite important in determining how we live out our faith.
I came across an interesting book titled, “Stop Dating the Church: Fall in love with the Family of God.” The author Joshua Harris addresses the casual attitudes of the church attendees, he notes, “Putting in their hour or two on the weekend, many Christians take the rest of the week off, neglecting the church and her needs. It’s not a serious relationship. Some shop around, looking for a church that suits their lifestyle. It’s dating, with no assurances, no obligations. He calls Christians to stop playing the field and commit, just as Christ is committed to us, His bride. He explores the ramifications of Ephesians 5:25–32, which proclaims the intensity and the breadth of Jesus Christ’s love for His church.”

God has designed us to build our lives around a local church; we cannot be indifferent or uninvolved. Rather, we must be in love with and committed to God’s plan and purpose through the church. How would you rate your love and commitment to the Church? Are you simply dating the church, or committed to the family of God? Out of all the metaphors used to describe Church in the Bible I like, “the family of God” the most as it best describes the nature, intention and the purpose of God. We will look at the Church as the family of God and see how that impacts our relationships with one another as well as our mission as a Church.


The concept of the family of God runs through both the Old and the New Testament. Here are a few scriptural examples: In Genesis 12 we read God calling Abraham from an idolatrous background and setting him apart from the rest of the people for His purposes. God commanded Abraham to leave his country, relatives and his father’s household and go to a distant land where He was going to make him a great nation and in him all the families of the earth will be blessed. So out of one man God formed a nation of people for himself they were called; the house hold of Israel or the children of Israel, later on they came to be known as the Jewish people.
In the OT God was known as the God of Israel and the Israelites were known as God’s children. Hosea 11:1-3, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.”

This scripture so poignantly depicts the heart of God as the father of Israel and also the rebellious nature of His children. What started as an exceptional and exclusive family of God in the Old Testament which was primarily meant for the Jews became more expansive and all inclusive by the arrival of Jesus in the New Testament.
Though Jews rejected Jesus as their messiah; God has opened up the way for all nations and all families of the earth become a part of the family of God. Again, this is not an automatic inclusion of every one rather the admission to the family of God is based on individual’s faith in Christ. John 12:11-12, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  

In Ephesians Paul emphasizes the fact that the whole family of God derives its name from the father in heaven. “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family (the whole family referring to the family of God) in heaven and on earth derives its name.” Ephesians 3:15 The Greek word for family (patria) is derived from the Greek word for father (pater).

The family of God first and foremost is our heavenly father’s initiation. How can someone become a member of the family of God? It is by putting our faith in the son of God and his redemptive work on the cross one becomes a member of this huge family of God. I see a lot of similarities between an earthly family and the family of God the Church. In other words what makes or breaks a family also makes or breaks the family of God.


No one chooses their birth family; similarly it is God who chose us and adopted us as his sons and daughters, in His family that is the universal Church. However we can choose which local congregation we want to belong to and once that choice is made, stay committed to that particular church. In an earthly family there is structure and order for the better functioning of the family. God has established the five fold ministries, set up leadership structures such as deacons, and elders who would serve as God’s faithful representatives.

Parents are given the task to train and teach their children in the way they should go. In the family of God there must be discipleship and mentoring of new believers. The three key ingredients that make a family healthier are: Love, acceptance and forgiveness. I can not overemphasize the importance of those ingredients in the family of God. Earthly family is a place where children learn the joys of sharing and giving. These were the two key pillars in the early Church and must be present in every local Church even today.

However healthy an earthly family might be it is common to have fights, quarrels and conflicts among family members. Similarly in the family of God too we have fights, disunity, divisions, strife, quarrels and conflicts, however we are required to work through them in a peaceful God honoring way so that the name of God is not ridiculed among the heathen.

What makes an earthly family functional is obedience, and servant hood. The Church becomes healthy and makes an impact when the members learn to obey Christ’s commandments, as He was obedient to His father’s commandments and to walk in the path of servant hood as Christ modeled during His life time.

Though the family of God is universal in its scope, it is better expressed and functioned in a local setting which we call the local Church or local congregation. Let me talk about the local Church.


Hearing my case on the family of God being the universal Church some may justify their non commitment to a local church saying that they belong to the universal Church and why should they bother becoming members of a local church? My answer to them is, yes you are in one sense connected to the much larger family but at the same time your real growth takes place in a local Church not in isolation or moving from one church to another church.

Church can sometimes mean the universal church (made up of every Christian in the world), but most of the NT talks about a local church, ekklesia, which literally means to "call out."  The local church is an assembly of people who have been called out of the world by God's grace to be together for reflecting His glory and His character.

In the local church is where you receive the right teaching of the word. It is where you are baptized and brought into the communion with other brothers and sisters in the family. The local church is different from a seminary, a conference, a campus fellowship, a missionary trip, or a praise night.  While those things can be great, they can at most be called extensions of churches. I was part of a para church organization for a long time and however good and godly environment that YWAM provided it could never replace what a local church can provide. As a director of a YWAM centre I stressed that all staff members should be part of a local church of their choice.

In the setting of a local church you will be tried, tested, challenged, comforted, delivered, healed, protected and spiritually nurtured. In fact could it be that some of the emotional and relational growing up that we haven’t done in our families of origin might be happening right here in the local church setting?  If that is so it explains why Church can be so difficult because we put up with so and so with such and such habits and Church has to put up with you and me who also are still a work in progress.  But friends that also gives us glorious hope, that right here those ‘baby steps’ of forgiveness, forbearance, and believing against all hope are made so that we can become matured.

At Evangelical Congregational Church we endeavor to preach nothing but the full gospel. Here we honor the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In matters of life and conduct we place supreme value on the authority of Scriptures. We believe we can not do anything without of Him so we commit everything to God through prayer. We love people and practice hospitality. We are actively engaged in both local and global missions.

If you have been attending this Church for a long time or just visiting us for a short while, may I encourage you to prayerfully consider whether or not you become a member of this family of God expressed locally here in Quincy? So that together we will grow into all that God intends for us and together we will make a difference in our immediate neighborhoods of Quincy. Are you merely dating or madly in love with the Church? We can't be apathetic. Amen



Sunday, September 8, 2013


The new Pope Francis’ first talk was entitled, “The Church as the Family of God. Pope Francis exhorted Catholics and Christians all over the world of the importance of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ in its various expressions. He said, “Let us ask ourselves today: how much do I love the Church? Do I pray for her? Do I feel myself a part of the family of the Church? What do I do to make the Church a community in which everyone feels welcomed and understood, [in which] everyone feels the mercy and love of God who renews life? Faith is a gift and an act that affects us personally, but God calls us to live our faith together, as a family: as the Church.”[1]

 Sadly, the fabric and the morals of the family in this country and the world over have been eroding in the past few decades. This affects all of the society including the Church. In the midst of these devastating trends it was appropriate for the pope to call the world back to the importance of family and especially the Church as the family of God.

After God, if there is one thing I am passionate about, it is my marriage and my family. I am a family man. I love my family. My family means the world the world to me.  But my passion doesn’t end there, I want to see other marriages and families thrive.  Why is it such a big deal you may ask? Today I would like to make a case for families in general ever more so for healthy families.  Later on we will talk about the Church as the family of God.  But for today let us look at the Bible says about families?

Can human beings survive without relationships? A small boy once asked, “Who did God love before there was a world?  He knew that God is love, and he wondered how God could live without someone to love! None of us can live without relationship.

It forms the very core of our humanity, and it is core of who God is too. He always lived in a joyful, loving relationship of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that we are made in his image; we are also designed to live in relationship.

God’s highest model of human relationship is marriage. These days several people are trying to redefine or rather reinvent a new definition of marriage. Can a few individuals or the Supreme Court really change what God has ordained and established since the ages past? As futile as their attempts may be they are bound to fail in the long run. What is God’s definition of marriage? We have to go back to the first marriage that was ever performed where God himself was present. In fact He alone orchestrated it (in those days there was no Christian as well as performed it. Let me take you to the first wedding scene.

After creating everything God saw it and said it was good, for the first time he ever said that something was not good was after he created man. It was not that man was not good but it was not good for him to be alone. So he fashioned the woman out of his rib and brought her before Adam. The man said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.
Then God pronounced the wedding blessing with these words, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Thousands of years later Jesus reaffirmed it saying, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10:7)

This is what Mathew Henry the 18th century, most trusted and widely quoted commentator said of the first marriage: “Marriage is honorable, but this surely was the most honorable marriage that ever was, in which God himself had all along an immediate hand. Marriages (they say) are made in heaven: we are sure this was, for the man, the woman, the match, were all God’s own work; he, by his power, made them both, and now, by his ordinance, made them one. God, as her Father, brought the woman to the man, as his second self, and a help-meet for him. When he had made her, he did not leave her to her own disposal; no, she was his child, and she must not marry without his consent. The wife that is of God’s making by special grace, and of God’s bringing by special providence, is likely to prove a help-meet for a man.”[2]

We know the rest of the story: Adam slept with his wife Eve and she gave birth to her first Child. This was what she said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man. Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. That was the beginning of the first family. The structure of families runs throughout the pages of the Bible. The word family occurs 205 times in the Bible in comparison to the word community which occurs only 85 times. The term family is much more personal and intimate than community. Several scriptures explain that God wants people to live in families not as lone rangers.

Psalm 22:27, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.”  Psalm 96:7, “Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord Glory and strength.” These two scriptures indicate God’s intentions for all the families of the earth.

Does that mean that there is no place for singles in the over all plan of God?  No!   Singles too can find their satisfaction, fulfillment and purpose in God, the Bible gives us superb examples of such singles.  I think of the apostle Paul and the widow Anna, in fact the apostle Paul throws out a challenge for singlehood in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, he states that an unmarried man or woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs –how he can please the Lord- But a married man or woman is concerned about the affairs of the world, how he or she can please his wife or her husband.  What do you think?

I do believe that some remain single and celibate due to a special call of God on their lives, others become single due to divorce or death of their spouse, many are single not out of choice while others do stay single out of choice. Whatever the cause for singleness may be, God’s design and intention is that people don’t remain lonely and isolated.  It was never good for a man to be alone then and it is never good for man to be alone now.

The following scriptures explain the heart of God for the single and lonely.  God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” Psalm 68:6, if not in a family of their own, in the family of God which we will look at later. How about the orphans, widows and who have lost their families? Does God care for them? God has made special provisions for this category of people: Ex 22: 22-24, “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”
By reading these scriptures we come to realize that God’s general intention is that men and women will make a family and create a loving, and nurturing environment for the over all well being of each other and the children they may receive. In return they will go out and build their own families where love, acceptance, forgiveness, peace and harmony are hallmarks. Families are the places we learn how to love, give, share, accept, forgive and serve one another. That is how God wants us to function. Yet many families are not functioning at all as God intended them to function.

Selfishness, pride, anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness have disrupted families and caused us to be alienated from God and each other.  The bitter conflicts and broken relationships we see, all too often reveal how far we’ve strayed from his original design.

God longs for us to have healthy relationships, and he gave abundant insights in his Word on how to keep them strong and healthy. What are the building blocks for healthy marriages and families? The building blocks are, love, trust, respect, forgiveness, honesty, clear communication and understanding. Where we see these principles operating, we see healthy families; and the lack of them makes a family unhealthy and dysfunctional.

The longer I am in ministry the more I realize how much brokenness there is in this world.  So many families are unhealthy and dysfunctional; which I believe grieves God’s heart.  He grieves because the devil has been destroying marriages and families.

Some of you may have grown up in homes there was abuse or conflicts were not well handled. As a child you may have been traumatized and abused by parents, other adults, leaders, teachers including spiritual ministers. You have been carrying those wounds all along.  You carry those hurts and unhealed wounds into your marriage, family, work place, society and even into Church. You may have seen therapists and received a lot of counsel, yet seem to never get over your childhood traumas. In the process you are hurting, you are hurting your loved ones and if you are in the church you are hurting the church as well.

However you don’t have to remain hurt an unhealed. God in his love and mercy has made a way to find healing for your brokenness. He invites us to come to him and then to one another, through repentance and the healing grace of Jesus Christ. Nothing else will fully heal and restore relationships. If you are in need of healing, and want your marriage and family and other relationships to be restored then come forward for prayer as we sing this song.  Amen.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


The Seal of the Holy Spirit (Vs 13-14)

For the past few Sundays we have been on a journey to discover or rather rediscover the incredible blessings God has lavishly bestowed upon His Children. So far we have looked at six incredible blessings and they are 1. The divine election. 2. The divine adoption 3. The divine redemption. 4. His abundant grace. 5. The mystery of His will. 6. The divine inheritance. Today we will be looking at the seventh blessing, “The seal of the Holy Spirit.”
Let’s read Ephesians 1:13-14 (Read) “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession to the praise of his glory”
Paul while writing to Ephesians stresses that the believers were marked by God with his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the “seal,” on the hearts of Christians. What does this mean? The sealing here refers to an official mark of identification placed on a letter, contract, or other document. The document was thereby officially under the authority of the person whose stamp was on the seal. In this case it is God. The Holy Spirit is God’s seal on His people, His claim on us as His very own.

The imagery of sealing reflects the Oriental custom of marking upon the skin of a devotee the symbol of his god as a token of entire consecration. In Jewish culture circumcision was seen as the seal of consecration to the one living and true God. From this Jewish usage the term passed over into Christianity, where it was applied to baptism. For the writer here the seal is not indeed a visible mark, but the invisible presence of the Holy Spirit. When does this sealing take place? When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his life.

From that moment a believer’s life is different because the Spirit of God is now in him. What does the Holy Spirit do in the life of a believer? He is there to teach us, guide us, counsel us, and empower us for ministry. The Holy Spirit is our helper and advocate. He protects and encourages us. And also according to Romans 8:16, “the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” The Holy Spirit is given to believers as a “first installment” to assure us that our inheritance as children of God will one day be fully delivered. What is the significance of the seal of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer?

The seal of God’s spirit signifies four primary things namely: Security, Authenticity, Ownership and Authority. 1. Security. Daniel 6:16-17. We are familiar with the story of Daniel in the Lions den. For the sake of worshipping the living God and refusing to pray to a human king, Daniel was thrown in the lions den. Listen to what the king said to Daniel, “May your God whom you serve continually, rescue you.” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.”

That was the power of the seal of a human king. All of Daniel’s enemies might have thought that nothing can save Daniel and he will surely die. But they were wrong.
They failed to recognize that Daniel was under some one else’s care and protection. He had the seal of the Holy Spirit; therefore God sent his angel and shut the mouths of the lions. What can we learn from this story? No matter who your enemies are, no matter what wicked plans the roaring lion, the devil has against you, like Daniel you can be secured. God could send an angel to fight on your behalf. God knows how to silence your critics because you have the seal of the Holy Spirit.

Living in a highly digitally connected world these days one can have access to several monitoring and security systems for protection. As I walk around in our neighborhood I see several houses having the sign ADT in their front yard. ADT is a 24 hour monitoring alarm system. The company boast about themselves saying, “We are always there” really?

Similarly the Holy Spirit is our spiritual ADT and He is 100% reliable. He protects us 24/7, seven days a week and 52 weeks a year. Not only does he protect us physically but also safeguards our hearts from evil spirits. He keeps the real thief, Satan who comes to rob our joy, health and destroy our lives at a distance. Though the seal of the Holy Spirit is invisible to the human eye butt is fully visible to the enemy and his evil forces. And they dare not touch us. Those who have the seal of the Holy Spirit are not only fully secured but they are also authentic.


In a world where there are so many counterfeit products and life styles it is hard to find authenticity. In order to detect the counterfeit and maintain authenticity the corporate and business world relies on holograms. A hologram is a special kind of picture that has been produced by laser and that looks three dimensional. Industries use the holographic products to enhance the image of their brands in the market as genuine and authenticated brands. They are used for product packaging, security applications (they are almost impossible to counterfeit).

Similarly the seal of the Holy Spirit is like a hologram in a believer’s life. The devil knows who is a counterfeit believer and who is an authentic believer in Christ. In Acts 19 we read about, some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits trying to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.

One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you? Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and over powered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” This is a clear example of what happens to those who think they have God’s Spirit in them when in reality they may not even been born again. We can not have what has not been given to us. We can not copy someone else’s ministry; and if we try to do we may be embarrassed like the sons of Sceve.  

Unfortunately there are many false prophets moving around in the body of Christ. They often over emphasize one aspect of the Christian life.  They hammer you over the head with this one particular thing.  It may be healing, deliverance, discipleship, the second coming of Christ, accountability etc. No doubt these things are part of the whole counsel of God and are not meant to use to cause divisions, dissensions in the Body of Christ.
What does the scripture say about false prophets? “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” ( I John 4:1-2)
We are to use discernment and test the spirits. As a tree is known by its fruit, in the same manner we recognize who is a false prophet by look for fruit in their lives. What is the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Gal 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” We want to be authentic, original in all that we do. The seal of the Holy Spirit not only signifies security, authenticity but also ownership.

3. OWNERSHIP:                                               
Those who are in sports understand what ownership is all about. When they sign a contract to play for a certain team they know that they are no longer free agents. They know who their owner is and which team they belong to. They have to play by the rules of that team.

For example two of my favorite Celtics basket ball players Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnet have been traded to Brooklyn Nets. Now they are no longer Celtics but Nets. The moment they put on “Nets Jersey” they have to remember that they have a new owner and they can not play by the old Celtic rules any more. If they want to succeed in their career they have to quickly learn, adapt and play according to the rules of the Nets. 

That is how it works with us too. In our former life we had a terrible mean spirited owner, the devil himself. We played by his rules and danced to his tunes. But the moment we accepted Christ’s offer of forgiveness God becomes our new owner. We are marked by His Holy Spirit and now we belong to Him. A few scriptures to explain this fact:  Romans 8:9, “You however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” I Cor 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
These two scriptures send us a reminder as well as a warning. A reminder that we are not our own, we now have a new owner and a whole new way of life. A warning is that the Holy Spirit dwells in our bodies therefore we are to honor God with our bodies which means, to stay away from everything that dishonors God. The seal of the Holy Spirit signifies security, authenticity, ownership finally also authority.

Why do we stop our car when we are stopped by a police officer? We do so out of respect for authority. Right? Where did they get that authority?  The department invested in them and it is exhibited by the uniform with the seal of the police department on it, without which they are like any other ordinary citizens.

Similarly, when we become Christians, God invests his authority in us and that is sealed by the Holy Spirit.  When we are sealed with the Holy Spirit we are given authority to proclaim, teach, minister, defend God’s Word, to drive out evil spirits and heal the sick. Christ Himself has said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

Every time when we set out to preach or minister we must remember we are not standing on our own but on the authority of Christ. When we go out realizing that God has indeed invested His authority in us and the Holy Spirit has sealed it for us than we have nothing to be afraid of because Jesus is going to be with us always even to the very end of the age.

In closing let me remind you of what incredible blessings God has freely and richly given to all those who believed in his Son Jesus Christ: In Christ: We have been chosen by God. We have been redeemed. We have been adopted as sons into God’s family. We received God’s abundant grace. God revealed the mystery of his will. We have a divine inheritance and finally our salvation has been sealed by the Holy Spirit for eternity.

After having received such incredible blessings I wonder how can anyone walk around like a spiritual orphan saying to himself and to others that God has not been fair to me? Next time when you think if there is anything you are to be grateful to God for, remember these Seven Incredible Blessings. Some of you sitting here may have never experienced these blessings; you to can receive them today all you have to do is to call on the name of Jesus, repent of your sins and invite Jesus to come into your heart and make you His child. Amen 

Sunday, August 18, 2013


We have been talking about the incredible blessings that God freely lavished upon all Christians regardless of their background. Last Sunday we learned that a simple definition of a Christian is “a saint” A ‘saint’ or a set apart one for God.  You may not be feeling a saint this morning, perhaps sick, sleepy and struggling with sin but nevertheless if you are a born again Christian then you are a saint. Not only has God set Christians apart for himself but also blessed them with manifold blessings and seven of them are found in Ephesians 1: 6-9.(Read)

A bit of background on the book of Ephesians will help us understand this better. The apostle Paul wrote this letter during (AD 60-64) to the church in the city of Ephesus, capital of the Roman province of Asia (Asia Minor, Modern Turkey). Though it was addressed to the Church in Ephesus it may have been a circular letter intended to be read by all the churches in Asia Minor. In this epistle, the word church means Church universal. Therefore the truths from this letter are applicable to believers of all times.

Ephesians is one of Paul’s five “Prison Epistles”, probably written while in prison in Rome. This letter is rich in New Testament doctrine but also is filled with practical suggestions on Christian behavior. This is a letter of encouragement and admonition, written to remind believers of their incredible blessings in Jesus Christ; and not only to be thankful for those blessings but also to live in a manner of worthy of them. So far we looked at three incredible blessings namely; 1. A divine election (Hand picked by God) 2. A divine adoption (Adopted by God) 3. A divine redemption (Set free by God.) Today we will focus on two more of the Incredible Blessings of Christians: The abundant grace and the mystery of His will.

Vs 6, “To the praise of the glory, of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” The ultimate purpose of our salvation is first and foremost for the glory of God. In Ephesians 2:8, we read, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works so that no one can boast."
Our salvation is a free gift of grace. We did not deserve it neither did we earn it by our good works. It was absolutely God’s doing. The word grace in Greek means: a favor, acceptance, a kindness granted, a benefit. A favor done without expectation of return. God’s grace affects man’s sinfulness and not only forgives the repentant sinner, but brings joy and thankfulness to him. Let me illustrate grace. In a great article on grace Charles Stanley notes:

“One of my more memorable seminary professors had a practical way of illustrating to his students the concept of grace. At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam with the caution to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. This caution was written on the exam as well. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough. 

The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard through out the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read, "You have a choice.
You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment." Wow? We sat there stunned. "Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A?" Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room.

When I talked with the professor about it afterward, he shared some of the reactions he had received through the years. Some students began to take the exam without reading it all the way through, and they would sweat it out for the entire two hours of class time before reaching the last page. Others read the first two pages, became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally.

One fellow, however, read the entire test, including the note at the end, but decided to take the exam anyway. He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade. And he did. He made a C+, but he could easily have had an A.

This story illustrates many people’s reaction to God’s solution to sin. Some people look at God’s standard--moral and ethical perfection--and throw their hands up in surrender. Why even try? They tell themselves. I could never live up to all that stuff. Others are like the student who read the test through and was aware of the professor’s offer but took the test anyway.

Unwilling to simply receive God’s gift of forgiveness, they set about to rack up enough points with God to earn it. But God’s grace truly is like the professor’s offer. It may seem unbelievable, but if we accept it, then, like the stunned students who accepted the professor’s offer, we, too, will discover that, Yes, God’s grace truly is free.

It is not only free it is abundant, it never runs dry. It is always available for a repentant sinner. No matter what horrible sin you have done, this morning, God’s grace is sufficient for you. You don’t deserve his grace but he gives it to you. All you have to do is to accept it by faith and receive his forgiveness. Dou you want to know what grace looks like and like, it looks like Jesus. “He came from the father, “full of grace and truth. He personified God’s grace. He showed us what grace is like through his life and death.

Though being in very nature God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing… he humbled himself to death even death on a cross. Through his substitutionary death, God imputed righteousness to us. In other words God accepts us as his righteous and beloved children and blesses us with his abundant grace.

What does it mean that we are blessed with his abundant grace? As undeserving as we were yet received grace so we are to give grace to the most undeserving people. We can not afford to hold grudges against the brothers and sisters in the family of God. If God could be gracious toward us and forgave and accepted us how can we not then be gracious towards our spouses, children and friends even when they hurt us? Being God’s children not only makes us recipients of his grace but also makes us his confidants. He reveals the mystery of His will.

Vs 9, “And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.” This scripture explains that God keeps no secrets from his Children; moreover it was His pleasure to reveal His will to them and what he purposed to do in Christ.
The apostle Paul calls this a mystery (highly kept secret) and it is only meant for God’s children. For example: A stranger is denied a share of little familiarities and secrets of a family. No one in the family is willing to take him into the delightful confidence of its innermost secrets. In the same manner, the unregenerate are excluded from the sweet inner experiences and knowledge of the secrets of God which He entrusts to the members of his family or household. Ps 25:14, “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”

What is the mystery of God’s will?  The mystery of God’s will has two dimensions: one for the individual believer and the second is for the world. First, the mystery of God’s will in the life of an individual believer.

Paul unfolds this individual mystery in Colossians 1: 24-27. “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Can you imagine what would that do to you, when you know that Christ lives in you? It is indeed a mystery, how in the world is that possible, that the creator the whole universe makes his dwelling in your heart? It is highly impossible to fathom, but that is what exactly took place when we have opened our hearts to God and surrendered our lives to Him the king of the universe came to live inside of us.

Christ in you; let that truth sink in a bit. When Christ is living in us is there anything we lack? Is there anything or anyone we are afraid of? Is there anything that we can not do? When we know Christ is living in us how can we go out and offer the parts of our body to adultery, pornography, smoking pot and drunkenness? When Christ is living in us how can we not forgive those who have hurt us? Would Christ in you be honored when you let your tongue indulge in gossip? When Christ is in you can you honestly hold on to bitterness?

Christ in you, this profound truth has been kept hidden for all ages and generations but now has been disclosed to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we believe it and apply to it and begin to live accordingly it will radically revolutionize our lives.  This Christ living in me concept is not new to me but I am beginning to see it in a fresh way and it is changing my perspective on how I see myself, how I view others and how I interpret the world around me. If there is one thing you can take away from this message it is to know that Christ in you is the hope of glory. Christ in you is all you need or ever want, because in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 

The second dimension of the mystery is what God will do at the end of the world. In our passage Paul explains, when the fullness of time comes God is going to bring everything in heaven and on earth together under one head that is His Son Jesus Christ. If we take a close look at our world who do you think is controlling the world? It looks like as if the most part of the world is under the grip of the prince of the air. There is crime, starvation, war, political unrest, economic crisis, apathy, greed, sexual immorality, arrogance, addiction, divorce, murdering of the innocent children, and the persecution of believers. It feels like as if the devil is in absolute control and he is having a field day.

We wonder and complain like the ancient prophet Habakkuk, saying, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help?...Why do you tolerate the wicked?..(Habakkuk 1:14-15). But let’s take heart. The long wait is over. There are signs all around us that remind us, not too long from now God is going to bring his judgment upon the earth. That will happen when Christ returns to the earth for the second time. When Christ returns what will happen to all the believers and to all those who rejected Him?  He will gather all the believers to himself to rule and reign with him throughout eternity and He will send the devil and all his followers to a hopeless eternity.

That is the mystery revealed in God’s word. In closing, I want to ask how many of you are sure that you have received God’s abundant grace and understand the mystery of God’s will? If you are sure, then thank God. If you are not sure, you can be sure of it today; all you have to do is to ask Jesus to forgive your sins and come reside in your heart. If you do that sincerely; then you too will become a son of God and have access to all these incredible blessings. Amen