Tuesday, 26 April 2022
Tuesday, 4 January 2022
The problem many people encounters when it comes email sending, is their email ends up in spam folder. Sometimes the recipient could not check his Spam folder. In some cases the software deletes in from the spam making it not available to the recipient. For the beginners it will discourage them from going further as they might give up that it is not working.
How can be done to stop emails entering the Spam folder?
The email can enter the spam folder when the subject is in Capital letters as the most of the spam email had their subject in Capital letter. This makes it possible for the spider to locate such as a spam
Provide an unsubscribe link
Every email messages that can repeat itself or to be sent several times can be offensive to the recipient and as such a case it might be regarded as spam. It might be that the recipient is not interested on the message. This is why the unsubscribe link must be provided in order to avoid the repetition of such email without the authorization of the recipient. The received might decide to stop such email coming to his email box by using the unsubscribe link to stop the email.
Set up email authentication
When an email is originated from an authenticated source it will be trusted. The email had trace back to the sender, so the sender can receive response from the receiver. The source of the email plays an important role in determining how the email will be treated. And in some cases such email can be verified if they are spam or not.
One message might be seen as a spam if it contains more than one attachment. When an email is containing more than one attachment it might likely be offensive to the receiver as such email might occupy big space when received. There are some emails that sent some attachment that contained spam emails or virus in order to deceive the receiver in this case the sever might detect this as a spam email thereby relocating it to the spam folder.
Some hosting company that does not always comply with the regulations of the spam prevention can be flagged and regarded as an un-trusted. Some server had be used to send several spam emails and deceptive emails. This hosting sever had not integrity with the email server so any email been sent from the server can be suspicions.
Spam tag words
Avoid words that are considered spam , such as cheap, free, limited offer, and others
Many words had reports attached to it, because it had been used several times to send a fraudulent emails, therefore using such word can land the email to spam folder.
You can use a special server such as VPS, Dedicated server. If the server is shared server it means that you have no control of what will be going out or coming in to the server. That is why it advisable to use the special server, where can be in control of some activities of the server. You can control the server in sending authentic emails. The most important thing you apply is to use a special server for your email marketing. Because email hosting usually provides extra security features for email marketing.
The subject of the email
The subject of the email is relevant to the content of the email. The subject of the email is not related to the body of the email. This is also can be regarded as a fraudulent email because the subject maybe attractive the recipient but the message will be saying a different thing from the subject. Some subject like How to become a millionaire, Free Offers etc. Some subject might be deceptive, when an email had such a word it will be regarded as a spam as well.
Thursday, 23 December 2021
A New Commandment
It has taken fully one month to write this last installment in the Walking In The Spirit series. Life certainly has been hectic here! Today's devotional is the end of one series (Walking In The Spirit) and a transition to the next series (Walking In The Commandments of Jesus Christ). God willing, my future writing will be a bit more regular. This next series should be around 50-60 studies over about four to five months. The final Walking In The Spirit workbook should be ready by the end of this week. Your prayers for its completion would be appreciated.
John 13:34-35 MKJV I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another. (35) By this all shall know that you are My disciples, if you have love toward one another.
The new commandment is that Christians should love (“agape”) one another. This is a higher love than the social requirement to love your neighbor as yourself (though it is certainly related). The Good Samaritan fulfilled the requirement to love his neighbor yet there is no indication of a permanent ongoing relationship being established. There was no reciprocity over time (which is what the “one another” concept implies). In Christian community we both give and receive, we love and are loved, we encourage one another and are encouraged, pray for one another and are prayed for. Things go back and forth between us.
Generally agape love in the gospels and epistles implies a continuing relationship such as that between Jesus and his disciples, Christ and the Church, or the love between a married couple. Agape love assumes the other is a more or less permanent part of one's life. The relationship is unconditional, ongoing and intentional. There is definite clear commitment to the welfare of the other person over time. It’s a lot more than a handshake and a smile. In fact new commandment love is to be a reflection of Christ's love for the Church. It is to be “as I have loved you” - with all the sacrifice that implies:
1 John 3:16-18 ISV This is how we have come to know love: Christ gave his life for us. We, too, ought to give our lives for our brothers. (17) Whoever has earthly possessions and notices a brother in need and yet withholds his compassion from him, how can the love of God remain in him? (18) Little children, we must stop loving in word and in tongue, but instead, love in action and in truth.
The “brother” here is the fellow Christian that you are in a relationship with. It is quite impossible to have fervent love for every person on earth (though we should do good to them as we have the power and opportunity to do so).
Galatians 6:10 ISV So then, whenever we have the opportunity, let us practice doing good to everyone, especially to the family of faith.
The “love one another” command (in contrast to the more general “love thy neighbor” command) is especially for the Christian community. It is only addressed to a group of people who know each other well such as the disciples (John 13:34,35, 15:12, 15;17) or to a church (Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11,14,23; 4:7,11,12).
Thus it is a new commandment because it creates a new community. Love one another creates an intense local community of Christian believers and disciples who follow the commandments of Jesus– the church!
1 Peter 1:22 ISV Now that you have obeyed the truth and have purified your souls to love your brothers sincerely, you must love one another intensely and with a pure heart.
So now we do not merely love “as you love yourself” - but rather we go up a notch and we love others as Christ has loved us - “as I have loved you”. This “as I have loved you” is the new light that shines into our hearts and elevates our love to new levels:
1 John 2:7-8 ISV Dear friends, I am not writing to you a new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning. This old commandment is the word you have heard. (8) On the other hand, I am writing to you a new commandment that is true in him and in you. For the darkness is fading away, and the true light is already shining.
This new kind of love follows the example of Christ and His commandments:
2 John 1:5-6 MKJV And now I beseech you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. (6) And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
Such love cannot be attained in the flesh but absolutely requires the presence and power of the Holy Spirit (which is why it is part of this Walking In The Spirit series). The supreme achievement of the Spirit-filled life is not miraculous power but is agape love: 1 Corinthians 13:2 ISV If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing.
The new commandment calls us to love the saints as Christ loved us - and died for us. Ephesians 5 makes it plain that Christ loves the Church in this way and that husbands are to love their wives in such a manner. And the passage in 1 John 3;16-18 makes it clear that we are to love “the brethren” even to the extent that we are to give our lives (including this world's goods) for them.
Thus the church is meant to be a lot more than a lecture theatre where we go to listen to a great preacher perform, take a few notes and then go home. We are not just to love and admire the preacher, we are to love the assembled brothers and sisters in Christ as well! There are over 50 verses in the NT that speak concerning our “one another” obligations (accept one another, encourage one another etc). So this “one another” part of church is a huge part of what we are actually there for!
Our “one another” agape love in Christian community is not some kind of vague sentimental mush. It is reverent, it is righteous and it is regulated: And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.
It is reverent in that is focused on Jesus and on holy obedience to His commandments. It is righteous in that it addresses our behavior, that is it requires that we “walk” in a godly path. It is regulated in that we walk according to His commandments - and not according to our own whims, wishes or philosophy. We love God by taking Him seriously and doing what He has told us to do.
The new commandment calls us to live by a heavenly standard of perfection in love. We are to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:44-48) and to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15,16) and to even become partakers of the Divine nature:
2 Peter 1:3-8 MKJV according as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue, (4) through which He has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, so that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (5) But also in this very thing, bringing in all diligence, filling out your faith with virtue, and with virtue, knowledge; (6) and with knowledge self-control, and with self-control, patience, and with patience, godliness, (7) and with godliness, brotherly kindness, and with brotherly kindness, love. (8) For if these things are in you and abound, they make you to be neither idle nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are called to follow a new commandment and to aspire to a high and holy life lived in fervent love as part of a living vital Christian community. The great and marvelous challenge is just how can we do this? The answer is: One commandment at a time, one person at a time and one church at a time. That will be the focus of my next teaching series: Walking In The Commandments of Jesus Christ!
God, Mammon, and Eternity
Luke 16:13-15 MKJV No servant can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (14) And being money-lovers, all the Pharisees also heard all these things. And they derided Him. (15) And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Luke 16 is a chapter that is largely about the effect that money has on our eternal life. There are two lengthy parables wrapped around a central principle “you cannot serve both God and Mammon”. The first parable is that of the corrupt steward and the second is the parable about the rich man and the beggar Lazarus who sat at the rich man's gate.
In the first parable, the corrupt steward realizes that he is about to be fired. So he cooks the financial books in favor of his master's debtors so that they will be nice to him and perhaps give him a job after the steward is dismissed.
Jesus' commentary on this corrupt behaviour is highly sarcastic but contains some important spiritual principles:
Luke 16:8-12 MKJV And the unjust steward's lord commended him because he had done wisely. For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (9) And I say to you, Make friends by the mammon of unrighteousness for yourselves, so that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings. (10) He who is faithful in the least is also faithful in much. And he who is unjust in the least is also unjust in much. (11) Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? (12) And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who shall give you that which is your own?
1) Money is 'the mammon of unrighteousness. Mammon seems to corrupt by becoming “the ultimate bottom line” instead of obedience to God's commandments. (v9.)
2) Success in corruption is even commended by the corrupt - wickedness reigns. (v.8) 3) There are everlasting dwellings in Hades into which the wicked receive their own (v.9)
4) Corruption in a small matter (money) will turn into dishonesty in all matters (v.10) 5) If we are dishonest with our finances God will not entrust spiritual riches to us (v.11) 6) If you are not faithful in that which is another's (for the silver and gold belong to God - Haggai 2:8) how will God give you riches for eternity – riches that are truly your own? Financial dishonesty, greed, covetousness and corruption are not small things spiritually (as the covetous Pharisees thought). Indeed they are almost matters of salvation! For the riches of heaven will be denied to those who cannot rightly handle the riches of the earth.
Satan was cast out of Heaven was because of corruption in his trading practices (Ezekiel 28:18). Judas was doomed by his pilfering (Jn 12:6) and Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives when they lied to the Holy Spirit about their deceit and corruption (Acts 5:1-11). In Revelation 13 we find that the final choice will be between being able to trade (buy and sell) by accepting the Mark of the Beast or to have eternal life by refusing it. The last spiritual choice that humanity will have to make will be between God and Mammon.
In verses 13-15 of Luke 16 Jesus adds two further principles:
7) You cannot serve two masters faithfully – you cannot serve both God and Mammon 8) That which is highly esteemed among men (wealth and riches resulting from trade) is an abomination in the sight of God.
These two principles spell the spiritual death-knell for unbridled free-market capitalism. God, and not the market, should rule the life of the Christian. In the end times the free market called Babylon will be world-dominating and everything will have a price - even slaves and the souls of men. God will judge and destroy this wicked system: Revelation 18:11-13 MKJV (11) And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their cargo anymore; (12) the cargo of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and every ivory vessel, and every vessel of very precious wood, and of bronze, and of iron, and of marble, (13) and cinnamon, and incenses, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
Money is a useful servant but a terrible master and we must not serve it nor allow ourselves to be priced by it and valued by it. Our net worth is not found in dollars and cents but in how we reflect the image of God in love and good deeds.
The second parable (Luke 16:19-31) is that of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man has no compassion on the beggar at his gate but drives by each day without giving Lazarus as much as a crumb to eat. Eventually they both die. Lazarus goes to a place of comfort in Abraham's bosom while the rich man is tormented in Hell. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus with some water but Abraham refuses the rich man's request just as the rich man refused the beggars pleas.
Again the rich man pleads for mercy on his brothers by sending them Lazarus from the dead. Abraham refuses this request also saying that if his brothers were not able to listen to Moses and the prophets then they would not even listen to someone who rose from the dead!
This dramatic parable about the after-life is full of good and fascinating theology about consciousness after death, places of comfort and places of torment and so on - however I want to focus on the financial aspects in keeping with this study on God and Mammon.
We find Jesus stating a few more spiritual principles:
9) Our money is one of the things which we can use to show mercy or selfishness. What we spend our money on reveals our true spiritual priorities. In this case that the rich man did not care for or love his neighbor. The rich man only loved himself. 10) The manner in which we spend our money will matter on the Day of Judgment. God treats us in the same manner that we treat others. God shows no mercy to those who have no mercy. We should stop being selfish and instead we should use our money for good, kind, compassionate and loving purposes. 11) That wealth in this life does not necessarily equate with favor and blessing from God. Though the rich man was very wealthy he was not actually in favor with God. In fact ultimately his soul was damned, cursed and tormented. 12) That poverty, rejection, hardship and disease in this life does not necessarily indicate that a person is hated by God. Lazarus was in fact loved by God and he was blessed and comforted by God for all eternity. 13) That the rich have no special spiritual privileges before God, that money is of no use in the after-life and that wealth cannot purchase salvation. 14) That the poor are among us as a test of our hearts and of our obedience to God's law of love. 15) That money and wealth can blind the conscience so that people ignore the Law and the prophets in the belief that they “must be OK” because they are receiving good things in this life. This quiet, slow but sure loss of moral conscience can become so profound that they would not listen if someone rose from the dead.
The Bible does not support any of the materialistic political solutions to life (Communism, capitalism, socialism etc). In all of these political philosophies it is only power and money that rule. For these philosophies only matter matters, the spiritual is totally absent from consideration. However God's Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) and all the things of God are free gifts received by grace without financial cost (Isaiah 55:1-3, Matthew 10:8, Luke 7:42, Romans 3:24, 5:15,16; 6:23, 8:32, 11:29, Ephesians 1:3).
What matters to God is how we treat other people and what we are like in our character! Have we become dishonest and corrupt, cruel and selfish? Has materialism warped us beyond measure? Do we no longer care about the poor? Is money all that matters to us so that it spoils all of our relationships: Proverbs 23:6-8 ESV Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, (7) for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you. (8) You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.
The important thing about money is that it is a very accurate indicator of who we are deep down inside. How we spend our money says a lot about our heart, our priorities and even our spirituality. The check book tells us now what the Book of Life will tell us later.
The Prayer of Mercy
First I will describe mercy, why we need it and how it operates; then I will apply it to the spiritual life - especially the life of prayer. First, there are two sides to mercy:
a) Mercy is the removal of judgment, it is not punishing, not finding fault, it is choosing to ignore the wrong and instead be kind to someone when you have the right to punish forcefully. Mercy is closely related to forgiveness, compassion and kindness.
b) Mercy is also a spiritual power for healing and restoration as when Jesus had mercy on the blind men and healed them (Matthew 9:27, 20:30) or upon the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman whom he delivered from a demon (Matthew 15:22), the healing of the epileptic boy (Matthew 17:15), Legion (Mark 5:19) or the mercy shown by the Good Samaritan who showed great kindness to the man beaten by robbers (Luke 10:37).
We desperately need mercy. Without God's mercy we are lost. Time and time again Paul emphasizes God's mercy in his own life: 1 Timothy 1:12-16 MKJV And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who strengthened me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry-- (13) the one who before was a blasphemer and a persecutor and insolent. But I obtained mercy, because being ignorant, I did it in unbelief. (14) And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (15) Faithful is the Word and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (16) But for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, as a pattern to those being about to believe on Him to life everlasting.
Indeed we are saved, not by our own righteousness but by God's mercy:
Titus 3:3-7 MKJV For we ourselves also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, slaving for various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. (4) But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, (5) not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (6) whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7) that being justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
And we continue to require Jesus's priestly intercessory mercy long after our salvation:
Hebrews 2:17-18 ISV Thus he had to become like his brothers in every way, so that he could be a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God and could atone for the people's sins.
Hebrews 4:15-16 MKJV For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin. (16) Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
This sense of standing in desperate need of the mercy and grace of God has almost vanished from modern evangelical prayers. It is instead associated with so-called “worm theology”. We have become bumptiously over-confident and think that we have nothing to fear, that we are OK, and that no mercy is required. Some even seem to think that we are owed Heaven as a right! Yet we must remember that God is fierce in His love. He is holy - and in the Scriptures God is often referred to as a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24, 9:3, 32:22, Hebrews 10:27, 12:29).
The fact that God, in all His glory and holiness, is working in our lives, should cause us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling:
Philippians 2:12-13 MKJV (12) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, cultivate your own salvation with fear and trembling. (13) For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
So how does this apply to our prayer life? In three ways: Firstly we should always be asking for God's mercy from the throne of grace whenever we have a need (Luke 18:38, Hebrews 4:16). God is gracious and responds mercifully remembering that we are dust. He is merciful to repentant sinners and needy saints alike. Mercy means we can stand before God and we are not consumed (Lamentations 3:2 KJV) indeed they are new every morning – great is Thy faithfulness! Secondly we should be demonstrating mercy to others and our prayers should be cries for God to have mercy on His people just as the apostle often prayed for 'grace, mercy and peace' to be with the churches he wrote to (1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4). For we shall only be blessed with mercy when we are merciful ourselves and that includes in our prayers (Matthew 5:7, 18;21-35, Luke 6:35-37, James 2:13). Thirdly we should seek to develop mercy as part of our outlook on the world, as part of our Spirit-given wisdom and renewed mind (James 3:17, Colossians 3:12,13).
The tax-gatherer at the temple cried out “God, have mercy on me a sinner”. This led very quickly to a prayer that became common in the early church and among the desert fathers. It is known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” The first part of the prayer acknowledges Jesus as Lord, Christ and God. The second phrase calls on Him to have mercy on the one praying. In many ways this is similar to the “salvation prayer” at evangelical crusades except that the Jesus Prayer is prayed on a daily basis so as to show that that God's mercy is always needed.
If we are to receive mercy we must show mercy. In the Sermon On the Mount Jesus exclaims: “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy!” Mercy is one of God's top priorities for the spiritual life. Jesus often quotes Hosea 6:6 saying: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” meaning that a merciful heart is far more important than rituals.
Indeed our prayers will not be answered if we are not understanding, kind and merciful:
1 Peter 3:7 ISV In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate vessel. Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers.
If we are to show mercy we must think mercifully. Our mind must not be full of critical and judgmental thoughts. Our inner nature and our wisdom must be changed by God:
Colossians 3:12-13 MKJV (12) Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender feelings of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, (13) forbearing one another and forgiving yourselves, if anyone has a complaint against any. As Christ forgave you, so also you do.
James 3:17 MKJV But the wisdom that is from above is first truly pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
There is a great temptation to think that because we know the Scriptures that we are free to judge others and to take upon ourselves a “I am right and you are wrong” attitude. Instead the believer is to realize that the Scriptures show clearly that each of us is sinful and that we all have many faults and need great grace and mercy each day. We are to have humility of mind, gentleness and great forbearance.
Galatians 6:1-3 MKJV Brothers, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you the spiritual ones restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. (2) Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the Law of Christ. (3) For if anyone thinks himself to be something, being nothing, he deceives himself.
We are to stand before God in fear and trembling, filled with the desire to be merciful to others, with a humble and lowly mind that seeks to bless, restore and heal those around us.
Our outlook is to be the outlook of grace. Our prayers are to be prayers of kindness and of healing. We are to love the broken and foolish and to pray for their restoration. It is our merciful heart that shows that we are godly (that is , like God who is merciful) and which makes room for us before God, and bringing blessing into our lives:
Luke 6:35-38 MKJV But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. And your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. (36) Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (37) Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.
Three Good Reasons to Pray
1 John 4:16-19 MKJV And we have known and believed the love that God has in us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. (17) In this is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, that as He is, so also we are in this world. (18) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He who fears has not been perfected in love. (19) We love Him because He first loved us.
The content, passion and power of our prayers will be affected by the reason that we pray. For instance if we love a sick child we will pray very purposefully and passionately for the healing of that child. Our love will make our prayers powerful. In life, our reasons and motivations drive our actions – including prayer. Love is the greatest of all motivations and lies at the very heart of the spiritual life and the prayer life.
On the other hand, praying for the wrong reasons can make our prayers ineffective: James 4:3 MKJV You ask and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it upon your lusts.
There are at least three very good reasons to pray and they are: 1. Because you love God, His glory, His Kingdom and His will. You want to see God glorified and obeyed on earth as He is in Heaven. 2. Because you love your neighbor as yourself and you want their spiritual, physical and emotional needs to be met by God. You pray for others just as you would like to be prayed for. Because you pray for others passionately you can then also pray for your own needs as well. 3. Because you need God's love to dwell in you powerfully transforming your heart, mind and relationships into His perfect image.
Let’s look at these three reasons for prayer in a bit more detail. The driving force of godly prayer is love. God is love and those who pray must pray in love if they are to pray in the Spirit. God is also truth and those who pray must pray in truth, according to God's will and God's Word. God cannot be convinced by lies or be requested to sin.
Things like love, gratitude, faith and thankfulness lie at the very heart of prayer. We are to pray with a pure heart. We are to be a bold and unintimidated people coming before the throne of grace as strong saints with hearts full of love. We are not to be anxious and fearful – for as we saw in 1 John 4:18 (above) perfect love casts out fear!
If we really love God then we will want Him to be honored on every possible occasion, and by every person on the planet. So we will pray that this will occur. We will pray “Hallowed be Thy Name” with all seriousness. His glory will be our passion.
Similarly we will pray: “Thy will be done, Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven” because our love of God will also make us love God's will and to desire His desires and to want what He wants to happen on this earth.
Because we love our neighbors as ourselves we will pray for daily bread, forgiveness of sins and deliverance from evil. Our prayers will be soft and forgiving not harsh and hateful, and we will forgive others as we also would like to be forgiven. We will plead for the lost, pray for the sick, ask wisdom for the government and peace for Jerusalem.
Just saying this much instantly makes most of us (including yours truly) realize that we lack the love that we need in order to pray well. We need to pray for love to fill our hearts and the hearts of others. The apostle Paul has given us a profound prayer that models how to pray for transforming love:
Ephesians 3:14-21 MKJV For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named, (16) that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; (17) that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, (19) and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. (20) Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (21) to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, forever. Amen.
Paul prayed this prayer because he believed that God would answer it and fill the Ephesians with love. And Paul wrote it into his epistle to the Ephesians so that they (and us centuries later) would pray it ourselves. We are to pray for an abundance of the Holy Spirit so that we will be filled with love and become like Jesus. We are to pray this for ourselves and for the Church. Revival will come when this prayer is prayed and answered.
Spiritual coldness and selfishness lie at the heart of apostasy and fervent praying love lies at the heart of revival. We have to stop praying for our lusts and start praying for our loves.
We have to rethink our prayer lives. I suggest that you get a piece of paper and rule it up into three columns headed Love of God, Love of People, Love Itself respectively and then write your main prayer points into those columns. As you do this you will be reminded of the three good reasons why you are praying. Fill your prayer life with love and your prayers will grow and mature and your prayer life will become all that it should be.
Our Key Difference
What are some of the key spiritual differences in leadership between a godly Christian leader and a successful but worldly executive such as Donald Trump?
Some that immediately come to mind (in fairly random order) include: Prayer, a pure heart, clean lips, worship, graciousness, kindness, treating people as precious individuals for whom Christ died and not just as means to an end, washing the feet of the saints, going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, taking up one's cross daily, separation from the world and its lusts, loving God, reverence for the Scriptures and for holy things, marital faithfulness, contentment, simplicity, humility, lowliness, obedience, peace, joy, treating others as we wish to be treated ourselves, and being loving, gentle, patient, easy to be entreated and meek.
The things listed above are the differences that make the Church the Church! They shall know we are Christians by our love:
John 13:34-35 ESV A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
One passage recently stood out to me as highlighting some key leadership differences:
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Look what Jesus is promising! Rest for our souls flowing from His gentle, lowly and meek leadership style. He promises not to overload us - for His yoke is easy and His burden is light! Jesus is a leader who allows His followers rest and recreation and who does not stress them out or overwork them but instead treats them with great gentleness and respect! The apostle John even tells thus that following Jesus' commandments is not hard:
1 John 5:2-3 MKJV By this we know that we love the children of God, whenever we love God and keep His commandments. (3) For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.
Good Christian leaders do not put their followers on a treadmill. Instead they take heavily burdened people and give them rest! One of the keys to this is teaching people to walk in the Holy Spirit so that they can have God's strength for each and every day so that they can fulfill all the commandments of God (Romans 8:4, Galatians 5:16).
Sometimes we can over-schedule our staff or our volunteers. We see a great goal to be accomplished and we drive everyone hard until it is fulfilled, forgetting that they have family and obligations and a life to live. This is nearly always wrong. The people must come before the project. If the project is too big for the people it clearly should be scaled back a bit.
God gave the Jews three large holiday feasts each year of about ten days each, plus a day off each week and an entire year off every seven years. These were to be times without work. Times to just rest and be refreshed. God does not want you to be working a 70 hour week. And God does not want you to drive your staff so hard that they have to work 70 hour weeks! Fruitfulness is far more important than production and you simply cannot be spiritual, gracious, kind, patient and loving if you are stressed-out, over-tired, and irritable from lack of sleep!
Are your people better or bitter? Are they blessed or burdened? Fruitful or frustrated? Cults burden people, but Christ gives them rest.
The primary concern of a godly Christian leader is not the size of the organization but the quality of the fruit. The key question we need to ask ourselves is: Are our people developing into the image of God's beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Savior?
Christ-like spiritual quality was Paul's primary prayer concern:
Ephesians 3:14-19 MKJV For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named, (16) that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; (17) that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, (19) and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
As well as his vision for the role of the entire five-fold ministry:
Ephesians 4:11-13 ISV And it is he who gifted some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, and still others to be pastors and teachers, (12) to perfect the saints, to do the work of ministry, and to build up the body of Christ (13) until all of us are united in the faith and in the full knowledge of God's Son, and until we attain mature adulthood and the full standard of development in Christ.
Christian leadership is not about the execution of organizational goals but is instead about the growth of the people within the organization and the blessedness of those whom they minister to. At the end of our ministry we should be able to look at our people and see that they are becoming more and more like Jesus each day!
Funding has become very closely tied to numerical measures and to leaders who are able to present 'business plans' to large foundations and donors. This in turn drives a culture of frantic achievement and a marginalization of (seemingly) time-consuming spiritual practices and values. The task tends to come before things such as worship and relationships and even prayer tends to focus on what needs to be done rather than on the people who are doing it.
In extreme cases some “Christian” organizations are just worldly corporations pursuing religious goals with a Bible in one hand and a calculator in the other. They are just like any big business and they are even proud to say so. In such cases they have lost the Spirit of Christ and are run by the spirit of this present evil age.
The problem with slowing down and paying attention to people, relationships, prayer, worship, the poor and broken and so on is that “the numbers look bad”. What man sees on the outside is not as impressive. But God looks on the heart! He beholds our quality not our quantity:
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."
Indeed when Jesus comments on each of the seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three He ONLY mentions “quality issues” - primarily of love, endurance, faith and sanctification.
Corporate leadership may be glamorous but it is not spiritual. It does not produce people made in the image of God's beloved Son. Unless God can see and know Himself in our fruit He will say “I never knew you! Depart from Me you workers of iniquity!”. If our ministries just produce worldly people who know a few bible verses and can say a few prayers but who are devoid of higher spiritual values such as agape love then we have failed completely. We have become “workers of iniquity” for we have kept them in their sins.
Our leadership goals and leadership styles are to be vastly different from those of the world. We are to be as the least among them, we are to serve, we are to be gentle and lowly and meek and we are to give people rest for their souls.
The leadership style of Christian organizations should be saturated with holiness and with agape love. Our organizations should be filled with solid deep prayerful friendships among brothers and sisters in the Lord. No one should feel marginalized, left out or at the bottom of a church or mission “pecking order”. Everyone should feel that they are loved, accepted and being built up in the Lord
and in their faith. No one should feel that they are just there to do a job. Everyone should feel that they are part of a living fellowship of divine grace.
Why not spend ten minutes, right now, thinking about how you lead and how you minister?
What do you need to change if the people you lead are to be built up in Christ?
Fulfilling the Law
What fulfills God's expectations for our lives? How does a Christian leader fulfill their ministry? What commandments are top priority and get highest billing in the Christian life? There are a group of related commandments that 'fulfill the whole Law':
a) Loving thy neighbor fulfills the Law (Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8), the example given for doing this is that of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). b) Loving God with all your heart and mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).
c) Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12).
d) The bearing of one another's burdens fulfills the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). e) Showing practical Christian love to those in need, especially widows and orphans in their distress (1 John 3:14-24, James 1:27) fulfills the Royal Law f) We fulfill the Law by the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4) and not by the letter (Romans 7:6, 2 Corinthians 3:6)
We fulfill God's expectations by being good, kind, loving, generous Christians. We see a need and meet it, we see a burden and bear it. We treat others well. In fact we treat them so well that we would like to be treated that way ourselves! True Christianity and true Christian leadership is gracious, kind and practical and makes people feel as if they have been blessed. It builds people up, puts them on their feet and helps them become like Jesus.
On the other hand if we don't have love we are nothing – even if we prophesy, move mountains by faith, speak in tongues and make huge sacrifices for the gospel (1 Corinthians 13:1-4). Religious deeds do no fulfill the Law unless they are accompanied by love!
The Pharisees did not fulfill the Law – even though they prayed, tithed, fasted, gave alms, observed the Sabbath and went regularly to the Temple. They were even keen Bible students:
John 5:39-40 MKJV You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life. And they are the ones witnessing of Me, (40) and you will not come to Me that you might have life.
Despite all of this religious zeal the Pharisees failed to fulfill the Law because they were harsh, unloving and judgmental. They did not bear other folk's burdens – instead they added to them! In Matthew 23 Jesus points out why the Pharisees were not saved and why their 'religiosity' was a violation, not an observance of the Law. Some of His main points were:
a) Their complete lack of practical compassion for burdened people:
Matthew 23:4 MKJV For they bind heavy and hard-to-carry burdens and lay them on men's shoulders. But they will not move them with one of their fingers.
b) The Pharisees did not enter themselves and even prevented others from entering:
Matthew 23:13MKJV But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men. For you neither go in, nor do you allow those entering to go in.
c) And they even made their converts into “children of Hell”:
Matthew 23:15 MKJV Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and the dry land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
d) In fact they missed the main points of the Torah:
Matthew 23:23 MKJV Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and you have left undone the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith. You ought to have done these and not to leave the other undone.
e) And instead of being caring, kind and righteous they even exploited the vulnerable:
Matthew 23:14 MKJV Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and pray at length as a pretense. Therefore you shall receive the greater condemnation.
To sum up: Treating others as you would wish to be treated fulfills the whole Law, and treating others badly violates the whole Law (no matter how many religious activities you undertake). The apostle James, the brother of Jesus, and a leader of the early church makes this point by using an illustration about the sin of favoritism or partiality. Please read the following long passage carefully:
James 2:1-13 ISV My brothers, do not practice your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ by showing partiality. (2) Suppose a man wearing gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in. (3) If you give special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Please take this seat," but you say to the poor man, "Stand over there" or "Sit on the floor at my feet," (4) you have made false distinctions among yourselves and have become judges with evil motives, haven't you? (5) Listen, my dear brothers! God has chosen the poor in the world to become rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him, has he not? (6) But you have humiliated the man who is poor. Are not rich people the ones who oppress you and drag you into court? (7) Are not they the ones who blaspheme the excellent name by which you have been called? (8) Nevertheless, you are doing the right thing if you obey the royal law in keeping with the Scripture, "You must love your neighbor as yourself." (9) But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and will be convicted by the law as violators. (10) For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (11) For the one who said, "Never commit adultery," also said, "Never murder." Now if you do not commit adultery but you murder, you become a violator of the law. (12) You must make it your habit to speak and act like people who are going to be judged by the law of liberty. (13) For merciless judgment will come to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
His points are: 1. Partiality humiliates the poor man 2. Partiality is thus a gross sin against the Royal Law: “You must love your neighbor as yourself”. If you wouldn't want to be humiliated - then don't humiliate others. 3. This sin or partiality does not break 'just one small law' it breaks all of the Law. It even makes the person a violator of the Law. Violating people, violates God's Law. 4. We will be treated as we treat others. Merciless judgment shall be shown to those who show no mercy (e.g. by deliberately humiliating others). On the other hand if we are merciful we will not be judged because mercy triumphs over judgment.
Therefore we see that: treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves fulfills the whole Law - and spares us from judgment. On the other hand treating others badly violates the whole Law and brings merciless judgment on our heads. Rude Christianity is a contradiction in terms. The good Christian is gracious, gentle, and displays great courtesy. Christians should think about how other people are feeling and seek to treat them kindly and well. The gracious, kind, thoughtful, well-mannered person will also be treated graciously on the Day of Judgment. And it is only righteous that it should be so!
Yes, we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8,9). Indeed we are justified by faith and not through keeping the 613 laws of Moses! But once we are saved we are to be righteous, loving, kind, meek, gentle, thoughtful and good. The whole of Christianity is summed up in loving our neighbors as ourselves and doing unto others what we would want done to us. We
cannot escape this just because we are justified by faith. We are justified in order that we may be sanctified and sanctified in love by the Holy Spirit who enables us to fulfill the Law (Romans 8:4). We are made for good works that God has prepared beforehand for us to perform (Ephesians 2:10). No matter how spiritually gifted we are, without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-4).
Christian leadership is about humility, servanthood, thoughtfulness, love and grace. It is not about ecclesiastical dominance (Matthew 20:25-28, John 13:1-17, Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus even washed the feet of Judas! Good Christians love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. Christians respect everyone, viewing them as those for whom Christ has died. Love is the fulfilling of the Law (Romans 13:8-10).
Assurance of Salvation
There are two extreme views about the assurance of salvation. One is the “I once prayed a prayer so I am saved forever no matter what I do, or how I live” extreme. This approach does not take the righteous requirements of the gospel seriously enough. It is just lawlessness “baptized” with a quick prayer. The other extreme is “you are only as saved as your last act of obedience”. That is salvation by works and is establishing your own righteousness (Romans 10:1-3). It has people saved one minute and unsaved the next. One preacher is noted for saying “I kicked my toe on a rock and nearly lost my salvation”. That is just plain ridiculous! It runs against the entire teaching on the NT especially John, Romans and Galatians.
John 10:27-29 EMTV My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (28) And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. (29) My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.
Assurance of salvation is not an emotion or an inner experience. How do we know that? From the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee was totally sure of his salvation (“I thank you Lord that I am not like other men..)– but was not justified, whereas the desperate publican who had great feelings of insecurity and unworthiness (“unable to lift up his eyes toward heaven”) was the one who was justified before God. Their personal feelings were the OPPOSITE of the actual spiritual reality.
Also great Christians with melancholic personalities such as John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon have struggled with 'feeling saved' while some glib televangelists are absolutely positive about a salvation that few other people believe that they possess!
Assurance of salvation is also not cognitive e.g. “since you believe these four bible verses you are now saved forever”. Being able to check off a list of doctrines assures us of nothing! The Devil believes that God is One, and that Jesus is Lord, and Satan knows all too well that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of mankind, was raised from the dead and will return in glory one day. But that doesn't make Satan saved.
1 John is the epistle that is most devoted to the idea of the assurance of salvation. John keeps using terms such as “know”, “assure”, “confidence” and “abide”. The apostle is telling us that we can know and be fully assured about our salvation. It is not something we have to be constantly in doubt about.
First read the seven passages below - then I will draw out the main points:
1 John 2:3-6 EMTV Now by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we
keep His commandments. (4) He who says, "I have come to know Him," and does
not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (5) But whoever
keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we
are in Him. (6) He who claims to abide in Him ought himself also to walk just as He
1 John 2:28-29 EMTV And now, little children, abide in Him, in order that when
He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed due to Him at His
coming. (29) If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who
practices righteousness has been born of Him.
1 John 3:14 EMTV We know that we have passed over from death to life, because
we love the brothers. He who does not love his brother abides in death.
1 John 3:16-24 EMTV By this we have come to know love, because He laid down
His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives in behalf of our brothers.
(17) But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother having need, and
shuts off his compassion towards him, how does the love of God abide in him? (18)
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (19)
And in this we know that we are from the truth, and shall assure our hearts before
Him. (20) Because if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He
knows all things. (21) Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have
confidence toward God. (22) And whatever we should ask we receive from Him,
because we keep His commandments and we do the things pleasing before Him.
(23) And this is His commandment: that we should believe in the name of His Son
Jesus Christ and should love one another, just as He gave commandment. (24) And
the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this
we know that He abides in us, from the Spirit whom He gave us.
1 John 4:7-8 EMTV Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; and
everyone that loves has been born of God and knows God.
1Jn 4:13 (By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has
given us of His Spirit.)
1 John 4:16-17 EMTV And we have come to know and believe the love which God
has in us. God is love, and he that abides in love abides in God, and God abides in
him. (17) By this love has been perfected with us: that we may have confidence in
the day of judgment; because just as He is, we also are in this world.
1 John 5:11-15 EMTV And this is the testimony: that God has given to us eternal
life, and this life is in His Son. (12) He that has the Son has life; he that does not
have the Son of God does not have life. (13) These things I write to you who
believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal
life, and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God. (14) And this is the
confidence that we have toward Him, that if we should ask anything according to
His will, He hears us. (15) And if we know that He hears us, whatever we may ask,
we know that we have the requests that we have requested from Him.
The basis of being sure of your salvation is:
a) That you believe in Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23) and that you 'have the Son'. He
who has the Son has life (1 John 5:12).
b) That you walk in love (1 John 3:14, 4:7-8, 16-17). This involves demonstrating
generous, sacrificial, practical love for the brethren (1 John 3:16-19) which proves
that God's love abides in you and that you are a new creation with a new nature in
Christ. Your loving behavior is a true sign that God, who is love, is resident in your
c) That you obey to Christ's commandments (1 John 2:3-6), keeping His Word (1
John 2:5) and adopting the Jesus lifestyle (“walking as He walked” 1 John 2:6). You
know you are of the truth if your lifestyle matches up with the commandments of
God; which are to believe in the name of Jesus Christ and to love one another (1
d) That you practice righteousness (1 John 2:28,29). Righteousness is God's nature
and is part of His image. If we are to be like Christ, then we will be righteous and
our righteousness will give us confidence on the day of judgment so that we need
not be ashamed because God will recognize the presence of Christ in us.
e) Answers to prayer (1 John 3: 22). If our prayers are being answered we know
that God is hearing us (1 John 5:14,15) because we are obeying His
commandments and asking in His will.
f) Having the Holy Spirit dwelling in us (1 John 3:24, 4:13 see also Romans 8:9).
The presence of the Holy Spirit, which is evident in the fruit of the Spirit (such as
love, joy and peace), and in the revealing of Christ to us via the anointing (1 John
2:20,27) and in the confession of Christ as Lord who has come in the flesh (1 John
4:1-3) is a sign of God's indwelling and of our salvation.
g) A clear conscience – 'a heart that does not condemn us' (1 John 3:21). Now John
tells us that this is a tricky question and that some people feel condemned even if
they are guiltless (perhaps because of the work of the Accuser of the Brethren). In
this case we have to look to God, not to our heart, because God is greater than our
heart and knows all things (1 John 3:20). The apostle John tells us that the way we
can reassure our heart if we have doubts is to check our obedience and our love (1
John 3:16-19). The objective factor – how we are living, is much surer than the
subjective – how we are feeling.
h) Abiding in Christ (1 John 2:28) – that is 'keeping our relationship with God pure
and holy'. As we obey His commandments we abide in God and God abides in us (1
John 3:24) - that is the relationship between the Christian and God deepens. The
signs that we are abiding in Christ are righteousness (1 John 2;29), the Spirit (1
John 4:13) and godly love (1 John 4:16).
To sum up the signs that we are saved are: faith in Christ, obedience to His
commandments, practical agape love, righteousness, answered prayer, the
indwelling Holy Spirit, a clear conscience and a pure and holy relationship with God.
Satan cannot show agape love, obey God, or walk in righteousness. The Devil and
his servants cannot pass these eight tests. Only the sons of God can!
The first five of these are externally measurable and testable. You can check to see
if you have faith in Christ, are living in agape love, obeying His commandments and
walking in righteousness. It is also easy to see if your prayers are being answered.
That last three (the Holy Spirit, a clear conscience and abiding in Christ) are tested
by the first five. For instance, love is a sign of the Spirit, and is also a sign that we
are abiding in Christ.
At no point do we have to depend on our feelings, our experiences or on a
theological checklist (which is all too easy to fake). Assurance of salvation is
measurable, testable, and has external proofs. The indicators of salvation are
clearly evident attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle choices that we make on a
consistent basis. We should be people who daily seek to be loving, righteous and
holy. The Greek tenses here mean that we are tested by our general disposition, by
how we live out Christ in the long-term. No one-off experience of spiritual elation
can assure us of salvation and no one-off spiritual catastrophe of anger, rage or
unloving behavior means that we have lost our salvation.
Do these eight signs (love, righteousness etc) mean that if we occasionally
accidentally sin that we lose our salvation? Not at all! Sins and slip-ups occur with
even the best of believers. We should confess them and move on confident of the
cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7-9). We need to move past our
sinful mistake and resume being righteous, loving, gracious, Spirit-filled and
obedient to Christ. This is not performance based Christianity. It is fruitful living
that is the outworking of deep and abundant grace. God took the initiative to save
us. God is love and we love because He first loved us. God holds you in the palm of
His hand and will keep you in His love!
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