THE GIFTS THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

What was the best gift or gifts you have ever received? Now that we are in the Christmas season we are now going around from store to store trying to get the best gifts for our family and friends.

But have you ever wonder what was the greatest gift or gifts you received from God? I believe the greatest gift God gave to mankind was his son and my Savior, Jesus Christ. If you are a non-believer I will still ask the question what is the greatest gift or gifts you ever receive? Some people may say their children or their husband or wife. Perhaps some would say their Mother or Father or brother or sister or just a real life long friend. Whatever, your answer I believe God created every gift or gifts because God loves you and wants very much to have a relationship with you!!! In this article, we want to focus what is God’s greatest gift to mankind, Jesus Christ, and what gifts Christ gave to all of us if we only believe in Him.

The very core of all God’s gifts is love as stated in John 3:16… For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. The entire gospel comes to focus in this verse. God’s love is not static or self-centered. It reaches out and draws others in. Here God sets the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships – when you love someone dearly, you are willing to give freely to the point of self-sacrifice. God paid dearly with the life of his Son, the highest price he could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that he brought for us. When we share the gospel with others, our love must be like Jesus – willingly giving up our own comfort and security so others might join us in receiving God’s love.

I believe that the greatest gift God gave to mankind was Jesus Christ. We must define or at express who this Jesus Christ is to the non-believer. Jesus Christ, as all Christians believe is the savior of the world. Jesus Christ came to redeem all of our sins. Historically, Jesus Christ was a man who lived during the height of the Roman empire. Christians believe that when Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross He died for all of the mankind’s sins. Christians believe that Christ rose on the third day after his death to prove that all Christians have not only conquered sin but death with eternal life with God. Christians also believe that Christ sits on the right hand of God and intercedes for all of our sins. The ‘Word of God’ or the bible Christians believe is our guide manual or testament of God’s instruction on how we are to live with God here on earth. This bible has 64 books written by men inspire by God and is divided in the ‘Old Testament’ and the ‘New Testament’. All through the ‘Old Testament’ it tells of Christ coming into the world on example is in Isaiah 7:14… 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel… the word Immanuel in the passage of scripture means “God with us”. Also in Isaiah 9:6… For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us, a Son is given, And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
. Then again in Micah 5:2…“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”…. This Ruler is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Micah accurately predicted Christ’s birthday hundreds of years before Jesus was born. The promised eternal King in David’s line, who would come to live as a man, had been alive forever – ‘from of old, from everlasting’. Although eternal, Christ entered human history as the man Jesus of Nazareth.

We have express who Jesus Christ is to the mankind now we need to talk about what gifts Jesus gave to all who believe in Him. The most odious answer of one the greatest gift if not the most important gift Jesus gave to mankind is salvation. When we talk about the salvation we are referring to the act of God’s grace in delivering his people (Christians) from bondage to sin and condemnation, transferring them to the kingdom of His Son, Jesus Christ, and giving all Christians eternal life. This stated in the word of God in Colossians 1:13… 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, as well as Romans 6:23… 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. When the verse speaks of the wages of sin is death, they are not talking about physical death but a spiritual death. Besides, we all know whether you believe in Jesus Christ or not that we will all die one day. The question is do you want to die with Jesus Christ or not. Also in this Romans verse eternal life is a free gift from God. If it is a gift, then it is not something that we earn, nor something that must be paid back. Consider the foolishness of someone who receives a gift given out of love and then offers to pay for it. A gift cannot be purchased by the recipient. A more appropriate response to a loved one who offers a gift is graceful acceptance with gratitude. Our salvation is a gift from God, not something of our own doing. He saved us because of this mercy, not because of ant righteous things that we have done. How much more we should accept with thanksgiving the gift that God has freely given to us.

Finally, let’s talk about God’s gift of grace and mercy. While grace and mercy have similar meanings, grace and mercy are not the same. To summarize the difference, mercy is God not punishing us as our sins deserve, and grace is God’s blessings us despite the fact we do not deserve it. The gift of mercy is deliverance from judgment. While the gift of grace is extending kindness to the unworthy. All through the bible God has given gifts of grace and mercy to His people. God’s gift of was shown in Esther 2:16-17… 16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of VashtiGod place Esther on the throne even before the Jews faced the possibility of complete destruction so that when trouble came, a person would already be in the position to help. No human effort could thwart God’s plan to send the Messiah to earth as a Jew. If you changing jobs, position, or location and can’t see God’s purpose in your situation, understand that God is in control. God may be placing you in a position so you can help when the need arises. Also, God’s gift of grace is expressed in Ephesians 2:8-9… For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast… When someone gives you a gift, do you say, “That’s very nice – now how much do I owe you?” No, the appropriate response to a gift is “Thank you.” Yet how often Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation, feel obligated to try to work their way to God. Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and joy. When it comes to God’s gift of mercy in Psalms 51:1-4… Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me

thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak,[a] And blameless when You judge... David was truly sorry for his adultery with Bathsheba and for murdering her husband to cover it up. He knew that his actions had hurt many people. But because David repented of that sin, God mercifully forgave him. No sin is too great to be forgiven! Do you feel that you could never come close to God because you have done something terrible? God can and will forgive you of any sin. While God forgives us, however, he does not always erase the natural consequences of our sin – David’s life and family were never the same as a result of what he had done. In another expression of God’s gift of mercy in Romans 6:14-15… 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!…If we’re no longer under the law but under grace, are we now free to sin and disregard the Ten Commandments? Paul says, “Certainly not!” When we were under the law sin was our master – the law does not justify us or help us overcome sin. But now that we are bound to Christ, he is our Master, and he gives us the power to do good rather than evil.

So the gift’s of God that keeps on giving are salvation, grace, and mercy through God’s love for all of us. God will always be there for you if you have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we all can receive the gifts of God that keep on giving. I have submitted a gospel video related to this article. Enjoy the video. Always remember, “Keep the Faith” and “God Loves You and So Do I.”

What do you think? Your comments are always welcome.

Written by Kofi Baruti

CAN WE BENEFIT FROM ADVERSITY?

Can we benefit from adversity? I want to answer this question through a passage of scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10… And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. In the this passage of scripture we don’t know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh really was, because he doesn’t tell us. Some have suggested that it was malaria, epilepsy, or a disease of the eyes. Whatever the case, it was a chronic and debilitating problem, which at times kept him from working. This thorn was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed for its removal, but God refused. Paul was a very self-sufficient person, so this thorn must have been difficult for him. It kept Paul humble, reminded him of his need for constant contact with God, and benefited those around him as they saw God at work in his life. Although God did not remove Paul’s physical affliction, he promised to demonstrate his power in Paul. The fact that God’s power is displayed in weak people should give us courage. Though we recognize our limitations, we will not congratulate ourselves and rest at that. Instead, we will turn to God to seek pathways for effectiveness. We must rely on God for our effectiveness rather than simply on our own energy, effort, or talent. Our weakness not only helps develop Christian character, it also deepens our worship, because in admitting our weakness we affirm God’s strength. When we are strong in abilities or resources, we are tempted to do God’s work on our own, and that can lead to pride. When we are weak, allowing God to fill us with his power, then we are stronger that we could ever be on our own. God does not intend for us to seek to be weak, passive, or ineffective, life provides enough hindrances and setbacks without us creating them. When those obstacles come, we must depend on God. Only God’s power will make us effective for God and will help us do work that has lasting value.

Adversity can a tool God uses to call people to discipleship. Think about Paul the Apostle before he became an apostle on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:3-19… As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.[a] It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him, the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”

And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” 13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,[b] who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. 19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Damascus a key commercial city was located about 175 miles northeast of Jerusalem in the Roman province of Syria. Several trade routes linked Damascus to others cities throughout the Roman world. Saul may have that by stamping out Christianity in Damascus, he could prevent its spread to other areas. Saul thought he was pursuing heretics (those teaching non-Jewish laws), but he was persecuting Jesus himself. Anyone persecutes believers today is also guilty of persecuting Jesus, because believers are the body of Christ on earth. Saul was led away from this experience blind to go into the city of Damascus. God told Saul to go into Damascus where he will be instructed as to what he must do. The Lord then spoke a Christian disciple name Ananias telling him to go the house of Judas where Saul of Tarsus was praying and he was to baptism Saul that he may receive his sight. Ananias knew of Saul saying “Not him, Lord that’s impossible. Saul could never become a Christian!” In essence, that’s what Ananias said when God told him of Saul’s conversion. After all, Saul had pursued believers to their death. Despite these understandable feelings. Ananias obeyed God and ministered to Saul. We must not limit God- God can do anything. We must obey and follow and follow God’s leading even when he leads us to difficult people and places. Faith in Christ brings great blessing but often great suffering too. Paul would suffer for his faith. God calls us to commitment, not to comfort. He promises to be with us through suffering and hardship, not to spare us from them. Ananias found Saul, as he had been instructed and greeted him as ‘Brother Saul’. Ananias feared this meeting because Saul had come to Damascus to capture the believers and take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. But in obedience to the Holy Spirit, Ananias greeted Saul lovingly. It is not always easy to show love to others, especially when we are afraid of them or doubt their motives. Nevertheless, we must follow Jesus command and Ananias’s example, showing loving acceptance to other believers. Although there is no mention of a special filing on the Holy Spirit for Saul, his changed life and subsequent accomplishments bear strong witness to the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in his life. Evidently, the Holy Spirit filled Saul when he receive his sight and was baptized. Through this adversity placed on Saul now known as Paul the Apostle we today nearly half of the New Testament. Always remember that God always has a master plan for each of us when God allows adversity to enter our lives. I have submitted a video related to this article. Enjoy the gospel video. Always remember, ‘Keep the Faith and God Loves You and So Do I’.

What do you think? Your comments are always welcome!!!

Written By Kofi Baruti

 

CAN GOD FORGIVE US FOR ALL OF OUR SINS?

This question many people had asked. The answer to this question is Yes, God can forgive us for all our sins. Why, because Jesus Christ died on the cross for remission mankind’s sins. When Christ died on the cross God forgave our sins in the past, present as well as the future. Many people think that they have committed some unforgivable sins. But Jesus Christ took on all of the mankind’s sins as well as death. It is stated in the bible in Romans 6:23 … 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lordin this bible verse you are free to choose between two masters, but you are not free to manipulate the consequences of your choice. Each of the two masters pays with his own kind of currency. The currency of sin death. That is all you can expect or hope for in life without God. Christ’s currency is an eternal life which means a new life with God that begins on earth and continues forever with God in heaven. Yes, all your sins can be forgiven if you turn to Christ and have faith that Christ will forgive you of your sins.

Let’s look at some examples of Jesus forgiving people of their sins. The first one we will mention is when Jesus forgives an adulterous woman in the Gospel of John 8:1-11… But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early[a] in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught[b] in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded[c] us that such should be stoned.[d] But what do You say?”[eThis they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.[f] So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up[g] and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it,being convicted by their conscience,[h] went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,[i] “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?[j] Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and[k] sin no more.” The Jewish leaders had already disregarded the law by arresting the woman without the man. The law that both parties to adultery be stoned. In this case, the Pharisees were using the woman as a trap so they could trick Jesus. If Jesus said the woman should not be stoned, they would accuse him of violating Moses’ law. If he urged them to execute her, they would report him to the Romans, who did not permit the Jews to carry out their own executions. When Jesus said ‘he who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her’ this is a significant statement about judging others. Because Jesus upheld the legal penalty for adultery, stoning, he could not be accused of being against the law. But by saying that only a sinless person could throw the first stone, he highlighted the importance of compassion and forgiveness. When others are caught in sin, are you quick to pass judgment? To do so is to act as though you have never sinned. It is God’s role to judge, not ours. Our role is to show forgiveness and compassion. Now it is uncertain whether Jesus was merely ignoring the accusers by writing on the ground, listing their sins, or writing out the Ten Commandments. When Jesus said that only someone who had not sinned should throw the first stone, the leaders slipped quietly away, from the oldest to the youngest. Evidently, the older men were more aware of their sins than the younger. Age and experience often temper youthful self-righteousness. But whatever your age, take an honest look at your life. Recognize your sinful nature, and look for ways to help others rather than hurt or judge them. Jesus didn’t condemn the woman accused of adultery, but neither did he ignore or condone her sin. He told her to leave her life of sin. Jesus stands ready to forgive any sin in your life, but confession and repentance mean a change of heart. With God’s help, we can accept Christ’s forgiveness and stop our wrongdoing.

Another great example of Jesus forgiving sins is in Mark 2:1-12… And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately[a]many gathered together so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic,“Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them,“Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic,11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”in this passage of scripture the paralytic’s (a person affected by paralysis) need moved his friends to action, and they brought him to Jesus. When you recognize someone’s need, do you act? Many people have physical and spiritual needs you can meet, either by yourself or with others who are also concerned. Human need moved these four men, let it also move you to compassionate action. House in biblical times were built of stone. They had flat roots made of mud mixed with straw. Outside stairways led to the roofs. These friends may have carried the lame man up the outside stairs to the roof. They then could easily have taken apart the mud and straw mixture to make a hole through which to lower their friend to Jesus. Before saying to the paralytic , ‘Arise’ Jesus said, Son, your sins are forgiven you.’ To the Jewish leaders, this statement was blasphemous, claiming to do something only God could do. According to the law, the punishment for this sin was death. The religious leaders understood correctly that Jesus was claiming divine prerogatives, but their judgment on him was wrong. Jesus was not blaspheming because Jesus claim was true. Jesus is God, and he proved his claim by healing the paralytic. This is the first time in Mark that Jesus is referred to as the ‘Son of Man.’ The title Son of Man emphasizes that Jesus is fully human, while Son of God emphasizes that he is fully God. As God’s Son, Jesus has the authority to forgive sin. As a man, he can identify with our deepest needs and sufferings and help us overcome sin.

What if you continue to sin over and over again will God forgive you? Another great example of this is in Matthew 18:21-22… 2Then Peter came to Jesus and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seventhe rabbi taught that people should forgive those who offend them, but only three times. Peter, trying to be especially generous asked Jesus if seven (the perfect number) was enough times to forgive someone. But Jesus answered, ‘Seventy times seven,’ meaning that we shouldn’t even keep track of how many times we forgive someone. We should forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how times they ask. If you are truly repentant Jesus will forgive you no matter how many times you continue to sin because we live in a sinful world and we may always sin against Go and others. I submitted a Gospel video related to this article. Enjoy the video. Always remember “Keep the Faith and God Loves You and So Do I.”

What do you think? You comment are welcome!!!

Written by Kofi Baruti