SATAN’S THESIS STATEMENT, JESUS’ OFFER

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We live in a world that is both physical and spiritual; material and immaterial. It is good to be always aware of this reality. As disciples of Jesus, we need to know the “flaming arrows” of the devil but more importantly what our Master has accomplished for us. Jesus is constantly on a mission of saving and giving life to many; but Satan on the other is engaged on a mission that is disastrously against all that has been established by God.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” ( John 10:10).

Satan’s thesis statement from the beginning is simple, focused, and clear: to steal, kill, and destroy. And so, practically, what are some of the things (that God gave/wanted us to enjoy) that we have been robbed of by the devil?

He has robbed many individuals their God-given: joy, peace, health, hope, integrity, humility, patience, intimacy with God etc. Families are also not spared; the thief has robbed many families of their: love, faithfulness, values, and unity. He robs our nations of: security, unity, sexuality, freedom, lives, culture, love for others, resources/prosperity, justice, truth and many others. He is a real thief!

Surprisingly, it does not stop with stealing. He also kills. He kills people’s potential, dreams, lives, and hopes. He has done this through lies; that is, planting in people’s minds and perceptions a false belief about oneself, others, and God. The thief doesn’t even stop there; he destroys what he has stolen and killed! As a matter of fact, he has destroyed precious lives of many young people with the allure to drug abuse and slavery to immorality in the name of freedom. He has destroyed others with pessimism. So sad. But that’s exactly what the devil has been up to. He is indeed an enemy.

But the most encouraging promise is found in the second part of the verse. Jesus makes an offer, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. If that does not bless you, I don’t know what else does. Jesus is your true friend, life-giver, and redeemer. He has come, not to subtract or rob the little you have but to give you life and life in abundance. Satan takes but Jesus gives. He has come to restore what has been stolen and to lift you even to a higher ground. He has come not just to restore what had been stolen but to lift you up to a level of abundance. He will do it a hundred fold. What a good news!

The Bible declares that Jesus, the one you believe in or you should believe in, has entered into the strong man’s house (Satan’s realm) and came with spoils of victory. “… How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house” Matt. 12:29. Jesus was able to bind the “strong man” on the cross. It is at the cross of Jesus that we find victory. We are able to achieve this victory and redemption by believing in Jesus, the One who is all-powerful to seize and tie up the “strong man” and to restore all that is due us.

Because of Jesus, don’t let the enemy rob you (again). Refuse to be robbed. No more robbing. It is a time of restoration. The thief might have stolen from you for a long time holding you hostage,  but come to Jesus, the redeemer and restorer of your life and soul. He will give you a gift, eternal life.

 

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CHRISTIAN LIFE AS A RACE

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When Apostle Paul likened Christian life to a race, he was certainly drawing his metaphoric language from the ancient Greek Olympic games that started way back in 776BC. Traditionally, the Olympic games took place after every four years; but in a major city like Corinth, where Paul’s audience lived, major games were hosted after every two years. This analogy therefore served well to illustrate profound biblical truths in familiar terms. I hope it also does today.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Cor. 9:24-27).

How does this athletic metaphor enrich our understanding of Christian life?  

  1. There is a course marked out for every Christian to run–                                            www.hdnicewallpapers.com                                                  You see, God’s call to salvation does not invite us to a life of inactivity. Rather, we are called to run a race that is marked out for us. Simply, there is a race that you must run. Christian life is not like boarding a matatu with a ticket at hand and waiting to arrive at your destination. No, hapana. It demands focus on what is marked out before you; the race has to be run irrespective of distractions, discouragements, obstructions, and interference that the enemy might place on your path.
  2. Run in such a way as to get the prize– In a race there are false runners (pacesetters), who unsustainably begin the race so fast that within a very short period of time they bow out. Likewise, there those who snail their way through for the purpose of just earning a participation certificate. Paul exhorted his audience to run the race not just for the purpose of participation, but more importantly to WIN the prize. Winning the prize is important. It is glorious! The prize rewards all the toils, self sacrifice, and cumulative efforts spend during the preparation. Genuinely, a christian should not just run the race for the purpose of getting to heaven; but to win the prize that is kept in store for the faithfuls in that glorious day.

Elsewhere, Paul says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). Run the race marked out for you with a goal, and a purpose. A focus fixed on a particular goal helps one overcome distractions from within and without. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith (Heb. 12: 2). In the words of apostle Paul he committedly presses on, “to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12).

  1. Any true athlete goes into strict training– This can’t be exaggerated. Any successful athlete knows that to produce record-shattering results, time has to be invested in preparations. This is the tough part of the Olympics. It demands discipline, self-denial, sacrifice, patience, long suffering, forfeiting your privileges, and determination. How does Paul accomplish this?
    1. He focuses on the Crown– It sounds repetitive here but the fact is, it is easy to lose focus in preparation unless we keep in mind the bigger picture of winning the glorious reward. In Paul’s day, athletes competed to win a crown/wreath of olive leaf which, of course, withers within a very short period of time. Perhaps the winner could also have enjoyed other favors and incentives like monetary allocations, honors, recognition, and relieve from taxation. But as Christians we run the race marked out for us in order to receive a crown that lasts forever. In this case, the focus on the crown/prize makes him give up what is good now and settle for the best that lies ahead. Like a boxer, Paul is not without aim, he is not beating the air because of his deliberate end-goal.
    2. He beats his body–                                                                                                           athlete 2                     You can’t win a race with an overweight. The plus-size weight has to be worked on. Otherwise winning will remain a dream. We must pay the price of hard work if we want to win. We must master our bodies, desires, and affections. Part of the weight we have to shed off to stay “fit” includes “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” Heb. 12:11.
  2. Beware of disqualification

Here Paul is clearly not talking of salvation; because every believer, through repentance and faith in Christ, is enlisted to the race. Disqualification or specifically “disapproval” can be construed in relation to the prize. It is disqualification for the prize not the race. The aspect of disqualification is serious because then the strict training in preparation and the running becomes in vain. Therefore the rules (God’s terms) must apply (2 Tim. 2:5). Paul was conscious of this reality.

I pray that when we finish running our race of life we shall say like Jesus, “it is finished” or like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” 2 Tim. 4:7.

But for now, there is a race to be run, there is preparations to be made, there is a prize to be won!

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