The Mind of Christ in You


The proverb, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” was popularized in 1972 when it was adopted by the United Negro College Fund as a marketing slogan. It has since been one of the most successful slogans for drawing potential African American youth to college who might not be able to afford it.

The thought that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” can also apply to anyone. It means that one should put one’s mind to good use. (Wictionary) If we don’t use our minds the way our Creator intended, we will be wasting them.

Now, how far do we go or can we go to use our minds? Some are attempting to literally use the human mind beyond what we can even imagine. For example, in what seems like science fiction, research has been underway in recent years to fly airplanes with mind control. Yes, that’s right—mind control!

At a time when self-driving cars are already here, now mind-controlling flight may soon be common place according to sources. It’s called “brain actuated control.” Scalp monitors worn by pilots would pick up EEG (electroencephalography) signals recorded from their brain waves. The monitors would be connected to a computer in the airplane controls running the mind-control algorithm. Just by simply thinking, pilots could give flight commands for carrying out maneuvers like takeoffs and landings. This is already being tested in virtual flight simulations by aerospace engineers in Germany. Mind-control has also been tested on flying helicopters, as well. (

While the human mind may have potential to do some amazing things like flying airplanes, it still has some flaws. We must remember that according to the Bible the mind is particularly susceptible to the weakness of the flesh. The Apostle Paul said, “But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members,” (Romans 7:23).

The apostle was referring to the carnal flesh versus the perfect law of God. “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of flesh sold into bondage to sin,” (v. 14). There is always this inner battle going on in our minds: carnal vs. spiritual. Because of sin, we cannot control our minds to the point of resisting the allurements of our carnal nature. Maybe someday human minds can command control of an airplane but we cannot control our minds to the point of resisting sin and all of its consequences.

There is only one way for our minds to be controlled and that is by putting on the mind of Christ. Consider these three passages (New King James Version, NKJV):

1 Corinthians 2:16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (ref. Isaiah 40:13)

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus….

1 Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin….

As these verses point out, the mind of Christ is far more superior than the human mind. With the mind of Christ, we can overcome what our minds cannot overcome: the works of the flesh. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God,” (Galatians 5:16-21, English Standard Version, ESV).

We are living in an age that is filled with depraved minds, not the mind of Christ. In fact, God is giving the people of the world just what their minds crave at their own demise: “Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonoured among them….For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions….And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,” (Rom. 1:24-32, New American Standard Bible NASB).

But believers in Christ are called to put on the mind of Christ. And what is the mind of Christ? First, I will give you a formal definition according to the original Greek. The word “mind” is a noun that means, “the reason; the reasoning faculty; intellect.” More specifically, it refers to “the God-given capacity of each person to think (reason); the mind; the mental capacity to exercise reflective thinking. For the believer, ‘the mind’ is the organ of receiving God’s thoughts through faith. (HELPS Word-Studies)

In the context of First Corinthians 2:16, we identify the characteristics of those with the mind of Christ. It basically applies to the power and wisdom that comes from God through Christ. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ through faith, repentance, and baptism have entered a new Spirit-filled life (See Acts 2:38; 2 Cor. 5:17; Ephesians 2:1-10). When we strive to allow Jesus to change our lives, we are using that God-given capacity to think and reason according to his wisdom and power.

To those who are outside the Body of Christ—those who have not been converted through God’s only begotten SonGod’s wisdom and power are foolishness. They pursue the wisdom of mankind instead. Such persons think they do not need Jesus to change their lives. They live by their own philosophies and theories and rules, denying God and his holy Word. But Paul makes sure to point out that the wisdom of mankind is, in reality, foolishness in God’s eyes. For man’s wisdom is nothing more than the works of the flesh or, in other words, the “natural man” as opposed to those who are being transformed through the Spirit of God.

Those with the mind of Christ are devoted to serve him by submitting to him. It includes being transformed with the kind of attitude that pleases him rather than those outside of Christ. As Paul said, “And do not be conformed to this world [age] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,” (Romans 12:2, NASB).

When our minds are set on the mind of Christ, we enjoy the kind of peace, love, joy, and hope that God intends for us to have through Jesus, his Son. This is something that is so seriously missing in this present evil age. Indeed, a mind is a terrible thing to waste if it is not controlled by the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is the only way you can win against sin and be filled with his overcoming power. It’s like this poem by Kate B. Wilkinson:

The Mind of Christ In Me

May the mind of Christ our Saviour,
    Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
    All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
    In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
    Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
    Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
    Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me,
    As the water fill the sea,
Him exalting, self abasing,
    This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
    Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
    As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me
    As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
    Seeing only Him.

Now here is the tune to this inspiring poem, sung by Jake Armerding:

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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The Great Lie


It is said that sin has many tools, but a lie is a handle that fits them all. This could be no truer than the first lie ever told. And it was the greatest lie ever told, as well. For it was that first lie that led to the entrance of sin and death into the world. All persons whether male or female, young or old, rich or poor, famous or obscure, healthy or unhealthy, good or bad have been cursed ever since.

Genesis 3:4 records this first lie:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

The serpent deceived Eve with a lie as she later admitted: “Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate,'” (Gen. 3:13). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul confirmed the serpent’s lie to Eve saying that “…Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning…” (2 Corinthians 11:3). The apostle was afraid that if such deception clouded the minds of the Corinthian church that they, too, would be “led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

How could people be led astray from the pure and simple truth found in Christ? Paul goes on to comment, “You listen when someone comes and preaches a different Jesus than the One we preached. You believe what you hear about a different spirit and different good news than that which we preached,” (v. 4, New Life Version, NLV).

Apparently, Paul’s worst fears eventually came true according to church history. The serpent’s lie that one does not surely die but some part of a person lives on at death was adopted by church leaders within the next century after the inspired Word was written. As the Good News of Christ and his kingdom spread throughout the pagan world, church leaders began to agree with the pagans that death is not really death but living on in some other form.

As Dr. Alva Huffer explained, “Paganism devised its theories of man’s nature in the darkness of superstition, legends, and mythology; Christendom received its false theories from paganism.” He cites how the pagan writings of the Greek philosopher Plato, who taught the natural immortality of the soul, were integrated into Christendom. (Systematic Theology, p. 149)

Plato taught that death is a continuation of life when the soul is released from the body at death. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that death is the cessation of life and that immortality is conditional—that is, one does not have an immortal soul “for the soul [primarily life; secondarily, person or creature who has life] that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezekiel 18:4, 20. Rather than natural immortality, the Bible teaches that immortality will be received in the future when Christ returns to raise the dead on the condition that they have received Christ in their lives (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:52-56; Revelation 20:6).

Dr. Huffer goes on to cite how Plato’s pagan teachings eventually influenced Christendom:

The apostles and their immediate followers were faithful to the Bible truth, conditional immortality. After the death of the apostles, the Church gradually slipped from the light into the darkness, from the truth into error. Men became members of the Church, but continued to believe and teach Plato’s philosophy. The Roman Empire outwardly became Christianized; the Church inwardly became paganized. (Ibid., p. 150)

So, the serpent’s lie that “thou shalt not surely die” has been accepted by the mainstream church. To this day, many have ignored the truth that when God said, “Thou shalt surely die,” he meant it (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:19). Death is death not life. It’s just as he told Hezekiah, “Thou shalt die and not live,” (Isaiah 38:1; 2 Kings 20:1).

It’s difficult for persons to accept the reality of death. Some seem to be comforted to think that their loved one is watching over them as an angel-like creature or a ghost in a blissful state of existence. But how blissful can it feel to watch that mortal loved one or friend go through suffering, grief, or loss? Actually, it’s a blessing to know instead that in death “there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in the grave” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) for the “dead know nothing,” (v. 5). It’s more comforting to know the very next thing a dead person will know is being raised to life at the resurrection: “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27). David looked forward to being awakened from the unconscious sleep of death at resurrection when he will look upon the face of the Lord: Psalm 17:15; 71:20. Job was looking forward to being raised to life in the resurrection: Job 14:13-14.

The Bible makes it perfectly clear that our comfort is not in the great lie that “thou shalt not surely die,” but “as Christ was raised to life” so, too, will Christ “bring to life” all those who are found in him when he returns:

But Christ has been raised to life! And he makes us certain that others will also be raised to life. Just as we will die because of Adam, we will be raised to life because of Christ. Adam brought death to all of us, and Christ will bring life to all of us. But we must each wait our turn. Christ was the first to be raised to life, and his people will be raised to life when he returns. Then after Christ has destroyed all powers and forces, the end will come, and he will give the kingdom to God the Father. Christ will rule until he puts all his enemies under his power, and the last enemy he destroys will be death. (1 Cor. 15:20-26, Contemporary English Version, CEV)

Notice that it says “Adam brought death to all of us.” And so, death has passed upon all humans for all have sinned regardless of age, sex, creed, or color: Rom. 5:12.

The result of sin is death (Eccl. 3:20; Rom. 6:23). It’s the opponent of life. Death is an enemy (1 Cor. 15:26). It separates us from loved ones. It causes the pain of loneliness, emptiness, grief, and loss. But, in this life, death is only temporary.

The reason why Christ was born is so that we can be saved from this enemy. He was born to die for our sins and be raised to immortality for our hope. When the time comes, he will destroy death once and for all (Isaiah 25:8; 1 Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:14). Through Christ, the curse of sin and death will be removed. That’s the Good News of which Paul spoke, not the great lie that death is not really death. In fact, the Great Truth is, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is,” (1 John 3:2).

Here is Sandi Pattti in “We Shall Behold Him”:

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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The Relevance of Jesus as a Jew


Not only has the nature of Jesus been debated over the centuries, so has the claim that he is a Jew. One theory is that he was “Judean” because he lived in Judea but not a Jew because those ancestors who were originally from Judah actually lived in Asia at the time of Jesus. Then there are those who assert that his ancestors were from Edom. The Edomites were allegedly converted to become “Jews” when they migrated to Judea prior to the birth of Jesus.

There is much Biblical evidence to prove these views are false. Ethnically, Jesus is a Jew because his ancestry is traced back to David and Abraham (Matthew 1; Luke 3:23-38). David was from the tribe of Judah through whom the Messiah would come (note: “the sceptre of Judah,” Genesis 49:8-12; Psalm 2:4-9; 60:7; 72:8; 108:8 in connection with Jesus Messiah: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham,” Matt. 1:1; also Luke 1:32-33). Jesus is called Christ (Greek) or Messiah (Hebrew), “the Anointed of God,” and “son of David,” (Matt. 21:9). The Apostle Peter pointed out that Jesus is also the son of Abraham, the father of the Jews (Acts 3:12-25). He also points out that this son of Abraham is Messiah in fulfillment of prophecy (vss. 17-26).

Even though the Hebrew people who came from the line of Jacob were themselves Israelites, by the time of Christ they became identified as “Jews” regardless which tribe they were from. One example is the Apostle Paul. Even though Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin, he considered himself a “Jew” in the general sense (Philippians 3:5; Acts 21:39; 22:3; Rom. 11:1; 2 Cor. 11:22). But Jesus’ roots came directly from the tribe of Judah, so he truly was a Jew according to his bloodline.

The birth of Jesus the Jew is evidenced by the many references in both Old and New Testaments. For example, the magi sought the One who was born “King of the Jews” in accordance with Old Testament prophecy and, therefore, is Jewish, (Matt. 2:1-6). Another example is Hebrews 7:14-17 which connects, “It is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe…” with the priesthood of Jesus according to the order of the King/Priest Melchizedek, a type of Christ (Gen. 14:17-24; Psa. 110:4; Heb. 7:1-8:13). By the way, Jesus came from a close Jewish family: His mother, Mary, a relative of Elizabeth (descendant of Aaron), wife of Zacharias, a priest, and his cousin John (the baptist) were devout Jews (Luke 1:5-25). A third example is that Jesus’ circumcision was performed according to Jewish law (Luke 2:24; Leviticus 12:6-28). (reference:

Jesus’ biological mother, Mary, and his foster father, Joseph, could trace their heritage to the tribe of Judah. Matthew 1:2-17 records the genealogy of Joseph and Luke 3:23-38 records the genealogy of Mary. Both Mary and Joseph were descendants of David. Joseph and Mary who was expecting Jesus at the time had to register in Bethlehem “because he was of the house and family of David,” according to Luke 2:4-5.

Matthew traces Joseph’s ancestry to David’s son, Solomon, whereas Luke traces Mary’s ancestry to another son of David, Nathan. It is also shown that while Joseph was the son of Jacob (Matt. 1:16) he was also son-in-law of Heli who was Mary’s father (Luke 3:23). Note that Joseph did not “begat” Jesus but was, instead, the foster father since he is recorded as “the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ,” Matt. 1:16). (Dr. Alva G. Huffer, Systematic Theology)

Even though Joseph was not the natural paternal father of Jesus, he had legal right to be called his father according to the law. John 1:45 says, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” I imagine Joseph probably felt very humbled and honored to learn he would raise the One who “will save his people from their sins,” (Matt. 1:18-25). Naturally, Joseph and Jesus had a special father-son relationship which many in the Jewish community recognized (Matt. 13:55; John 6:42). In the context of this relationship, Mary referred to her husband as Jesus’ father when she expressed their sorrow the time they found him in the temple (Luke 2:48). But the youthful Jesus respectfully replied that he was there doing the business of his heavenly Father (vs. 49). (ibid.)

In addition to his ethnicity, Jesus Christ is not only the Son of Man through the lineage of David and Abraham, he is also divine—that is, he is the Son of God. Peter confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (Matt. 16:16). Jesus Christ the Jew is the only begotten Son of God born in the flesh (John 1:13-14; 3:16).  The divinity of Jesus as God’s Son and his humanity gives even more credence to the relevancy that he is a Jew. For, through him, God’s promises are fulfilled in the fact that he, a Jew, was born for the Jews first and then the Gentiles to save them from sin and to provide eternal salvation. This is what the Good News or Gospel is all about: Rom. 1:16; 2:9-10.

Though the Jewish leaders and their supporters rejected Jesus as God’s only begotten Son and Messiah and had him crucified on the cross, God used their disbelief to provide hope and salvation to the rest of those who would believe including Gentiles. For this, we can praise our wise and gracious God. Quoting Psalm 69:22-23, the Apostle Paul wrote concerning Israel, “And David says: ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.” I ask then, did they stumble so as to lose their share? Absolutely not! However, because of their trespass, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous. But if their trespass means riches for the world, and their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!…” (Rom. 11:9-11, Berean Study Bible, BSB)

There’s more Good News: The day will come when the Jewish nation whom Jesus came to save will be converted. Ever since Israel has returned to the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they are still “blind” to the truth concerning Jesus (Rom. 11:7- 10, 25-27). This blindness will continue in part until the “fullness of the Gentiles” takes place signalling the end of this age.

We also know there will be “a time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) in which there will be “great tribulation” upon the nation of Israel like never before (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15-31; Zechariah 13:8). But Jesus Christ will come to deliver his Jewish people at which time they will finally recognize that he is the One who, all along, has been the true Messiah, the Son of God (Zech. 13:9; 12:10; Revelation 1:7). So, “all Israel will be saved,” (Rom. 11:26; Ezek. 36:27; 37:15-28). It will be then that Israel will be exalted among the nations of the earth and all the world will be blessed (Isaiah 60:1-22; Jer. 31:27-34; Zech. 8:18-23; 14:16-21).

Since Jesus Christ, the Jew, is the Son of God as well as the Son of Man, he has the divine right to claim his position as prophet, priest, and king. To believers in Christ this truth is most relevant whether one is born a Jew or a Gentile. As prophet, Jesus the Jew teaches us about God’s plan of salvation and events that he will fulfill not only in this age but the Kingdom age to come (Matt. 21:11; Deut. 18:15, 18; Acts 3:21-23; 7:37). As priest, Jesus the Jew intercedes for us and performs the perfect atonement for our sins (Heb. 5:5-10; 7:1-3). Interestingly, both as prophet and priest, Jesus is greater than Moses (Heb. 3:1-6, “Christ was faithful as a Son over his own household….”). As king, Jesus the Jew has divine authority which he will use to rule over Israel and all the nations as King of kings and Lord of lords on the throne of his father, David, in Jerusalem the coming world capital (Isaiah 9:7; Zech. 14:16; Luke 1:31-33; Rev. 19:11-19).

In summary, Jesus is a Jew in his ethnicity, divinity, and position as prophet, priest, and king. If he were not a Jew he would not be qualified to be our Lord and Saviour according to the scriptures (for example, “the seed of Abraham,” Gal. 3:16 and David, Rom. 1:1-6; John 7:42). We eagerly look forward to the King of the Jews to take his rightful place when believers rule with him in his kingdom (Rom. 8:17; Rev. 5:5,10). What a glorious day that will be!

Here is a song about the time the Jews hailed Jesus proclaiming him, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” and how it points to his return (Matt. 21:9; 23:39; Mark 11:9-10; Luke 19:38):

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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No Excuses For Excuses


You learn a lot about human nature when you hear “explanations” which really turn out to be excuses. Some time ago, the advice columnist Ann Landers (actual name, Esther Pauline “Eppie” Lederer, 1918-2002) cited some humorous examples from insurance reports provided to one insurance company:

“A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.”

“The guy was all over the place. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”

“The accident occurred when I was attempting to bring my car out of a skid by steering into the other vehicle.”

“As I approached the intersection, a stop sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before. I was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.”

“The telephone pole was approaching fast. I was attempting to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.”

“To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian.”

“An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle and vanished.”

“The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran him over.”

The excuses we give God sound just as lame. (750 Engaging Illustrations)

Excuses go back as far as sin itself. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, they immediately started making excuses: Adam’s excuse for eating the forbidden fruit was telling God, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12 New American Standard Bible, NASB) The woman said to God, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” (v. 13, NASB)

Neither the man or the woman admitted it was their own fault. Instead, they responded to their Creator by playing the blame game. It has become the oldest game played by humanity.

If something happens that doesn’t go our way, we’re quick to point our fingers at others and make excuses for it. The only problem is, like they say, while one finger is pointing at someone else, there are three other fingers point back.

Excuses only reveal our guilt all the more. Excuses prove how weak and susceptible we are to sin. God didn’t excuse the excuses Adam and Eve gave to him. Instead, he sentenced them to a curse we’ve all been paying ever since. Not even the serpent was excused. (vss. 14-24)

Jesus, the Son of God, didn’t like excuses, as well. Onetime he told a parable (a story told to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson) about some people invited to a big dinner party. The head of the household extended an invitation to many of his friends in the community: “Come, for everything is ready.”

Then came the excuses: I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.” “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.” “I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.”

The head of the household wasn’t going to let their excuses rain on his parade. “Forget them!” he said, “They won’t taste of my dinner!” Instead, he invited others who most persons in the community had little use for: the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. Even those who were total strangers outside the community were urged to come to the party. (Luke 14:16-24)

More often than not, excuses are disguised as good reasons. In the parable, each of those who were first invited to the party declined because they thought they had good reasons. In a way, they had legitimate concerns. In the Middle East, for example, if a person pays a deposit to purchase land he must stick to his agreement to look at it during a specified time and decide on the agreement. If he fails to do this, he either loses his deposit or must pay the balance which is agreed upon. In such situations, Orientals are not excused for breaking their agreement just to attend a party.

In the next scene, oxen and horses were customarily purchased on trial. In Jesus’ day, the buyer was not at liberty to return the animals if they weren’t suited for his purpose. Bother salesman and purchaser had to be present when the animals were examined and tried out in the presence of witnesses.

Finally, in the last example, in Moslem countries when a man marries, he is exempt from the Army for a year and from other government duties which would take him away from his wife. This is taken from a Jewish custom going back to the Law of Moses: Deuteronomy 24:5. (Gospel Light, George M. Lamsa)

So, on the surface, it seems each of these persons had good reasons not to come to the party. But Jesus said this still didn’t excuse them for coming to the dinner party. For the lesson is generally in reference to the Kingdom of God and primarily in connection with Israel. The Jewish people were the first ones to be invited to the banquet feast in the Kingdom of God. But they refused to accept Jesus’ invitation by giving what they thought were legitimate reasons according to their customs and laws. What they failed to do, on account of their own pride and prejudice, was count the cost of accepting Jesus as their Messiah and making his invitation to enter the Kingdom of God as most important. So, Jesus turns to the outcasts who he knew would come because they were humble and eager to accept such an invitation. Moreover, the strangers or Gentiles who were not even a part of their community, are also compelled to come.

What Jesus’ parable says to us is that when it comes to accepting the invitation to enter the Kingdom of God when Jesus returns there are no excuses for excuses. In Revelation 22:17 the invitation is extended: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” What does this mean? It means that the call of Christ is universal, so the opportunity for all is given. No one is excused; no one has to pay a price to enter for the price has been paid by Christ, himself. Through his sacrifice, the price was paid. But we are compelled to accept it. We have no excuse to refuse the water of life and be thirsty to drink it.

We think of what Jesus said when he warned that on Judgment Day, there will be those with excuses on why they were not found faithful to the Lord. Some will say that they were simply trying to play it safe for fear that their Master was hard to please. So they didn’t utilize the one talent they had but, instead, kept it hidden. But Jesus points out that this is only an excuse for not being responsible for the God-given talent they have. Jesus says such a person is really wicked and lazy. This person’s only place is to be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, to miss entering God’s Kingdom. (Matthew. 25:24-30)

Others will make the excuse that they just could not get around to all the deeds of kindness that were expected of them. They simply refused to accept that neglecting the needs of others like feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, and providing for the needy was the same as doing it for Jesus. Neglect is no excuse. All persons who pretend to be Christians but ignore helping “the least of these” will go into everlasting punishment, according to Jesus: (Matt. 25:44-46).

Sill others will be rejected on Judgment Day even though they’ve done some amazing things for the Lord. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matt. 7:21-23, Holman Christian Bible, HCB) Just doing something in the name of the Lord is no excuse for thinking one is truly doing the will of God. It’s not that these Christians didn’t perform great religious works. But they were only in it for themselves and not for the glory of the Lord.

We could go on for many pages citing other examples in the Bible where people gave excuses. The bottom line is God doesn’t accept our excuses. But he does accept our humble desire to be responsible believers. When we allow him to take control and trust him for guidance, wisdom and power, we will not need to make excuses. Instead, we will move forward in faith and confidence as the Apostle Paul wrote, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore as many as are perfect [mature], have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained,” (Philippians 3:14-16, NASB).

Here’s a timely song about excuses by John A. Giurin:

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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10 Great Features of Abundant Living


It is reported that shortly after the Communist revolution in Cuba, there were strong persuasive attempts at turning the people away from God. In grade schools, teachers would ask their students whether God could live up to His promises or not. Of course, the students said yes. The teacher would then illustrate how impotent God actually was. The teacher instructed the students to fervently pray for candy. After ten minutes, the teacher would ask if anyone received any candy. The students responded with a sad “No.” Then the teacher would ask the students to ask the Communist state for candy. With expectant hearts, the students did so, and the teacher went around the room filling the students’ hands with sweets. This truly is a differing perspective. Communism as a cure for social ills has no room for a loving God. The state’s protection of the individual for the benefit of the state will never replace God’s own Son dying for our sins on the cross. — James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 110-111.

The communists used a false concept of God to brainwash the impressionable students. It was based on the premise that God gives us whatever things we want. But if he doesn’t give us anything we want, according to their indoctrination, then there must not be a loving God. Instead, the only “god” they can truly rely on is the communist government. NOT!

The more and more any government is relied on for giving the people what they want, the less and less God is relied on for providing us with the abundant life. By referring to the “abundant life,” however, I am not speaking of receiving anything we want. Truly, government cannot do it because, when it’s all said and done, it taketh more than it giveth anyway. God, as well, does not give us anything we want but he does give us “more than enough” in the way of blessings. That’s what real abundance is all about.

The word “abundant” is found several times in the scriptures to describe God’s bountiful blessings upon his people. In the Greek, perissós (an adjective….derived from perí, “all-around, excess”) – properly all-around, “more than” (“abundantly”); beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation; “more abundant,” going past the expected limit (“more than enough . . . “). (as cited in biblehub .com, HELPS Word-Studies)

Our lives are exceedingly enriched when we rely on God’s abundance. He gives us blessings beyond what we expect even though we don’t deserve them. These blessings, however, are not necessarily based on material things which are only temporary but spiritual values that endure, making life more satisfying as we apply them. Consider these 10 features of abundant living:

  1. The Lord is abundant in mercy: Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:27; Psalm 86:5; 15; 1 Peter 1:3. “Mercy” means to be spared or rescued from judgment, danger, harm, or trouble. We experience failure because humanity is weak. So we need God’s abundant mercy. If it were not for God’s abundant mercy we would not have much hope. Check that…we would not have any hope. Because of his mercy and love, we are saved from our sins (Titus 3:5).
  2. God is abundant in kindness: Neh. 9:17; Jonah 4:2. How many times have you done something you regretted because you knew it was wrong? Only because of God’s kindness were you able to seek forgiveness, put the past behind you, and go on with life.
  3. He is excellent in abundant justice: Job 37:23. In this day and age we question where true justice abounds. Human judges tend be corrupt, misguided by their own prejudice and political persuasion. We become disheartened when they punish the victims and let the criminals go free or when activist judges change laws that go against biblical teachings all in the name of political correction. God’s justice is perfectly flawless. We can depend upon him to right all wrongs in his time: Psalm 7:11; 50:1-23.
  4. With him is abundant redemption: Psalm 130:7. “Redemption” means “the payment of a ransom price.” The ransom price God offered to save us from sin is blood. Blood sacrifices of animals in the Old Testament typified the ultimate sacrifice of Christ in the New Testament who shed his blood and died on the cross to redeem us from sin (Hebrews 9:12).
  5. He abundantly pardons: Isaiah 55:7. Imagine the feeling if you were on death row, just about to be lethally injected when a phone call is received from the governor. Then, they give you the news: You have been fully pardoned! Because of sin, we deserve the eternal death penalty; but through Jesus Christ who died in our place (2 Cor. 5:21), God has granted us a pardon and now we can look forward to eternal life in God’s kingdom.
  6. He is able to abundantly answer our prayers: Ephesians 3:20; Matthew 7:7; 21:22; Mark 11:24; Luke 11:9; John 15:7; 16:24. This does not mean that God gives us carte blanche toward anything we so desire. I agree with what one resource says: “If we assume that ‘ask and you will receive’ means ‘ask for anything you want and I’ll give it to you,’ then we have turned the Lord into a cosmic genie who serves our every whim. This is the problem of prosperity gospel and word of faith teachings.”  (
    God answers our prayers as we pray “Thy will be done,” as Jesus taught us to pray (Matt. 6:10). We can be sure if we accept our Father’s will he will abundantly provide his children with an answer that will be “yes,” “no,” or “wait a while.” His ways are higher and wiser than ours (Isa. 55:8-9).
  7. His grace is exceedingly abundant: 1 Timothy 1:13. God’s grace and mercy are related in conjunction with love, one of his three primary characteristics. (The other two are holiness and truth.) Dr. Alva G. Huffer wrote, “Mercy is God’s love as it is related to man’s misery, weakness, and helplessness. Grace is God’s love as it is related to man’s sin and guilt,” (Systematic Theology, Atlanta Bible College, McDonough, Georgia, 1960) p. 331. (see Ephesians 2:8.)
  8. God has abundantly poured out his Holy Spirit upon his church: Titus 3:5. We are not able to experience God’s blessings under our own power. His Holy Spirit is sufficient to supply us with the power we need to grow and thrive in this world. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) produces the characteristics that help us live the abundant life.
  9. God will abundantly supply our entrance through Jesus Christ into his coming kingdom: 2 Peter 1:11. This is one of the greatest features of his abundance. We look beyond this present evil age to the everlasting age to come when Jesus returns in power and great glory. Jesus will bring peace and lasting justice to the earth when he rules the nations in his kingdom (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:2-3). Israel will be exalted as God has promised (Isa. 61:4-6; Zechariah 8:22-23). All nature will be in harmony, and all the earth will be paradise (Isa. 11:1-10; 35; 65:25; Revelation 22:1-5). And all the world will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). Jesus will come to resurrect the dead, to give everlasting life to all the faithful, to judge the wicked, and to defeat the greatest enemy of all—death (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:23-58; Rev. 20:11-15; 21:1-8 ).
  10. God gives abundant living through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ: John 10:10. According to one resource, this verse is rendered, “I came in order that they [believers] might continuously have life, even that they may continuously have it all-around /perissós).” (op. cit., Jesus is the perfect reflection of his Father’s abundance toward us. Jesus gives us the reason to live the abundant life for he is our role model to follow and emulate. He is “the way, the truth, and the [abundant] life,” John 14:6.

You could add one more feature: the result of God’s abundance is our rejoicing: Philippians 4:4-9. Through Christ, we rejoice in the many blessings we receive due to the abundant life our God of abundance provides. We worship him, rejoicing out of gratitude, respect, and love as we eagerly anticipate that Great Day coming.

I encourage you to study the Bible passages I’ve cited. They will lift you up when you are down; empower you with strength when you are weak; give you peace when you are troubled. You can’t help but be inspired to pursue the abundant life in Christ as you read the many blessings God wants you to receive according to his Word. No human government or earthly individual can do that for you.

As Christian singer Jeremy Camp shares, because of the abundant life God provides through Jesus his Son, we have “more than enough” to bless us everyday:

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael


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Measured By Christ


When God works in our lives, we don’t always know who he will use to bring us closer to him. Sometimes he uses those we would least expect. In one such case, he used an agnostic to inspire a general who wrote a book which led him to discover the Christ.

In 1876, General Lew Wallace was riding on a train heading toward the Indianapolis Central Station for a reunion of Union soldiers who fought valiantly during the Civil War. On that same train was the well-known agnostic, Robert Ingersoll. It so happened that Ingersoll, who was a colonel with the 11th Illinois Cavalry volunteers, fought under the general in the battle of Shiloh. During the ride, Ingersoll invited Wallace to his compartment for a visit. As Lew later recounted, the agnostic offered Lew to choose his topic of conversation. Lew chose to discuss religion.

The outspoken agnostic immediately launched into his views. According to Lew, Colonel Ingersoll “was in prime mood; and beginning, his ideas turned to speech, slowing like a heated river. His manner of putting things was marvelous….” With colorful description, Lew said he “sat spellbound” while he listened to the agnostic’s “medley of argument, eloquence, wit, satire, audacity, irreverence, poetry, brilliant antitheses, and pungent excoriation of believers in God, Christ, and Heaven, the like of which I had never heard. He surpassed himself, and that is saying a great deal.”


Robert G. Ingersoll

Two hours later the train arrived that evening and the two men departed to their destinations. Ingersoll was going to a local hotel but Wallace was to lodge at his brother’s place. Instead of taking a street car, Lew decided to walk even though his brother lived a considerable distance. Evidently, Lew’s mind was spinning with all the thoughts the agnostic presented during the train ride and the general just wanted time to sort things out as he trod along the dark streets that night. Lew grew up in the Methodist faith. So, it wasn’t that he was unfamiliar with Christianity. But as yet he really hadn’t taken his faith seriously. His encounter with the agnostic stirred his thinking.

As Lew tells it,

…it is necessary now to confess that my attitude with respect to religion had been one of absolute indifference. I had heard it argued times innumerable, always without interest. So, too, I had read the sermons of great preachers…but always for the surpassing charm of their rhetoric. But—how strange! To lift me out of my indifference, one would think only strong affirmations of things regarded holiest would do. Yet here I was now moved as never before, and by what? The most outrageous denials of all human knowledge of God, Christ, Heaven, and the Hereafter which figures so in the hope and faith of the believing everywhere. Was the Colonel right? What had I on which to answer yes or no?

Thanks to an agnostic, Lew started to take a sobering look at his own faith. The experience would make a profound impact upon his life and his future. He went on to say that Ingersoll,

…made me ashamed of my ignorance: and then—here is the unexpected of the affair—as I walked on in the cool darkness, I was aroused for the time to the importance of religion. To write all my reflections would require many pages. I pass them to say simply that I resolved to study the subject…It only remains to say that I did as resolved, with results—first, the book of Ben Hur, and second, a conviction amounting to absolute belief in God and the Divinity of Christ.

It was while General Lew Wallace was writing Ben Hur—A Tale of the Christ that he became convicted of his faith in Christ. For Ben Hur was a literary result of his seven-year investigation leading to his belief in Christ and his teachings.

If you’ve read the book, or seen the blockbuster movie—especially the 1959 classic starring Charlton Heston—you can understand how compelling this story is. As I said in my last post, the 1959 version is my all-time favorite movie for it depicts so dramatically and so effectively the transforming message of Jesus Christ. It’s a message that affected the author of Ben Hur, himself.

According to my research, Lew’s life was beginning to change as he was writing his book. He was beginning to discover for the first time how Christ was able to influence him in a personal way just like Judah Ben Hur in the story. For Judah was like a lot of Jews during his day—looking for a king to conquer mighty Rome, not a Saviour who would suffer and die for his sins and be raised to give him hope. Judah was at war with is own feelings of hate and revenge until he found Christ in his life. General Lew Wallace, who himself was looking for meaning in a day when brother had fought against brother, discovered that Christ came to heal and bring deliverance from the confusion and chaos we all face in our lives.

As Lew, himself, testified, “It is not an easy thing to shake off in a moment the expectations nurtured through the years…He [Ben-Hur] persisted, as men do yet today in measuring the Christ by himself. How much better if we measured ourselves by the Christ?”

Lew learned what Ingersoll sadly missed: When we measure ourselves by the Christ we look to him as our perfect model for living a life worthy of his calling. It’s like the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:13, “…till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ….” We strive toward perfection in faith when we measure ourselves by the fulness of Christ and his teachings in our lives.

(References: Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ,; Ben Hur: A Christian Triumph, Christian Heritage Fellowship, Inc.)

Here is the end scene after the crucifixion. Judah’s sister and mother are miraculously healed of leprosy while the rain washes Jesus’ blood into muddy streams of water. Judah returns home to meet Esther. Judah recalls witnessing Jesus on the cross when he said, “Father forgive them for they know what they do.” Judah declares, “And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.” Then, his sister and mother appear to him, healed, and he embraces them with affection and joy.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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‘Ben Hur, A Tale of the Christ’


My all-time favorite movie is the 1959 classic, Ben Hur, A Tale of the Christ, starring Charlton Heston as Judah Ben Hur. The first time I saw this epic film I was around eight years old. My grandparents were with me at the time. Apparently they had already seen it and liked it so much they wanted me to see it, too.

This blockbuster movie left a big impression on me. Aside from the boat collision and the chariot race, the greatest influence it had on me was the depiction of Christ. Unlike the recent 2016 cut-rate version, the previous film started out with the manger scene and the birth of Christ. And it followed the life of Christ as a subtle back drop all throughout the life of Judah Ben Hur.

As the story goes, Judah was a wealthy prince who lived with his mother and sister, their loyal servant, and his daughter, Esther. Through an unfortunate occurrence, Judah was falsely accused of treason by his childhood friend, Messala, an officer of the Roman army.

Here’s how it all started: During a parade for the new governor Judea, Judah went up on the roof to view the event. While leaning at the edge of the roof to look down at the Romans passing by their house, a loose tile accidentally falls to the ground and the governor is almost thrown from his horse and killed. Messala knew it was an accident but decides to make an example of Judah and his family to show all Jews, especially those who so bitterly opposed Roman authority, what happens to those who make trouble.

Consequently, Judah was sentenced to be a galley slave aboard a Roman war ship where he would be an oarsman for the next three years. The only thing that kept Judah alive during his whole ordeal was his desire for revenge against his former friend.

In the meantime, his mother and sister who were residing with him were also falsely accused as co-conspirators and imprisoned. Even the servant was tortured but Esther was able to escape any harm. Years later, Judah will be saddened and angered to discover that his mother and sister became lepers while in prison and live as outcasts in a leper colony.

But while Judah’s heart was filled with indignation toward an injustice done to him and his family through out his whole ordeal, there were several instances when he unwittingly crosses paths with Jesus the Christ. His first encounter was when he was chained with other slaves who were being forced on the way to the galleys. He, like the others, was famished with thirst. Just then, as they entered a village a young carpenter approached and gave him a drink of water. You can probably figure out who that carpenter was.

Eventually, Judah miraculously escaped as galley slave when his ship was rammed and destroyed during a battle with a fleet of Macedonian pirates. After a series of events, Judah found himself in the position of getting the revenge he sought against Messala. It took place in the chariot race  that pitted himself against his old nemesis along with some other chariot drivers from various countries. Except for Judah, all in the race lost when their chariots wrecked including Messala’s. In his attempt to destroy Judah’s chariot, Messala’s own chariot is destroyed. As fate would have it, Messala suffered a horrific end after being trampled to death by the galloping horses. Judah’s victory was bittersweet. He won the race but was deeply grieved to lose his childhood friend. He had his revenge but it left him empty inside.

Upon returning home and reuniting with Esther, she tells him about a rabbi who preaches about forgiveness and loving your enemies. While walking along with her, they pass this rabbi who is teaching a multitude of people from the side of a mountain. It happens to be the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7). Esther has now become one of his followers and shares the message of Jesus with Judah with whom she is in love. She tells him about the rabbi’s ability to heal the sick and bring the dead to life. Little does he realize at the time it’s the carpenter he encountered as a thirsting slave.

It’s when Judah finds his leprous mother and sister that he decides their best hope is to take Esther at her word and find this Jesus of Nazareth. So as they enter Jerusalem they see a  crowd stirring on the main street. There, they spot this same familiar rabbi now with his face beaten, body whipped and bloodied, wearing a crown of thorns on his head, while slowly dragging a heavy wooden cross. Soldiers on horses were forcing him along the way, snapping their whips and yelling at the onlookers to step aside.

When the struggling rabbi stumbles and falls during the chaos, Judah rushes over to give him a drink of water. He looks into the face of this suffering man and he suddenly recognizes him—the same carpenter who years earlier gave him that drink in the village, that rabbi on the mount who taught love for one’s enemies instead of vengeance. Judah could not understand why an innocent man like that should suffer.

Because of the circumstances, Judah could not get his mother and sister to Jesus. So, Esther started to take them back home. But Judah, filled with curiosity, stayed behind with the crowd who was following Jesus outside of the city gate to be crucified.
Judah later recalled what he saw: How Jesus showed love and peace on his face even while he was being mocked and nailed to the cross. And Judah heard him pray, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:24). Later, Judah would declare to Esther, “And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.” Judah was finally able to deal with his anger when Christ transformed his life. His life changed from revenge to that of redemption.

To add to the drama, Judah’s mother and sister are miraculously healed during the rainstorm following the crucifixion. As the rain washed the blood of Jesus from the cross streams of water begin to form down along the pathways. The blood and water are reminders of the cleansing power of Jesus and how he frees us from our sins.

This is why the 1959 classic has such an impact on me. I still get chills up and down my spine whenever I see the movie, especially the scenes where Christ is presented. It has a subtle, yet effective message as it truly lives up to the subtitle, “A Tale of the Christ.”

The new version that just came out makes for a good action-packed adventure movie, especially with the chariot scene. But it barely brushes over the Christ imagery that was so effectively projected in the previous one. That’s unfortunate for younger minds who need Christ to make a change in their lives today.

In my next post, I will go into the background of the movie which is taken from the book by the same name written by General Lew Wallace. Wallace, himself, provides a fascinating testimony of Christ and what led him to write the book.

Here is a powerful scene where Jesus gives Judah Ben Hur the water:

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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