Thursday, December 31, 2009

False Teachings

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (2 Peter 2:1 NAS)

Photo by AP The New York Times reported on December 27, 2009 that a young man, the son of a prominent Nigerian banker and former government official, was charged for trying to blow up a transcontinental airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day. According to a cousin of the suspect who spoke to the press during an interview, there was no sign of radicalism in the young man while he was growing up in Nigeria, though he was devout.

“We understand that he met some people who influenced him while in London,” where the suspect studied engineering, said his cousin. “He left London and went to Yemen where, we suspect, he mixed up with the people that put him up to this whole business.”

All of us know the dangers of mixing with the wrong people and being under the influence of teachings that mislead or are incorrect or untrue. The Bible mentioned about false prophets and false teachers who in the last days will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves (2 Peter 2:1). Followers of such teachings likewise will face destruction if they unwittingly persist to practice the teachings of such heresies.

As Christians and followers of the Lord, therefore, we must be careful not to fall into the influence of false teachings (Matthew 24:4, 11, 13), be wise to examine the things that are being taught to us (Acts 17:11), and be equipped with the correct and true teachings of God's Word. Besides studying and learning from the word of God, we must also constantly examine ourselves to look into the mirror with unveiled faces to see if we reflect more and more the glory of the Lord as we are being transformed in the image of God through the listening and yielding to the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Like the dangers of being under the influence of false teachings, destructive heresies and extremism can be used as tools by the devil to misguide us into following ways that lead us to deny the Lord (2 Peter 2:1). We must therefore constantly cultivate a listening and discerning ear towards the Holy Spirit while we learn and study the Word of God. We must also always be on our guard against 'savage wolves' who will come in among us and not spare 'the flock', but will speak perverse things to draw us away from being disciples of the Lord (Acts 20:28-30).

Dear Lord, help us always to listen to Your Holy Spirit to discern the right from the wrong teachings. Lead us Lord in Your ways that we may not deviate from Your teachings or be misled to let down our guard against falsehood to turn away from You. Keep us focused on You Lord that we may not be veiled from the truth into choosing to listen to teachings that sound good, which end however is destruction. Remind us Lord to constantly examine ourselves and look into the mirror to see if we reflect the glory of Your image more and more each day, to listen and to yield to Your Holy Spirit.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Shades and Luminance

Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, Who have eyes but do not see; Who have ears but do not hear. (Jeremiah 5:21 NAS)

Colorful WorldImagine a world without colors. Everything we see is black and white. What would our lives be like? Our lives would be very different and we would only be able to differentiate an object from another through size and weight. Color is therefore an important differentiator that helps us determine whether we live our lives colorfully in vibrancy or in drab lethargy. It is, in this sense, a signifier of the many varieties and differences of every created being, and everything that constitutes a part of our environment.

Although many of us do not consciously think about color apart from how we dress to look good, it is common knowledge that the human eye can see colors only because there is light. Differences in colors as we see them depend on the type of light sent to our eyes, the shades, the reflection, the absorption and the transmission through a spectrum. We are capable of seeing color only because our eyes have light and color-sensitive receptors.

Some people however have trouble discerning colors. Color blindness, for example, is often associated with the ailment of red-green deficiency, which can cause a problem in color perception. According to The Franklin Institute, all of us, even if we are not color blind, can still have the potential to see light and colors in a different light. If a ray of light hits another object before we get to the light source, a shadow present in an area where there is less light can cause a distortion to how we perceive a color. This is because light moves in straight lines and shadows caused by objects blocking the light can block all or some of the light from hitting on the object. Shades and luminance can therefore cause the colors we see to change, and may appear darker if luminance is altered.

Christian living is very much like how we perceive colors. In the Bible, we know of the people who live their lives according to strict rules following the Books of the Law, the black and white of legality. These are the people who by following traditions and customary practices live their lives in the rigidity of legality and failed to experience the vibrancy of living out lives filled with colors, made possible by the gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8). Practitioners of the Law and their followers who do not believe or accept the grace of God are like the people who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but refuse to hear (Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2).

God has created the world with colors, and colors signify differentiation. No single person on earth is created the same and each of us has to go through different experiences in our lives. Just as colors are seen differently in different light, each of us has the potential to experience different depths of closeness with God. If the Light of God hits an object in our lives that we are unwilling to let go, a shadow can overcast us which will distort our perception of God and affect our relationship with Him.

Just as a shadow can influence the way we see colors through the different shades and luminance, our lives can be influenced in part or in whole, depending on the degrees of our willingness to let the light shine through. If we are unwilling to let go of the things we hold dear in our lives that are blocking us from the light that illuminates our walk with God, the draw of the world can gradually change and redirect us toward an alternate route into darkness, away from the luminance of God’s light.

Forgive us therefore dear Lord for sometimes holding on too tightly to the things of this world. Help us to be always mindful not to let the shadows of this world distort our view of You, but be willing to unblock all areas of our lives to let Your light completely shine through. Color up our lives Lord just as You have colored up the world with vibrancy. Open our eyes and lead us in Your light that we may reflect and absorb Your light to transmit it to the world.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Brown Leaves

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:12 NLT)

Brown Leaves When caring for houseplants, the first thing we need to know is that it is not in its natural environment. Conditions in our living room, kitchen or bedroom are vastly different from the outdoor where rain and sunlight play important roles in the growth of the plants. If the leaves of a plant begin to turn brown, it is a sign that something may be missing in the environment of the plant's indoor home.

One of the reasons for leaves of houseplants turning brown is too much or too little water. Houseplants need differing amounts of water. If the plant is watered too frequently, excess water can pool on the ends of the leaves, causing them to rot and turn brown. If the plant is not getting enough water, the leaves will wither, curl or begin to turn brown from the tips up through the entire leaf.

Leaves turning brown can also be caused by a lack of sunlight. If the lower leaves of the plant begin to turn brown, the plant may not be receiving enough light. If discoloration is isolated to the side of the plant away from the light source, it is a clear indication the plant has too little light. Too little water or too much light can cause leaves to curl, and when the leaves turn brown, they will eventually fall off. Most houseplants need regular application of fertilizer as they cannot live on the soil in their pots alone. Fertilizer, with sun and water, can help keep the leaves of the plant green and healthy.

Like the houseplants that need regular care to keep the leaves from turning brown, our spiritual lives as Christians are also in need of regular care to stay healthy in the Lord. One of the first things we must learn as a people redeemed by God is that although we are in the world, we are not of the world (John 15:19). In this sense, we are not in our natural environment because this world is where sin prevails and where many glorify self rather than God. In such conditions, we are like sheep in the midst of wolves, and we need to be shrewd as serpents, yet harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). There may be times when our Christian lives seem to be like the leaves turning brown with signs of something missing in our walk with God. In such times, we need to look within ourselves to find out what is missing that we have to get right in our relationship with God, and not turn away people who care enough to let us know our condition.

Every Christian has differing amounts of faith and understanding of the word of God. When we lead our brothers or sisters in Christ back in their walk with God, therefore, we must be sensitive in our approach. Just as too much water or too much sunlight can turn the leaves brown, if we push the weak in faith too much, we can lead them to turn away from God. Too little water or too little sunlight on the other hand can lead to the leaves curling up and eventually falling off, and if we do little to help them, they may become caught up in the entanglements of this world and eventually fall away from God. If we wish therefore to help believers who are young or weak in the faith, we need to regularly apply 'fertilizers', to nurture them in the Word of God that they may be strengthened and healthy in their walk with God, like leaves that never turn brown or fall, and where fruit continues to bear (Ezekiel 47:12).

Remind us dear Lord that although we are in the world, we are not of this world. Help us therefore O God to always examine ourselves and never to turn away anyone who cares for us enough to correct us, that we may not at any time fall away from You or be caught in the entanglements of this world. Strengthen us Lord that we may strengthen others, that together we may not fall, but bear much fruit as we study Your Word to keep healthy in our walk with You.

Friday, December 4, 2009


that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:22-24 NAS)

Changeover When we see the leaves of the trees turning orange, we know we are in the seasons of change between the heat of summer and the cool of winter. Orange, in that sense, is like a color on the edge, a divider of two seasons representing a period of change between two extremes in temperature. It is often associated with the season of fall and it signifies the period of time when leaves begin to die before entering into a new season. Orange is also the color of the setting sun and the rising in the early morn to a fresh new day. It represents a change between seasons, a time of transformation, a changeover of two opposites, a turning point and a surrogate, much like someone or something that replaces or is used instead of another as a substitute.

Our salvation is in many ways similar to the changing seasons between summer and winter and between sunset and sunrise. Like the changing seasons and the end of a day to a fresh new day, our salvation signifies a turning point, a change between two extremes, a transformation and a changeover from the bondage of sin to freedom in Christ. It is like the leaves that fall and die before the changing seasons, the death of our old selves crucified with Christ that we may no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:5-6). It is the complete replacement of ourselves by the One who willingly became our substitute to die on the cross for our sins, that we may be renewed in the spirit of our minds, to put on our new selves, which in the likeness of God have been made holy (Ephesians 4:22-24). Jesus our Lord is the One Who is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the rest of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

As obedient children of God and believers of the Lord, therefore, let us all not be conformed to our former ways, but like the Holy One who called us, be holy ourselves also in all our behavior, because our God is holy, so we should also be holy (1 Peter 14-16). The call to live holy lives, however, is not always well received, because many of us feel it is too imposing on our lifestyle. This is however as far from the truth as anyone can imagine because living holy lives is in fact a better lifestyle as it sets us free from the control of the devil, from doing the things we do not wish to do and from sin (Romans 7:15-23).

Living holy lives is all about living abundant lives. It is about living lives that do not fall short of what God wants for us, which is to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Not that we have already become perfect, but we ought to press on with this attitude toward the goal for the prize of our upward calling (Philippians 3:12-15).

Cultivating perfection while living on earth is therefore nothing wrong, for He Who has begun a good work in us is able and will surely perfect us when He returns (Philippians 1:6). All we need to do in the meantime is not to buffet ourselves to demonstrate perfect example of Christian lives, but to let the Holy Spirit do His work in molding us from within, to put to death our deeds of the flesh, and to manifest Christ through us (Romans 8:12-13).

Dear Lord, thank You for setting us free from the bondage of sin and for transforming us to live our lives anew in You. Help us O God not to conform to our former ways, but to press on toward living holy and perfect lives worthy of our upward calling. Holy Spirit, mold us from within that we may not fall prey to the desires of our flesh, but that we may reveal Christ in our lives more and more each day.