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Monday, May 29, 2017

Blessed but Without Inheritance


Barba CFO
Being blessed is good (and we should thank God a lot for it) but it's really no big deal. I mean, it doesn't mean you are better than others as lots of folks would have it. God blesses both the righteous and the wicked. God even abundantly blessed Ishmael even if he wasn't God's will for Abraham.

And here's what's even astonishing---even if you are in the present move of God and you know exactly what God's will is and have a good relationship with Him, but if you fail to wait on Him and go ahead of Him, you'll end up with an Ishmael---with everything wrong---though everything may seem perfect.

Blessed but scratched out of inheritance

So blessed and yet without inheritance. Is that possible? Yes it is. In fact, you see it everywhere in ministries. Churches in a hurry to grow big, doing anything and everything that works and indeed growing big and looking so blessed. They really look so, so blessed. But because they're not using God's way, they are not listed among those who will get the inheritance in Christ.

God promised Abraham he would bless Ishmael a lot. In fact, God said 12 nations would come from him. Just listen to how God phrased it:
I will surely bless Ishmael; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. [Genesis 17.20]
No wonder many ministries today without inheritance are similarly blessed---fruitful, increasing in number, role model, and great. Genuinely blessed by God. But as I've said, being blessed doesn't mean anything---it doesn't mean you have God's special favor or you're better than others.  It just means God has been gracious to you like he is gracious to sinners and all. It can even mean God is being nice to you so you'd listen to him and repent. Worse, it can mean God has left you to do your own will.

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Here's how you lose the inheritance in Christ

Here was Abram and Sarai who knew God closely and heard straight from him his promise to them. God clearly said he would bless Abram and make him into a nation. In fact, later he would become father of all nations. But since the years and decades were passing by without anything happening to the promise given them (they started looking like they weren't blessed at all), they thought of doing something to make the promise work. They couldn't wait any longer, and waiting seemed to be becoming a total waste of time.

Today, waiting long is a definite no-no to many pastors. The virtue of patience is lost. No one wants to wait any longer. If you tell them you've been waiting for God to make good his promise, some pastors will laugh at you and think you're nuts. To them, you have to make things happen at once. If you've been waiting 5 or 10 years, they'd say you're wasting your time.

But Abram waited from age 75 (or even earlier) to age 100. And such patient belief was credited with true righteousness.

Well, sometimes God moves now and pronto. Right on the spot! But other times he seems to delay, though there's no such thing as God delaying or being late. Some works of God take long to complete and you have to wait a long time---like salvation from sin. From the time man sinned, it took centuries before man was saved.

The important thing to God is your patient faith, not your achievements or the goals you hit. Abram and Sarai thought what mattered most was achieving the goal of having a son. So later, they used their own efforts to achieve it---they tried Hagar. Were they successful? Indeed they were! Ishmael was born and God blessed him to become 12 nations. Were they blessed? Indeed they were! Ishmael even became great.

But did they get the inheritance that way? NO, they didn't. Here's how Galatians put it:
The slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son, [4.30]
So blessed and yet with zero inheritance. And that's how you'd end up if you do your ministry in your own efforts. If you try to outdo God and move without him or his timing---if you get impatient that you want results right now when God wants it much later---yeah, you may get so blessed but you won't get the inheritance.

You may appear as someone so, so blessed on earth. But before God when you meet him on that Day, you get no reward. Only God's effort in Christ gets recognition and reward on that Day. So, what would keep you from the inheritance? Human effort. You cannot combine God's plan with human effort.

Here's what God's effort is

God-effort is when you wait on God and move only as he tells you to. If you act and move according to his Word, time and way, you do it in God's strength and effort. When Abram and Sarai finally learned to wait on God's timing and do things God's way, Isaac, the promised son, was given them. It was through him that the inheritance was given to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Ishmael became a big problem to his brothers and other nations. That was what God said---Ishmael would fight everyone. And the Ishmaelic problem is seen in the world even today. All human efforts end up this way, even churches birthed or handled according to man's ways and using human efforts. Yes, you get good results, even become among the greatest and most rewarded on earth, but you don't get the inheritance. 

Worse, you produce nothing but problematic churches---what I call Ishmael churches who have conflicts within, fighting other churches and each other. Denominations that compete against each other in a dog-eat-dog world. Churches that split and titled and degreed pastors who know nothing about the Kingdom but operate in worldly principles and systems. They'd buy anything that works and grows their churches. They like Hagar solutions. 

What you should do

How do you get God's inheritance? It's so simple---wait. God promises that they who wait on him shall renew their strength and mount up with wings like eagles. They shall walk and not faint. Run but not grow weary. A lot of you can even memorize this verse, but so few understand it and apply it daily. 

How do you know that you are out of the inheritance? Some think that producing no visible or physical results in ministry means being ineffective. But it's easy to see if you are ineffective in God's eyes---if you do not manifest (or if you start losing) the fruit of the Spirit, especially patience and joy. A lot of minsters who may be successful in ministry lose their patience so easily. They cannot wait. They do not know how to wait. And they also start losing their joy, self-control, love, etc. You see them later being miserable and bitter.

Just listen to Peter, if you want true success in God's eyes. What makes us productive and effective in the Lord? Is it ministry results? Nope. Listen to this:
Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [2 Peter 1.5-8]
Heart character is what makes us productive and effective. Big or small ministry, what matters is your faithfulness in keeping the ministry and your heart character while doing it. It's useless to have a mega ministry while becoming more rotten in character.

Remember, ministry size should be according to God's will so that no minister may boast of his imagined achievements. Hagar became arrogant when she bore Ishmael and started taunting Sarai. If you boast of your ministry like it was the result of your hard efforts, and if you  look down on others with smaller ministries, it just means you are doing everything in a Hagar system. It's all man's efforts and it won't end up in God's inheritance.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why Confining Your Eyesight to the "Positives" in Life Won't Work


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"Just look at the positive side of things." This phrase tacitly accepts there are negative sides to life. But it wants to ignore them and wants to focus on the "bright side" instead---which will never work.

God knew this. I mean, he himself designed life to have both positive and negative, and he never intended to ignore or hide the negative. It will never work. If you're Truth (Jesus is the Truth), you have to openly deal with both without covering up or hiding anything. He calls good "good" and bad "bad."

He never thought he had to hide the fact that one time he "regretted" ever creating man. Watch how he put it in writing in the bible:
The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. [Genesis 6.6]
He also "regretted" making Saul king [1 Samuel 15.11]. He could have just kept quiet about it or kept it a secret and focused on the bright side of things. But no, he had to put it in writing in Scriptures. He had to make it known to all. Why?

Because truth is not truth if you omit even just one tiny detail of it. This is what proponents of positive thinking do not understand, especially those in church. There is NO power in watered down truth. Cover-ups or whitewash for mistakes or sin corrode genuine power until there is none---which is what often happens to many churches today.

To free yourself from religious cover-ups and whitewash, click here.

In their bid to give their church denominations an artificial image of being immaculate and glorious and ideal, they cover up errors and wickedness and highlight the positive. And yet they insist that there is no perfect church. If you talk about their negatives, they accuse you of "gossiping."

God told about the sins of Lucifer, Cain, David, Solomon, Judas, Ananias and Sapphira, etc. plainly in the bible. There was never any effort for cover-up. It's the secret to glory---transparency. If anyone sins in church, Jesus' first instruction is to confront. If the sinner persists, tell it to two other witnesses. If the sinner still persists, tell it to the church. Expose!
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible---and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. [Ephesians 5.13]
Instead of resulting to something shameful, there was revival in the Acts church when people started exposing their own sins in public.
Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done...In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. [Acts 19]
I have seen how church denominations covered up the sins of their ministers and leaders, keeping the matter among the upper leaders and hiding it from their members. In some cases no disciplinary action was taken, and even if there was, it was too lenient. The bible says the solution is to expose it to the light. Anyone who hates such exposure "does evil and hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed" [John 3.20].

You have to look at both positive and negative and consider them seriously. It's the only way to come up with a realistic conclusion or action. Many times, you have to stop pursuing a course of action and find another path. Positive thinkers would tell you never to give up and remain in your present course instead. That's being narrow-minded and immature. You have to always consult God and take his direction. Many times, he would tell you to take another path or destination or goal.

You need people around you who are not really negative but are broad-minded to see that there are always pros and cons to every situation or alternative. We need Nathans who will tell us that we're doing wrong when we have been blinded by our imagined successes, as prophet Nathan did King David during his illicit affair with Bathsheba.

I always see people as they are. I see their good and bad sides. I see their positive and negative traits. The wonder is, I am able to accept and love them despite their bad sides. But of course, I act accordingly, like weed out bad or inappropriate people. Smart Alecks would tell you not to look at the negative side or "judge" people. But I know better. I look at everything. Truth sees everything as they are. Truth is also honest.

Some people would ignore negative factors when planning for something. If you point out the weaknesses of a matter, they'd say you have little faith or you are a coward. To them, plunging headlong into something is smart and strong and bold because it looks impressive. They are easily drawn to anything that looks impressive, anything that will make them great and earn trophies. Gullible people.

For me, I'd easily postpone or abandon a plan altogether once I see how silly it is. I don't care what people think. I don't want stupid stress later---something I could have prevented from the start. Jesus said before you undertake to build a palace, check first if you have the money. If you'd fight with only 10,000 men, see if you can defeat someone with 20,000.

Most people would go for folks with charm, charisma, popularity, potential, credentials, titles and degrees for leadership. Some pastors even say you have a "calling" from God once they see these traits in you, whatever that means. But I always look for character. If a guy lacks true meekness, I won't be impressed. I won't choose him or her for leadership---though they can always freely attend my Word sessions anytime.

But then they'd say I shouldn't be too negative. "Don't look at the negative side. Always look for the positive side in a person!" Yeah? Then Jesus should have chosen the Pharisees and law teachers.

You can't close your eyes to the negative. They are there for a purpose. Spiritually sharp and accurate people see everything. It's scary when all you see in this world are its bright sides---the world's lights are deceitful. There's a way that seems right to a man, but the end of it is death.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Jesus Christ said: "If You Want to be Perfect"


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We all know the story. A rich, young ruler went to Jesus to ask how to have eternal life. Jesus didn't tell the young man to receive him as Savior but told him to obey the commandments.

Neither did Jesus say, "you must be born again" as he did Nicodemus. Queer. Didn't Paul tell us no one could be justified by the works of the law? Yet Jesus said eternal life is through obeying the commandments. And James said the perfect law leads to freedom [1.25].

So, which is which?

Jesus told us no one has the right to delete the importance of the law because he did't come to abolish it but to fulfill it. In fact, your standing in God's Kingdom depends on your attitude about the law.
Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5.19]
We're not under the law but under grace, but we must uphold it in our lives.
Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. [Romans 3.31]
And don't forget, Jesus said our Kingdom standing and eternal life depend in a certain measure on our obedience to the law.

Here's how the law and the Word work together to produce the radical Jesus LIFE in you. Click here.

But here's what's shocking!

But watch this. The rich, young ruler said he had been obeying the few commandments Jesus had enumerated as examples, all dealing on our human relationships. Still, the young man felt inadequate for eternal life. According to Mark, Jesus told the young man how he lacked one thing. While Matthew said, Jesus told the young man, "If you want to be perfect."

If we combine them, this is what we get---the law was intended to bring LIFE [Romans 7.10] but man is imperfect to keep up with it. In fact, it only produces death in him. So what's really needed, according to Jesus, is to "be perfect" in Christ to be able to fulfill the commandments in you. To make this clearer, here's the passage in Romans 7.10:
I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
And here's the passage about what Jesus told the rich young ruler:
If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. [Matthew 19.21]
Notice how the young man didn't say, "Umm, I don't want to be perfect. Nobody's perfect, anyway. I think keeping the commandments is enough for me." He couldn't say that because, as shown, he already felt inadequate just obeying the commandments. He felt he needed something more. He also didn't bargain by asking Jesus, "Can I have eternal life without being perfect? I just want to be a saved imperfect sinner." He knew in himself it was useless asking about it. He didn't dare ask Jesus. 

Just keeping the law or the commandments would make you feel inadequate for eternal life, and your daily life will prove it. You'd find yourself just breaking the law repeatedly. But if in spite of this you still want eternal life, Jesus would tell you, "If you want to be perfect..." and then tell you to give up something dear in your life. In the case of the rich, young ruler, it was his riches.

God wants you to give up anything not from Him (or anything that serves as a stronghold in you) if you want eternal life.

You need Christ's perfection to have eternal life. That's Kingdom truth very few understand. Jesus himself taught it. And perfection in Christ doesn't mean never being in any error or always getting high grades in school or always looking your best. It means giving up for good anything God tells you to give up. Anyway, God gives you powerful, enabling grace to do it, plus the power of the Holy Spirit. How can you fail and how can you go wrong?

The phrase, "If you want to be perfect" is the same as "if you're really serious about it." We badly need this emphasis and challenge today when we share the Gospel. A lot of evangelism is just aimed at grabbing more people to church to increase church income and membership. So they make everything easy. You get the best of both worlds without giving up anything. And they just share the positives and keep the negatives aside. They never tell the sinner what he needs to give up, and that there's no compromise when giving up what God wants you to give up.

Truth is, you have to lose something on earth to gain something in the Kingdom. I know salvation is for free, but you have to lose your life in order to gain it, said Jesus.

Cost of following Jesus revealed right at the start

They say you need to keep the hardest thing about following Jesus a secret first so your prospect doesn't get discouraged. If you reveal the cost of following Jesus to him right away and he rejects the Gospel, they say you'd be accountable for it. They add that the cost of following Jesus should be shared "after" the prospect has received Jesus. In other words, if it's sales and marketing, you tell him the "side effects" of the products after he buys. After he's trapped.

I believe prospects have the right to know what they're getting into. The dear cost of following Jesus is not really "side effects" but confirmation that you are no longer of this world but of the Kingdom. The cost is actually a blessing, and if so, you should share about it right at the start. Don't hide anything. Jesus didn't. He told the rich young, ruler right away about the cost of having eternal life and following him. He told the Samaritan woman to first "go call your husband" before she could drink the water of life. 

Salvation is FREE but you get nothing in the Kingdom without cost.

Discouraging a potential church member

I LOVE how Jesus never ran after people. Imagine discouraging a potential church member---young and idealistic, founded in the Word of God, been obeying the Word since childhood, a ruler with great influence (although the Gospel doesn't explain how he was a ruler), and most of all, RICH.

Any pastor today would surely run after this guy. Pastors would love to have him as church member and probably make him a board member or elder immediately. They'd make sure this guy never gets out of their hands, especially when the fact is, he's RICH! Pastors love to have givers and tithers into their churches. 

Not Jesus. He has a preferential love for the poor. He loves everybody, but he declared how the rich will find it hard to enter God's Kingdom (does any pastor today tell this to the rich?). Yet in Luke, he said, "Blessed are the poor."

What do you do when a rich and influential (smart) guy (who even loves the bible) comes to your church and calls you "good teacher"? Wouldn't that make your ears clap for yourself? Wouldn't that do wonders for your ego? Wouldn't you love to keep this guy in your church and probably lure him to be your supporter? Wouldn't you give him position and influence in church pronto (that's what a lot of pastors do to keep their "ideal" members for good, not knowing it's a trap for them). 

Jesus NEVER did these things. To him, no one was indispensable. All were welcome but he never gave special treatments to anyone, especially not to the rich. To him, only one thing mattered in a person. "If you want to be perfect..."

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Spirit-Led or Income-Led?


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Ministers, especially pastors, should be extra sharp to discern the difference, because a very thin line separates one from the other. Are you Spirit-led or income-led? Did you end up in ministry because of a divine call or because you were looking for profitable work and got one, and then somehow ministry followed?

To be sure, income sources are God's blessings. The more the merrier. I love to be in a lucrative business. In fact, the church can be in business as the Acts church was. But we are NOT to be led or controlled by our income source, business or money. All who are led thus end up like prophet Balaam---always bargaining for the right price while pretending to be after God's leading.

Abram got wealthy while "in the process" of obeying God. He didn't leave Ur for greener pasture somewhere. He left Ur without knowing where he'd end up. He left simply because he obeyed God. Unlike a lot of pastors today who leave for the US, Canada or elsewhere to earn in dollars or by targeting rich churches there. Worse, some leave to get a purely secular profitable job, not just a more lucrative ministry. And then somehow, incidentally, they "also" find ministry there later. Some never end up in ministry at all (whatever happened to their "calling" and formal ministry training?). God's work becomes incidental to them.

Here's how to discern God's will from man's will. Click here.

Nothing wrong with going abroad to do ministry there---if you are genuinely called by God to do so, and not because you just want to earn more money. Some pastors dream of owning a car and living a good life, and since they see no hope of that happening in their native country, they seek opportunity abroad, particularly in the US or Canada. And then they claim they were "called by God" there. And many actually believe them and follow suit so that it becomes accepted practice. They fool themselves and believe their jokes, too.

The apostle Paul traveled to many places as an apostle of God, first and foremost. He went to places to really preach the Gospel. Then somehow he found tent-making sidelines to augment his ministry. He didn't travel abroad as an OFW and then later tried some ministry. His apostolic ministry came first and foremost. There's a big difference, which many fail to discern.

The important thing here is to know God's Kingdom principle---seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. Whatever you are, a simple church member or minister, this is what should lead you in all things. Seek first (and always) the Kingdom and God's righteousness, not money or livelihood or profitability or greener pasture. Don't seek ways how to end up in the US or Canada or New Zealand or elsewhere.

A lot of people have counseled me to go abroad for greener pastures. Why suffer hardships in the Philippines when you can go abroad and enjoy better pay, better living standards, free education, free hospitalization, free everything? Think of your family! Anyway, I can also easily find ministry there, they added. Wow. And these were supposed to be church leaders who had gone to bible school and seminary.

Listening to them, I remember Lot. He chose the portion of Canaan where "the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt." He used his personal preferences, not God's preferences. He judged by what he saw (and he thought a land as good as Egypt was a good place).

Abram was different. He let God choose for him.

Phillips & Company
These folks missed the point altogether. They missed the basic. I was born again not to seek earthly fortune but to do the will of my Father. If it's God's will for me to live abroad, then I will. So far, my heart's burden is in the Philippines.

I'm waiting for God to change that and give me visions of (and a heart for) ministry abroad, but he hasn't. When I told them this, they looked at me like I had gone totally crazy. Like I was the stupidest person they've ever seen (especially when I told them I turned down my dad's petition for a US citizenship for me).

"Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" I wanted to tell them that but they wouldn't understand. I very seldom talk about this because no one today in church understands it. Instead, I just look at them and nod, saying in my mind, "OK, so that's how you see it, huh? What a waste."

Do you think Abram had planned to get a more profitable job when he left Ur so he could live a better life in Canaan? He didn't even know where Canaan was and he didn't know he was headed for it. He got rich because everything was just added to him after he seriously sought God and his will. A lot of ministers today do not know a thing about this. All they understand is the value of money. To them, if you have no money, you are not in God's will.

"If you're obeying God's will for you, how come you're not yet rich like Abraham?" Some would actually ask me this question. Well, I tell them Abraham started getting blessed when he was 75---and I'm not yet 75. I have 18 more years to go. Plenty of time. In fact, I believe God can change your entire life and ministry in a day, or even less. Nothing is impossible to him. Who knows, something may come up tomorrow and I start getting rich. 😂

Never depart from this vital Kingdom principle whatever the issue in life:
"Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness." 
Just seek the Word, meditate on it night and day, live it out daily and let it change you and your mindset radically. Worship God higher and walk with him. Delight yourself in the Lord, and then you'd see how He will give you the desires of your heart.

Never seek something else. Don't seek for a life partner, don't seek for a ministry, don't seek how your ministry would grow, don't seek how you can fill up your church with people. Just seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. All these things will be added.

So, be honest. Check yourself out. Are you really Spirit-led or are you just income-led?

For more radically life-changing insights, get our e-books!

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Here's How the Glorious Church Builds God's Kingdom on Earth


Equipment World
You are given eyes to see and the spiritual ability to enter God's Kingdom [John 3.3-8] so you can be part of it. Once you're part, then you can share it with others. You cannot share what you do not have. Fact is, you cannot share what you haven't seen. In ministry, you have to see the Kingdom and enter it. So you have to seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, first and last.

Evangelism

Share your Kingdom faith with as many. Ask God's guidance about it, particularly who you'd share it with. Sometimes, God wants specific targets. Only the King knows who is fit for the Kingdom so you have to follow his lead about who to share the Gospel with and who to disciple. Many are invited but few are chosen. The prophet Samuel was sure it was Eliab who would be king but the Lord said Eliab seemed kingdomly only in appearance but not in essence.

We should share the Gospel with everyone, but at times the Lord would zero in on an individual and use you for the purpose. So you have to know when it happens. Ananias was given specific instructions by the Lord where to find Saul and what to do with him.
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” [Acts 9]
Indeed, there are times when the Lord will lead a Kingdom person to share the Gospel with specific people only. Giving them even the specific address. It happens if you are a Kingdom person. And it is not for us to judge who they are because they are identified only by their hearts---their inner man---not their appearance or status in life. And only the Lord can do that. So we should be sensitive to the leading of the Lord.

Here's how to be accurately attuned with God's Spirit. Click here.

There were many fishermen in Gethsemane and yet the Lord personally invited only Peter, James and John and several others to specifically "follow me." The rest merely followed him without personal invitation from Jesus. There were many other people in the crowd when Jesus entered Jericho but he chose Zacchaeus in particular to dine in his home and share the Gospel with him.

The Lord also issued specific instructions to Peter when he shared the Gospel to Cornelius and his family in Acts. Yet sure enough, Jesus shared the Good News of the Kingdom to all and the apostles and Acts church shared the Gospel to everyone.

Discipleship

Then, as you share the Gospel, God will lead some of them to your discipleship. They will pursue your leadership, as the apostles and disciples pursued Jesus' Lordship. God decides who pursues you, how many and when, not you. You simply pray and wait. You cannot have what God has not allowed you.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, [John 6.44]
Jesus never ran after people and pestered them to become his church members. Instead, the Father brought people to him. and these folks pursued hard after him.

The Spirit will bear witness with the spirits of people you shared the Gospel with and tell them that you should disciple them. God will talk to them and lead them to you. This process is important and we can do nothing to hasten it. Just wait for God.
It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. [John 6.45]
But if you are in the numbers game and you want to produce a lot of members in the shortest time possible, you'd skip this part and just start grabbing people anywhere. You'd have a big church, for sure, but soon all hell would break loose and you have a chaotic church out of God's will in no time.

But if you follow Kingdom protocol, those God assigns to you will simply come to you at the right time because God selected them to be your disciples. It may sometimes take time, but you have to exercise patience. Though God has a timetable, he is never in a hurry. Get God's timing. Just walk with him. Those God has not chosen will be led to other ministries, and that's okay.

God may decide to give you a few or a lot. It's not for you to decide how many. Just share the Word, period. That's exactly how Jesus did it. It does not matter how many members you have or how big or small your church is. What matters is your faithfulness to God's Word as you handle what is given you, whether small or big.  Promotion comes from the Lord [Psalm 75.6-7].

In his lifetime, Jesus handled only 120 disciples, the 12 included. Those that didn't belong to him left him. One day, after praying all night, Jesus chose 12 of them to be leaders. It was something personal, choosing only those "he wanted" [Mark 3.13]. You cannot put up a bible school or seminary and then invite everyone to enroll. Then all who enroll and graduate become your "pastors." It's not like that. It's not the way of the Kingdom. You have to choose those you want. Only Jesus' way works in the Kingdom.

Leadership

You have to pray and ask God to guide you when choosing your leaders and then choose those you want. And then train them personally. Jesus trained his apostles himself. They did not enroll in a special apostolic course in some seminary and then paid the professors who taught them. They didn't pay any tuition fee. Jesus did it in a simple personal discipleship. And to think that apostles were crucial because they'd be the foremost leaders and spiritual fathers of the church. Jesus trained them simply through a discipleship.

Therefore, discipleship is crucial in producing authentic and anointed church leaders. It's not just another church program. Discipleship is where apostles and prophets of the church should emerge, aside from evangelists, pastors and teachers. And it should be a Jesus-style discipleship. They all must work with you in ministry. They are trained by doing.

Ministry

What did they do? They preached the Word and did miracles. Nothing more, nothing less. Jesus taught them hands-on. The anointing on him was imparted to them while they were with him. In your discipleship, your disciples should be imparted a portion or measure of your anointing in preaching and signs and wonders.

However, you don't see this Kingdom process anymore today. What they do is teach human theology in seminaries. That's all. All talk, no power.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. [1 Corinthians 4.20]
What's the danger in doing ministry if the supernatural power of God is not manifested and it's all just talk? This was what Paul said:
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. [1 Corinthians 2.5]
Moreover, Paul said all talk and no power of God empties the cross of its power:
...to preach the gospel---not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. [1 Corinthians 1.17]
No wonder Jesus always accompanied his preaching with signs and wonders and miracles. The absence of powerful and supernatural works of God nullifies the cross. Sadly, signs, wonders and miracles are all gone in church today. Instead of pursuing them, church leaders are preoccupied about school credentials to get their titles and degrees. To them these give them power to get the highest positions in church and the highest salary. But no power whatsoever in the spirit realms. No wonder churches are powerless and empty, though looking "alive" with activities.

The Family Grew

Now, when the Holy Spirit took Jesus' place on earth, the church fathers (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) did what Jesus started. They duplicated it through the power of the Spirit. They learned from Jesus how to grow God's family. They shared the Gospel wherever they went and God gave them people to disciple. 

The church is God's family. It's not an organization with superintendents, directors, presidents, chairmen, church boards and government permits. The passage below shows how Jesus saw the church as family, not an organization:
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said,“Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” [Mark 3. 34-35]
Those in discipleship are the ones doing God's will and they are one family in Christ, with mothers, brothers, sisters, and church fathers. Church is God's family. Jesus' discipleship grew the church and the church just kept doing Jesus' discipleship. 

But somewhere along the way, some men and impostors in church changed the process and introduced new things that produced more church members much quicker. They turned God's family into a church organization. It's also when they divided the church into separate denominations with its own doctrines. 

If you are really serious about following Christ and being part of Kingdom building through his glorious church (not just playing church and beating other churches in the numbers game), you should go back to the bible and see how Jesus did ministry---and do the same, paying special attention to the Kingdom principles and protocols involved. 

The way Jesus did ministry is the only way God's Kingdom on earth can be built.
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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Kingdom Signature: "Those Who Wear Fine Clothes are in Kings’ Palaces"


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Ever wondered why Jesus and John the baptizer assumed radically simple roles in society? Why didn't Jesus come as part of the Sanhedrin or as palace official? Why the son of a poor carpenter? Why be born in a manger?

John for one was Zechariah's son, and Zechariah served as priest in the temple. Priests led comfortable and well to do lives, being supplied all their material needs and given special favors by the community as per Old Testament directives.

John should have been priest, too, being son of Zechariah. But John gave it up and chose to be an obscure prophet living in the wilderness catching locusts for dinner and risking bee stings just to enjoy a handful of honey. That's beside wearing only camel's hair and a leather belt all his life.

Why this radical simplicity?

I see it as Kingdom signature. A kind of "company logo" or characteristic mark of the Kingdom. Kingdom people literally care for nothing in this life. Jesus said that the cares of this world bothered only pagans who "run after these things." Jesus and John lived like birds of the air that neither sowed or reaped or stored in barns. Yet all their needs were met by the Father.

More Kingdom signature here. Click this link.

We often take this gesture for granted---why Jesus lived the kind of life he lived. I have never heard sermons or preaching about Jesus' austere simplicity or ascetic lifestyle. I have heard a lot of prosperity preaching, though. It probably reflects how most churches and pastors fear being the least.

By living it out his entire life, Jesus practically stressed its importance. He did it to make some kind of a Kingdom "fashion" statement. He called attention to his spartan lifestyle by the way he lived and prioritized it in his teaching: "Blessed are the poor in spirit." He emphasized how Kingdom people do not wear fine clothes and aren't impressed by posh palaces.

He boasted about John: "A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces." [Matthew 11]

Reading it again and again, I feel that Jesus somewhat belittled people who wore fine clothes and lived in palaces. People probably thought Jesus was sour-graping because he was poor and probably envied the rich. But actually, he was just being true to his Kingdom origins, his Kingdom propensities. In the Kingdom, fine clothes, money, possessions, fame and palaces really mean nothing. They aren't worth running after.
What people value highly is detestable in God's sight. [Luke 16.15]
Thus, Kingdom people never place any value on these things. They wear simple clothes and live in simple shelters. They live radically simple lives. 

But sadly, the very opposite seems to be the standard of success in church today. The best churches are those with palatial buildings and the best pastors are those dressed like politicians or the rich. Have you ever seen a preacher come to a conference riding a public jeepney or tricycle and wearing plain white T-shirt and jeans? No, because church thinks it would be disgusting to see them thus. 

Instead, you see them wearing their best "robes" like the Pharisees did and riding in the best cars. They are housed in the best hotels in town and dining in the best restaurants. Well, nothing really wrong about this. In fact, Jesus said anyone who gives even a cup of cold water to his disciples will be surely rewarded. 

The problem is, why not give the same treatment to poor pastors with small churches? Why not invite them to speak in conferences, too? Jesus also warned about favoritism. I personally saw how a church gave P500 as "love gift" to an ordinary pastor when he spoke there, but gave P5,000 to a titled university professor who also spoke there at another time. 

King David, Isaiah and Nehemiah may have worn fine clothes in their times because they were closely connected to earthly palaces. But that was the past and a foregone era. Jesus introduced the present Kingdom era when "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions," [Luke 12.15]. 

I foresee the emergence of a unique breed of radical believers (genuine Kingdom people) who will demonstrate, as their Lord did, the ideal lifestyle of the Kingdom. They will speak in big conferences wearing plain, ordinary and cheap shorts and jeans, commuting to and from, and eating in street-corner karenderias. They will gather together for worship in parks, garages, street corners, barangay halls, (in short, no posh buildings) and wear shorts and shirts. But their hearts and spirits are aflame with the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Titles, money, possessions or church size won't impress them. But what they're awed at is the simple, quiet, gentle and meek spirit of a powerfully anointed man of God. 
No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected. [Isaiah 32.5]
Look at the life of a genuine apostle of Jesus:
To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. [1 Corinthians 4]
You see the Kingdom lifestyle? Here's more:
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. [2 Corinthians 6]
But again, sadly, we see a lot of topnotch ministers today with big ministries who live like kings in earthly palaces, enjoying luxuries and lots of material possessions. We see a lot of church denominations owning vast properties and palatial buildings. Sometimes, they look more worldly than the world. 

But don't get me wrong. The Gospel does not promote poverty. Being in poverty is wrong. Jesus and the Acts church never had money problems. They never asked or solicited a single cent from other people. "No one among them was in need." And "they gave to anyone who had need."

Yet, they stuck to their Kingdom lifestyle. Jesus became poor so we might become rich. But this is Kingdom riches which the world knows nothing of. It is riches which keep you away from wearing fine clothes and being found in kings' palaces. It is "having nothing yet possessing everything."

Someday soon, church today would finally re-discover God's Kingdom and righteousness and transform into the glorious church of the Kingdom. Then all things will be added unto them.

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Ministry of a Kingdom Person in the Glorious Church


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Make sure you're doing ministry in the glorious church of Jesus Christ, a church without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. People who have no knowledge of the Kingdom will just go to any "born-again" church, especially one which has the best facilities. 

But a Kingdom person particularly makes sure he attends no less than the glorious church. Non-Kingdom people will tell you not to look for a perfect church. "There is no perfect church!" they insist. But the bible says there is a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle. It's Jesus' church. He died for it. He founded it.

And ministry is different in the glorious church.

In the glorious church, everyone's ministries are connected and intertwined. And I mean all ministries. Kingdom people know this so well. There is no such thing as "your ministry" or "my ministry" or "their ministry" or "our ministry."

More radical Kingdom concepts for radical spiritual growth in Christ. Click here.

Like it or not, the church ministry God gave you is closely connected to what he gave me in the spirit realms, no matter if your church denomination tries hard to separate us. In fact, your ministry is also mine. Because there is only one church. There is only one Body. The success you enjoy in your church is also the same success we can enjoy in ours. The failure we suffer is yours to suffer, too.

Thus, a genuine Kingdom person is not concerned about recruiting people in his church. He is not bothered by numbers, by how church membership is increasing, decreasing or has plateaued. In fact, he does not see churches as big or small. He sees them all as one. Not the same but one. If one fails then all fail. If one succeeds then all succeed.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. [1 Corinthians 12.26]
The funny thing is, denominations see the passage above myopically. They apply it only to their denominations. They see how their local churches should be "one body." They very seldom see it as applying to all Christian churches the world over, no matter what denomination.

Carnal people still see church as "churches" that are vaguely or kinda related or connected to each other, in fact often in competition against each other than working together as one. They categorize them as our big church and their small church, and vice versa. Or identify them according to denominations. And then they compare them and decide which is better or gaining more popularity. 
When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. [2 Corinthians 10.12]
But really, how can you compare church when there is only one church? Comparison is possible if you have 2 or 3 churches. But truth is, there's only one. No matter how you name your church and try to look differently, Kingdom people still see everyone as one. That's unless you have really succeeded in making yourself different from the church Jesus established, Then that's another matter.

Thus, pastors who are Kingdom people are never stressed by ministry. Everyone of them knows that he is not alone in the Vineyard and that no one in the Vineyard can claim success just for himself because everyone is working in one and the same Vineyard. Regardless the number of churches today in the world, we're all still in the same one Church.

And the Vineyard is never divided. You can't get a portion, fence it in, work it, and treat it differently from the main Vineyard and say, "This is our portion!" This is why the owner of the vineyard got angry with the tenants in Matthew 21. They grabbed the land.

It's somewhat like this. If your neck feels hot because of flu, no other part of your body can claim to be spared of the ailment. They're all affected by flu---even your fingers and toes. If your heart performs excellently, it cannot claim the credit alone. All the other parts of your body contributed to its performance, even the small ones---pancreas, blood cells, and even your ears and toes.

It cannot happen that the heart performs well but the pancreas or kidneys failed. Well, for a while, the heart may not be affected by failed pancreas or kidneys, but it won't be long till the heart suffers the effect. Or worse, the patient suffers multiple organ failure.

No church group or denomination can marvel at being better than the other. Instead of proving who's better, they should compensate for the weakness of the other, and vice versa. The same in the body of Christ. That's how Kingdom people see it.

There are two kinds of workers in the Vineyard---the sower and the reaper, one who plants and one who reaps. The Word says both have one purpose [1 Corinthians 3.8] and both are glad together about the harvest and the work [John 4.36]. No matter your place or role in God's field, you are in it together with the rest. If I have tons of harvest and you have a few kilos, it won't matter. We will be glad together. That's how Kingdom people see it.

Hence, if I have a small congregation and you have a big congregation, it doesn't matter. Everything will be collected as one and we worked the same field. We will be glad together. Those with big congregations have no advantage over the ones with small congregations. 

But what will matter during the Judgment Seat of Christ is the heart with which we did ministry. We will be judged according to what we have done. This means, the things we have done with either a bad or a good heart. 
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. [2 Corinthians 5.10].
Specifically, according to the context, this judgment is about "those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart" [v.12]. God is not particular about your visible achievements but inner character---what is in the heart.

All the parables in the bible support this. What God watches is the character developed in us, not the physical result of what we have done. 

We should produce crop that is 30, 60 or 100 times more "what was sown." And what was sown? The seed, which stands for the Word of God. The Word should bear fruit in us, the fruit of the Spirit. Whoever has will be given more. Whoever does not have, the little he has will be taken from him and given to him who bears more fruit. Hence, the wicked will continue to be wicked and the righteous will continue to be righteous 
Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. [Daniel 12.10]
Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy. [Revelation 22.11]
Kingdom Accounting on Evangelism 

I gladly share the Gospel with people around me and gladly accepts those God gives me for discipleship. God determines how many people receive Jesus as Savior and how many people remain with me for discipling. He determines whether I have few or many. But regardless of the number I have, I have victory because know that my "labor in the Lord is not in vain," [1 Corinthians 15.58]. 

Moreover, everyone I shared the Gospel with, no matter what church they end up in, is my share in the harvest. I sowed the seed but another reaped the harvest. Yet, it doesn't matter. I still have a share in the harvest so that I can be glad together with whoever reaped what I sowed. I may have a small number of disciples with me but it's possible that I have a big share in the harvest because of the number of people I shared the Gospel with that went to other churches. This is Kingdom accounting. Genuine Kingdom people know this.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

How to Know If a Ministry is Failing in God's Eyes


Mustard Seed Faith
It's easy to see if a ministry is really failing. Remember, God is spirit. The only way to please him is in spirit and in truth. You cannot please God by your church building, church income, membership size or Sunday worship programs.

Actually, the ministry Jesus showed us in the bible was so simple. It's super simple, in fact. It's mainly on preaching, miraculous healing, and discipleship. Just these three. We don't have to add anything to this. Jesus did only these three and he did well. He pleased the Father to the max.

To see what really makes us fail big-time in ministry, click here to read the article.

Preaching

You don't have to be a titled preacher to do this. Just share the Word. All you need is knowledge of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. These two equip you to the max. The Word of God is God breathed "so that the man of God may be adequate, fully equipped for every good work," [2 Timothy 3.17].

You see the words, "fully equipped"? That's what the Word and the Holy Spirit (God's Breath) do to you.

But man made it complicated with his bible school, seminary, masters, doctorate, ordination and everything. Some say you have to attend seminars on evangelism and learn this and that to be "equipped." But truth is, all you need is the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul told Timothy to simply, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth," [2 Timothy 2.15]. Just do your best. You don't need seminars or seminaries.

When I was new in ministry, I just did my best with the Word (asking the Holy Spirit to teach me each time) and went out to share the Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. I didn't care if people would accept Christ or not. I just shared the Word from the heart. I left the results to God. No stress or pressure. Ministry was simple.

Today, I'm an ordained minister but I don't make a big deal of it. Ordination makes you well aware of God's call on your life, but it's not what empowers you to preach. You can preach the Word without being ordained, and God will still be happy about you. The anointing from the Holy Spirit is all you need. And every believer is called to go preach the Word and make disciples.

Discipleship

You don't share the Word to fill your church building with people and get the highest or mega-est church membership of all. To most pastors, that's what evangelism is all about. A contest to prove who's the greatest.

Proper understanding, however, tells you that sharing the Word with people gives them a good chance of being saved from hell. Concern for lost souls is why you share the Gospel. Period. If that is your motivation for evangelism, then you will not bother with results. You will leave the results to God. But if you're after the contest, you will follow up, visit, doggedly invite, etc.---none of which Jesus did. Because Jesus' genuine concern was for lost souls, not recognition.

Then God draws some people to you to disciple. You don't force them into your church. You don't pester them to attend your church services or come back next Sunday. Results of your evangelism depends on the Holy Spirit alone. You should keep your hands off the results. Let God talk to them. It's the Spirit's job to convict and convince, NOT YOURS. And the Spirit decides which church people should attend. not you. That's Jesus-style evangelism.

You should share the Word and leave, just as Christ did. Simply wait for the Father to draw disciples after you.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, [John 6.44]
No one can really be your disciple unless the Father assigns them to you. In your greed, you may grab people to your church and up your membership and church income, but they will miss their true place in the spirit realms. They will miss their true potential in Christ. And you forfeited their right to that.

Thus, you see a lot of half-baked Christians in church, immature and seemingly incapable of maturing, bearing no fruit of the Spirit. They just become active in church. They may produce a lot of movements and noise and add to the numbers, but they never grow spiritually. Instead, they just get old and rotten. Pastors who grabbed them into their churches will answer for them.

Jesus never grabbed or ran after people and forced them into his church building. He simply preached and left people to decide on their own. His ministry was so simple---no need for committees for follow up, visitation, invitation, etc. Some churches even have teams (what I call Gestapo) who go after members who missed attending the Sunday church service or checking if a member gave his exact tithes. Jesus never did these things.

God will draw some people to you for Jesus-style discipleship. You should disciple them in life, not make them attend discipleship classes. And if you see some people leave your church to attend another, gladly set them free. Sometimes, you plant and others harvest, and vice versa. Don't think you have failed just because people leave your church. You have failed if that makes you feel bad and angry and rotten.

Miraculous Healing

Jesus' preaching was ALWAYS accompanied by miraculous healing---something you never see in church today. They have replaced this with medical missions. Medical missions are good. They help a lot. But Jesus never did them. What he did was miraculous, supernatural and complete healing, and the modern church should pursue this today if they truly desire to be like their Lord.

Everything should be done according to the way Jesus did ministry, because Jesus is the Way. If we want success, we should follow him. We should do "the same things."
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." [John 14.12]
Imagine how complicated medical missions are compared to Jesus' miracle crusades. You will have to organize teams for procuring medicines, teams for inviting people, teams for cooking food for the workers, teams for checking the attendance and getting the personal data of the patients, teams for counseling, and teams of medical doctors. You will have to prepare promotional fliers and banners. You will have to lure people with freebies and goodies to make them come. All these are costly.

But Jesus simply walked around and people came to him in multitudes to hear the Word and be healed. As simple as that. No promotions, no announcements, no advertisement, no banners, no organized teams and Gestapos.
Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. [Matthew 15.30]
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. [Luke 5. 15]
News about him spread, not because he announced or advertised himself, but because people were amazed and talked about him. He was trending. And it was God who was bringing people to him. That makes it much easier. Today, we claim that "God is with us" and yet see him nowhere supernaturally at work, unlike what God did in Jesus' ministry. All we see today are man's hard efforts which are mostly stressful.

Because ministry has become too complicated, a lot of ministers have become too sickly. A lot have died of deadly ailments. You ordinarily hear of ministers today who died of heart failure, strokes, and other stress related diseases. No one in Acts died of deadly diseases while serving God. Those who were sick got healed completely. We should never overlook these facts. Instead, we should seriously desire them in our ministries---not to up membership and church income, but to sincerely help people and glorify God.

A Failing Ministry

Here are features of a failing ministry in the eyes of God:

A failing ministry is one that always seeks to please people and attract and run after them. It's also one that has become too complicated and stressful. Remember, Jesus calls all who are tired to rest in him. He will give them rest. The yoke Jesus gives us is easy and the burden light. By all means, this is what people should see in us. We should make everything simple and easy.

If you've been tired and stressed out in ministry, why haven't you experienced God's rest at all? Why haven't you entered in? If you have, you will understand what few things really matter in God's eyes, and they are all simple things.
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. [Hebrews 4]
Watch your character. It you're getting more rotten as the years pass, you have a failing ministry. You have not entered God's rest yet. We should go from glory to glory in Christ. This means as we grow old, we should get better and better. More importantly, we should be more broad-minded, understanding life and people better. This is the natural result if we truly walk with God everyday. We should become like HIM.

We should become more patient, understanding, kinder, quieter, simpler and meeker. We should have more self-control. Self-centeredness should be gone in us because we have fully understood how vain it is. We should boast of nothing but Christ and what he has done. The fruit of the Spirit should be fully ripe and glowing in us without effort.

I've seen a lot of ministers from different denominations who've grown old, yet all they could boast about were their titles and "great" ministries. All those years wasted. The more you have been with Christ, the more you should become his PR man. You grow fascinated with HIM alone. You can talk about nothing but him and boast about no one but him and his works. You talk about his Kingdom and righteousness always.

No matter if you have the biggest and mega-est church ministry of all, if you have not entered God's rest, you have failed. No matter if you have the greatest ministry accomplishments, if you have a rotten character, you have failed.

In God's eyes, real SUCCESS is not what we have done. It's possessing godly character in Christ.
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. [Micah 6]
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