Uncage

PROMISE 3

I will send my Spirit

So, salvation and our free access to God’s presence is what God has donefor us through Jesus. The way we receive it, the how, is through the power of the Holy Spirit. God strengthens your life as you rely more and more on his Spirit dwelling in you—especially at times when you simply can’t go on. You can take great comfort in God’s promise: I will send my Spirit.

What could happen if you daily asked God to fill you with his Spirit? What kind of turnarounds could you experience if you stopped trying to turn things around in your own power? What could be different if you asked God to make you feel alive again with his presence and power?

The word often used in the original Hebrew for Spirit, ruach, means breath or wind. God’s Spirit is as close as our own breath. We depend on breath every moment of every day. God’s Spirit is both untamed and principled, powerful and gentle, expansive and immanent, literally “wind” and “breath.” These two symbols suggest dimensions of our atmosphere, from whirling windstorms to peaceful breezes, to the air we breathe. God’s Spirit is present in all of this. When you accept Christ and place your faith in him, he sends you his Spirit. Paul commands believers to “be filled” with the Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you! The Spirit wants to lead you into life, but you need to be willing to follow.

One primary word for Spirit-filled living is surrender. When you feel tired, lifeless, or parched for joy, Jesus shouts, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart’” (John 7:37-38). He wants to fill you. You don’t have to live feeling out of breath.

Live free in the promise: I will send my Spirit.

stronger than your enemies

you are invited

Advertisements

FREEDOM by recognizing the problem and confessing

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Galatians 5:1 KJV

Pornography is everywhere and it can start innocently or even by accident. However, once it becomes part of our lives, it sinks deeper and deeper into the dark places of our soul. In the end, pornography objectifies sex and makes it small and meaningless. It poisons relationships and how we view and treat others.

Based on hundreds of conversations with men seeking to get out of the trap of porn, my guess is you are not here to find out whether porn is a problem. You are here to get help to get rid of the problem. Once we acknowledge the problem, we must see it for what it is and admit our sins. But admitting our sins is the first step and not the last.

Repentance is an often-misunderstood concept. For many, repentance means admitting sin and saying we are sorry. However, there is much more to it than that. In Greek, the word means to turn away from sin. However, the Bible actually goes much deeper and talks about a change of mind that results in a change of action.

Changing our actions means no longer pretending we can exercise more self-control and manage the temptations. It means we don’t believe the lies that we can handle this or it will go away when we get married. Now is the time to stop kidding yourself that you will pray more, read the Bible more, or go to church more to win this battle. Repent from your sin and keep reading to learn how to win the battle and become free.

PRAYER

Father God, please give me the strength to trust you. Give me the courage to admit my sin and seek a change of mind that results in a change of action. Help me discover the power that comes from putting you first in my life and deliver me into freedom from this sin. Amen.

Daily Hymn Sharing

Daily Hymn Sharing
Where Is My Home, a movie adapted from a Christian’s real-life experiences. This story is moving and full of twists and turns. It has received a lot of praises and won awards in the film festivals of several countries. Moreover, the theme song sings out the hearts’ voice of many people, move people to tears. It’s icing on the cake. Now, let’s feel this impressive theme song!
Walk in the Love of God | Christian Music Video 2018 “Where Is My Home” (Heart-touching Theme Song)
With my tiny paper and brush, I paint a little house.
Momma’s inside the house, Daddy is inside too.
My sister and I are playing in the sunlight.
We all feel warm as the sun shines on us.
Momma is smiling, Daddy smiles too.
Sisters are grinning, we are all beaming.
This is my family here, painted on my paper.
A picture in my dreams. It is all in my dreams.
Picking up my tiny suitcase, I go to a strange place.
Daddy is inside but Momma is outside.
Picking up my tiny suitcase, I go to a home I once knew.
Momma is inside, Daddy’s outside.
Holding tightly to my suitcase, I wander the roads.
Feeling alone, not sure where to go.
My tiny suitcase here is my only company.
This is my only home, the home I can’t escape.
Where is my home? Oh where could it be?
In such a great world, yet there is nowhere for me.
Who can deliver me to the home in my dreams,
the one in my drawing, the one of my dreams?
Where is my home? Oh where could it be?
In such a great big world, there is still no home for me.
Who can give me a cozy home, the home in my drawings,
the home in my dreams, home in my dreams?
Here, I have a home. I have a home.
But it’s not the one I drew on my paper.
It’s not my little suitcase, it’s the place that I dream of.
Mom and Dad are inside, my sister and I are too.
It is the home where our souls can finally rest,
the home full of glory, full of glory and hope.
It is the home (it is the home)
where our souls can finally rest (souls can finally rest),
the home full of glory, full of glory and hope.
It is a home full of glory, home full of glory, glory and hope.
from Follow the Lamb and Sing New

You are the controller of your life

Choose wisely

10 Virtues of a Good Woman

1. Faith –

A Virtuous Woman serves God with all of her heart, mind, and soul. She seeks His will for her life and follows
His ways. (Proverbs 31: 26, Proverbs 31: 29 – 31, Matthew 22: 37, John 14: 15, Psalm 119: 15)

2. Marriage –

A Virtuous Woman respects her husband. She does him good all the days of her life. She is trustworthy
and a helpmeet. (Proverbs 31: 11- 12, Proverbs 31: 23, Proverbs 31: 28, 1 Peter 3, Ephesians 5, Genesis2: 18)

3. Mothering

A Virtuous Woman teaches her children the ways of her Father in heaven. She nurtures her children with
the love of Christ, disciplines them with care and wisdom, and trains them in the way they should go. (Proverbs 31: 28,
Proverbs 31: 26, Proverbs 22: 6, Deuteronomy 6, Luke 18: 16)

4. Health –

A Virtuous Woman cares for her body. She prepares healthy food for her family. (Proverbs 31: 14 – 15, Prov￾erbs 31: 17, 1 Corinthians 6: 19, Genesis 1: 29, Daniel 1, Leviticus 11)

5. Service

A Virtuous Woman serves her husband, her family, her friends, and her neighbors with a gentle and loving spirit. She is charitable. (Proverbs 31: 12, Proverbs 31: 15, Proverbs 31: 20, 1 Corinthians 13: 13)

6. Finances

A Virtuous Woman seeks her husband’s approval before making purchases and spends money wisely. She is careful to purchase quality items which her family needs. (Proverbs 31: 14, Proverbs 31: 16, Proverbs 31: 18, 1 Timothy 6:
10, Ephesians 5: 23, Deuteronomy 14: 22, Numbers 18: 26)

7. Industry

A Virtuous Woman works willingly with her hands. She sings praises to God and does not grumble while
completing her tasks. (Proverbs 31: 13, Proverbs 31: 16, Proverbs 31: 24, Proverbs 31: 31, Philippians 2: 14)

8. Homemaking

A Virtuous Woman is a homemaker. She creates an inviting atmosphere of warmth and love for her family and guests. She uses hospitality to minister to those around her. (Proverbs 31: 15, Proverbs 31: 20 – 22, Proverbs 31:
27, Titus 2: 5, 1 Peter 4: 9, Hebrews 13: 2)

9. Time

– A Virtuous Woman uses her time wisely. She works diligently to complete her daily tasks. She does not spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord. (Proverbs 31: 13, Proverbs 31: 19, Proverbs 31: 27, Ecclesiastes 3,
Proverbs 16: 9, Philippians 4:8 )

10. Beauty

A Virtuous Woman is a woman of worth and beauty. She has the inner beauty that only comes from Christ.
She uses her creativity and sense of style to create beauty in her life and the lives of her loved ones. (Proverbs 31: 10Prov￾erbs 31: 21 – 22, Proverbs 31: 24 -25, Isaiah 61: 10, 1 Timothy 2: 9, 1 Peter 3: 1 – 6)

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

Watch this

Let discuss

Continue reading “10 Virtues of a Good Woman”

THE CHURCH AND THE MONEY

Few issues are as pertinent for the contemporary church as the issue of financial stewardship. Simply put, organizations need resources, especially financial resources. Without income, no organization can maintain its facilities, staff, or substantial programs. Marketing, carefully controlled budgets, and salaried employees are crucial to most organizations’ success. Hence it should come as no surprise that organized churches utilize each of these tools in building and supporting their infrastructures.
Is there a valid theological foundation for this system in the church of Jesus Christ? The question may sound odd to pragmatists, but it will strike a chord with those who look for the spiritual meaning of the church. Church practice informs, and is informed by, church teaching. The way we do things as God’s family conveys just as much about us as what we say, if not more. What concrete, visible form are we giving to our doctrine? What are we telling the world by the way we, as churches, use our financial resources? Most importantly, what direction is laid out for us in holy Scripture?

√ The Tithe
Many churches depend upon members “tithing,” that is, giving ten percent of their incomes to the organization. The ten percent is based not on net income but on gross (“the first fruits”). The practice is based on Israelite legal requirements as recorded in the Law and the Prophets.
The Mosaic laws regarding tithing were many and complex. One of the principle functions of the tithe was to maintain the priestly institution in Israel: “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting” (Num. 18:21, NIV). “Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people” (Heb. 7:5a, NIV). By sharing their resources in this way, rank-and-file Israelites enabled the priests to dedicate their full energies to serving God, first in the tabernacle and then in the Temple.

In the third century after Christ, when the Christian church was beginning to set apart its leaders as priests, this practice was revived. Cyprian of Carthage, for example, argued that “every one honoured by the divine priesthood, and ordained in the clerical service, ought to serve only the altar and sacrifices, and to have leisure for prayer and supplications.” He then wrote of:
The form of which ordination and engagement the Levites formerly observed under the law…Which plan and rule is now maintained in respect of the clergy, that they who are promoted by clerical ordination in the Church of the Lord may be called off in no respect from the divine administration, nor be tied down by worldly anxieties and matters; but in the honour of the brethren who contribute, receiving as it were tenths of the fruits, they may not withdraw from the altars and sacrifices, but may serve day and night in heavenly and spiritual things (Epistle 65.1). Reference1
To this day, Catholic and Protestant Christians alike appeal to this old covenant protocol. Many of us have heard more than one sermon from Protestant pulpits comparing our tithes and offerings to the sacrifices of old which the Israelites shared with their priests. We are also told that in withholding this tithe, we are robbing God of what is rightly His. On the other hand, we are told, God’s blessings will rest on us if we tithe as we should (Mal. 3:8-10).

Sometimes it is even described as a sort of investment plan whereby we may be assured of financial solvency if we give our ten percent to the church organization, whether we can ostensibly afford it or not. If necessary, it may be portrayed as an act of faith.
The unfortunate flaw in this system is its failure to consider the full ramifications of the cross. The Gospels tell us that when Jesus died on the cross, the Temple curtain before the Most Holy Place was torn in two “from top to bottom” (NIV). Hebrews 8 through 10 spells out the theological meaning of this remarkable event. At that moment, the sacrificial system was fulfilled. Jesus’ death brought the old covenant to completion and initiated a new covenant, sealed in his holy blood. The religious institution, complete with its Temple, its priesthood, and its sacrifices, was replaced with the organic reality of Christ’s body. With his subsequent resurrection and giving of the Holy Spirit, the process was complete.
Now Jesus is the only mediator. No Temple curtain, no institution, no priesthood stands between God and man. Christ’s body, the church, is now a nation of kings and priests (Rev. 1:6), “a royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9, NIV). Nowhere in the New Testament can we find the idea that our churches are filled with “lay people” who are to financially support “the clergy” or “priesthood” and the buildings of mortar and stone we call “houses of God.” As Stephen put it before the Sanhedrin, “the Most High does not live in houses made by men” (Acts 7:48, NIV).
While acknowledging this fundamental change between the covenants, some argue that the law of the tithe is not grounded in Mosaic Law but in a more enduring divine principle. The practice is traced back prior to Moses, all the way back to Abraham, who gave a tithe to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20; Heb. 7:1-10). This argument not only de-emphasizes the cross as the fulcrum of the new covenant; it also fails to note that Abraham gave his tithe to Melchizedek
the priest (Gen. 14:8; Heb. 7:1). The tithe is part and parcel of this sacramental religious system, and as such has no place in the life of the new covenant. Nowhere does the New Testament teach that Christians are to tithe.
√ The Pastoral Salary
Nevertheless, if practitioners of the system under consideration cannot produce sound theological arguments, surely they can argue from apostolic precedent that leaders in the church are to be set apart, financially supported so that they can dedicate their energies to full-time ministry. The principle text is taken from 1 Timothy 5:17,18:
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
It is often pointed out that the Greek word for “honor,” time, can be understood as an honorarium. But that usage is rare and far removed from the time of the first century. Reference2 Furthermore, the context itself suggests another interpretation.
The word time is also used in the next chapter of 1 Timothy. There we read that Christian slaves were to “consider their masters worthy of full respect” (6:1, NIV). The word for “respect” in this verse is also time. No one extrapolates from this that slaves were to provide their masters with annual salaries; clearly “honor” or “respect” is the correct meaning. And certainly diligent leaders in the church are worthy of double respect (1 Thess. 5:12,13).
Neither does verse 18 of chapter 5 imply that elders were to be salaried. Notice carefully the structure of the argument. The elders are no more identified with the wage-earning worker than they are identified with the ox. Reference3

The point is clear: As the ox is not to be muzzled, and as the worker is to be paid, so the leader is to be given respect. This meaning is also more in keeping with verse 19, which states that accusations are not to be brought against elders without two or three witnesses. This practice is consistent with the principle that elders are to be trusted and held in high esteem.
This does not rule out all financial remuneration. The first part of the chapter calls Christians likewise to “give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need” (v. 3, NIV). Although this would primarily involve helping with chores and other forms of care, financial assistance would also be in view.
Similarly, in Galatians 6:6.

Paul writes that “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (NIV). Again, financial gifts may very well be part of that sharing. But even so, a financial bonus is a far cry from a burdensome annual salary with benefits.
But what about the Apostle Paul? Did he not write to the Corinthians that he was fully deserving of complete financial support, had he wished to claim it (1 Cor. 9:1-15)? Yes, but not as an elder in the church. The financial support that Paul deserved was the support due an apostle or itinerant evangelist. Unlike established church leaders, itinerant evangelists had to rely more heavily on the hospitality of others (cf. Luke 10:1-7). Yet Paul, himself a travelling evangelist, usually chose to forego this privilege. In Acts 20:33-35 Luke records a most telling reason for this denial. The context is Paul’s last meeting with the Ephesian pastors/elders.
“I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (NIV).
Notice this remarkable turnabout! Rather than receiving the “first fruits” of the church’s labors, the elders themselves were asked to give! Paul himself chose not to exercise his prerogative to be well compensated as an example to those who had even less business earning a living off the gospel. The doctrine of the professional elder is difficult to find in the pages of the New Testament documents.
Objections
It may be objected that the distinction described here between the apostle (1 Cor. 9) and the elder (1 Tim. 5) breaks down in 1 Corinthians 9:5 where Paul rhetorically compares himself to James and Peter, both of whom were counted as elders (cf. Acts 15; 21:18; 1 Pet. 5:1). However, it is James and Peter in their capacity as travelling evangelists that Paul has in mind, since he describes their “right to take a believing wife along with” them (NIV). James in particular appears to have been stationed in Jerusalem as a leading figure, but this would not have ruled out short-term missionary endeavors.
It may also be objected that Paul’s application of Deuteronomy 25:4 (1 Cor. 9:9), here clearly with reference to financial remuneration, should dictate Paul’s meaning when he cites it in 1 Timothy 5:18. This may indeed weaken the distinction between 1 Corinthians 9 and 1Timothy 5. However, the base principle Paul has in mind may be simply that of honor, which may or may not entail financial remuneration (certainly in 1 Cor. 9, possibly in 1 Tim. 5).
Finally, one may wish to argue that Paul’s imagery in 1 Corinthians 9:13,14 closely parallels Cyprian’s doctrine cited earlier. There Paul writes: “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (NIV). But this is an analogy which falls far short of actually applying the old covenant law, or casting some Christians in the role of “clergy” as opposed to “laity.” The analogy could well hinge on the distinction between the priests who served at the altar directly and the thousands of other priests who didn’t. Otherwise, Paul would have severely mitigated the priesthood of all believers so frequently affirmed in the New Testament. In addition, the “preaching” described here denotes the work of travelling evangelists proclaiming the gospel – not local teachers preparing polished oratories for Sunday morning services.
√Financial Giving
The New Testament supports neither the doctrine of tithing nor the doctrine of the salaried pastor. But this is not to suggest that the church ought not to give. On the contrary, the new covenant principle is that the church ought to give even more. But on what basis?
Today tithes and offerings are ritually collected in offering plates which are passed among the congregation during Sunday morning services. Often little envelopes can be found tucked into the backs of pews for the convenience of the giver. Frequently one can find a verse, like 1 Corinthians 16:2a, printed on the envelope as Scriptural justification for the practice: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income” (NIV).
What is not often realized is that this verse belongs to a very specific context. A terrible famine had racked Judea, and Paul was gathering money from the Gentile churches to assist Jewish Christians during this most difficult of times. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul urged his readers to save money ahead of time so that he could collect it on his arrival: “so that when I come no collections will have to be made” (v. 2b, NIV).
The Gentile Christians were giving money for a specific, identifiable, personal need. The money was not earmarked for mortgages or salaries, but for a pressing social crisis. In his next letter to the Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9, Paul explored in much greater detail the new covenant principles of giving. The principle is not based on percentages or ritual, but upon the premise, first, that God already owns all that we have. The Macedonian churches, for example, “gave themselves first to the Lord” (v. 5, NIV) and then, in keeping with God’s will, vied for the privilege of sharing their resources with other saints. The second principle is bound up in the first: Since we are merely stewards of God’s resources, we ought to share what we have freely, whether we can spare only two percent or whether we can afford to give fifty. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7, NIV).
In sharing our resources with others, Paul writes, we ensure greater equity among ourselves (2 Cor. 8:13-15). In this way Paul confirms the principles of giving expressed in Luke’s writings. For example, in Luke 12:33 Jesus says, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” Dismissing this teaching as impracticable, many believers regard it as culturally bound to the time of Jesus’ ministry only. Yet Luke later shows us how such difficult teachings can find practical expression: Within the community of faith. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had” (Acts 4:32, NIV).
This last passage, too, is frequently dismissed as an outdated phase of early church history. Unique conditions in the early Jerusalem church, it is argued, created the need for this temporary arrangement. Yet Luke does not describe it as such. We read in verse 33 that “much grace was upon them all,” and in verse 34 that “There were no needy persons among them” (NIV). What translations such as the NIV and the NRSV don’t tell us, however, is that there is a preposition between verses 33 and 34. (The NASV preserves the preposition, but maintains the sentence break.)

The passage should more accurately read, “much grace was upon them all, for there were no needy persons among them.” God’s grace rested upon the Jerusalem Christians because they were caring for their own.
This arrangement is no mere accident of history. It is rather one more way, Luke is telling us, in which the church is confirmed as God’s covenant community. Consider Deuteronomy 15:4,5,7,9:
“However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs” (NIV).
In sharing their resources, the early Christians nurtured a community spirit (not necessarily a “commune”) in which individual needs were met. This practice, as we have seen, was confirmed among the Pauline churches (2 Cor. 8:13-15).
To Believers Only?
But are Christians to share their resources only with one another? What about those outside the church? Just how generous should the church be?
It is true that we read most about the early Christians sharing with one another. When Paul collected money for the famine in Judea, we are not told that he was collecting money on behalf of those outside the church. In addition, we are told by some th at the church should offer spiritual bread to the world prior to offering material bread. Our calling is to preach the gospel, not to feed the poor who will always be with us (cf. John 12:8). Our resources should be saved for evangelism instead.
This approach represents a false dichotomy. Jesus came preaching not only spiritual salvation but also freedom from social oppression (cf. Luke 4:18-20). The two go hand in hand. When Jesus asked us to give to the poor, he did not specify the Christian poor only. On the contrary, Jesus told us to share without asking questions (Matt. 5:42)! He also commanded us to be all-inclusive in our love (Matt. 5:43-48). Hence our giving is not to be limited to Christians only.
In Galatians 6:10 Paul confirms this principle. He writes, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (NIV). Note that the family comes first, then those who aren’t part of the family; but the good is ultimately to be spread among all people, not believers only. As God was not tight-fisted with us, neither are we to be tight-fisted with others.
House Church Finances
The house church setting is ideal for this free exercise of financial giving. Without institutional facilities and professional clergy to support, the financial resources of house church members are freed for more pressing tasks. Without a temple or a priesthood, the tithe is unnecessary; and in the intimate setting of members’ homes, families’ needs can be more readily recognized. Both evangelism and social ministry benefit from this ideal arrangement. “On a practical note,” writes Bill Grimes, “who is best able to sponsor missionaries, an institutional church of 1000 members that is saddled with a mortgage payment, utilities, janitorial fees, building maintenance and pastoral salaries 3/4 or a network of 1000 house church people with no staff to pay nor buildings to upkeep? According to a 1989 survey of U.S. Protestant congregations, 82% of church revenues go to buildings, staff and internal programs, leaving only 18% for outreach. With house churches the percentages are reversed!” Reference4
Let us not be satisfied with tithing our resources to self-perpetuating institutions. Let us instead dedicate our full energies, and as many resources as we can manage, to the Lord and His work.