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Take Heart!

As followers of Christ, there are many things that distinguish us from non-believers.  Our definition of love, our reliance on God, our unfaltering hope even in the worst of situations, our faith that ultimately, all will end well. But being a Christian doesn't shield us from having problems in life.  Like all humans living in a fallen world, we will have our fair share of hardships and sorrows.  And yet, even in this regard we have something that distinguishes us from everyone else: that the peace of Christ will be with us, even in the midst of our most difficult moments.  In John 16:33, Jesus says, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."
Jesus doesn't promise us that we won't have problems if we believe in him.  He doesn't promise us that our circumstances will always be perfect. But he does promise us that his peace will accompany us even in the valleys of our life.  

Are you facing a difficulty at this moment?  Don't be discouraged and don't despair!  Give it all to our Lord, who is ready to take all of your problems and give you his peace instead.  Pray:  Dear Father in Heaven, you promised that you are strongest when I am weak. You have promised to give me peace in the midst of the storm.  Please give me the wisdom to understand that your plans for me are good, and the peace in knowing that you will fight all the battles before me. Whenever worry and restlessness creep into my soul, please let me seek your comfort and peace. In Jesus' holy name I pray.  Amen.

Honoring Christ's Ambassadors in Tanzania

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Be Guided By The Spirit!

On May 30 we marked the day that Jesus ascended into Heaven, forty days after his resurrection. But God, in all his goodness, did not leave us here on Earth alone. This coming Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, when he sent his holy spirit to live within us, to guide us, to give us joy, to comfort us in all our sorrows, and to shape us into true followers of Christ. So how can be feel the holy spirit in our lives and let it guide our decisions and our relationships?
  • Take time every day to pray to Jesus to fill you with his spirit.  "Lord Jesus, you promised that you would always live within me and mold me into your image. Please empower me today with your spirit, and let it guide me in all my emotions and decisions. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."
  • Study and memorize the following Bible verse from Galatians 5:22: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Ask yourself at the end of each day whether your felt these gifts within yourself and in your interactions with others. As humans, we often fall short of these virtues, which is why we must continually ask God to to lead us through the spirit in developing these fruits.
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Happy Easter!

Unpack God's Endless Mercy and Power

This Sunday is the start of what Jesus followers call holy week.  It is full of events that have been proven to be historically accurate and that are incredibly rich in meaning.  Let's take a look at some occurrences in this week and try to unpack the profound lessons that each event holds:

Palm Sunday: Crowds cheer and wave palm branches as Jesus enters Jerusalem riding a donkey.  They lay their palm branches and cloaks across the road for him to ride on.  They shout "Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven" (Matthew 21:9).  Hosanna isa Hebrew expression meaning "Save!"  
  • The palm branches are symbolic of the victory over death.  Jesus knew that he would soon be crucified, but that he would rise again and defeat death. As followers of Jesus, we too can shed our fear of death and look forward to eternal bliss with God!  "O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?" 1 Corinthians 15:55
  • Jesus rode a donkey to remind us that he is the Prince of Peace.  Even though he is King, he humbled himself and entered the city on a donkey, to symbolize his peaceful intentions.  When we accept Jesus in our lives, we are recipients of this incredible gift of peace.
  • The same crowds that shouted praise on Palm Sunday turned around and shouted "Crucify him!" on Good Friday. What can we take away from this? As humans, we can often be fickle, unreliable, and imperfect. Instead of waiting on the approval of others, which you may or may not receive, know that you have the approval of the only one that matters, that of your father in heaven. 
Wednesday: Judas accepts the bribe to betray Jesus. "What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.  From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over." Matthew 26:15-16
  • Throughout Jesus' ministry, he reminded us that we will all encounter plenty of troubles and difficulties in this life, regardless of whether we are Christians or not. Can you imagine how heartbroken he must have been, to find out that one of his closest friends betrayed him for only a few pieces of silver?  And yet, Judas was only a part of God's plan to deliver us! In the end, God himself allowed the betrayal because he knew how to bring good out of it.  In difficult moments, we should always remember that God is still on the throne.  
  • When we follow Jesus, we know that even in our most trying moments, we have a comforter who will hold us in the palm of his hands and make sure that good comes out of our darkest trials:  "In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called to his purpose" Romans 8:28 
Maundy Thursday: Jesus eats the Last Supper with his disciplines. He washes their feet.
  • Jesus' last meal was the Passover celebration with his disciples, in which he reminds us of his great sacrifice to atone for our sins. Through his death, we find new life and a reconciled relationship to God. "In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you" Luke 22:21.  
  • During the last supper, Jesus got up and began to wash the feet of his disciples, the way a servant would in those days. He humbled himself before his friends, thereby teaching us the principle of service and selflessness. Like Jesus, we should always remember to perform small acts of service and kindness for those around us, and we should never be too proud to perform tasks that may help others, whether in church, in our social circles, or in our wider communities.
  • Jesus goes on to give his New Commandment to us:  "Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" John 13:34-35.  Are you following the new commandment to love others the way that Jesus loved us?
Good Friday: Jesus is crucified
  • Before his crucifixion, Jesus goes through torturous treatment.  He is falsely accused, mocked, forced to wear a crown of thorns, humiliated,  and beaten. In going through such unspeakable trials himself, we can rest assured that we serve a God who truly understands all of our troubles, as he has experienced them all himself.  
  • The crucifixion of Jesus is an undeniable demonstration of God's love for us. He allowed his own Son to go through unimaginable pain, so that he can cleanse us of our sins and save us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16.
Easter Sunday:  He is Risen!
  • Jesus is resurrected on the third day of his death, as he predicted during the Last Supper.  When Mary and Mary Magdalene go to see his tomb, they see the stone rolled away, with an angel sitting on it, who says to them,  "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he is risen, as he said" Matthew 28:5-7. What privilege we have as followers of Jesus, to be resurrected with him spiritually so that we can walk in a new way of life!  We are forgiven for our sins, and we are justified before God.  That is the great news! "According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" 1 Peter 1:3-4.

"Thank you for your incredible service.  I never had a chance to study for an academic degree when I was younger, and I always felt that this held me back in life.  This has finally leveled the playing field for me, and now I can hold my head up a little higher as I introduce myself as an honorary doctor.  Thanks again." 

-- Andrew M. Abel,

Dr. h.c. of Religious Economics (Brisbane, Australia)

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