multina

A MULTINATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CHURCH

It does not matter what language is used, God’s desire is for all nations and all people to worship Him in truth and in spirit.  When we remember Pentecost, we find that while God created us in His own image, this image of God is multinational, multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual.  We read in Acts 2 how the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost in the form a violent blowing wind from heaven.  After what looked like tongues of fire rested on each of the people there, the Holy Spirit filled them up and they started speaking in various recognizable tongues. The folks there were confounded to the point that they asked in Acts 2:12, “What does this mean?”

I have heard it said, and many people believe, that the initial physical evidence of a person being baptized in the Holy Spirit, is when they speak in tongues just as it happened on the day of Pentecost.  However, I see something else here. This may also be evidence that the Church of God is intended to be multilingual and multinational.  They all could have been speaking in one tongue.  The folks gathered there could also have been of the same stock.  However, in God’s infinite wisdom, He assembled people of different ethnic background and the spirit of God descended in such a way that languages were spoken that this different stock of people could understand.

On the day of Pentecost, the Bible tells us that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enables them.”  The mere idea that different people of God spoke in different tongues alludes to the fact that the Lord Himself enabled the ability to speak these different languages.  He enabled them for His own glory.  He enabled them so we can worship Him in these tongues.  People, being who we are, we always set our own agenda.  There is always that move to worship God in one language all over the world, because we believe that is the easiest way to build God’s Church.  All over Europe, Africa, Asia etc. there is always this move to worship God in one language, English.  We tend to forget that God established His Church to be multilingual, multicultural, and multinational.  The silver lining is that the Church of God is becoming more multilingual even as the Lord Himself intended it.  Now we hear songs of different tongues in Churches where the Service has historically been monolingual.  Personally, my joy knows no bounds when I am in a Service where God is worshipped with songs in different dialects.  Today some of the fastest growing Churches are multicultural Churches.

In a multilingual Church, like Christ International Community Church (CICC), you will find that there may not be anyone who understands everything, but you will find that as different as our backgrounds are, every one of us, at least, understands some parts of our Worship.  The fact that no one person understands everything means that we rely on each other more and there is a better understanding, by everyone, of the different cultural groups present in our Church community.

People of God, let us enjoy our diversity.  This is the plan of God for us.  Let us build a Church where all languages and culture are welcome.  I have heard that if people do not understand what we are saying they will not come back. The other side of that coin is that a monocultural Church will never have the appreciation that the Church of God is much bigger than one culture or one language. God’s plan for His Church is becoming clearer daily.  At the Tower of Babel God confused the languages such that they could not understand each other, and the unity of the people was broken.  However, at Pentecost God reversed the Babel effect, by bringing unity, even in the face of different languages.  This is perfected when Jesus came and reconciled us all to God with salvation promised to both Jews and Gentiles, and the redemption He purchased for us with His blood, was for persons from every tribe, language, people, and nations (Revelations 5:10).  May His name always be praised!

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PRAISE?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PRAISE?

Google defines the word “praise” as, “to express warm approval or admiration of someone or something”.  It is synonymous with words such as acclaim, applaud, commend, acclamation, magnify, extol, celebrate, glorify, honor, and worship. My personal definition of praise is the joyful thanking and adoring of God, the celebration of His goodness, grace and mercy. Psalm 150: 6 (NLT) says “Let everything that breaths praise the Lord!” This simply implies that the act of praising is rightfully due to God alone. One Hebrew word for “praise” is yadah, meaning “praise, give thanks, or confess.” A second word often translated “praise” in the Old Testament is zamar, “sing praise.” A third word translated “praise” as halal (the root of hallelujah), meaning “to praise, honor, or commend.” All three terms contain the idea of giving thanks and honor to one who is worthy of praise.  Psalm 96:4 says “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods”. The Lord is to be magnified above anything else. His works is beyond human comprehension, and what He has done to redeem us and reconcile us to himself should cause us to praise him. 

Why is praising God important? Because scripture tells us so; His Word encourages us to praise Him.  He deserves to be praised and He is worthy of our praise. Psalm 145:3, just like 96:4, says “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!  No one can measure His greatness”.  Another

inspiring scripture is Revelations 4:11 – “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased”. God alone deserves to be praised and worshiped. He is creator, He is sovereign and has a plan and purpose for everything He has made.  Praising God is useful and favorable for the children of God.  By praising God, we are reminded of the greatness of God!  His power and presence in our lives is reinforced in our understanding.  “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant” (Psalm 135:3).

Also, praise discharges strength in faith, which causes God to move on our behalf. “You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you” (Psalm 8:2).  Praising God also transforms the spiritual environment.  2 Chronicles 5:13-14

illustrates the alteration that happened when the Levites gave praise and thanks to the Lord and the temple was filled with a cloud signifying the glory of God. “The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD…for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. God inhabits the atmosphere of praise. Psalm 22:3 says, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel” (KJV). If we want to see a clear manifestation of God’s blessing and grace, all we need to do is to praise Him with all our heart, our mind, and our soul.

Who is to praise God? “Let everything that breaths sing praises to the LORD (Psalm 150:6) When can we praise God? We can praise Him at all times (Psalm 34:1) and as long as we live (Psalm 63:3-4).  We cannot embark on the true joy and benefits of praising God unless we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. As children of God, He dwells in our bodies through the Holy Spirit.  This means that wherever we go, God is to be praised. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you…. So you must honor God with your body”.

We can praise God by singing songs and hymns, clapping our hands, even jumping for joy; the list goes on. We can give glory and praise to our God with the use of our physical bodies, with our hearts and minds, and with our deeds. By our testimonies God is praised, glorified, exalted and worshipped. No matter how we praise and worship God, it should result in an awe of His power and love. As we continually focus on Him in praise and prayer, He begins to reveal himself to us in new ways. Through those lessons and revelations somehow, our lives are changed and we are transformed to serve.

Award

THE REWARD OF SERVICE

In Mark 10:45, Jesus said that “He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. He is our example, so we are called to serve, and not to grab. While service is a self-choice, and a voluntary action, duty or labor is what we are told to do for wages, salaries and other forms of compensations. To serve simply means, to render help to others without an expectation or kickback.

In the worldly system, rewards are either in cash or in kind which is material and temporal. Whereas in Gods’ kingdom, rewards are spiritual, they are permanent, they are heavenly, and they are eternal. Earthly rewards are temporal and perishable, while God’s reward for service are His promises, His blessings, His crowns, and heavenly mansions filled with gold, diamonds, and many precious stones and minerals. Rewards for service are offered to us based on faithful services rendered with humility, and from a pure heart. So, services from a humble and a pure heart, attracts God’s reward. Apostle Paul called himself a servant of God or a bond-slave. That is a sign of humility, and humility brings promotion and honor (Proverbs 15:33).

Here are some reasons to serve –

When we serve, we are saying that God is greater than us. Secondly, when we serve, we are saying that we are part of creation. When we serve, we are sharing our God-given gifts and when we serve, it means we value other people. Our services on earth are towards God and mankind, therefore, we expect reward from both God and mankind. Man can be unappreciative, but God is never ungrateful he never fails (Heb. 6:10). He is our reward, and our rewarder. He is our righteous judge, faithful to His promises, and our exceedingly great reward. His promises are His rewards, and they are up to 8,000 of them in the Bible, including those in Deut. 28:1-13. A particular one of joy is in Rev. 22:5. No more light bills, Jesus will provide for us free light.

Eternal rewards: On top of these promises and temporal benefits are eternal rewards which are the crowns set aside for God’s servants and children. There are five crowns recorded in the New Testament. To be in heaven, to be received by God and to receive that commendation, “well done good and faithful servant” is enough to motivate us to serve. Most of the rewards are to be received in heaven when we appear at the judgment seat of God. Nothing can compare to the glory of heaven. We have an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9: 24-27) for those who run the race to the end, the crown of exultation for soul winners (1 Thes. 2:19-20), Crown of Righteousness (2 Tim. 4:7-8), Crown of Life (James 1:12), and Crown of glory for pastors (1 Pet. 5:1-4). We shall wear these crowns if we serve well. So, let us serve remembering the fact that Jesus said that “He is coming back again, and his reward is with Him.

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IS YOUR HEART WILLING?

Many times, we find ourselves in positions where we have to do things that we are not really interested in.  It happens more often amongst the people of God.  The Church needs to set up a committee and a leader is needed, then you find no one wants to be the leader.  Somehow someone reluctantly takes the challenge while deep down inside they are not interested.  Quite often you find that it will take a special grace of God for the task to be accomplished successfully.  Why?  Because there was no willing heart to get the task done.  Our lives are full of many unpleasant responsibilities.  In our call to be of service to God, we find that this call requires that our heart be in the right place.  The call on our lives requires that our hearts be willing to serve the Lord.  Is your heart willing?

God loves a heart that is willing to do His will.  In Exodus 35, Moses relayed God’s commands about the construction of the tabernacle to the people of Israel. In giving the commands, God also gave several details about how the tabernacle should be built.  God directed that the Tabernacle should be built by the people from the beginning to the end.  He even told them when they should work on the Tabernacle and when they cannot.  One very important aspect of the instructions that was given by God to the people of Israel was that the work that will be done on the Tabernacle must be the work of only “willing” people.  “Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it…” – Exodus 35:5a (KJV).  This requirement established for God’s people a basic and fundamental truth. More than anything else, God wants our hearts.  When it comes to the things of God, many of us are on auto.  We just do things devoid of emotion, without our hearts in it.  However, our God Is not satisfied with mechanical actions; all of our actions must be accompanied by our heart.  He wants a relationship first before anything else we might want to do. 

The question is worth asking: Why do we do what we do? Are we doing what God expects of us?  Are we doing what pleases God?  And if we are doing what God expects, are we doing it with a willing heart? Many times, in our lives our base instincts take over and we do not conform with God’s expectations of us. We do not follow God’s will for us, and when we do, it is often with the wrong motive. God loves to use a willing heart to accomplish His purpose.  But God made us and knows our short comings, so many times He is willing to also come to our aid to help put our hearts in the right place.  When hearts are not right, He changes our hearts. I know God can change hearts. So, I look unto Him to help me with my heart and make it more willing to do His will.  We need to always go to God and ask Him to help us with our hearts just like David did in Psalm 51:10 (KJV): “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”. 

God knowing that His wayward people do not have their hearts in the right place and have not the willing heart to do God’s will, reminded them in Ezekiel 36:26 about His desire and ability to do His work: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”  He knows where we are, and He is willing to meet us there.  Even where we do not have the abilities to do what we need to do, when our hearts are willing God will take care of the rest.  He did this for Moses and gave him abilities he never thought he possessed. 

God has blessed us with different abilities and so there may be times when you feel you are not up to the task because the task requires abilities you do not possess.  Because of this we do nothing.  God does not want us to do nothing.  All He needs is for your heart to be willing, He will make a way.  So, I urge you people of God, set your eyes on the Lord.  Make yourself available for His use.  Is your heart willing?  That is all you need. He can take care of the rest, “for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”.