GOD IS HERE

As Solomon dedicated the temple, in 2 Chronicles 6, he realized that this tremendous accomplishment of great beauty was far too insignificant and small to house the Creator of the universe. But, God chose to dwell with mortals. That is what the life of our Lord Jesus is about (John 1:11-18). God is awesome and beyond description, far too holy to be expected to associate with flawed human beings. As God, however, He has chosen to love us and come and live with us so we can return to Him and share in His glory.

The greatness of our God is beyond pantheism which states that God is equal to anything and everything. All things that exist are part of one reality – God. There is no distinction between God and His creation. This is not the biblical idea of God. The god of pantheism is impersonal while the God of scripture is the Personal Creator. According to scripture, God created the universe. It had no existence before He created it (Genesis 1:1-3). Therefore the universe is not part of His nature. He existed before there was a universe. Pantheism confuses the creature with the Creator. It makes everything god and misses the God of everything.

As Jesus was setting about to call His disciples, He came across Philip and asked him to follow along. Philip then went to find Nathaniel. Now, when Philip found Nathaniel he was sitting under a tree. Philip convinces Nathaniel to come meet Jesus. As Nathaniel approaches, Jesus greets him as an Israelite who was not at all deceitful. Apparently Nathaniel prided himself on his honesty. He asked Jesus how He knew him. Jesus tells Nathaniel that He saw him under the tree before Philip asked him to come. There must have been a long distance from where Jesus was to that tree because it impressed Nathaniel that Jesus had seen him.

Jesus Christ is 100% human, which means that the physical part of Jesus, the body, was restricted here on earth. But He is also 100% God, which means He is unrestricted spirit. When Jesus attends a meeting it is as an active participant with those who are there. He is listening to their prayers, and acting on them. Jesus hears the praise given to God and soaks it in. He touches hearts, minds and lives as the people worship in His name. An immense God could have part of Himself present, but an omniscient God has all of Himself consciously present at each and every meeting all over the earth.

USING WORDS WISELY

My friends at school used to wonder why I dozed off in front of movies like Spiderman which they loved most but remained alert for long hours when reading such books as, What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey, Runner by Thomas Perry and Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson. The excitement I get from reading a book far outweighs any other form of entertainment. Whenever I pick up a newspaper, I’m quickly drawn to the word puzzle section where I try to solve the cross words. I don’t always get everything right but I enjoy what I do.

The humour in Pastor Stuart Briscoe’s writings further encourages me not only to read but also to write stories that I feel can be helpful to others. I love stories that build people up and help us see our need to depend upon God for guidance throughout life. I have also read stories in which bad things happen to people but I tend to interpret them in the light of the word of God. I discover that if only the characters in the story had faith in Christ, they would not aid and abet evil.

I now enjoy writing for Christian magazines such as Devozine and blogging, and I believe the message of hope and security in the Lord Jesus that I share reaches many across the world. The written word has the ability to not only transform people’s lives but also to preserve memories and values that prove beneficial to many through the years. I find it easier to refer to the written word than other forms of art. I realize that good words spoken or written will keep ringing in people’s minds as they go about their usual activities. I have also discovered that sharing the written word is more cost effective as compared to film, for instance.

Currently, I reach people quickly through social media like twitter by sharing summarized truth in just a few characters. Many can now be made aware of health and social issues around them through text messages and be able to prevent negative outcome that could have arisen through delayed information.

LOVING LIFE

 

Life is a blessing from God. We naturally want to live longer and dread extinction of life. We should, however, be prepared to resign it when God commands.

Have you ever given a serious thought to the reason for desiring to live in this world? Well, there are various reasons. First, it is a gift from God and we instinctively shrink back from death, as one of the greatest evils, we tremble at the thought of annihilation. Secondly, we need to see the works of God and survey the wonders of His hand on earth. The world if full of wonders that express the goodness of God and the longer we live, the deeper our study of nature will go. Thirdly, it is an opportunity to prepare ourselves for eternity. A long life enables us to bring the subject of eternity to severe test and determine whether or not we will inherit it. Fourthly, it gives us an opportunity to do well to others and bring them the gospel. In the next world, we shall not be permitted to pray for our impenitent loved ones. This can only be done in the present world.

We should, therefore, constantly pray that if it be God’s will, we may not be cut down in the midst of our lives. We need to lead upright and pious lives and keep seeking the good of all people. Avoid leading others astray either politically or religiously through false teaching as is the manner of some today.

CHANGING FROM INSIDE

Change is vital for growth but naturally we all resist change and give a lot of excuses for doing so. We tend to feel it won’t work or that whatever change has been proposed is already in place. Sometimes we claim it has been tried without success.

Other times we think it is not practical and might not just solve the problems we have. We feel it is too risky and might antagonize our friends and acquaintances. This resistance is present in all aspects of our lives – business, family, relationships and even in the spiritual realm.

As believers in Christ, we have been called to witness. It is the best way to bring about change in the world. Our Lord Jesus decreed it, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” – (Acts 1:8).

We will find it much easier to be a witness if our spiritual renewal is progressing. Once we stop changing, we really stop living. We cannot be effective carriers of any message unless we are actively carrying out the principles embodied in the message ourselves. If we fail to carry the message to others, then we will lose ground in our process of growth.

Change and repentance are partners and repentance is a way of life. The repentance that God desires is not just contrition over particular sins; it is also a daily attitude, a perspective. It is the process by which we see ourselves, day by day, as we really are: sinful, needy, dependent people. It is the process by which we see God as He is: Awesome, Majestic, and Holy. This radically alters our perspective that we begin to see the world through God’s eyes, not our own. Repentance, therefore, is the ultimate surrender of the self.

OUT OF COMFORT

I believe I have been called by God to serve Him. The Lord promises to guide and protect me but somehow I look at the cost of serving and feel like backing off. He tells me in His word to detach my self from the many things I have acquired and serve Him. I find this difficult to do.

I realized that to serve the Lord, I have to stop leaning on the side of the comforts that come with faith in Christ and just allow Him to use me in whatever situation He wants. I have also discovered that there are times when He calls me to serve Him in very unfamiliar circumstances that require lots of courage which can only be provided by Him alone.

When I got involved in youth leadership of the church a few years ago, my main focus in terms of social responsibility was environmental conservation. I observed that many people had cut down trees for charcoal and no one seemed to heed the local authority’s call to plant more trees. I mobilized the group and we planted several trees around the church and even in our own homes.

Lately, we have been hit with economic hardship due to the failure of crops to fetch good market prices that can enable people to live decently. This has driven a number of teenagers from their homes to start fending for themselves. Many look for menial jobs in farms where they can make a few coins for their survival. School is no longer priority and hopelessness is spread all over their faces. I am currently involved with the youth in church to ensure that the trend does not get out of hand. Even though I cannot promise every young person decent living, I support the group by conducting sessions in which they learn to say “No to Child Labor.” I encourage them to stay in school and acquire knowledge rather than spoil their lives by going to the farms to make quick money that is not beneficial to them in the long run.

Generally, we teach young people not to drink or smoke but we realize that many experiment with cigarettes in their teenage years. Our advice as a youth group is that they learn to share their concerns with stable youth and teachers in order to find help and stay away from smoking or doing others drugs. We encourage those who have recovered from drugs to tell those who are yet to start never to do it and those in the habit, that it can be overcome and one can lead a normal life together with non smokers.

LIVING IN THE FLESH?

The Lord our God commands us to abstain from fleshly lusts, i.e., the cravings that are categorized by our depravity, yet we know that these lusts cannot be regulated by authority. Whatever is happening inside the heart must be dealt with internally.

Most of the passions of the flesh, such as sexual deviance, are universal. There is an army of terrorists that keeps fighting in our souls and this fight is never fair. It doesn’t come from outside but inside of our souls. For some people it looks like the desire to be recognized, for others it looks like having my own way – I’ll do what is necessary to secure my own way. For some it is the feeling of approval, for others it is the desire to excel to the point where there is no consuming. We are all in this. This does not only apply to those who have problems with recreational drugs, alcohol or drunkenness. The raging war goes on in everyone’s soul.

Nations have wars to do two things: kill people and destroy property. And the passions which wage against our souls are doing the same thing as well. They are aimed at killing us. These passions intend to enslave us so much that at the slightest provocation they will come in and dominate every situation. The passions deepen the spirit of disobedience against God. Our appropriate response therefore should be to pull ourselves back away from these lusts. We should not give in to the battle.

Matthew Henry puts it quite right in his commentary: “The grand mischief that sin does to men is that it wars against the soul. It destroys the moral liberty of the soul. It weakens and debilitates the soul by impairing its faculties. It robs the soul of its comfort and peace. It debases and destroys the dignity of the soul and it hinders its present prosperity and plunges the soul into everlasting misery.”

We should therefore learn that we are not to embrace the standard and customs of the world in which we live in temporarily, because the standards and customs of the kingdom of heaven where we are destined are far superior and thus able to satisfy our souls.

SOCIAL MEDIA

In the currently charged political atmosphere, many have turned to social media to patronize their preferred candidates and openly flout messages from their perceived opponents. I choose to remain non partisan because I believe there is something far more wonderful than political rhetoric. I got into it some time back and want to maintain it.

I got interested in communicating through the internet in the year 2000 but it took me quite a while before I could open an account on social media. I felt the email address was all I needed to facilitate communication with my friends abroad. I found what fellow young people were doing on facebook to be frivolous. I did not understand that technology can also be used for good.

My knowledge and enthusiasm in the word of God grew all the time and I felt the urge to share it not only with close friends but also with whoever would care to listen. One of my friends told me that I would make many more friends on social media. This piece of advice moved me to open a facebook account and I actually found lots of followers both in and out of the country. Some of them were not even Christians and would often post derogatory messages and pictures but I discovered that it was a great opportunity to share the gospel.

I had been taught in church that the Good News is not something to keep quiet about. I therefore found facebook, to begin with, to be the best platform for sharing the Word with others. I realized that just like the world uses social media to impress its strange teachings on others, I too had to compete with it to gain the attention of fellow youth. I understood that our God is the God of this digital age and He uses technology to further His kingdom. There was no need to be afraid of it.

In sharing the word, I have discovered that the use of pictures that portray the context of a text speaks loudly and clearly to the readers than mere words. I get more followers and likes on social media when I share pictures such as the attached ones above.

As I share these pictures, many respond by sharing more photos about what they do as believers either in Children’s Homes or in the church. I have also attracted serious believers in Christ from other countries and have access to good Christian materials from which I acquire information that enables me to lead bible study. My friends on social media now realize that if we have to keep communicating, then we must be exchanging messages that will build us up spiritually and counter the destructive messages that some fancy on social media. In so doing, we are actively involved in the vineyard of the Lord without being part of the ordained ministers.

HANDLING TROUBLE

We all go through trouble in life. People respond differently to it. There are Christians who hold the view that insufficient faith causes the troubles whilst others think that our sins are the cause of the troubles. How then should we look at afflictions in a believer’s life?

The proper attitude should not be one of resentment, as if they ought not to happen to us; still less with embarrassment, as if they are some slur on our Christian spirituality. Trouble, Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, is a part of our normal Christian experience, binding God’s people together in mutual dependence and concern, generating ministries of encouragement and consolation among us. It is how God links us with the very experience of Jesus Himself. We have the huge privilege as the people of the Messiah to participate in His tribulations that bring in His kingdom. And (perhaps most encouraging of all) troubles in a Christian’s life have a purpose for the life of the people of God generally, a purpose in our lives individually, and a purpose that will even enrich the life of heaven through multiplying the prayer and the gratitude which surround the throne of God. That is why James is right when he says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials (James 1:2).

The apostle Paul wants us to realize that leadership did not elevate him into some kind of elite, where weakness and failure are unknown. Being an apostle led Paul into greater depths of self doubt, greater and more humiliating awareness of his own inadequacy than he would ever have believed possible.

LET’S CELEBRATE

We are currently witnessing political shenanigans at every turn of the newswires and it appears like we have become so mesmerized by the innuendoes that we think that’s  all there is to know. We are almost forgetting what makes life real.

It is Easter and we had better learn what it’s all about. The essence of Easter is the celebration Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead!

He is not here: for He is risen, as He said.  Matthew 28:6

Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ so important? It is the basis upon which all hope rests for those who trust in Jesus Christ. This is the absolute truth that everyone needs to believe to be certain of forgiveness of sin and eternal life:
But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. I Corinthians 15:13-19
Throughout all of time, God promised His people that He would send a Redeemer. Job, a man who lived more than two thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ said:
For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. Job 19:25
Jesus Christ did appear in the latter days as Redeemer and Saviour of His people when He was born to Mary in Bethlehem. He came to prove to everyone, especially those who trust in Him, that He paid for our sins.

God Himself, the Creator of all things (Colossians 1:16), came to earth as a man to show that He laid down His life and was resurrected. Our safety is found in believing and acting upon this message.

ENCOURAGEMENT

I attended baptism class with a friend who later dropped out of high school due to lack of fees. His uncle offered to take him for vocational training but he refused and joined a group of unruly youth in the village. The group was known for throwing stones at moving vehicles and mugging other unsuspecting teenagers.

Joseph had been quite humble while we attended Sunday school and had shown great enthusiasm for church matters. He sung in the children’s choir and was good at reciting scripture texts such as Psalm 23. When I learnt of his wayward behaviour, I knelt down and prayed that God would strength me to face him at his parents place and talk to him. I took a few hours one weekend and went to see him. Joseph had truly changed. He was not the quiet and gentle boy I sung and worshipped with in Sunday school. He appeared disinterested in spiritual issues.

I had the opportunity to pray with him and his parents and went on to talk with him more about prayer and reading of the Bible. I told him that our God is able to give peace and direction in the many difficulties we face in life. I also encouraged him not to lose the chance he had been offered for vocational training. He would acquire necessary skills that would enable him earn a living even if he had not made it through high school. I also told him not to neglect prayer because that is what gives us the strength to follow what the Bible teaches us.

Joseph wondered whether the church would welcome him back but I told him that all of us in church are sinners. Our hope is only in Christ. We believe that He forgave all our sins – past, present and future. That is what enables us to move on in our spiritual lives. We have learnt to confess our sins and faults and trust in His mercy.