Category Archives: Inspiration

Making a Difference in an Ungodly Generation

 ungodly

As we live in the world we are reminded that this is not our home. We are children of light in a dark world (Eph. 5:8).

What does the Bible teach us concerning the world?

  • It is fallen and with fallen people; far from God; and full of evil.
  • It has values/ways of this world are opposed to the kingdom values.
  • We are in this world but not of this world (Jn. 17:14-16).
  • Satan is the prince of this the rule of this world (Jn. 12:31; Eph. 2:2)
  • Its structures are against godly values
  • The world is passing away
  • It not the ideal place…
  • The truth is, we can influence the world or still it can influence us….

In this world, people have become:

  • Disobedient; drifting from truth
  • Lovers of themselves and pleasure, and not lovers of God
  • Immoral- degeneration of morality; empty
  • Biblically illiterate
  • Materialistic- pursuing money as the ultimate goal
  • Selfish and do not think of others or God

As a matter of fact, it is very easy to live, talk, and think according to the patterns of the world or according to the ways of the people who are of the world are; especially if we often interact with them more than God’s Word.

So how can we live in such a world as and remain Christ followers? In other words, how can we shine our light in a dark world? How can we live godly lives in the present evil age?

Paul in his letter to Ephesians 5:15—20 and Titus 2:1–14, helps us to practically address this question:

  • Be Careful How You Live (v.15)

By being wise, watchful, discerning/cautious to avoid danger.

Watchful of our belief and conduct. Christians should be wise people.

Being cautious that the waters we are swimming have crocodiles, the path we are walking have mines and thorns.

Be careful not to lean of your own understanding- Prov. 3:5

Be careful if we think we are firmly standing, 1 Cor. 10:12.

Once again, be careful not to fall into the deception of the enemy…

Living not as unwise but as wise– Bible exhorts us to be wise. Wisdom can be attained through asking (Jas. 1:5); through read and applying God’s word (2 Tim 3:14,15).

The word of God is able to guide you, build you up, make you wise, make you grow, cleanse you and shape your character and attitudes. At its base, wisdom is the fear of God (Prov. 9:10).

Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil (Rom 16:19).

Be watchful and wise about the company you keep (2 Cor 6:17).

  • Making the Most of Every Opportunity (V.16)

Time and chance happens to all (Eccl 9:11)

Opportunities are seized. Grab every opportunity to grow, know Christ.

Make use of time and opportunities to be a blessing, to touch lives, to participate in big things, to serve God, to improve your present situation….

Why? Life is short (Ps. 90:12); and the days are evil (present times are full of temptations, evil people).

Be like the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1 Chron. 12:32).

  • Understand the Lord’s Will (V.17)

God created us for a special purpose; but we need to discover/seek to understand and APPLY that purpose for our OWN lives.

The will of God is revealed in His Word. It is the will of God that you should be sober, holy, and steadfast.

It is the will of God that you submit to the Lordship of Christ. It is the will of God that you should be committed in the church. We seek to know and accomplish what pleases Him.

It has never been easy thing to be a true Christian in any generation…

What does God want you to be if you live to be 80?

  • Be Filled With the Holy Spirit (V.18)– Have the God-influence over your life, by allowing God’s Spirit to indwell, control, and transform you. “Drunk” with the Spirit.

The Spirit of God enables us to receive strength, overcome evil forces of the enemy (Ep 6:10-18;) overcome sin (Rom 8:13). Overcome flesh (Gal. 5:16, overcome the word (1 Jn. 5:4).

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit the fruit of the spirit will be manifest.

  • Be Joyful and be Thankful (V.19-20)

One of the characteristic of people of the world is that they are both ungrateful and have no true joy.

Encourage one another; speaking to each other, enjoying the fellowship of one another and praising God.

Be thankful to God for all things or all persons- including your family, situations… Acknowledge God, the one who has graciously gifted you with unmerited favors. A grateful and joyful heart makes a lot of difference.

 

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Justification by Faith and its Blessings -Romans 4-5

 

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The example of the life and ministry of apostle Paul challenges us greatly on becoming zealous for the Lord. Before his encounter with Christ, he was a fierce persecutor of the church; a zealot who was determined to destroy any perceived aggression against Judaism, the faith of his ancestors. But the Damascus road experience radically changed his life and purpose once and for all. Significantly, his conversion made him realize that he was blind, ignorant, and wrong. He came into terms with the fact that his zeal was devoid of knowledge and truth.

As was the case, he had been fighting truth all along; but in the words of St. Augustine, he realized that truth is not an abstract concept but a Person. In the past Paul was zealous to bring death to those who threatened the integrity of the Judaism. But God delivered him from that kind of a zeal and gave him a new zeal of bringing life to those who are living in sin. Upon conversion, Paul became even exceedingly zealous for the Lord and for the gospel truth. He endeavored to preach the gospel where it has not been preached. He became passionate about the things that God is passionate about, like bringing salvation to all men. He became passionate about knowing the truth and letting others know and experience freedom in Jesus.

In chapter 1-3 of Romans Paul highlights the depraved human condition and God’s initiative in bringing about salvation. The pagan Gentiles, moralists, self-confident Jewish people and all humanity is guilty and stands condemned before God, the righteous Judge. He admits, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Rom. 3:10). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

BUT NOW, he says “a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known… this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom. 3:21-22).

In chapter 4 and 5, Paul explains justification by faith as the form of righteousness that God has revealed apart from the law. Justification is a forensic term that means to be “declared righteous.” Were people saved in the OT based on keeping the law or through sacrifices they offered? Paul, in chapter 4, establishes the fact that that justification has all along been purely by faith. God has not changed the way he saves! He uses Abraham and David to correct/illustrate justification by faith in the past.

I. Justification by faith –How Abraham was saved?

A. Abraham was not justified by works (4:1-8)- Otherwise justification by works would have made him boast; but “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” A quote from Genesis 15: 6. David commends this righteousness that is apart from the law.

B. Abraham was not justified by rites or rituals (4:9-12)– His justification occurred about 13yrs before circumcision. So, the circumcision was only a seal of Abraham being declared righteous because of his faith.

C. Abraham was not justified by law (4:13-17)- His justification preceded the law by about four centuries.

D. Abraham was justified by Faith (18-22)– “Against all hope” Abraham believed. He exercised faith on God’s promises even when situation looked unpromising. He was a pagan/Gentile who believed in God (others: Rahab, Ruth, …) and was justified by faith. By implication, Jews and Gentiles are all spiritual children of Abraham. There is one salvation for all humanity- Jews and Gentiles.

Those who come to Christ by faith, even today, are declared righteous. Justification is not earned but is a gift from God. Believing in God today can also change your life… The Lord never turn away a repentant sinner.

Chapter 5 highlights the benefits/blessings of our status as justified persons in the sight of God. Being declared righteous is an incredible blessing that we enjoy here and now.

II. Blessings of Justification (5:1-11) –Since we have been justified,we have:

  1. Peace (v1-2a)- “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” A Greek variant reading of some credible manuscripts have the subjunctive form of the indicative verb ἔχομεν; which can be rendered “let us have peace” (subjunctive). But the context supports ‘we have peace’.

 Formerly, believers were enemies with God because of sin and rebellion (Rom. 5:10, 8:7). Perhaps being an enemy with men can be treated as a nonissue; but being an enemy of God, the might Warrior, is a big problem. Previously, hostility and alienation characterized this relationship.

But now, because of the reconciling work of Christ on the cross, believers have peace with God. We have peace with God because our sins have been forgiven and our guilt removed. We’re no longer objects of God’s wrath that is to be revealed upon the ungodly. We are sons of God, restored and redeemed.

The Greek word for peace eirene is shallow in meaning (it expresses absence/cessation of war) but the Hebrew concept of shalom is more profound in meaning, “well-being including social harmony, communal well-doing. God’s peace brings to our hearts some inner sense of security and serenity (Isa. 32:17-8).

Do you have this peace? If not what has robbed your precious peace with God? Remember, Jesus is our peace (Eph. 2:14, 15, 17), and He gives peace to his loved ones (Num. 6:26) … ask him….

Peace is God’s gift even amidst cares and sorrows, the “peace of God” (Phil. 4:7). People who search for peace never find it until they find fulfillment in God.  For those who posses it, it is our duty to keep having peace with God.

Importantly, having peace with God also brings with it the access into grace (v.2a)- Through Jesus we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. We have received favor and acceptance. Believers experience the richness of his grace; the abounding grace, that is new every morning.

2. Joy (v.2b)- We rejoice (or boast) in the hope of glory of God (v.2b.). A Greek variant also has “let us rejoice” (indicative and subjunctive). He is the “hope of glory.”

The glory of God is the end for which he created mankind. We rejoice that our sins have been forgiven. We rejoice even when the circumstances around us does not allow. Our God-given inner joy does not depend on happenings. This joy delights in the fact that God is at work in and through us. Outwardly, things may not look good, but we should rejoice in Christ always. Because we know that something good will eventually come out. Let not concerns of our lives rob us the God-given joy.

3. Hope (3a-5a)– We rejoice in our suffering because suffering produces perseverance-character-hope (a hope that does not disappoint/put one to shame). Paul knows that suffering is something we must deal with in life. Suffering is inevitable because we are in an evil world, with evil people, Satan, and with evil nature. This is enough to cause us trouble.

Jesus warned, “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” (Jn. 16:33). The apostles knew, “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

In suffering, we are supposed to be joyful, hopeful, and determined. Suffering refines or strengthens our faith; it shapes our character to produce hope. God uses suffering to build our lives, he can turn evil intended against us for our own good. Suffering is not our destination but a temporary valley we go through.  So, the testing of your faith should not destroy your zeal for the Lord rather strengthen it.

Working or studying in AIU may be an opportunity to serve/make a living or further intellectual pursuits respectively. But remember that it is also an opportunity for God to refine your faith and test its genuineness. How do we respond to these moments? God is achieving in us something of greater worth…our character is developed, and our hope grounded more.

Is hope alive in you today? In a hopeless world it is easy to maintain hope. There is hope even when hope is lost because God promises to give us hope (Jer. 29:11).

4. Love (5b-11)– God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

God showed his love to us “at just the right time”- at the fullness of time. This love was lavished upon us when we were weak/powerless, ungodly, and enemies. This love was demonstrated in the death of Christ for sinners; and in adopting us to be sons in his family. (see also Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 3:1-2; 1 Jn. 4:16). This is a love that embraces unconditionally (1 Cor. 13).

He loved us so that we can proclaim this love to others.

Finally, God’s salvation has always been purely through justification by faith. This is the same salvation message to all humanity. The new status of believers as justified not only brings with it some blessings but also some implication of living a godly life in anticipation of God’s final verdict and deliverance from the wrath of God on the day of judgment. #Baraka

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The Lord will Fight for You…

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In several instances the Bible presents Yahweh as Warrior; a mighty Warrior who’s strong in battle. He wages his own wars and wins.

In life we are faced with many battles. As a matter of fact, spiritual warfare is one of the inevitable battles we must face and win because our union with Christ gives us power, strength, and victory.

Few weeks into the wilderness, during the exodus from Egypt, the nation of Israel found themselves trapped between an enemy behind them and a mass of water (Red Sea) before them.

Related, read One more night with the frogs

They had heeded the call of God through Moses to journey to the Promised Land. In a great way, God had demonstrated his power against the powers of Pharaoh and his gods.

But now God’s chosen people were in for a new colossal challenge. With their enemies advancing quickly in pursuit of them, their options to escape and life were dwindling by seconds! It was a real defining moment!

The only available option was to either to surrender to Pharaoh’s might and be slaves forever or fight a losing fight and die.

But Moses provided the third option. He brought in the God-perspective; a perspective that the people were blind to.

Moses knew something about God’s power and presence. He knew God is a miracle worker, a way-maker and performs the impossible. He knew that God presence means victory. He knew that God is a sure and near help to everyone who calls on Him.

These thoughts (though written years later) must have been going through the mind of Moses:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea– (Ps. 46:1-2).

And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me–               (Ps. 50:15).

A horse is prepared for battle but victory belongs to the Lord (Prov. 21:31).

He therefore courageously told the complaining and terrified crowd, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on” (Ex. 14:13-15).

This situation also speaks to our situations today…

Four Principles to help/assure us in times of need:

  1. Fear Not (vv. 13)

For sure, fear had crippled the Israelites when the saw the Egyptian army pursuing them. Behind them was an enemy, in front of them was a great sea. The only option, which Moses refocused them to see, was to look up.

Fear is something dangerous in your life. It paralyzes your potential and kills your faith. Fear leads to doubt, complaining, self-pity, and faithlessness. In your situation replace fear with faith and confidence in God. Make a deliberate decision to look up to God in faith. Rise above your fears and believe that you will make it by faith. Remember, God did not give you the spirit of fear but of courage, sound mind and love. Fear not.

Why should we not fear? It should be because God is on our side. We have seen God’s hand and faithfulness the far we have come. Choosing to response in fear does not solve the situation at hand; it only makes you more and more vulnerable to the enemy.

  1. Stand firm and be still (vv.14)

God wants us in our very time of need to be unmoved and to be still. To be unmoved by the number of the enemies, to be unmoved by the weapons they have, and to be unmoved by the powers ‘they’ claim to possess. On our side is a mighty Warrior.

Stand firm because you have a strong Deliverer. On your side is the One who is mighty in battle; the One who shields you in the day of battle.

  1. Be still (vv.14)

Be still because God is in control. Be calm and have a serenity of heart because the battle belongs to the Lord. He will fight for you (be sure to be engaged in battles that God is involved in). He will ensure your bones are not broken. Be still. Be still because by your own efforts you cannot win.

Be still and trust in the Lord, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5,6).

  1. The Lord will fight for you (vv. 14)-

This is a wonderful promise. The Lord shall fight for you.

You have the One who is an enemy to your enemies on your side. Worry not; for victory is your portion. Engage Him in your battles and he will fight for you.

  1. Therefore move/go forward (vv. 15)-

The next order from God to Moses was “God forward!” God wanted his people to take steps of faith; not by walking round the challenge but by going through it. Lack of faith can make us stagnate in one level and be comfortable with the status quo. As they edged to the coastlines of the sea Moses raised his rod and lo and behold the waters parted!

The people walked right in the middle of the sea with the mass of water against them. Move forward, don’t get stuck in the past with its entanglements like unforgiveness, but move forward with hope, optimism, and confidence in God.  In whichever circumstance, sober up and move on…

-The Lord will fight for you; because the battle belongs to the Lord!-

A Disciple Submits to the Lordship of Christ

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In a context where many people easily identify themselves as Christians; it is essential to recapture what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus.

FYI, the Bible uses the word “disciple” 282 times, “believers” 26 times, and “Christians” only 3 times. The numerous repetitions of the word should cause us to dig deeper into its meaning.

Read here on the disciple of Jesus as a learner. 

It is worth noting here that in the first century, it was common phenomenon for spiritual leaders to have disciples. John the Baptist had disciples (Matt. 9:14); and also Pharisees had disciples (Matt. 22:16). Jesus himself had many disciples other than the renown twelve (Matt. 10:1; (Lk. 22:11). To be a true disciple of Jesus is to submit to his authority and lordship.

A Disciples of Jesus Submits to his Lordship –

In the first century Roman world, the emperor was regarded as kurios (lord). Kingdoms, new lands, and peoples were conquered and subjugated to the lordship of the Roman emperor. As a matter of fact sacrifices were offered in honor of the emperor, the embodiment of the Graeco-Roman gods.

But Jesus taught his disciples concerning a new kingdom, the kingdom of God. In that kingdom he is the Kurios (the Lord over all things). Following him involves acknowledging his lordship over the lordship of Emperor Caesar. Unconfusedly, this was not supposed to bring a threat to the state. Their submission to the authority of Christ was a superior allegiance because it was a loyalty to the Lord of Lords, the Lord and Creator of the universe.

Briefly, what does submission mean?

  1. Submission to Christ means hearing and responding to the call of God– It involves answering the call and invitation to salvation that is by grace through faith. It means acceptance of God’s gift of salvation in order to receive eternal life in Christ Jesus.
  2. Submission means constantly yielding to the authority of Christ– Coming to Christ in repentance and faith is a step to a Christian life. But that is not all; we need to have a daily walk with God whereby we yield to his leading. This process involves putting to death the old self and putting on a new self. It involves a process of total transformation of our minds, emotions, affections, and hearts.
  3. Submission means subjecting our will to his will– It involves praying “your kingdom come and your will be done.” It means subjecting our will to his will; and realigning our plans/vision/mission to God’s agenda. Jesus modeled submission by doing the will of God the Father who had sent him.
  4. Submission means obeying the words of Christ– Jesus instructed, “if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).
  5. Submission means letting the word of God transform us-The man who says “I know him” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him (1Jn. 2:4-5).

Disciples of Jesus always live a life of submission to the lordship of Christ.

Read here on Attitude of rebellion Vs Attitude of Submission. 

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A Disciple is a Learner

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FYI, the Bible uses the word “disciple” 282 times, “believers” 26 times and “Christians” only 3 times. The numerous repetitions of the word should cause us to dig deeper into its meaning.

It is worth noting that in the first century, it was common phenomenon for a spiritual leader to have disciples. John the Baptist had disciples (Matt. 9:14); and Pharisees had disciples (Matt. 22:16). Jesus himself had many disciples other than the renown twelve (Matt. 10:1; (Lk. 22:11).

In the Great commission (Matt. 28:19-20), Jesus charges his followers to go into all the world and make disciples.

So what does it mean to be a disciple?

A disciple is a learner-

The word “disciple” is from the Greek word “mathetes” meaning a “learner,” or “student.”

Jesus called his disciples to a new and different life. The new life called for a paradigm shift in their thinking, affections, actions, reactions, worldview and perspectives.

Disciples were taught life principles that were upside down from the conventional wisdom of the day. They were taught humility in a world that esteemed pride; in order to be first they were taught to be last. To be filled they must first empty themselves of human sufficiency; to live they must first die to self; to find they must be willing to lose; and in order to gain they must first let it go. Certainly, this needed quite some learning.

The disciples of Jesus were fishermen by profession, but they were called to be fishers of men. Their calling was more than a transfer of fishing skills; it needed learning.

Therefore a true disciple of Jesus needs to embrace learning as a lifelong activity.

Disciples of Jesus never arrive; instead they are in constant process of learning and becoming.

Disciples of Jesus learn to love unconditionally, they learn to forgive without taking inventory, they learn to discern the will of God; they are students of the word of God. They learn how to live out their newfound life in Christ. They learn how they can please their Master.

Disciples also learn from valley of life and mountaintop experiences of life. They learn from successes and failures. They will say, ‘when I went through that circumstance…. God taught me this and that…” Also, they learn from both young and old.

Learners have a teachable spirit, they have inquisitive minds and have a receptive heart for God’s word. It is because of learning attitude that the disciples implored on their Master, “Lord, teach us to pray” Lk 11:1. Learners are always growing and transforming.

Jesus extends an invitation to every person to come and learn from him, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light, Matt 11:28-30.

The problem with the know-it-all believers is that they have no room for learning or a teachable heart. Such people do not listen, even when warned of an impending danger. They can’t stand to be corrected. The book of proverbs calls them fools. I

Therefore disciples of Jesus are in a constant process of learning and growing. If you are not growing in learning then you are not a true disciple of Jesus. Learn from his word, from life experiences he takes you through, and from young and old.

Remember, if you have stopped learning you have stopped marveling God’s greatness.

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When we go Through Hard Times   

 

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…When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” (Isa. 43:1-3). 

We live in a world full of evil, evil persons, demons and Satan. That’s enough to bring us trouble/hard times. And so the question is not “if” we will go through hard times but “when”; for hard times will certainly come. The dark moment could be financial, loss of a job, relationship, health, family, political instability, e.t.c.

Sometimes dark moments in our lives can cause us to question God’s power, goodness/love, understanding, and presence. But we need the right responses/attitudes to be able to discern purpose of God’s working through our pain or challenges. Therefore,

How should we respond when we go through hard times?

  1. Remember God is with us even in our hard times– During hard times we often ask, “where is God? Does he know what I am going through? and if so, Does he care?” The Bible assures us of God’s enduring presence even in times of difficulty. He does not abandon us. He does not allow Satan have a field day on us. He is Jehovah Shammah-the Lord who is present; He is Emmanuel- God with us.

He has promised, “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb 13:5). Therefore trust in his power to deliver you. Prayers are not platforms to give God ‘breaking news’ or updates concerning our sorrowful condition but an opportunity to show our utter dependence on Him no matter what.

Read here the things God cannot do

2. Learn to see God at work

God is at work every time, everywhere and in different ways. The problem is that sometimes we are like Elijah, expecting God to work in preconceived pattern. Indeed, God is a God of surprises; he surprised Elijah by revealing his presence in ways Elijah did not expect. A great and powerful wind passed but the Lord was not in it, it was followed by earthquake, and fire-but the Lord was not in them all. Instead he revealed his presence in a gentle whisper (1Kings 19:11-12).

Open your eyes wide to behold God’s wondrous working. In your dark time, He may in his providence sent people, friends, or community of believers to make your journey bearable; or to give you encouragement and motivation needed to take you through your dark moment. He may also perform a miracle that can turn around your dark moment; and praise the Lord when that happens. In other times God, in his providence can say “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9); and gives you sufficient grace to go through a hard time.

In either way, God is actively at work in your dark moments. You should be able to discern God’s working and be encouraged and thank him that He is not in a lalaland (slumber land) but actively at work in your situation.

  1. Be able to trust the Word of God– :

We must cling to God’s word when we go through hard times. The nature of your situation, or the length, and intensity of your dark moments cannot eclipse God’s promise. The Word of God is powerful, alive, and active. Instead of thinking of your problems over and over again, seek to meditate upon God’s Word over and over.

Remember the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness (2 Pet. 3:9), there is a reason and purpose why God, a good Shepherd would allow you to go through a dark valley. He will keep his promise to protect, sustain, provide, rescue, restore, heal, bless, uplift, and open doors. In your hard moments, learn to treasure God’s word and cling unto it (Refer Ps. 119).

3. Expect God to turn your situation for your own good-

God has promised in his word to turn evil intended against us for our own good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his promise” (Rom. 8:28). It says that in ALL things God works for good. He is able to bring beauty out of ash. He is able to deliver you. Keep your hope alive each day because your morning is dawning. Do not look up to people to save you or rely on your knowledge, experience or connections. Instead, surrender it all to God who is all-powerful.

As a matter of fact he turned the evil that was intended against Joseph for his good and for the salvation of many. The brothers of Joseph sold him because of their hatred and envy but God used this evil as raw materials for Joseph’s success and salvation of many people. Retrospectively, Joseph confessed to his brothers,  “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” Gen 50:20).

Never underestimate God’s power to change your situation in a turn-around manner. He is the same God who creates out of nothing. He is the One who calls into being what is not. God used the cross- in what people saw as defeat, weakness and shame- to bring about victory and salvation to many (Acts 3:12-26). God is achieving something powerful through your current situation. Keep the focus; for God can work out his purposes irrespective of men’s machinations.

But this requires patience and perseverance to wait upon the Lord. And waiting is not easy; only courageous people wait.

5. Every experience you go through matters to your destiny

Hard times sometimes presents us breaking or making moments. Some situations you face can be key defining moment for your life. It can be God’s credibility test for your promotion. He never takes you through a valley devoid of purpose. Therefore approach your dark moment with an attitude of seeking to understand what God is teaching you.

You pain is valid, never waste it.

The former experience of Moses in Pharaoh’s household and in the wilderness was formative for his destiny as a leader of the Israel nation. The wanderings of David in the desert and hideouts from King Saul shaped his character in preparation for his kingship. The multiple predicaments of Joseph helped him develop and understand the Egyptian culture before becoming their prime minister. He learned to take commands before he was elevated to a position of issuing edicts/commands. Every dark moment you go through counts for your destiny. Your experiences is building you up into something God is preparing your for/to be. Be patient and cooperate with God.

  1. Every dark moment of your life has an expiry date

The hard times we go through in this life aren’t permanent. It isn’t going to last for life. They are momentary. Joy comes in the morning. David asserted, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil for you are with me” (Ps. 23:4). Mark the word through. The ‘valley of the shadow of death’ is not your destination; you only pass through it. Victory is awaiting you on the other side. Keeping on hoping to see light at the end of the tunnel; God’s help is near. God is at work. God isn’t going to allow evil to prevail for long. In meantime, like the experience of Jesus at the cross, it may seem that evil prevails, but God’s decisive action and vindication ensues. God’s appointed time is coming. When he comes; he will vindicate you and wipe all your tears away.

  1. Your response during dark moment matters-

A dark moment is a time of decision. It is a time to choose between submitting to God’s authority or your own ways to maneuver the situation. Some people choose to respond with doubt, anger, others with fear, blame, and others with trust. You need to have the right attitude; the right framework of mind and heart to be able to benefit and learn from what God is teaching you. Choose to trust in him.

Read here on the attitude of faith

Read here on the attitude of submission

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hard-times

Hearing God’s Voice: Discerning God’s Will

hearing God

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isa. 30:21)

Perhaps you have heard people say God spoke to them and you wonder how that happens.  It does happen, God speaks even today!  God has not left us in the wilderness of life without direction.

He may not communicate through a burning bush the way he did to Moses several centuries ago but he certainly does speak and guide those who look up to Him for guidance and direction. David said of God, “You have made known to me the path of life…” (Ps. 16:11). It is therefore believer’s duty to discern God’s voice amidst many noises.

Below are ways in which God guides or communicates to His chosen ones. We can hear Him through:

  1. His Word

Clearly, God has revealed Himself through his holy Word.

It is through the Bible that we know who God is. In the Old Testament, He revealed himself, among many other ways, through visions and dreams (he can also today) but he now reveals himself through His written word. The Bible also reveals God and his word as trustworthy Guide.

The word of God reveals the heart of God for the nations; the necessity of loving one’s neighbor and more importantly the human story of redemption.

David affirmed, “your word is the lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Ps 119:105)

In His Word, God has also made known his will and purposes to every generation. We therefore need to read and study it. Scriptures can speak directly or indirectly to our circumstance, thus providing required guidance. It gives answers on how we need to live as Christians and relate to the external world. God’s requirements and will has been clearly revealed throughout the Bible. For example, we don’t need to scratch our heads on some issues that have already been clearly revealed; through his word we know it is not God’s will to marry an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14) or to revenge against our enemies (Matt 5:44).

Scriptures are also able to make us  make us wise unto salvation. We carry out God’s will when we accept and obey His Word.

  1. Circumstance/Life-changing Experience(s)

God allows and disallows various circumstances in our lives. There are no lucks or coincidences in what God does. He uses happenings in areas such as family, finance, job, relationships, education, and/or health to teach us.

Circumstances can also present to us dilemmatic situations that entail open and closed doors.

Also, every situation in our lives happens for a purpose. If the circumstance was an evil intended against us, then we can be sure that God will work it out to bring something good out of it (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28) for he has good plans for us (Jer. 29:11).

Therefore we need to discern God’s working in various circumstances we go through. It could be for the purpose of our character formation, to challenge us to have faith in God or to manifest His great power in us or to demonstrate the sufficiency of His grace. Some circumstances may come to teach us obedience, to trust, and to rejoice in God. Be teachable in such moments!

The point is, we need not to miss what God is accomplishing and teaching us through our hard times (times of pain, uncertainty, loss, failure etc). You pain is valid; and through it, God is accomplishing something bigger and greater for your good.

  1. Holy Spirit-

Jesus instructed that the Holy Spirit will guide believers into all truth (Jn. 16:13). The Spirit of God, our Guide, reminds us of all truth; illuminates the word of God, and gives assuring inner peace when we are in right direction (Isa. 26:3).

He prompts, impresses, and stirs our hearts thus enabling us follow God’s leading and make right and wise decisions. His working is evident in the book of Acts when he guided Philip, Paul, the church, and apostles.

But it requires that we walk by the Spirit; keep in step with the leading of the Holy Spirit; and be controlled /filled with the Holy Spirit and not wine (Eph. 5: 18; Gal. 5:16, 25).

  1. Godly Counsel

God also uses people around us to advice, teach or shape us. An iron sharpens an iron. That is why fellowship and relationships are important in the life of every believer in Christ. God can teach us great truths on joy patience, faithfulness, self-control by listening to other people’s stories, especially godly people.

The word of God encourages us to seek advice, obtain guidance (Prov. 20:18).

But we ought to exercise care upon seeking counsel; it should be from godly people not from anyone. Godly people are people who are in constant walk with God and are able to discern God’s voice like Eli (1 Sam. 3:9); people who in their walk of faith have matured. Their role is not to determine/dictate God’s will for you but to present God-perspective, biblical insight, and objective approach to your situation.

After all, you are the best person to determine God’s will for your life; not your friends or mentors.

  1. Example of Christ

When seeking guidance, consider the example Christ has given us. Turn to the gospel and examine the life and teachings of Jesus Christ; “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Heb. 1:1). Incarnation of Jesus reveals the Father and the life of Jesus (not just his death) provides us with redemption and an example to follow. Bringing Christ perspective into our situation can bring clarity on the issues involved. Consider using the WWJD approach.

  1. Prayer

We can also discern God’s will through prayer.

The worth of prayer is based on God’s promise to listen; it is what turns prayer from being a monologue to dialogue.

Prayer has other sub-components like adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. After we have prayed we wait, listen and believe (1Jn. 5:14-15). Prayer time helps us search our heart and realign our will to God’s will. It provides an opportunity to confess of sin that hinders doing God’s will (Ps. 66:18). Godly people across history have always sought God’s guidance through prayer.

Prayer is the wisest thing to do when we want to hear God.

Read Here for Hindrances to Discerning God’s guidance. 

listen to God hearphones

God’s power is far above your situation

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Every time, life presents varied situations and experiences, some can be highly sophisticated and some less complex.

In all, God allows and disallows various circumstances into our lives.

But in every situation, we go through, God ensures that it common to all men and that it can’t go to a level beyond what we can bear. He also promises to provide a way out so that we are able to overcome (1Cor. 10:13).

He is God who is able. He is all-powerful and sovereign. Human happenings and experiences cannot thwart his divine plan. The hard times you go through in life cannot eclipse his power.

Below are some Bible verses that confirm that your situation is nothing compared to God’s sovereign power:

  • Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” (Gen. 18:14)
  • I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
  • Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
  • For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).
  • With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt.19:26).
  • I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

Therefore, commit your impossibilities to Him by trusting and hoping in Him!

Let My People Go! Aspects in Traditional African Culture that Oppress Women  

 

mother

Jesus clearly announced his mission by quoting from the scroll of Isaiah;

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk. 4:18-19).

The good news Jesus brings is holistic; it is not only about salvation but also freedom to the oppressed. His incarnation brought hope to all that are oppressed. He came to the Jewish society that was patriarchal but he did not support systems that oppressed women. In his words and deeds he sought to transform the culture and people’s perspectives on women. Jesus is the Liberator of Women! He liberates humanity out from devil’s lies that seek to dehumanize part of God’s creation.

Many African traditions and cultures, like any other cultures of the world, contain both positive and negative aspects. In many patriarchal societies, women have for a long time suffered discrimination and marginalization. They need liberation from oppressive forces of patriarchy.

Mother’s Day presents an opportunity not just to celebrate women in our lives but to make a resolve to fight those oppressive cultural/traditional aspects that denigrate their God-given image, value, and dignity.

Here are some of the oppressive cultural aspects that still remain a challenge in contemporary Africa:

Child marriages– Many African cultures allow girls to be married at an early age; that means they are married off without their consent or reaching an age where they can make independent choices. In many cases the fathers negotiate their marriage at a young age and once they are in their early teen-age their suitors come for them. This has resulted into girls forcefully dropping out of school for marriage. Furthermore, many girls in such marriages undergo through traumatic experiences and health complications because their body system is not fully formed to engage in sexual activities or to give birth.

Bride-price payment– This mostly plays out during marriage process and negotiations. It is recognized that when a small or no bride price is paid many can assume the woman has no worth. This is wrong cultural aspect because woman’s worth is compared to material wealth. On the other hand, when it is too high the woman can end up being enslaved because of the thinking that she was bought by the husband or sold by the father.

Polygamy (or ‘Mpango wa Kando’) This cultural aspect that has continued to demean women’s worth. In many African societies a man can add another woman without consulting his wife. As a result women married to the same home become co-wives and in most cases the situation results to frequent conflicts between co-wives as well as their children. A lot of women in such polygamous relationships suffer greatly.

Widowhood– When women lose their husbands they undergo through untold suffering in the hands of the deceased husband. In some tribes were women inheritance is allowed, women easily become victims of deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS. The battle in such relationships is always centered on control of property of the deceased and nothing concerning the interests of the widow or the children.

Inheritances of property- Many African cultures do not privilege women to inherit property. All wealth is bequeathed to men. The rock-bottom point is, women are not accorded the same worth with men in inheriting from their parents.

Female Genital Mutilation (F.G.M.)- This is one of the greatest evils that still exists in some African societies. Female circumcision, in a way, seeks to make women sexually subordinate.

Other aspects that I may not find time to elaborate are: stigmatization of single women, unfair grounds of divorce, remarriage, wife-beating, and barrenness in women. In some cultures and marriages, the dignity of a woman is diminished when she cannot bear a child. In worst scenarios dignity can be diminished when she cannot bear a boy child

You will agree that we need to wage war against these traditional aspects and usher women into the freedom that Christ gives. In this, men should arise! #JesusLiberates

 

You will be Rewarded

reward

One of the outspoken disciples of Jesus called Peter once raised a genuine question to his Master.

“We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” (Matt. 19:27).

For sure, some of the disciples of Jesus were already economically stable as fishermen before they were recruited into the business of fishing people. Some were tax collectors and formerly had opportunities to make as much money as they wanted through extortion.

But their calling, way of life, and perspectives changed when they encountered Jesus. They literally left EVERYTHING to follow Jesus (for the sake of Jesus). EVERYTHING included: houses, brothers, sisters, parents, children, and fields. To them, Jesus became the single greatest treasure that when the merchant found he went and sold everything he had to acquire it.

And so the question voiced by Peter was an expected concern. What will they gain in return? What will they gain in their giving?

It is very easy to condemn Peter’s question as a question from a materialistic heart. But if you bring this to our experiences you will realize that the question was a genuine one. You see, serving God and people is hard work. It demands commitment, sacrifice, hard work, and a lot of self-giving. It involves GIVING out your time, resources and even your life- everything!

True service isn’t a walk on a park; it involves hard work, self-giving, and emptying of self.

Sometimes you can serve and the people you serve (with) fail to appreciate your efforts. Sometimes you can faithfully serve and people fail to understand what you are doing. Sometimes you can invest you efforts in God’s work and nothing seems to be happening. Sometimes the overtime work you do or the work you perform behind the curtains goes unremembered.

And so the question remains, is following Jesus a loss? Is serving God a poor stewardship of life?

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life (Matt. 19:27-29).

I think these very words from Jesus breathes hope and comfort! It is encouraging to know that there is ‘something for us’. The expectation of receiving something from God after surrender of our everything makes it worthwhile to serve/follow Jesus. So there is no loss in following Jesus! In fact surrendering all for Christ is an invaluable investment -for this life, and the life to come.

God’s promise to reward your labor of love is severally reiterated in the Bible:

….Always give yourselves to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

a man reaps what he sows…Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Gal. 5:7,9).

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the true love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them (Heb. 6:10).

Keep on serving and keep on expecting God’s reward not men’s commendation.