Category Archives: Manna for Today

The Role of Holy Spirit in the Spiritual Formation of a believer-  

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Spiritual formation is, “the ongoing process of the triune God transforming the believers and character toward the life and character of Jesus Christ- accomplished by the ministry of the Spirit in the context of biblical community” (Pettit, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, 24).

Spiritual formation process is a synergy of the divine initiative and our human response (Phil 2:12-13; 1 Thess. 5:23). It involves developing right relationship of love with God (vertical relationship) and with fellow men (horizontal relationship).

God is actively involved in bringing a sinner to Christ and consequently in the spiritual formation (sanctification process) of the infant Christian as s/he progresses to maturity in Christ.

The role of the third Person of the Trinity (Holy Spirit) in the spiritual growth of a believer is paramount.

Here are ways in which the Holy Spirit is involved in the Spiritual formation in the life of a believer:  

  1. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He brings sinners to salvation. So he is involved in the conversion/turning to God experience.
  2. He indwells believers to bring an inward-out change.
  3. He illuminates God’s truth/mysteries (Jn. 14:26) for understanding.
  4. He is the power that enables believers to bear witness (Jn. 15:26; Acts 1:8; Rom 8:26).
  5. He intercedes for believers (high priest role) in accordance with God’s will (Rom. 8:26-27).
  6. He distributes gifts to believers as he wills for the edification of the church (1 Cor. 12:11). The church is not only the people of God, and the body of Christ, but also the temple of the Holy Spirit.
  7. He is deeply grieved by sin in the lives of Christians (Eph. 4:30).
  8. The Spirit applies redemption to us (Jn. 14:26; 16:7).
  9. The Holy Spirit gives us regeneration or new spiritual life (Jn. 3:5-8). He is the “giver of life”; all living creatures are recipients of the life-giving principle of the Spirit of God.
  10. He sanctifies us (Rom. 8:13; 15:16; 1 Pet. 1:2). He is the source of holiness.
  11. He empowers believers for service (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12:7-11).
  12. He produces in us the fruit of Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23); that are signs of sanctification.
  13. He provides spiritual guidance to believers in the ways they should go (Acts 15:28).

Read here for other ways God guides believers.

Also, Hindrances to hearing God’s guidance.

Questions to ponder:

  • Spiritual formation process is a synergy of the divine initiative and our human response (Phil 2:12-13). What are some of the steps we can deliberately take to achieve spiritual maturity. What is the believer’s role in spiritual formation?
  • Do believers in Christ make deliberate efforts to grow spiritually?
  • Formation is the primary task of the church. Do you think the church is faithfully discharging this mandate?

Heroes of Faith- Gideon

 

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The book of Judges records Israel’s continuous apostasy (state of ungodliness) and struggles to obey and follow God’s ways.

In this period, the nation of Israel repeatedly went through a four-step cycle:  Rebellion/Sin-Retribution/Servitude- Repentance/Sorrow and then Restoration/Salvation. In the first stage of the cycle Israelites forsook God, sinned and followed Baal. In the second stage, God punished them for their sin (by sending enemies, drought, diseases). Then in the next step they suffered greatly; and when they cried to God in repentance, God listened and answer them by sending a judge/deliverer to bring them salvation and restore them to prosperity path. The appointment of Gideon, as a judge to Israel, was a response to Israel’s repentance after a prolonged impoverishment and suffering in the hands of their Midianite enemies.

The call, and faith of Gideon is an encouragement today as we seek to be used of God.

Read here for what heroes are known for. 

Gleanings from the Calling and Mission of Gideon:

  1. God in His wisdom chooses to use weak vessels to display His strength

When we read of Gideon in Hebrews 11 we are tempted to think that Gideon began as a hero of faith. This is untrue. When God called Gideon he was a man full of weaknesses and inadequacies. He was not a superhero but a very ordinary man. He struggled to believe that God could use him and his background to accomplish his purposes.

But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” (Judges 6:15).

According to Gideon, God’s calling was beyond his ability; in fact, in his self-assessment he claims not to have influence over his family, leave alone mobilizing the entire tribe.

God often chooses the “weak of this world” to accomplish great things for his glory (1 Cor. 1:26-29). Gideon was a man who frequently needed signs and assurances from God in order to be firm. But God saw potential in him and called him a man of valor/mighty warrior (Jdg.6:12).

He chose Gideon and gave him His promise- “The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man” (Jdg. 6:16).

He chose Gideon and empowered him with His Spirit (Jdg. 6:34). Through this Gideon was helped to overcome his fears and wavering faith. God’s Spirit worked on him and changed him to bring about the needed courage and faith.

This is an encouragement for us not to despise our small beginnings because through it  what God is able to achieve something bigger and greater.

Your inadequacies cannot limit God from using you for his noble purposes. An ungodly life is the only hindrance that can make God’s power and life not flow through us.

What are those things that make you feel inadequate? Could it be age (as it was to Jeremiah), eloquence (Moses)… Remember He is God who makes his power manifest in weakness (2 Cor. 12:10). Trust in his power.

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  1. God does not need numbers to accomplish his purposes, (Jdgs 8:1-10)-

In the fight against Midianites and its coalitions, Gideon marshaled his troops and they numbered 32,000 in total against a total of 135,000 Midianite soldiers (Jdg. 8:10). You don’t need to be a military expert to know that there was a colossal problem here. Humanly speaking warfare, like politics, is a game of numbers and so Gideon needed to up his game. But instead of increasing the numbers God told Gideon to downsize it!

The first elimination method employed was that all that tremble with fear should go back home. A total of 22,000 men left. Certainly, the journey is not for the fainthearted.

Mosaic Law offered military exemptions for several classes of people- including those who had just build a home, who had just planted a vineyard and have not enjoyed its fruit, those engaged to be married, and the fainthearted (Deut. 20:5-8).

Only ten thousand recruits remained. But in God’s terms they were still many.

In the second round of elimination, they were taken down to the river. And Gideon was to separate those who lapped the water with their tongues and those who knelt down to drink. Three hundred men lapped water with their hands. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

The Lord approved the 300 men that lapped the water with their hands to be enlisted for the battle. The rest were summarily dismissed to return home. Thinning of his army needed faith and courage.

It was now 300 vs. 135,000men. The numbers were not adding up. Gideon might have feared and so needed some encouragement. The Lord told him to visit the enemies’ camp secretly at night. There he found people conversing about a dream that the interpretation was to the effect that the Lord had handed over Midian to Gideon. This bolstered his strength and caused him to worship God (Jdg. 7:15).

In a quick and decisive victory, the 300 men routed Israel’s enemies because God fought for them. The Lord confused and caused Israel’s enemies to turn against each other with their swords.

So what?

Gideon’s story shows that God is not limited by numbers. God can wage his battles and win. Moses had assured the Jews that if they obey the Lord, one soldier could chase a thousand or two soldiers would “put ten thousand to flight” (Deut. 32:30). In this regard, all that Gideon needed was 27 soldiers to defeat the whole Midianite army of 135,000 men, but God gave him 300.

In history, God has always worked with few people to accomplish great things… Therefore it is not about what you have or don’t have but about what God can do with the small you have or even don’t have.

For us, it is possible to deceptively think that when I have more of this and that I will be able to be an effective/successful servant or make a greater impact for God-we think, when I have a six-figure bank statement, good communication skills, another degree, or more experience. Gideon did not need additional army because when we are in God’s side we certainly win. God’s presence is what we need.

Again, to be able to accomplish God’s mission God’s way some downsizing is necessary. What are the things (in your life) that you need to downsize today?

Our faith in God wavers when we start comparing God with our circumstance/resources we have (it often looks intimidating: 300 vs 135,000). Rather, we need to believe. Mathematically speaking things may not add up in your case but wait on God to solve the equation for you. Gideon learned that one with God is majority. Gideon believed and that is why he is listed among the heroes of faith. He believed in God who can turn impossibilities to possibilities.

Whenever God call us to task that we think is beyond us, we must be careful to look to God and not on ourselves. God does not need numbers because nothing is impossible with God. God asked Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14); “for nothing shall be impossible with God,” (Lk. 1:37). Job discovered that God could do everything (Job 42:2); Jeremiah admitted that there’s nothing too hard for God (Jer. 32:17). Jesus told his disciples “with God all things are possible” (Matt.19:26).

  1. God wants us to give Him glory in all things-

God pointed out to Gideon that he had too many men for God to deliver Midian into his hands. God downsized Gideon’s army so that through what is achieved, God is glorified. Not one would boastfully say, ‘my strength/hand/skill/connection/weapon saved me’. But that they would exclaim, ‘the Lord has done it!’

God handed over them victory without much struggle. The Israel’s force only blew horns, broke jars, and shouted causing the enemy to kill each other in their confusion. Through reduction of Gideon’s army, God’s role in the victory became clear with only 300 men.

The war was won not because they had a great military leader, powerful arsenal, or numerical strength but because- God was with Gideon, the Holy Spirit’s empowered him, and the fact that Gideon obeyed God’s word.

God ensures that the situation nears impossibility so that when He acts his power is manifest and consequently he receives all the glory.

Our lives, families, relationships, jobs, education should glorify God alone. In every endeavor we should acknowledge His power and Spirit’s enablement (Zech. 4:6).

Indeed as David admitted, “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his strength” (Ps. 33:16). Victory and glory belongs to God.

Victories that are won because of faith bring glory to God because nobody can explain how they happen.

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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THE LEADER AS SHEPHERD

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There is voluminous literature out there on leadership. Some of the leadership principles and values propagated in these books are Bible-based while others are research based. It is also worth noting that some of these values and principles on each side of the divide have points of convergence and points of divergence (this is for another day).

But the Bible provides rich metaphors that depict the nature of spiritual leadership that is to be exercised in and by the church. Believers in Christ are to embody these biblical values as foundational values for their actions, reactions, and convictions. In this short write-up let’s focus on the shepherd leadership motif as presented in the Bible.

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Leader as Shepherd

A leader is a shepherd. And as a shepherd, he has a flock under his care.

But more importantly, it should be noted that this is a communicable attribute from the divine. The shepherd motif presented in the Bible is derived from the character of God.

In the Bible God is revealed as the good Shepherd who leads, feeds, disciplines, and protects his flock (Ps. 23; 100:3; Isa. 10:1-11). Specifically, the sheep in Psalms 23 admits that his Shepherd: satisfies him-makes him lie down in green pastures and quiet waters, restores his soul, guides him, protects, comforts and disciplines him.

Jesus referred himself as the good shepherd (Jn. 10:11,14). He showed through his incarnate life that a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A good shepherd does not abandon the sheep and run away when he sees a wolf coming. Instead, he protects. He does not allow the flock to be scattered. He gathers and embraces. A good shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep knows him. He always leads from the front. He has good interest of the sheep/followers at heart.

By implication, those who serve on behalf of God, at any leadership position, are also referred to as shepherds (Jer. 23:1-4; Ezek. 34:2-10). They are supposed to shepherd after God; to shepherd in the likeness of God. Shepherds should not be preoccupied with taking care of their own (self) interests but the interests of the flock. Good shepherds strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind the broken, bring back the straying sheep, seek the lost, and rule gently.

Leadership is a noble thing. Jesus commissioned Peter, and by extension the other disciples and believers today, to feed his flock (Jn. 21:15-19); with an ultimate promise of a reward. Apostle Peter later wrote that when the Chief Shepherd appears he shall reward, with unfading crown of glory, all those who have taken good care of his flock  (1 Pet. 5:2-4).  A good shepherd like Jesus leads, directs, nurtures, heals, and guards even sacrificing his life if need be for the sheep.

And so any leadership position should be seen as an opportunity to shepherd God’s people; “not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Pet. 5:3).

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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!

Maternal Images for God in the Bible

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Hopefully, you are much aware of the biblical description of God as Father. Many feminist and Women’s theologies have attributed this linguistic and literary inclination to patriarchal influence. The Jewish culture in the Bible, like many African cultures, is male-dominated and so full of imperfections and patriarchal tendencies against women. But God’s message in such context sought to affirm female-humanity and denounce negative cultural aspects against women.

Metaphorically, God is severally depicted in the Bible as Mother. Bible does not refer to God exclusively in masculine metaphors rather it uses both masculine and feminine images to describe God. And the maternal images used have a lot to teach us about God.

But we have to clearly and strongly affirm here that depiction of God in these terms (masculine or feminine) is only for the purpose of us (finite) to comprehend the divine (infinite) in terms known to human experience (anthropomorphism). Otherwise God is distinct from his creation. He is above/beyond sexual categories and sexual differentiation. He is Spirit (Jn. 4:24).

Here are maternal images for God in the Bible. You will realize that it greatly helps understand God’s character in new light.

God as Human Mother– (who cannot forget her nursing child):

“For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.” (Isa. 42:14)

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isa. 49:15)

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” (Isa. 66:13)

God as Mother Bird- (who shelters her children under her wings)

May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (Ruth 2:12)

I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Ps 57:1)

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Ps 91:4).

More significantly, Jesus used this imagery:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34).

God sews, and prepares food, clothes- (Gen. 3:21; Ex. 16:4; Neh. 9:21);

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” (Gen. 3:21-22)

God is the perfect midwife (Ps. 22:9; 71:6):

From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.” (Ps. 71:6)

God is the woman who lost her coin– in Luke 15:8-10

God protects (Ps. 131:2; Hosea 11:3-4, 13:8)

Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open. Like a lion I will devour them; a wild animal will tear them apart.” (Hos. 13:8)

Both feminine and masculine metaphors in the Bible enriches our understanding of God and his character. These are personal terms that show us God’s intimacy to His people. It also affirms both male and female humanity. God tenderly cares, is concerned, protects and jealously shelters his people.

May he hide you under his wings!

You will be Rewarded

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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.

Desire for God

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,

in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalms 63:1-8 (NIV).

David, the man after God’s own heart, in Psalms 63 expresses a deep thirst for God. Graphically, he relates his thirst for God to a thirsty person in a dry land, looking for water to quench his thirst.

The psalmist profoundly desired God’s presence, love, power, and glory more than anything else. Though overwhelmed by his enemies he chose not to lament over his despondency but to express confidence in God, the source of his satisfaction. God is the object of his affection; the right and effective antidote to his present predicament. In God, his soul will be satisfied “as with the richest foods”. It is clear that the psalmist never thirsted for God out of envy for power and glory; but he wanted to experience God himself.

We live in a world that constantly beckons us to obey our “thirsts”. And for clarity, sometimes our thirsts are good and in line with God’s will, but many times they are not good. So how can we thirst for God in a time/generation were there are many “thirsts” to obey?

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One thing that for sure we need to understand is, our longings should be what God can delight in satisfying. For he promises, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).

Secondly, we should learn to desire God alone and the things he has revealed in his Word as noble and praiseworthy. As a Christian, desire to be filled of God, to do his will, to be led of God; desire to be like him, and to have an intimate relationship with God. Also, desire to set your heart on things above where Christ is seated; and to see the revelation of his kingdom. In your spiritual walk, desire to lead a holy life, to be used of him; desire to decrease as He increases in you. Likewise, desire to have a deeper experience of God’s love because his love is “better than life”.

Desiring God is the first step towards knowing and enjoying Him. Desire. Desire. Desire.

May God be the priceless pearl that you tirelessly seek; you singular desire; may he be at the center of your longings. For he promises to fill your desires with glorious riches; “for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Ps. 107:90).

HEROES AND HEROISM

What are heroes remembered for?

History is filled with people that are deemed to be heroes/heroines. But do all of them meet the threshold of heroism? What is it that really characterizes lives of true heroes?

In the Bible, the Book of Hebrews 11 records heroes of faith; people who stood out for what they believed in. Their qualities and accomplishments outlived them; and their lives became celebrated beyond their lifetimes.

What characterizes the lives of heroes?

1. Heroes are men and women known for their faith– They are people who walk not by what is seen but unseen. They believe. They believe in people’s potential beyond the present. They do not have the word “impossible” in their vocabulary. Besides, they are able to provide leadership that takes people from known to unknown.

2. Heroes have a Source of inspiration– Heroes derive their inspiration beyond themselves. Many find sustainable strength and encouragement not from people or what they get but from God and His word. God is their partner.

3. Heroes live for a purpose greater than themselves– True heroes are selfless. They have learned to conquer the self. They lay down their lives for the sake of many. They forfeit their prerogatives and rights to be able to look at the welfare of many. They are givers, not takers.

Their sphere of their influence is beyond their nuclear family, extended family, tribe, country, race, socio-economic or political distinctions. They see God’s image in all people. That is why they are celebrated by people from various walks of life.

4. Have eternal perspective of things– One jewel that all heroes have is hope. They look forward to something better. To them, the best is yet to come. They have a vision of this life and the life to come. Their hope cannot be eclipsed by temporary circumstances. In addition, they do not enjoy the present at the expense of tomorrow; their lives are shaped by the vision of what is to come.

5. Heroes stand for truth and justice– Truth is always something unpopular and in most cases suppressed. But heroes are always on the side of truth. They preach the truth and courageously advocate/defend the truth without seeking people’s approval. Besides, they fearlessly challenge established structures that are founded on falsehood. As a result many heroes aren’t honored or celebrated in their lifetimes.

6. Heroes are men and women of conviction– They are people who passionately live for a particular cause. They have a singular affection for a certain cause or need; and that is where they focus their energies on. They redefine and set new norms and standards.. Their consuming passion is often met with stiff resistance and hostility. And so sometimes they are killed because of what they adamantly stand for or dream. Often, they are defined not by the number of years they live but by the difference they made (in the lives of people) within the (few) years they live.

7. Heroes are men and women of integrity– They are figures of great repute in their societies. They do what they say and say what they do.

8. Like stars, heroes shine brighter in darkness– Heroes stand out from among the majority. Where there is hatred they demonstrate love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

9. They are future-oriented– They are not consumed with past narratives of failure, disappointments, and grudges. They have a big windscreen/windshield and a small rear view mirror. They shape the future in a new and greater way.

10. Heroes are ordinary human beings– Heroes are not superhuman, they are people like you and me; but they choose to rise above the occasion. They refuse to settle on mediocrity and average. They choose to be part of a solution than to be part of a problem. They do small things in a big and different way.

Be a hero.