Category Archives: Manna for Today

Making a Difference in an Ungodly Generation

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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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Blessings of Justification

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In Romans 5:1-11 Paul explains the blessings that comes through justification by faith. Faith in Christ brings a believer some benefits of salvation

Since we have been justified, we have:

  1. Peace (v. 1-2a)- “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

Jesus Christ our Sufficient Sacrifice

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God’s perfect creation in Genesis 1—2 was distorted by the sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The entrance of sin brought about death and curses to human history.

Sin is not only a reality we struggle with but also an affront to a righteous God. Sin is serious. Therefore it has to be dealt with with the seriousness it deserves.

In the OT God in His wisdom and grace God chose to make a temporary way sin can be atoned as the coming of Christ is awaited. A substitutionary animal sacrifices was allowed for remission of sins. For sin to be atone for, there must be a shedding of blood (lose of life).

And so, the idea of animal sacrifices and levitical priesthood runs throughout the OT as a shadow of the NT reality in Christ.

Significantly, in the OT, there was a specific national day (the day of atonement) in which sins were atoned for. This day highlights seriousness of sin and God’s hatred for sin and demands for righteousness.

Understanding the Day of atonement, helps us understand better the sacrifice of Jesus.

Key Highlights of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16

  • Apart from having the other daily sacrifices, the annual day of atonement was a day of fast; a day God cleansed all the sins of his people; and the only day the high priest entered the Holy of Holies/the Most Holy Palace.
  • The high priest prepared himself to appear before God in a worthy manner.
  • A bull and two goats were required for the sacrifice. One goat was for the for the Lord (sin offering) and another for the scapegoat.
  • Aaron was to slaughter the bull for his personal sin offering and his household.
  • The high priest slaughtered the goat for sin offering for the people and took its blood behind the curtain and sprinkled on the atonement cover and in front of it. This showed that Israel’s sin could only be atoned for by a substitutionary death V15.
  • Concerning the scapegoat- The high priest was to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites-all their sins- and put them on the goat’s head. This goat was then released to the desert. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place. (According to Jewish tradition the goat was subsequently thrown over a cliff to prevent it from returning).

But there was a problem… clearly the animal sacrifices were insufficient in the following ways:

  • The Day of atonement and sacrifices were repeated endlessly year by year. No one sacrifice was enough or final. The sacrifices were an annual reminder of sins because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
  • It never made perfect the worshippers. The worshippers still felt guilty for their sins.
  • The day of Atonement was only a “shadow” of a reality that was to come through Jesus (Heb. 5:1-14).

 Sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 5, 9)

  • Like the sacrificed animal, he shed his blood for forgiveness of our sins
  • Jesus as a scapegoat was sent outside the camp (Jerusalem) and took the sins/guilt of his people- (Heb. 13:2; 1Jn 3:5).
  • Jesus was made sin for our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, (Jn. 1:29).
  • Jesus was made curse (Gal. 3:23).
  • His sacrifice is sufficient; perfect, and superior sacrifice- He entered a heavenly sanctuary, by his own blood (never needed to make atonement for himself as a high priest). He now sits at the right hand of God the Father. His sacrifice was once for all and he can make us holy.

The story of the adulterous woman in John 8:2-12 illustrates the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice. Her life was spared because they brought her to Jesus the ultimate and superior sacrifice. The perfect sacrifice of Jesus offers hope. Every hopeless sinner, like this woman, can find hope only in Jesus!  Again, why did God allow her to live? This story offers us profound lessons:

Jesus did not allow her to be put to death simply because in Him there is:

  1. Life- The sacrifice of Jesus offers humanity a free gift of life.

For example, in this story (John 8:2-12), the adulterous woman (we don’t have her real name) had already received her death sentence from her accusers: people and the religious leaders. Perhaps they pondered, “why should she live?” but Jesus perspective was, “why should she die?”

Jesus had come for the very purpose to seek and save that which was lost and to give his life as a ransom for many, Mk 10:45. Jesus also declares, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. He is the fountain of life and any sinner who turns to him in faith is never turned away but given eternal life.

He gives life and breathes life to your lifeless situations….

  1. Love- The story of the cross of Jesus is the story of unconditional love. While we were still sinners Christ dies for us (Rom. 5:8). He has loved us with an everlasting love. In his love he adopted us into his family as sons.

The woman in this story, like many in our world today, suffered rejection and hate. She was brought early in the morning and before everyone to shame her before stoning her. But Jesus does the unexpected. He accepts her. This does not mean that he affirmed her sin but in accepting her to come to him he clearly displayed God’s unconditional love. We see this love clearer when we look at the cross. God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). A very familiar verse summarizes it all, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… (Jn. 3:16).

This is a powerful love! What is it that can separate us from the love of Christ?

It is because of love Jesus laid down his life for us (Jn. 15:13; 1 Jn. 3:16).

  1. Forgiveness– In Christ, there is forgiveness of sins. Remember, without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb. 10:17).

In Christ, we are forgiven- the past, present and future. The death of Jesus as a substitute brought us forgiveness by taking our penalty upon himself.

All we know about the woman in this story is that she was an adulterer. She was a sinner. Like any other sinner, she deserved death. The people and the religious leaders must have justified themselves from Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22. But Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29) took her sin upon himself!

Sadly, we sometimes doubt the forgiveness we have received! Remember, Doubts do not begin from God but from the devil, for he is the accuser of the brothers (Rev. 12:10). Satan plants doubts to paralyze us and the ministry God has put in us.

When Jesus forgives you, you also need to forgive yourself. He is the perfect sacrifice and so you should no longer be crippled by doubt, fear, and guilt conscience.

If you have put your faith in God count your transaction done in Christ! Tetelestai (Jn. 19:30). When God has forgiven who can reverse? Jesus our sacrifice is sufficient.

When Jesus forgives he does it completely: he removes them as far as east is from the west Ps103:12; he casts them behind his back Isa 38:17; he casts then into the depths of the sea Mic 7:19; he forgives all our trespasses Col 2:13; and he remembers them no more Heb 10:17. Amazing! He never leaves the woman the same point he found her, he forgives her and gives her a new beginning. Jesus said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, Matt 9:12. There is no remission of sins apart from the shedding of blood.

Since Jesus forgives, we should not live under the guilt of sin but instead confess our sins in order to be forgiven.

  1. Justification– In Jesus there is declaration of righteousness. In Christ, sinners are justified, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ” Heb 5:10. This righteousness is not based on works but purely on the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, Heb 5:10. It is received by those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The woman we read about had no righteousness of her own but Jesus’ righteousness was imputed on her. This is precisely what grace is (undeserved favor).

The ultimate Judge took away her guilt and declared her righteous. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death, Rom 8:1-2. We also know that, God did not send his Son to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (Jn. 3:17).  Who else can condemn those who the Righteous Judge of all has declared as righteous?

Justification also leads to a process of being made holy (sanctification)…

  1. Freedom– It is only in Jesus that sinners are set free. In this case it freedom to not sin again.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees had a water-tight case against this specific woman until they brought it to Jesus who dismantled it. It is worth noting that Jesus eventually lets her go by telling her, “Go now and leave your life of sin” v11. The newfound freedom is a freedom not to further indulge sin but to serve the living Savior who had freed her (the nation of Israel in Egypt was also freed so as to serve Yahweh.

In the words of apostle Paul she was told, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your boy to him as instruments of righteousness” Rom 6:11-13.

  1. Reconciliation- Sin separates us from a holy God. In no other way is the wall of hostility between us and God bridged apart from the only one Mediator between men and God- Jesus Christ. It is through the death of Jesus Christ that we are once again reconciled to God (Rom. 5:11,12; 2 Cor. 5:18,19).

Because of the reconciliation we can come to God’s presence with confidence (Heb. 10:19, Col 1:19). We come before God not because we are worthy but because we are reconciled through the ultimate Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. We confidently bring our needs to Him knowing that he hears us and answers us.

The adulterous woman had broken the law of God, in fact caught in the act, and by status an enemy of God, but Jesus actions toward her demonstrates that God has made a way that sinners can find hope. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation, Col 1:22.

  1. Redemption and deliverance– The penalty for sin is death and Jesus’ audience, together with the adulterous woman, must have understood this fact from the Law of Moses. But when they presented her to Jesus, they unknowingly presented her to the One who ultimately pays the penalty of sin once and for all.

Therefore, the adulterous woman, and any other sinner like you and me, can live because of the redemption through the shed blood of Jesus. The biblical authors testified, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14). She, like any other sinner who comes to Jesus, was delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

Finally… contrast the human and angel fall and reflect on the grace and unique love that God has extended to mankind. Angels fell but no plan was given for their salvation; in fact,  hell was prepared for them. But mankind fell but God gave his very son as a sacrifice so that those who BELIEVE will inherit eternal life.

Jesus Christ- the ONLY Precious Name

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The book of Acts chronicles several miraculous acts that were performed by the apostles in THE NAME OF JESUS.

In Luke’s account, “the name of Jesus” carries a lot of significance as he narrates the working of the Holy Spirit through the apostles as the gospel was proclaimed to the uttermost parts of the world.

It is important for us today to comprehend the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. For by knowing Jesus, we know the Father; “now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (Jn. 17:4).

In Acts 2:37—4:13, Jesus is presented as: the Jesus the author of life; the promised messiah; the descendant of Abraham; the prophesied One. But more so, the name of Jesus Christ is given a lot of significance.

 In this this context, the NAME OF JESUS is the ONLY Name that:

  1. Men are forgiven of their sins– “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38)

It is on the account of this name that sins of men can be forgiven, once and for all. As God’s anointed one, Christ did not sin and so able to forgive sins. He is the High Priest who needed no sacrifice for his own sins because he was sinless.

In this name, those who come to him in faith and repentant hearts are forgiven and their sins remembered no more.

Even the vilest sinner can be forgiven by calling on this name… On the account of this name the adulterous woman was forgiven… Also, by calling on this powerful name, tax collectors, sorcerers and murderous were forgiven and given a new name and identity…

  1. Has power to heal– “Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6,16;4:10).

The apostles healed the man crippled from birth, by calling on the name of Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus is the ONLY name that is able to deliver humanity from weaknesses, diseases and infirmities.

In this name is both physical and spiritual healing.

Medical practitioners treat but God heals.

Yahweh revealed himself as Healer- “I am the Lord who heals you” (Ex. 15:26).

Call upon this name today for him to heal your body, soul, relationships, wounds…

  1. The dead are resurrected- (Acts 4:2)-

Through the name of Jesus Christ, the dead resurrect.

The dead hear his voice; the death Lazarus responded to Jesus’ call (Jn. 1:43). Believers will also resurrect in the future because the same Spirit who lives in them is the same Spirit that resurrected Jesus from the dead.

Through this name there’s life. Jesus gives LIFE. Eternal life.

By implication, he can breathe life to your lifeless situation…

  1. Men can be saved- “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The name of Jesus is the ONLY name that men can be saved.

Are there other ways men can be saved apart from Christ?

Scriptures clearly affirm that there is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved (Jn. 3:16-18, 14:3; Rom. 10:13-15). There is ONLY ONE way to the Father- Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life.

It is a hard truth and there is no other way around this exclusive view; there is no salvation without accepting and believing in Christ, the author of life, as the one who died for our sins and rose again (Acts 3:15).

Other religions and philosophies that claim to have truth are only false and empty.

Although we have established the fact that Jesus saves, we should also underscore the fact that one has to respond to Him in faith. And this is by calling on this name for salvation.

The Scriptures are clear, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

Since there is only one Savior, the church should move with urgency in spreading the message of the gospel to the world lost in sin.

  1. Should be proclaimed(Acts 4:17-18) They taught and spoke in his name. for people to come to salvation in thousands. Their numbers were added increasingly.

This is the name that the apostles testified. It is the name they propagated. They never went about creating brands for themselves, but they proclaimed God’s kingdom and exalted Christ in their preaching, teaching, doctrine and conduct.

Are our ministries today built around our own names or on the name of Jesus…

Are the organizations founded upon this name still actively proclaim this name?…

Are our teaching or preaching ministries Christo-centric?

  1. It is the name through which miraculous signs and wonders can be performed- (Acts 4:30)

It is through this name that demons were cast (Acts 16:18); for it is the name that even demons submit to (Mk. 16:17; Lk. 10:17)

By implication, we have power and victory over the devil and demons through the name of Jesus.

  1. We should prayJesus told his disciples to ask anything in his name (Jn. 14:13-14).

It is through the name of Jesus that we should present our requests known to the Father.

Our prayers are only answered by the Father in Jesus name (Jn. 16:23-24).

This is not a magical formula but a powerful name in which we plead to God. He is our advocate, high priest, and intercessor in heaven.

Therefore, we should not pray through angels but through Christ alone.

It is through this name that through prayer, the lowly are lifted up and the proud are humbled. It is through this name that some rise and some fall…

  1. In his name we serve

Believers in Christ have opportunity to serve God in whatever profession by doing whatever they do in Christ’s name.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).

Read Biblical principles on work

Finally…

The name Jesus Christ is a precious name: By this name the vilest sinners are delivered, by this name addict can be made sober; and the lost get found.

At the mention of this name demons flee, through this name kingdoms have been built and armies have been destroyed. At this name impossibilities turn into possibilities. By this name lives are transformed.

This name is a safe refuge: it is a strong tower that the righteous run into and they are safe (Prov. 18:10).

This is the name that someday every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth; and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11)

THE NAME OF JESUS, THE NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME

Read also Satan’s thesis statement, Jesus’ offer

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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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Singular Focus in Life

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Life presents us an opportunity to pursue many things; but what is that one overarching thing that defines all that we pursue?

This attitude, of pursuing one thing over others, is explicit in the lives of prominent figures in the Bible. They had one chief and principal thing that they pursued wholeheartedly. This helped focus their attention, and energies to a productive end. Briefly, let’s look at biblical examples in which we see prominent figures who had singular focus/desire in life and ministry.

  1. Joshua: 15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

In a generation that was experiencing a growing apostasy, Joshua desired to serve the Lord despite the strong opposition around him.

2. David: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).

David, desired, above all, to seek the Lord…and to experience the beauty and the tender care under God’s wings. His desire was a life-long desire; he will follow it through till the end of his life. Also, he commmitedly seeks what he has asked of the Lord. Did he fulfill this desire at the end of his life? A resounding yes, Acts 13:36 records that after David had served God’s purpose in his generation he rested with his forefathers.

3. Solomon: (when given the opportunity by God to ask whatever thing he needed): “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9).

This man asked God to give him wisdom (a wise and discerning heart to be able to administer justice). In response, God gave him wisdom but also in addition gave him all the other things he did not  ask for like wealth, and long life. Solomon’s priorities at least at this early stage of his life were focused. He asked God for ONE thing.

4. Agur son of Jakeh: 7 “Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God (Prov. 30:7-9).

This little known man of the Bible asked of God two things. His focused desires reveal that he longed for contentment, truthfulness, and  honoring of God.

5. Jesus: 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work (John 4:34).

Our Lord, talked of accomplishing the will of God as his “food” (a daily necessity)

Also, Jesus instructed, 33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33-34).

We know Jesus accomplished his singular focus, when at the cross he said, “it is finished”.

6. The merchant in the parable of Jesus: 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46).

Why this the merchant in the parable sell EVERYTHING just to buy ONE thing? It is because the ONE thing he had found was of GREATER value than EVERYTHING he had.

7. Martha (the one thing that is needed): 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

One thing is needed, and that is what Martha chose; something that cannot be taken away from her! For Martha, it was to be with Jesus, to seat under the counsel of Jesus.

8. Paul: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:10-11).

Paul’s desired to “know Christ”; to know how wide, and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Paul achieved his purpose because at the end of his life he was able to confidently declare, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…” (2 Tim 4:7).

These desires consumed the lives of these key characters in the Bible. Notably, they desired what ultimately brings true joy and contentment. These men desired what counts eternally. Why is it important to have a singular desire/focus: we end up seeking what we desire, “one thing I have desired; that I will seek after”;  singular focus in life leads to simplification of life; it focuses our energies and pursuits; when we have our desires defined it is easy to turn them into prayers. Life is a process of simplification…

Read Satan’s thesis statement and Jesus’ Offer

Read- One more night with the frogs

Living in Anticipation of the Lord’s Return

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The doctrine of eschatology (end times) is broadly taught in the Bible. Central to this teaching is the return of Jesus Christ for his church. Believers are not ignorant of the things that will happen in the future because the Bible talks of signs, promises, and warnings concerning the return of Jesus Christ. Through the Bible, God’s eternal plan into the future has been revealed. Jesus not only gave us the promise to return but he also gave us the signs that will precede his return and the warnings that we should beware of.

Promises:

  • Jesus promised to come back soon (Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16; Rev. 1:7; Rev. 22:20).
  • He went to prepare a place for believers (Jn. 14:3). A place where evil and suffering will be no more. A city where there shall be no more Satan, death, tears, pain, and imperfections; for the former order of things will have passed and the new come. In this city, believers will be in the very presence of God.
  • These promises give believers/church a solid hope.
  • During his second coming the righteous will be vindicated and the wicked condemned.

Do you BELIEVE in these promises?

Signs that will precede Christ’s return:

  • Preaching of the gospel to all nations (Mk. 13:10; Matt. 24:14).
  • Great tribulation (Mk. 13:7-8, 19-20).
  • False prophets performing signs and wonders (Mk. 13:22),
  • Signs in the heavens (Mk. 13:24-25).
  • The coming of the man of sin/antichrist and the rebellion (Rev. 13; 1 Jn. 2:18).
  • The salvation of Israel in the future (Rom. 11:12; Rom. 11:25-26).

Warnings:

  • Although Jesus promised to return, he did not indicate the time of his coming. Well, is this problematic? Jesus warned that the day will come like a thief, he will come at an hour you do not expect him (Matt. 24:44; 2 Pet. 3:10). Since he did not state the exact time, is it logical to say that he has delayed? And also, if he said he would come in two or a hundred year’s time, imagine what we would be doing in the meantime.
  • Also the Bible warns of the coming judgment- the day of the Lord will bring vindication to the righteous and condemnation to the wicked. In the day of the Lord, people will be held accountable for their actions and words.

Because of Jesus’ promise, revelations, and forewarnings, WE HAVE HOPE– specifically, the hope that Christ will soon return: the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

This hope is not a passive hope. It is a hope that should accomplish something in us. This hope should transform the way we live, think, work, handle relationships, and circumstances.

2 Peter 3:11-15 reminds us that that we ought to be doing something in anticipation of the Lord’s return. The knowledge of these promises and warnings should presently shape our lives.

How should we live NOW in light of this hope of the second coming of Jesus?

  1. Live a Holy life– Longing for Christ’s glorious appearance should cause us to be holy.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure (1Jn. 3:2-3).

The promise that Jesus will return should cause us to desire to be holy; in other words, to be like Christ. This hope should produce the fruit of righteousness in us. This blessed hope should make our lives free from any entanglement of sin.

This hope brings alongside the manifestation of God’s grace to all men. It teaches us “to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we await for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-13).

Notably, this hope should change our actions and attitudes in a way that reflects a holy character.

The more we are unholy the more we will be unprepared for his coming.

The fact that Christ will return anytime should make us purify ourselves from sin, grudges, unforgiveness, and to be presentable before God as holy and blameless.

  1. Live as Strangers in this World

Living with an eternal perspective means living in this world as strangers, pilgrims, and sojourners.

Jesus revealed to us our true identity. We are God’s children, and citizens of heaven but temporarily in a foreign land (Phil. 3:20). As God’s children and ambassadors we are in the world but not of the world. Eternal perspective will remind us not love the world or follow its patterns.

We explicitly see this eternal perspective in the lives of Israel’s patriarchs. We are told, Abraham and the other patriarchs, because of eternal perspective, lived “like a stranger in a foreign country”. They lived in tents (temporary dwelling). Why? For these patriarchs were “looking forward to the city whose foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).

Life in this world, to a believer, should be lived as an exile. Eternal perspective should make us not to hold the things of this world dearly to our hearts. The world and the things therein are passing. Human life in this world is brief and fleeting. We are aliens in a foreign land. For international students here today, the KPP’s, Alien Cards, and Passports we carry around remind us of our temporary nature of our residence. Believers in Christ are equally strangers in this world.

As strangers in a foreign land we are called to manifest kingdom values. Life in this foreign land, as foreign people should cause us to pray and long for the full manifestation of his kingdom.

  1. Be Patient

Living as aliens in a strange world comes with challenges. Faithful living of our hope brings rejection, persecution, and sorrow. Expectedly, our hope demands that we swim upstream; that is, living in a way that stands in opposition to the values that a fallen world upholds.

When we face such opposition, we should remember the world of Paul. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2Cor. 4:16-18).

Are you tempted to be impatient in you walk with God?  Factually, the challenges we face are: “light and momentary” and achieves for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. The glories of heaven far outweigh our temporary challenges. We, therefore, should be patient in tribulations.

In our patience, we should also continually express our longing for the Lord’s return: “our Lord, Come!” (Maranatha) 1 Cor. 16:22); “Amen, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

  1. Walk not by Sight but by Faith

Expectation of Christ’s return should cause us to live by faith. The ancients were commended not based on what they were or what they possessed but for their faith in God. We know that without faith it is impossible to please God.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2Cor. 4:18).

We should keep our hope by fixing our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. As a matter of fact, not all reality is seen. If you only live for what is seen then you are acutely limited in your perspective.

Living in light of eternity involves keeping in step with the Spirit; living under the guidance of the Spirit.

Eternal perspective should enable us to store our riches in heaven rather than on earth (Matt. 6:20).

It takes faith to live as a foreigner in the world.

  1. Serve the Lord with Passion

Eternal perspective should lead us to SERVE God diligently, and with excellence; for we know our service and faithfulness will be rewarded. Such a perspective will make us serve without grumbling or seek praises from men. This eternal perspective certainly changes our perspectives on money, people, career, and work.

The hope of Christ’s return gives us the wisdom to know that we should work while it is still daytime for night is coming when there will be no opportunity to work. It teaches to maximize on every opportunity to do good to all people. If you truly have this hope it will make you invest your time in what counts eternally.

On the other hand, lack of eternal perspective makes us to live life centered on “here and now”. Such a perspective blinds us to the realities of tomorrow.

Significantly, living in light of eternity will make us WIN SOULS for Christ. Also, this hope will make us realign our purposes with God’s purposes.

  1. Be Watchful

Sometimes when we think about Christ’s return the question that comes straight to our minds is “when?” I.e. when will Christ return? But every time Jesus was asked this question, he redirected it because the question misses the point. The main point/question is: how can I live now in light of Christ’s promise to return? (Ref. Acts 1:6-8).

Knowing that Christ will return in an unknown hour should cause us to live watchfully and prayerfully.

Be on guard! Be alert! (Matt 24:42-44; Mk. 13:32-36; 25:1-13).

Watch your way of life, your testimony, and your doctrine. Watch against false teachers/preachers.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back — whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'” (Mark 13:35-37).

Finally…

Has the hope of Christ’s return transformed the way you live your life here on earth?

Interestingly, it is said that what we think about heaven determines what we think about the present. C.S. Lewis once said, “it is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.”

So, when Christ returns will you be ready? Will our garment be clean? Will you wish that certain priorities in your life had changed? I want to close by saying, you have the opportunity now to live in light of the hope that Christ will return.

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Is Christ’s Blood Thicker than Water?

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We live in a world that is deeply divided. A world that is divided along tribal, social, cultural, economic, religious, denominational, and political lines. And as a matter of fact, there are many things that divide than unite us. The church on the other hand is neither spared in this mix; for its membership constitutes people from all these backgrounds. What is the hope of unity in such diversity?

In Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul’s audience faced a similar situation when background differences between Gentile and Jewish believers threatened their unity of faith in the body of Christ. Differences, prejudices, conflicts, biases, and divisions were a deep reality among them. With these existential problems, one might rightly ask, ‘What then did the cross or blood of Christ achieve?’

Ephesians letter is without doubt one of Paul’s most elegant letters. It was written to: strengthen believers in the faith by reminding them of their position in Christ, highlight what the death of Christ achieved for believers, and, to show the purpose of the church (Ch.1-3).  The second section of the epistle (Ch. 4-6) deals with ethical implications from the preceding teachings. In the immediate context, Paul discusses spiritual blessings in Christ (Ch.1) and the fact that believers have been made alive in Christ (first part of chapter 2).

In chapter 2:11-22 Paul presents the power of the cross as the hope of unity and reconciliation.

In a divided world, God is on a mission to bring peace where there is enmity; love where there’s hatred; and, unity where there’s division. He is on a mission to both reconcile humanity to Himself, and humanity to each other.

He has done this by:

  1. Giving us a new identity (vv.11-13)- Believers in Christ are given a new and higher identity- that of a sons/daughters in God’s family. This identity does not depend on external distinctions based on what God has done in us.

In verse 11-13, Apostle Paul reminds the Gentile believers who they were formerly (before they came to Christ). Jews and Gentiles had deeply formed biases and prejudices against each other: Gentiles were referred to as “uncircumcised” by “the circumcision” group (Jews). Jews boasted of circumcision not as some African men do (as a sign to mark transition from childhood to adulthood) but as a key sign of God’s covenanted people. This pride highlighted their special status before God in a way that the Gentiles were not.

It is worth noting here that the imperative “remember” is the only imperative in chapter 1-3. Paul wanted his listeners to be continually aware of the change that has been brought about by their union with Christ. This act of remembrance will further cause them to be thankful for what God has done.

And so formerly, the Gentiles were (verse 12):

  • Separated from Christ– They worshiped idols and had no knowledge of Christ.
  • Excluded from the citizenship in Israel– Israel was God’s nation in a way that was not true of any Gentile nation.
  • Foreigners to the covenants of the promise– God did not make any covenants with any Gentile nation but only with the Jews. Interestingly, many of the Pharisees would pray daily, “O God, I give thanks that I am a Jew, not a Gentile.”
  • Without hope– It is said that great hopelessness covered the ancient world. Philosophies were empty, traditions were disappearing, and religions were powerless to help men face either life or death. They literally had no hope to hold on to (1 Thess. 4:13).
  • Without God in the world– Although they had many gods as Paul noted in Athens (Acts 17:16-23), they in their pagan religiosity did not know the true God, YHWH.

But all these changed! They were no longer what they used to be. This is introduced by the contrast “but” in verse 13. They were “far away” but have been brought “near” through “the blood of Christ”. This is what makes all the difference! Now, because of the new identity, the blood of Christ is thicker than water (than former external identities/distinctions). They now belong to a spiritual family.

It is the blood of Christ that made the Gentiles citizens partakers of the covenants of the promise. It is through the blood of Christ that those who had no God encountered God and those without hope found hope. To Paul, this was worth remembering.

In a nation plagued by divisions, tribalism, and strong political inclinations along tribal lines, how can we apply this understanding?

Undeniably, our tribes give us our foundational identities as Kamba’s, Kalenjins, Luo’s Kikuyu’s etc. On the other hand our union with Christ supplies us with a new identity as sons/daughters of God. How do you handle these two identities? Do they conflict each other?

To be specific, How do you identify yourself? Are you a Luo/Kalenjin/Kamba/Kikuyu Christian or are you a Christian Kalenjin/Kamba/Kikuyu? If the first be the case then water is still thicker than Christ’s blood.

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If the second is the case then, Christ’s blood has become thicker than water.

The new identity that Christ gives is a higher and brings unity across tribal distinctions. Obviously, Jesus does not obliterate our former identities but provides a higher and superior identity. When we came to Christ for salvation, he made us a new creation. He gave us a new and transformed identity that gives us new lenses of seeing and engaging the ‘other’. With this transformed view, we are able to see more than a tribe/political affiliation in a person. It makes us see God’s image in THEM. It makes us see external identities not as primary but as secondary. It makes it easy for one to bless, love, talk to, pray, and to vote for a candidate from another tribe…

The solution to our tribal politics as Christians is not in refraining ourselves from discussing politics but in rising up beyond tribal categories by living out our new identity in Christ that sees all people through God’s lenses.

  1. Making Christ our peace (vv.14-15a)- Our oneness as God’s people has been made possible by Jesus Christ, our peace. Through him, walls of hostilities fall; or must fall. Also, as our model, Jesus unites us to God and to one another.

In Christ, the vocabulary of circumcised and uncircumcised ceases. It is now possible for “THEM” to be “US” because of Christ “OUR” peace.

 In order to bring this unity Christ was able to:

A. Make the two one– Practically, how can two become one? Mathematically it can only happen by subtraction; but in Christ two can become one without subtraction. In God’s economy, two can become one through the Person of Christ. The separation between Gentiles and God and between Gentiles and Jews required peace. And Jesus Christ became that peace- the one who makes us one with God, and with one another. Inviting and involving Christ among warring parties will definitely offer a lifeline of peace and hope.

Unity is an important component in our families, relationships, churches and by extension the nation. As individuals and corporately as a church, we have a solution to the challenges Kenya and Africa is facing. The church is not part of the problem but part of the solution because of the message and mission of reconciliation that Christ has entrusted the church to bring to the world (2 Cor. 5:16-21). Therefore be a peacemaker and an ambassador of reconciliation within your social networks.

B.  Destroy the barrier/the dividing wall of hostility– Christ was able to do this through his body when he died on the cross for all people.

The “wall” here can refer to the partition that hindered Gentiles from going to the holy place in the temple. It could also be referring to the curtain in the temple that separated the holy place from the holy of hollies. Either way, the dividing wall has been broken.

By implication, there is literally nothing that can once again separate believers from all backgrounds based on race, culture or whichever background. All in Christ have been made one. In addition, Christ abolished the law with its commandments and regulations. As a result, believers are now not under the law but under grace. Barriers divide and hinder unity; they create unhealthy distinctions of “us” versus “them” therefore they must be destroyed.

What barriers of hostilities have we possibly erected as individual believers or as a church? Jesus is the wall-crusher and chain breaker of such obstacles! Demolishing of barriers that separate is necessary for peace to prevail in our relationships.

In your relationships, what are some of the issues that create disunity and strife that God is calling you today to work on?

He reconciles us with the purpose of:

  1. Forming a New Community (vv. 15b-17)- Reconciliation through the cross, is for the purpose of creating one man/one people/one body- the church. The church is the place where unity and diversity is both experienced and celebrated! The church is the convergent point of peoples from all backgrounds, tribes, languages, nations.

Reconciliation was achieved through the cross- where the hostilities, hatred and enmity were nailed. Therefore the cross of Christ is a unique sign of reconciliation.

What comes to your mind when you see the cross? Is it a sign of shame, failure, defeat or a sign victory and power? Apostle Paul wrote to the church of Corinth, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18). The cross is the power of God. It is the hope that churches and warring communities can be reconciled.

Today, God’s reconciling power is at work in the church and through believers. God’s purpose of forming a new community/church is not in futility because Apostle John in his vision observed, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb…” (Rev 7:9).

  1. Providing Access for all to the Father (vv. 18-22) – Through Christ, humanity is granted access to the Father by one Spirit. Former enemies are now considered sons/daughters in God’s household.

Both Jews and Gentiles now have access to God through Jesus Christ, by one Spirit. This access comes as a result of the destruction of the former walls of hostility.

The Gentiles are no longer foreigners and aliens but are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.

In the OT the only division in the temple was between priests and laity (1 Kings 8:41-43), but by Paul’s day architectural barriers had been introduced for non-Jews and for women. Paul claims that these barriers are destroyed in God’s spiritual temple.

The role of Jesus in the access is vital. God’s people now are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises up to become a holy temple/dwelling place in which God lives by his Spirit.

The power of the cross to bring reconciliation in our relationships is available to every believer. The message that transforms and brings together individuals, families, churches and society is available to every believer in Christ. Therefore, be reconcilers after Christ in a world full of divisions, separation, and conflicts.

Today, as we generously give toward AICMD mission work and ministries, we are reminded that our new identity and unity as believers in Christ should cause us to bring the transforming message of reconciliation to the entire world. For God is making a people for himself from every nation, people and language.

God is calling us to cross frontiers and break barriers in order to bring blessings to the end of the earth. Why support mission work to THEM? It should be because through OUR gift Spirit’s call will enable THEM become US.

I will finish where I started: Is Christ’s blood thicker than water? (Kiswahili: Je Damu ya Yesu ni Nzito Kuliko Maji? Je Uhusiano wa kiKristo ni muhimu kuliko wa kibinadamu?). Is our relationship and identity through the blood of Christ deeper and trustworthy compared to our human and external identities? It should be so; because our new birth is more important and higher than our natural birth.

Christ’s blood is and should always be thicker and deeper than water. #Baraka

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Also read our former helpless and hopeless state and what God did to provide a divine solution.

THE LORD GOD IS MY EVERYTHING- Psalm 23

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Psalm 23 is a praise song of David to Yahweh over His unfailing love and kindness. In this short Psalm, David (the sheep) relates Yahweh’s (the Shepherd) character to his responses.  The psalmist bases his confidence and responses to his situations on the unchanging character of God.  Have a look:

Verse 1, 2:He makes me lie down in green pastures,” for He is JEHOVAH-ROHI (Jn. 6:39). He is not afraid because God will protect. Jehovah Rohi is His name.

Verse 1: I shall not be in want,” because God is JEHOVAH-JIREH (Gen. 22:14); He will therefore provide.

Verse 2:  “He leads me beside quiet waters,” for He is JEHOVAH-SHALOM (Judges 6:24). The Lord our peace.

Verse 3:He restores my soul” for He is JEHOVAH-ROPHECHA (Ex. 15:26). The Lord who heals us from our diseases.

Verse 3: He guides me “in the paths of righteousness” because He is JEHOVAH-TZIDKENU (Jer. 23:6). He is Himself my righteousness, and I am righteous in Him (Jer. 33:16).

Verse 4: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death… “for you are with me,” for He is JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH (Ezk. 48:35). The Lord is there.

Verse 5:  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,” for He is JEHOVAH_NISSI (Exo. 17:15). He is my banner of victory. He will fight for me, as I feast.

Verse 5:  “You anointed my head with oil,” because He is JEHOVVAH-MEKADDESCHEM (Ex. 31:13). The Lord who sanctifies me (who makes me holy).

Lastly, because of the above attributes of God, the psalmist, in confidence, writes,

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (verse 6).

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Nature of God’s Call and Promises

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The Bible records several instances of God calling people to different tasks. For example, God called Moses to deliver Israelites to the promised land; he called Nehemiah to rebuild broken walls and lives in the postexhilic Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus called his disciples to be with him and to empower them for ministry.

In Genesis 12 God initiates a new thing for humanity after the self-exalting episode of humanity in Genesis 11. He calls Abraham to be an agent of blessing to the nations.

In verse 1-3 two imperatives are given by God to Abraham, each with a promise:

  • Leave your country… go to the land…
  • Be a blessing, (you will be a blessing), v2.

God promises Abraham three things if he would respond by obedience:

  • A great nation
  • Blessing – a channel of blessing to the families of the earth.
  • Great name

These three would enable him to be a blessing.

Verse 4-9 records Abraham’s obedience. How did he obey?

  • He left (v4)- Any leaving is not easy. Abraham had to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household but he was told nothing about the land in which he must go. This required faith.
  • He was a blessing (v5-9)- This isn’t easy because naturally we are selfish. Abraham’s call was unique, it was a call: beyond oneself, one’s horizons, one’s people’s and nation to be a blessing to other nations. Undoubtedly, to be a blessing demands a change of heart.

In accomplishing His agenda in our world today, God puts different callings, passions, and visions in us. He calls us so that he can prepare us for what he wants us to accomplish with Him in bringing blessings to many. And so he takes us on a journey that every step/experience counts.  He takes us into a process of becoming….

When God call us to a difficult assignments three things are needed (for the going to happen):

  • Faith God calls us to walk by faith and not by sight. Walking by faith involves walking through unfamiliar paths with confidence on the One who has called us. There is no promise that things will be easy after a call; but God promises his sustenance and presence. In the journey God will teach you to take faith steps. In such cases, be open for God to guide you and renovate your heart. God wants us to ultimately trust him. Also, faith is necessary to be able to believe in God’s promises. Later in Hebrews 11, Abraham is reckoned as a hero of faith.
  • Obedience– God requires that we fully obey him no matter what. At some point in life you have to choose which voice to yield to: either God’s voice or voices of men. Abraham obeyed.
  • Patience– Fulfillment of God’s promises may take time, we need to patiently wait. God does not promise a miracle in every obstacle you face on your way; but he promises his grace is sufficient. He does not promise that people will not discourage you or that Satan will not tempt you to despair and quit; but he promises to strengthen you as you hope in him. Therefore be patient in every circumstance and keep focus on God who is able accomplish what he has started in you.                  Who knows perhaps through your faith, obedience, and patience many people/families of the earth will be blessed!
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