Monthly Archives: November 2013

In the midst of trouble

As we pause for one moment and have a good look at past experiences that we have had to endure in life, the one thing we have had to face is trouble, which came without warning and when least expected. What is trouble? Trouble can be related to distress, worry, concern, difficulty, discomfort, unpleasantness, inconvenience, vexation, grief, affliction, suffering, tribulation, adversity, misfortune, and a host of other things. Job 14:1 has this to say about trouble: “Man that is born of a woman is of few days old and full of trouble.”
In spite of being a Christian, life isn’t without trials. There are times when we have to run the gauntlet because of the problems that we face, and this results in us having sleepless nights, as well as anxiety. The one thing that causes us to rejoice is the fact that we are not alone. We have a Saviour that pilots us through troubled waters. No matter what we endure as Christians, God’s word is still the source of hope and comfort. Romans 5:3,4 confirms this: verse 3 says, “ We can rejoice too when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us they help us endure” and verse 4, “and endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” In the school of hard knocks we have been taught not to depend on called friends. because when we needed them to stand by us, they seem to have been relocated to some other place. The area in which we fail, is that we don’t share our problems with Jesus. Jesus is a friend that never lets us down. His telephone number is 333 Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Whenever we have disappointments, problems, or matters that are beyond our control we need to run to Father God and not from Him. “Trust in the Lord, always” Isaiah 26:4.

It’s all about unity

Dear Family,

From the very beginning of human activity on our planet, the solitary ploy of the enemy has been to disturb unity. It does not take much mental exercise to realize that if unity can be disrupted, then everything else simply falls apart at the seams. God’s plan: perfect unity in the Trinity in perfect unity with His creation, man being the crown of all creation.

Unfortunately we know the story:- the unity which Adam and Eve enjoyed with the Creator was disrupted. The unity in the first family was further damaged by the murder of a brother by a brother. Disunity then snowballed until God determined to start again with a righteous man and his family after the world wide flood. And even with a new start, it did not take long before that too produced what we have until today. Even unity in creation started unraveling after disunity took effect. We learned recently how some of the teeny tiny bacteria became rogue and continue to plaque man.

Jesus is all about unity. Jesus is all about reconciling man to God – back to unity. The Second Coming and the consummation of the ages is all about restoring unity by the destruction of the final enemy, death, which arrived through disunity! Think a bit in our terms. What happens when disunity enters a family, a marriage, a business, a church, a sport club, or anything else? Death and destruction which lasts for many generations! On the other hand, think about the pictures we have in the Bible where God emphasizes unity, for example, the Oneness of God; marriage; God and His bride, the church; the Scriptures of promised blessing upon unity.

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 4:3-6: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

“Every effort” implies that we must do whatever we can, whatever it takes, at whatever cost or personal expense, to ensure that division is not allowed to find a comforting corner in the halls of our humanity. You see, once the unity is breached, the walls always come tumbling down. So, will you commit to “every effort” to keep in line with the Father?

Paul

Glimpses Of The Great God: Day Twenty

DAY TWENTY

                                   Two other men, both criminals,

were also led out with Him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull,

there they crucified Him, along with the criminals –

one on His right and the other on His left. 

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,

for they do not know what they are doing.”…..

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him:

“Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him.

“Don’t you fear God,” he said,

“since you are under the same sentence? 

We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me

when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth,

today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:32-34a; 39-43

There must have been something so amazingly different about Jesus that a hardened thug, dying for his crimes, was deeply touched by His words and His attitude.  What he saw and heard made him realise that Jesus was no ordinary man.  This last-minute revelation gained him an eleventh-hour rescue from hell.

DAY NINETEEN

 Then Jesus went with His disciples

to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them,

“Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 

He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him

and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. 

Then He said to them,

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. 

Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground

and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible,

may this cup be taken from me. 

Yet not as I will but as you will.”

 Matthew 26: 36-39

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth

He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears

to the one who could save Him from death,

and He was heard because of His reverent submission.

Hebrews 5:7

 Will we ever understand what it cost Jesus to say “yes” to His Father? We do not know the risk He took by becoming a man.  Had He ever once failed to trust His Father’s love through all the tests He had to endure, He would have suffered eternal separation from the Father because He would have sinned and been condemned along with us.   Jesus did not fail us then and He will not fail us now!

 

Small Is Great

SMALL IS GREAT

“They started arguing over which of them would be the most famous. When Jesus realised how much this mattered to them, He brought a child to His side. ‘Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me,’ He said, ‘and whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me. You become great by accepting, not asserting. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference,”’ Luke 9:46-48 (The Message).

This issue of who would be the greatest was on-going with the disciples. Being a disciple and follower of Jesus didn’t cure them of their power struggle. What was it that drove them to want the highest position in the kingdom He kept talking about? What did they understand by the “kingdom of God” anyway?

From the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus’ teaching was aimed at loosing both His disciples and the people who came to listen to Him, from their old ideas about the kingdom of God. They still equated the kingdom with their national boundaries and their national pride. David was their greatest king. He was a warrior and a champion. Under his rule, the boundaries of their territory were extended to the greatest Israel had ever been. They were a free people. Their enemies had all been defeated and they were safe and at peace under their own king.

Roman occupation with its oppression and cruelty aroused a fresh expectation of the Messiah who would deliver them from their enemies and re-establish a golden age of peace and safety. In this kingdom, their king would need a council, and they were surely to be it, but who would be top dog in that council? Each of them wanted the glory that went with the position. James and John even involved their mother in their ambition to be at the top. Perhaps her influence would count for something!

Imagine how shocking and revolutionary His solution was to their squabbling. But, like the issue of His crucifixion, everything He told them about greatness fell on deaf ears. It clashed with their ambition and they dismissed it without another thought. To be really great, Jesus told them, was to stoop down and recognise the value and potential of the smallest and least, a little child, but they would not see it that way.

Children had their place in society but it was at the bottom of the pecking order. They had no authority and wielded no influence. They were there, in the family, waiting to take their place when they became useful as partners in the family business, for example. Until that time, they were irrelevant.

What’s the real issue here? To acknowledge a child is to put oneself on his level, to recognise his worth and to see his potential. That means climbing down off one’s high horse and being willing to look beyond the end of one’s own nose. Jesus was insisting that His disciples foster the same attitude towards a child as He wanted them to have towards the outcasts of society.

It’s not about who performs the best for other people to see and congratulate, but it’s about who can see the potential for greatness in others and do what we can to nurture them towards fulfilment. When we can come down to the level of a child, we are putting things in their correct perspective.

It’s more about cutting ourselves down to size than it is about cutting others down to size. It’s about taking authority over our own hearts rather than having authority over other people. Jesus said, ‘If you want to rule, rule over yourself first. When you can do that, you are qualified to have authority over others because your humble attitude will enable you to act with grace and mercy towards them.’

Helpless people, especially children, need protection, not exploitation. Whatever position we occupy in society, it is up to us to take care of those who have no voice or power to protect themselves. How will irresponsible people, both mothers who make the decision to get rid of their offspring and those who perpetrate the evil deed, answer for the wholesale slaughter of unborn babies in the light of Jesus’ attitude towards little ones?

How do you measure yourself in the light of Jesus’ standard?