Unnecessary Anguish

Acts 5:3

New International Version (NIV)

Then Peter said, Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?

For Meditation

What if Ananias and Sapphira had children?

This question has been burning in my heart lately. Can you imagine the children’s anguish? Can you imagine their agony and pain after losing both parents on the same day?

Scripture is silent on this, so maybe they did not have any. But what if they did? It’s a back stage story anyway, so who cares? Normally we do not want to peek behind the main story and get entangled in something that could break our heart. Consequently, we leave sleeping dogs alone; and that’s the cruel situation of this world.

Thousands of children are silently suffering from some catastrophic events in their lives. Many are those all over the world who are suffering through life as orphans due to some incontrovertibly thoughtless indulgences by their parents.  Some have been torn apart by the selfish demands of their parents in very bitter and protracted divorce cases. Silently, they are crying day and night. Silently, they are dying; yet, no one notices their sorrow or cares to know – and there are many of them everywhere.

Think about it. Did Benjamin have to be deprived of a mother’s love from birth because of a selfish attachment of Rachel to her father’s gods (Gen. 31:30, 32-35)? Did Joseph have to suffer through such cruel sibling rivalry and eventual slavery without a mother’s protection?

Often times, we forget that we share our lives with other people. We do not belong to ourselves alone. We belong to God and the people He has entrusted us to. What happens in our lives affects the people around us, particularly, our children and their future. If you ever diminished the cruelty of selfishness, look into the eyes of an orphan. Enter into the mind of a child caught in the middle of parental strife over custody rights, and you’ll see the ugliness of divorce. The child has nothing to do with it; yet they suffer the blunt of the process. He or she becomes a victim of adult insensitivity.

So, how do we protect our children from such unnecessary anguish? How could we help those who have been caught in the line of parental cross fire or pursuit? I suggest three things.

First, we must hold up unselfish attitudes and give up our rights for the welfare and future of our children. It is called, pure love. No one can boldly claim love for their children when they cannot suffer under some unpleasant condition for the children’s sake. It could be a career, ambition, promotion, re-location or some cherished grounds in a marriage dispute.

Second, we must let truth hold all aspects of our life together in one unit. That’s integrity. Hypocrisy has no place in the life of the believer. Ananias and Sapphira adorned this garb and sent themselves into a shocking demise instead of a place on the Holy Spirit’s Honor Roll.

Finally, let’s have a heart for orphans and children caught in the endless carnage of refugee centers in wars and natural disaster zones. James calls it the “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless” (James 1:27).

Is that for you?

Shalom.

 

 

The Solution in Your Hands

Hebrews 4:16

New International Version (NIV)

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

For meditation

I shivered in bed this morning for nothing. The bedsheet provided no warmth. I turned uncomfortably around, as sleep eluded me. Why I was suffering in such cold temperature when the weather is warm at this time of the year, I could not decipher. But my struggle continued.

“The air conditioner, stupid!”

It was about 2.30 am, when this rebuke rang loud in my ears. Very quickly, I turned around, picked the remote control sitting on my bedside table, and pressed a single button. End of my suffering. But I am still asking myself why I froze myself for so long when the power to regulate my room temperature was virtually in my hands?

That is the sad commentary of today’s Christians. The power to transform our lives and communities is in our hands; yet, we hardly use it. If anything is ubiquitously available for use by the child of God, it is prayer – the communication line with God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and fired and directed by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, we often diminish its power.

We don’t need permission to pray. Neither do we have to pay to pray. It is free and accessible anytime and anywhere. God desires to communicate directly with His children, so much that He has thrown an open invitation to us to come into His very throne room with confidence.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16).

That’s the intimacy our Father in heaven desires to have with us. No other religion presents this opportunity to its professors. This open door into the very presence of the Almighty God has been made possible by the broken body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everyone who washed themselves in the blood that flowed on Calvary receives authority and right of entry into God’s presence through prayer.

  1. So, do you have a need in your life today?
  2. Are you shivering like I did this morning, desperate for the warmth of Christ Jesus?
  3. Have you forgotten your ready help, just as I completely forgot and suffered unnecessarily?
  4. Do you know the power of mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
  5. Why not take His invitation to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence to receive help for your need today?

I pray you take this challenge, trusting in God’s faithfulness, and upholding His sovereign right by faith. He knows what’s best for you and will always gladden your heart nonetheless, if your faith holds. Concession

Shalom

 

Point of Blessing

Acts 27:24

New International Version (NIV)

Do not be afraid, Paul … and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.

For Meditation

They were caught in a furious storm. Majority of them took the decision to sail against Paul’s counsel. Now they were fighting for their lives on high seas. The sun and stars had deserted them for days and they finally gave up all hope of being saved (Acts 27:20).

Thank God that Paul was still on board the ship. He was a man on God’s mission to Rome, and before Caesar he would stand. No storm was going to change what God had ordained.

That might be your situation today. God has a plan and purpose for your life and nothing is going to stop it. No hurricane can drive you away from God’s destination for your life. You may drift for a while. The ragging storm may frighten you for most of the time. The night may be dark and unending and you may even give up hope.

Take heart, my friend! God has appointed you to be the point of blessing for many around you who are caught in the storm with you. God has given you the lives of members of your family and friends in similar situations. He has not given up on you, and He will deliver you from this one also as He delivered Paul. So, take courage and encourage those around you. Be in the Spirit and hear Him speak a word you can use to encourage them.

“I urge you to keep up you courage … an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid … You must … God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you … So keep up your courage … for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me,” Paul said (22-25).

You serve a faithful God. Open yourself to His Spirit and listen. He is the God who speaks out of the storm (Job 38:1). No matter how boisterous, loud, and prolonged the storm might be, you will hear the Almighty’s voice. Paul heard Him and encouraged the stubborn passengers and crew. It is your privilege in Christ Jesus. It’s called grace.

  1. So, were you with the majority that made the terrible decision to sail against Paul’s counsel?
  2. Is there anything you could do to roll back the time to make things right?
  3. Isn’t that the universal challenge of all ages?
  4. Can you therefore thank God that your Paul is still on board the ship?
  5. Can you praise the God who keeps covenant with His children even through the storm?

I pray you’ll keep up your courage and believe with Paul that God will surely deliver you from the storm, though things may worsen before your deliverance.

However, remember His sovereignty.

Shalom

 

Maybe Not …

Ruth 4:6

New International Version (NIV)

At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”

For meditation

He readily accepted to buy Elimelech’s field Naomi was selling, as Boaz wisely put it before the elders of the town (Ruth 4:2-12). The kinsman-redeemer did not want to lose it to Boaz, the next in line.

“I will redeem it,” he said.

“On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man’s widow in order to maintain the name of the dead with their property.”

“Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it for yourself,” the kinsman-redeemer said.

  1. Do you see how quickly we claim the promises of God, but struggle with the conditions that come with them?
  2. If we love the Lord and acknowledge His righteousness, why do we think His requirements are unfair or against our welfare?
  3. Is it because we see God’s righteous requirements as infringement on our wills and desires? But are they really? Do they not rather deliver us from our selfish and wicked ways?
  4. Was Christ exalted without the cross? How then do we expect the blessings of God’s promises without their righteous conditions? See what the kinsman-redeemer in the Ruth story missed – a place in the lineage of Christ, our Kinsman-Redeemer (Matt. 1:5).
  5. Unlike the contracts of this world, are you not glad that God does not conceal the conditions of His promises in fine print that are easy to miss; or with difficult to understand language? So, how can we miss them unless we prefer our ways to His?

I pray you will realize that the conditions of God’s promises are designed to sanctify and make us more like Jesus. They are packed with benefits for now and eternity. The more you yield to them, the more fruitful you become.

So: Claim the promises of God, but love the conditions much more; and as you do, may the blessings of God flow freely unto you and your family in accordance to His sovereign will.

 Shalom

 

A Day for Reflection

Ecclesiastes 3:1

New International Version (NIV)

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens

For Meditation

Today is a day for reflection. It’s a day with its peculiar activities. At midnight, every activity for Saturday 22 July 2017 will cease, and we’ll bid today, goodbye. A new season will begin, and new day will dawn for everyone.

  • As you look back, what do you see – fond memories or regrets?
  • As you look at your now, what do you see – joy or sorrow?
  • As you look forward to tomorrow, what do you see – hope or despair?

These three picture frames are all imbedded with their peculiar activities; for there will never be the same season and day for you on this earth.

One of the sad commentaries of life is that some of us put in some days and seasons, activities that are for other days and seasons, with disastrous consequences.

So I ask this morning:

  • What season and day is this for you?
  • What activities are you filling this season and day with?
  • Will the story be the same for you five years from now or will it be different?
  • Will it be different in a better or regrettable way?

In Ecclesiastes 3:12, Solomon makes a profound statement. “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while we live.”

Is that true of your life?

Like those being buried and mourned today, this day will come for all of us sometime sooner or later. What memories will those who will gather for your funeral and burial have of you?

But lest you forget, another day will come when the Lord will come for His church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Will you be ready for that historic occasion?

There is still another Day to come in heaven, when all who die in Christ will gather before Him. On that Day, our works on earth will be tested through the fire for its quality, and the Lord will reward everyone for their results (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

How will you do on that Day? Are you using this season and time to prepare for it? What is the quality of the materials you’re using to build your life?

But you may ask: “What should I do today and every other day until Christ comes?”

My counsel is, be like the men of Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do when David’s coronation as king of Israel came (1 Chronicles 12:32). It was an opportunity of a lifetime, and they did not miss it. They came in their numbers.

How about you?

  1. Do you understand the times you are living in now or you are just drifting?
  2. Does the church understand this season?
  3. Does it know what it should do?
  4. Do you know what you should do?
  5. Are you doing it?

I pray you are.

Shalom

 

The Power and Authority of God’s Word

Mark 2:11

New International Version (NIV)

“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

For meditation

It was a simple thing for Him, but they could not perceive it. The creative Word of God stood in human flesh before them; but the teachers of the law refused to recognize Him. Not that their denial could change anything; it was just a pity for the premier objects of God’s “grace and truth” to choose to drown in the depth of ego and jealousy (Jn. 1:1-5, 19-11, 14). But that’s the same sad story of today’s generation. However, there were – and still are – those who had nothing to hold on to, but their faith.

They came as they were and received forgiveness for their sins. They came to experience the healing power of the Savior they did not completely recognize, but sensed His powerful presence. His speech pierced their hearts with authority. The wonder of His miracles mesmerized them; so, they came just as they were – even when there was no room for them and a hole had to be dug through the roof to let down their paralyzed friend (Mk. 2:1-12).

But glory to God! No one who displays such faith in Jesus escapes His attention and compassion.

“”Son, your sins are forgiven.”

“Blasphemy!” they said.

“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

End of argument; for His command had authority, and His words were embedded with power to heal. The paralyzed man’s bones, sinews, and muscles heard the voice of their Creator and responded. He “got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.” Amazed, all the people praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

This is the same Jesus, your Savior and Lord. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

  1. So, what is your problem?
  2. Have you, by faith, gone to Jesus in prayer concerning your situation?
  3. Has He said anything to you – directly or through a promise that jumped out of the pages of His written word?
  4. Can you exercise your faith to receive the power and authority of His word and simply obey?
  5. Why then are you wallowing in self-pity as before, paralyzed by fear and immobilized by unbelief, when mercy has been released by your Master to arrest your situation, and grace for a new beginning (Heb. 4:16)?

I pray you overcome that fear and let faith carry you on its wings into the power and authority of God’s promises, which have always been “Yes” in Christ (1 or. 1:20).

So: Say “Amen!” to it for the glory of God, and experience a joy you never knew before.

Shalom

Where Pride Could Take You

2 Kings 5:12

New International Version (NIV)

“Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?”

For Meditation

“I can’t believe you, Kwame. After all your education, how could you believe that somebody’s death can save you?” my friend said.

He was coming from a meeting of the Rosicrucian Society, I believe it was. It did not make sense to him that the blood of Jesus washes away the sins of the penitent. He virtually called me a fool for believing this “lie.” But I don’t know who actually the fool is in this matter.

“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).

Unfortunately, billions around the world have accepted the lie of the enemy that there is something in themselves, a higher knowledge they could acquire, or something they could do to save themselves. Consequently, they feel at ease to worship images fashioned by human hands, or bow to rivers and trees as their gods (Is. 44:12-17; Rm. 1:21-23). And they are very educated too!

Their pride is their death warrant. Their shame is their ignorance. They boast about physical things and reject everything spiritual through Christ Jesus. But how could they understand? For,

“The  person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (2 Cor. 2:14).

That’s the universal human problem – trying to understand spiritual things through human logic. That was the problem of my friend.

In the Old Testament, a celebrated warrior of Aram behaved the same way until his servants intervened (2 Kings 5:1-14). He had leprosy and came to Israel for healing. The prophet Elisha asked him to go and dip seven times in the Jordan river for cleansing; but he got angry.

“Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage (12).

Prevailed upon by his servants, he went, washed, and was healed (14).

  1. When will the world apprehend the fact that there are many rivers in this world, but only one has inherent healing power?
  2. When will the world know that that river is the blood of Jesus that flows on Calvary (1 Jn. 1:7)?
  3. When will they accept that it is accessible to everyone, but only by faith (Rm. 1:17; 3:25)?
  4. When will they recognize  that it cleanses as white as snow (Is. 1:18)?
  5. When will they be wise, and like Naaman, put away their prideful objections, go to Calvary, wash, and be cleansed from their sins (Rm. 10:9-10, 13; Jn. 1:12-13; Eph. 2:8-9)?

I pray the time is now. Not tomorrow or the next minute; but now!

As the Spirit says: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion” (Heb. 3:15).

Shalom