Are We Blind?

Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” – John 9:41.

Allow me to be a little personal this week. What is wrong with us in some of our nations in Africa? Why can’t we reckon the filth in our towns and cities as disgusting and hazardous to the health of our people? Does anybody care? We admire the cleanliness and beauty of other nations and fight to live in their best neighbourhoods they have meticulously built and jealously maintained. Why, then, can’t we do the same and clean our cities and towns, uplifting our communities and neighbourhoods for heathy living? Why do we accept mediocrity, and unreasonably protect outmoded traditions and customs that send us thousand years into the dark ages? How can we be comfortable with filthy streets, chocked gutters, and piles of garbage dumps in our market places and be comfortable with our situation? How long can we continue to drive through dusty and unlighted streets, strewn with gullies, to our million-dollar mansions and be proud of ourselves? When will our attitudes change?

We litter with impunity even when driving the latest models of expensive cars. We live in these million-dollar mansions without running water and electricity; and yet, we see nothing wrong with them. We would rather spend our money on big and ostentatious funerals that strike our egos, than get our acts together and plan for better living conditions and clean environment. What is wrong with us? Are we blind?

It reminds me of the story of the man born blind who was healed by Jesus (John 9:1-41). The miracle was so obvious a pointer to Jesus as Messiah; yet, the religious leaders ridiculously failed to accept it. They needed spiritual sight, but they failed to recognize their malady and see their Healer in Jesus (39-40). They asked if they were blind too, to which Jesus responded, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (39-41).

The Pharisees were blind to the filthy conditions of sin they lived in. To their shame, their blindness prevented them from acknowledging their Saviour in Jesus. How really blind they were!

We have become like the Pharisees in our nations. We refuse to see the filth in which we live, and the need to clean up after ourselves. We claim to be smart and wealthy, but we’re “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked,” as Jesus told the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:17).

We need the light of Jesus to shine on our hearts and eyes to see the filthy conditions of our cities and towns, and awareness to clean them up. We are capable and competent. If a war-torn nation like Rwanda has done it, why can’t it be done in other parts of Africa? Attitudinal change is all we need; but where are the leaders to take this on?

Before anybody dismisses the example of Rwanda because of Paul Kagame, maybe they should take a closer look at the heart and attitude that went into the Rwanda concept and tell us how they too can get it that right under an acceptable system of governance, with well-managed and adequately funded and maintained institutions. Then they can hold that up to our people and the world as a preferred achievement. I will love to see that and herald it in a similar message.

In the meantime, I want to argue that if Rwanda slides into a disorganized and dirty country, it would not be because Kagame is no more. It would be because those who take over have never had the nation at heart to seriously consider what is good and healthy for the people. Nobody destroys a beautiful and well-tendered garden merely because the previous owner was a bad and hated person. That would be foolhardiness. It would be because of their wicked and selfish intentions.

However, for now, the people of Rwanda breathe well and prosperly. They may desire a loosened grip in governance, as the ten trbs demanded of King Rehoboam after his father Solomon (2 Chron. 10:3-4), but the attitudes of Rwandese are being challenged and shaped as the current results show. If the system of governance changes, and those who take over from Kagame love their nation and have a heart to keep it that clean, they can demonstrate it for all to see.

I hold my time behind my computer for that day.

 

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When God Restores

I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing – Ezekiel 34:26

Jerusalem has fallen. The people of God are hopelessly languishing in Babylonian exile. They’ve hung their harps. Their captors want to hear some of their songs (Ps. 137:1-4). But, how could they? Their energy is gone. Hope has slowly turned to despair. Where is the energy to pick up their harps? Where is the voice to sing? Where is the motivation to entertain? How can they sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land (4)? But, can they ever forget Jerusalem? Can they fail to make their holy city their highest joy (5-6)? Never!

What they need is a word of encouragement from their God. They could use a word of comfort from their One true God who has promised never to leave them nor forsake them (Deut. 31:8). And, true to His nature, He comes through for them, even in that faraway country – in their disobedience and exile. Through His prophet, Ezekiel, God gives them a glimpse of their blessed situation when He sends them back to Jerusalem.

“I will make [you] and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing” (Ezek. 34:26).

Isn’t that wonderful?

God is going to deliver His people from their captors and bring them back to their native Israel. That, they could be sure of; for He is the true and faithful God – the only God who never goes back on His word (Nu. 23:19). He promises to surround them with blessings, showers of blessing to refresh them – the autumn and spring rains to bless their sowing and reaping for abundance. And, when God says, “There shall be showers of blessing,” they could begin to rejoice, even before the rains come pouring to give life to their desolate land. God has decreed it from eternity, and it shall never fail. They only must wait for its manifestation.

This is your God, my reader. This is your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Need I remind you of His love, mercy, and grace? Do you have to be convinced of His faithfulness in your period of stress, pain, and suffering? Is Calvary not enough evidence to assure you of your deliverance? Did He not deliver you from your sin nature? So, what is this cloud of momentary affliction to Him? Are you not under His radar, twenty-four seven? Is He not still faithful? Can He deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13).

It may take a little while, my friend; but He will come through for you. He knows the plans He has for you. They are “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” ((Jer. 29:11). Take His word, therefore, and continue in your humility before His throne of grace. He promises to hear your cry and bless you with mercy and grace to carry you through this difficult season also (Heb. 4:16).

So, may God pour His showers of blessing on you in abundance in your season of need; and may they be in the measure of His divine mercy and grace to satisfy, renew, and renew you in Christ Jesus, amen!

 

Can’t Believe Again?

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them – Mark 11:23

Communication is the oxygen of every good relationship. Limit its supply, and you’re courting trouble. Suspicions insidiously creep in to snuff out trust, the anchor of the relationship. Over time, doubt drips its poisonous sap into the mind of one partner, and the relationship begins to die a slow death.

Aku and Ben experienced this trend in their beautiful marriage when Ben began to withdraw and spoke less. The delightful calls from work and on business trips dwindled, and the collection of gifts from the countries Ben visited dried up with time. When they spoke, Ben seemed distracted and spacey. Aku’s best friend, Lala, suggested that Ben might be seeing another woman. Aku moved on that suggestion and started questioning everything Ben did. They quarrelled often and slept in separate rooms. Gradually, their romance died. Aku doubted if the man she fell in love with and married fifteen years ago was the same Ben she now lived with. She talked about divorce, but for the timely intervention of a counsellor. Ben had not been cheating on her. Rather, he had been going through some personal struggles on the job that drained him emotionally. Unfortunately, the male ego dealt him a bad hand he couldn’t handle well at home.

When doubt attacks our faith, it challenges everything godly and robs us of our blessings. When we allow its tentacles to coil around our minds, we can’t believe anymore. What was real yesterday, could easily become something we can’t perceive any longer. Remember John the Baptist’s question to Jesus from jail in Matthew 11:3? How could the man who identified Jesus to the world as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn.1:29), entertain any doubt about His identity? But that’s how our expectations can frustrate our faith and ignite doubt to drive us away from God’s appointment.

Maybe, you are in the same situation today. You met Jesus and fell in love with Him. Things were going well until hell broke loose around you. Your marriage is falling apart like that of Aku, or your children are straying from the Lord. It may be your finances, health, or job. The crux of the matter is that you’re being crushed under the weight of affliction, and you can’t trust anymore. This is the time you need Jesus the most, but your prayers don’t seem to go anywhere. You’re beginning to doubt if holiness and integrity are worth your dedication. What happened to the promises of God, and why isn’t He doing something about your situation?

The truth is, until we replace our personal expectations with the reality of Jesus’ being, we can’t have the right perspective and attitude in our trials to prevail.

So, don’t let doubt frustrate your faith in Jesus. He is the true Messiah, and He has all your issues under control. His ways may be different from yours, but that should not cause your faith to falter.  Persevere in your trials until maturity adorns you for eternity (James 1:2-4). The crown of life awaits you there (12).

 

The God of Yesterday and Today

The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” 1 Samuel 17:37

He was a giant on his own – a head taller than anyone in Israel (1 Sam. 9:2). Chosen by God Almighty, Saul was anointed king over Israel to lead them under His rule and oversight. That’s what the anointing really means. God was still in charge of Israel and remained their Commander-in-Chief. So, why was King Saul hiding from the Philistine giant (1 Sam. 17:11)? Why had he allowed Goliath to intimidate them in a way that was tantamount to insulting the God of Israel (26)?

Unfortunately, that’s how we behave most of the time when challenges of life rudely confront us. We often evaluate the situation by magnitude, what it communicates to us, and the forces and power it packs. Fear grips us, as we evaluate our inadequate selves and bemoan our doom. We forget our own stature in Christ – giants like no other, who have been made more than conquerors in Christ Jesus who gives us strength (Rm. 8: 37). Poor souls! As Jesus rebuked the disciples after He quieted the storm, “Where is your faith”? (Lk. 8:25).

Enter a young man from Bethlehem, the son of Jesse – the one his father forgot when God came to anoint a king for His people (1 Sam. 16:11). Nobody saw him as the king of Israel because he had not been coronated yet. But, David was the real king in the eyes of God because of the anointing. Never forget that.

You may not have been elevated to the position that God has for you. However, His anointing on you has already placed you there. People may not see it, but you are who God says you are, not how people see you. Walk, therefore, in that confidence and trust of Him who mandates and enforces.

David knew this truth when he walked onto the scene that was polluted by Goliath’s proud and boastful words (19:22-24). He had killed the lion and the bear in God’s power, so he possessed a personal experience of God’s saving grace (34-35). He knew the history of Israel and their God who led them to supplant the Canaanite nations. David knew about Egypt, the Red Sea crossing, and the Jericho Wall. He was schooled in the matchless name of the “Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” (45). He was confident of His deliverance, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword and spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands” (46-47). That’s the attitude of faith that overcomes the giants in our lives.

This faith is premised on the truth that God is the God of the hills and the valleys (1 Kings 20:28). He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). He has done it before, and He will do it again, regardless of the formidable nature of the situation that confronts us.

So, why couldn’t Saul apprehend this truth? Why can’t we embrace this same truth with careless abandon, as David did?

Maybe, we must examine our hearts to determine its station – whether it’s in the Lord Jesus or in ourselves. About David, God said, “I have found a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22).

Can God say that about you?

Doing Things Well

 2 Samuel 6:14 

New King James Version (NKJV)

Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.

For Meditation

There are blessings and joy in handling the things of God and doing things right in His service. Heaven responds favorably, the earth rejoices, and the people freely serve with their hearts. Joy fills the heart and moves the worshipper into godly praise and thanksgiving.
That’s what happened this time around when David did the right thing in bringing the ark to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:12-19). Unlike his first attempt that caused the death of Uzzah (1-8), he deployed the Levites in their God-given roles, assigning them to special responsibilities. The ark was carried on its poles by the Levites, as God had designated, instead of on a cart, as in the first attempt. So, life reigned instead of death. There was joy in the air. The music, the sacrifices, the dancing – all glorified the Lord. By following His directives this time, God was revered, and His presence charged the atmosphere. David danced with joy and fervor. And why not? Who can fail to feel the exhilaration in God’s presence. His previous neglect and arrogance had caused much pain to Uzzah’s family, but now his humility and obedience had brought life and celebration. Only Michal, daughter of Saul, took exception. She chose to display her anger and bitterness over David’s worshipful dance before the Lord (16, 20). It’s a dangerous thing to sneer at the worship of the Most High. His glory must incite surrender and worship, not disgust in any form.

There are many Michals in our churches today. The problem with such people is not their stiffness during worship. It’s their inability to stand the joyful celebration of God’s goodness in music and dance. They see it as undignified.  But, as David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord [that I danced] (21)”. The issue is not the music and dance, but the way things are done and the heart that goes into them. The holiness and honor of God must be the core of everything we do.
Shalom

 

My Lord Jesus Christ

By Daniel Henderson (Adopted)

The best-selling author and preacher of the 20th century, A.W. Tozer, said that the most important thing about a person is what comes to mind when they think about God. This is true every moment of every day, compelling us to renew our minds according to the truth.

Take time today, and in the days to come, to meditate on the names of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let them renew your mind, encourage your heart, and empower your trust and obedience as you follow Him.

My Jesus is the . . .

  • Light of the World, so I will invite His warmth and radiance into all the dark and cold places of my life, that He might expose and cleanse my sin and selfishness.
  • Only Wise God, so I can boldly ask and receive from Him all necessary insight, guidance, and direction for my life today.
  • Rock of my Salvation, so I will rest secure and safe, knowing that He has already done everything to save me and to keep me in His love forever.
  • Desire of all Nations, so I will passionately proclaim His truth and beauty in every place, expressing to others the delight I have found in Him.
  • Justifier, so I do not have to work today to be accepted by God, but can simply live in the grace that has made me pure and lovely in His sight.
  • Emmanuel, so I will enjoy and practice His wonderful presence in my life today, knowing that He is with me always.
  • Strength of My Soul, so I come to Him in humility, delighting in my weaknesses, that His power may be demonstrated through me in every situation I encounter.
  • Unchanging Friend, so I will enjoy His faithful companionship and rest securely in His always-reliable love and commitment to me.
  • Savior, so I will kneel before His cross in grateful worship and will live by faith in the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.
  • Cornerstone, so I will confidently base my well-being on the truth of who He is and allow Him to build my life by His strength and stability.
  • Resurrection and the Life, so I will let Him live through me today in the triumph He has already achieved over all sin and death.
  • Image of the Invisible God, so I will draw near and gaze upon Him in intimacy today that He might reveal the fullness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to my heart.
  • Shield of my Salvation, so I will trust Him today to protect my faith and to preserve my life in Him by His promise and power.
  • Truth, so I will come to Him with all my doubts and questions, receiving counsel from His reliable word and consolation from His Spirit in order to live with confidence in this world.

My Jesus is the Healer of my Soul, so I will come to Him with all my hurts, disappointments, and fears to receive His supernatural touch of wholeness, encouragement, and peace.

Daniel Henderson

 

The Poison of Doubt

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

John the Baptist’s question to Jesus from jail illustrates how our faith could wane very quickly when we become disillusioned (Matt. 11:1-6). He had been jailed for criticizing King Herod for marrying Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife (Matt. 14:3-4). John may have expected Jesus’ intervention that wasn’t happening. Over time, doubt, the insidious intruder in the mind, may have surprised his conviction of Jesus as the Messiah with disappointment. The man who identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, now begged for a reason to believe. That’s how cruel expectations could become when our hopes get dashed.

It happens to many of us in different situations. The young couple who couldn’t spend an hour without a call or text message from each other, now position themselves for a fierce divorce battle. A promising job one has ever desired, now threatens the very good life the person aspired for. A ministry that flourished with contented members, now dishes acrimony to a divided congregation, and the pastor is broken. All these situations have a common denominator – disappointment.

Disappointment is the result of dashed hopes and aspirations. It triggers ill feelings, and a desperate pursuit after reason. But that also proves illusive.

Maybe, you are in the same situation as you read this message.

You met Jesus and fell in love with Him. You were getting along well with Him until hell broke loose in your life. Your children are straying from the Lord. Your finances have taken a bad hit from the economic downturn. It may be your health or business that suffers. Consequently, you’re struggling to feel the presence of Jesus, your best friend. You’ve fasted and prayed, but the burden gets heavier every day. Counselling hasn’t helped much, so frustration sets in. Doubt now wages a dangerous war of attrition on your once strong faith in Jesus. Church becomes burdensome, and you wonder if holiness and integrity are worth your commitment anymore. Where is Jesus, and why isn’t He doing something? What happened to His promises?

Maybe the key principle from Jesus’ response to John is what you need now:

Christian faith demands the mind to firmly wrap itself around the reality of the Saviour’s being, as evidenced by the revelation of Himself in His word, rather than your own ideas and expectations of the Him and His ways (Matt. 13:4-6). For it is only then could you have the right perspective and attitude in yours trials, and not grow weary.

For those who may be under hell’s attack and the assault of personal tragedies that have disillusioned and frustrated you; don’t give up yet! Don’t allow doubt to frustrate your faith in Jesus. He is the true Messiah, and He has all your issues under wraps. His ways may not meet your expectations, as His timing may be far from yours. Faltering under such testing conditions of your faith is counterproductive. Persevere till maturity becomes your badge of honor here on earth, and the crown of life decorates you in heaven for the glory of the Father in Christ Jesus (James 1:2-4, 12). Amen.