Monday, March 31, 2014

I Have Something Better For You

I just read a tweet which said that ‘God only gives three answers to prayer – Yes, Not yet, and I have something better in mind’.

I prefer the ‘Yes’ answer to the ‘Not yet’. I find not yet hard to stomach and it usually leads me to more prayer, fasting and a search into more of God’s promises. But that definitely has wonderful results as concerned to my spiritual growth! That amount of digging, searching and praying makes me grow spiritually.

The ‘Yes’ answer is my favorite. It is quick, easy and drives me to ask for more and some more. I do not pray much in this area because the answer comes soon enough. No struggles here and obviously hardly any spiritual growth either. Needless to say, most of the prayers answered in this window are usually small and insignificant. If they are big at all, they are usually few in number.

But then comes the answer I prefer not to have at all – the ‘wait, I have something better or different in mind’. I prefer to pray for what I see, feel or think. That God may see things differently or see into my future is not really my favorite thought. Yet, this ought to be the most exciting revelation ever!  God sees all my coming in and my going out. He knows my every thought. He knows every prayer that I pray even before I pray it. He knows what is best for me because He sees and knows everything, including that which is hidden from my limited vision and knowledge.

God can even turn around a situation for our own good, if only we would learn to trust Him and wait. At the beginning of the year the company I work for opened up a loan facility for us to buy personal vehicles. I spotted my dream car and it was within the loan amount I qualified for. Then something happened which led to the freezing of the loans. I was very disappointed, but what could do but to wait! Two and half months later the loans were unfreezed.

I began a new search for a vehicle, but somehow I could not find one that matched the one I had found in January. Finally I checked in my diary for the contact details of that seller, found him and asked if he had a vehicle for sale available. He told me that he had not found a buyer for the same vehicle I had ‘lost’ in January. God had kept that vehicle for me for two and half months and not only that, but the price had also been slashed by a whooping US$800.00! Beginning of the year the economy was positive, but now it has become quiet leading to price instability.

I still do not like the ‘wait’ answer or the ‘not yet’ but I would rather pray and wait for God’s best than settle for the small and insignificant.

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:1-12

Thursday, February 27, 2014

God's Choice of Wine

The blessings of God cost you nothing; just your obedience, faith and trust.

I was struggling with an illness that would not go away. I had been to doctors, spirit mediums and faith healers, with no success. Now here I was again at the door of one other faith healer. But as I walked into her house I noticed that there was something different from the other houses I had been to.
Firstly, she didn’t draw me into an inner, spooky room filled with strange looking objects. Instead she motioned me to sit on the sofa and quietly left the room. In a short while she returned, followed by a teenage girl carrying a tray of tea and cookies. ‘Strange’, I uttered silently to myself. I explained that I was not well and a woman I met at the shopping centre had given me her address.

She said she understood, got up and took her bible which was by the television stand. She opened it and read from a passage which I had no idea what it was talking about.

Isaiah 55:1-2 (NLT)
Invitation to the Lord’s Salvation
 “Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink—
even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
it’s all free!
2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.

It has been about thirty three years now since that encounter with God. There had been other encounters before, but this was different in that the word of God was actually read to me. I enjoyed that good Christian lady’s hospitality. She even prayed for me.

But as I left her house I couldn’t help feeling frustrated. I was hoping to buy some sort of herb, special oil or water to cure my ailment. But all she did was read from her bible. I failed to appreciate what I now do of the power of God’s word. My heart was still closed to God. But I thank God for the Holy Spirit, who even while we are still ‘dead’ because of our sin, reaches out to us and makes us alive to God through the Word.

I would go to that woman’s house and thank her for her faithfulness in sharing the Word of God but I have no recollection of her address. Maybe you are like me then, feeling frustrated because you think the Word being read to you is of no use. The Holy Spirit is at work in you to heal and restore and give a life of abundance in Christ. Or maybe you are one who is reading the Word to an unbeliever and thinking it to be hopeless as you see no results. God says that His Word will not return to Him void without accomplishing what He has purposed it to do. Reference Isaiah 55:11

God bless

Monday, January 27, 2014

Touched By A Newborn Child

Loving and embracing a newborn child can do wonders to one's heart. From the book of Ruth chapter four we read these beautiful words of restoration.

13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”
16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.

I am a grandmother now and this passage particularly speaks to women like me. Women who have suffered pain and loss; whether it was through divorce or death. Women who have longed for comfort, restoration and fulfillment. 

God, in His sovereign timing restored Naomi's joy by giving her a grandchild. She cuddled him to her breast; I now know just how she felt when she did that. It is an indescribable feeling; only understand by God, the cuddlier and the cuddled. The best explanation I can give of this feeling is that one feels complete; as if an open or broken circle has just been closed or repaired.
God be glorified.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Be All There For The Glory Of God

From an RBC devotional message titled, "Be all there", I read this story: A young man secured a holiday job at a resort town. He didn't know what kind of a job he would be getting into until he got there. When he arrived they gave him a job as a dishwasher. He didn’t like that kind of a job, so he decided to quit even before he started. But his friend talked him into staying; not just for the pocket money, but to enjoy the new experience of being the best dishwasher he could be!
It was not his hands that mattered, but his attitude towards what was before him. As I reflected on this devotional message I realized that over the years God had brought me to many situations, people and circumstances which I had dismissed as 'not good enough for me'. I could have been right about those notions but I could have been wrong too.
I am reminded of the scripture passage in Acts 10: 9-16 wherein the Apostle Peter was offered different kinds of meat from heaven to eat; yet three times he refused to obey the instructions to eat. Peter felt that these meats were wrong for him, since eating them violated his Jewish culture. These are the different scenarios we are faced with in life.
But sometimes the circumstances are very simple like the young man's and yet our response could make or break a relationship or opportunity.
A couple of years ago we travelled as a Christian women's group to a conference hosted by one of our African countries. We were in a very jovial mood when we boarded the plane and landed in that country. For some of us it was a double blessing because not only was it the first time to travel outside our nation, but it was also the first time to board a plane. We were deeply excited and full of praise to God for His goodness to us. We had also managed to raise airfares despite our meagre resources. We were just over the moon with excitement and anticipation.
In less than an hour after arrival a luxury coach took us from the airport to the residential place where we would be staying for the week duration of the conference. The place was a college boys' student hostel. We alighted from the coach and stood in amazement at the sight of that building. None of us had been the least prepared to see the ugly sight of that building. It was old, run down and filthy. And that was just the outside we were looking at!
I think the coach crew read our changing emotions faster that we expressed them because they quickly unloaded our luggage and drove away, leaving us just standing there. We all wanted to go back home, right there and there. But we had no transport out of that place which we had no idea of its location on the map of that country' city. Our exceedingly abundant joy evaporated into tears of anguish and desperation for a reassuring word.
We dragged our suitcases to the entrance marked 'Reception' where some unconcerned college staff gave us keys to our rooms. Turning the keys and opening the hostel rooms led us into even more depression. The rooms’ walls and floors were equally filthy. Some of us needed to use the bathrooms urgently and rushed there only to be greeted with uncleaned toilet seats and sinks. Everything in those bathrooms was just despicable.
We regrouped as a team and sought among us who would find means to go to town and visit the conference organizers’ offices so they could urgently relocate us. While we were pondering this, one lady sheepishly suggested that we clean up the place. Most of us wanted to beat her up right there and then. But then one voice sheepishly agreed, followed by another and then another.
In a line we marched back to Reception and asked if at all they stocked blooms, bucket, mops and disinfectants. They eagerly led us to a small room at the back of the building which was fully stocked with all kinds of utensils and cleaners. We were shocked, again, as to how they could stock so much and yet clean up so little!
Armed with all we needed we spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up our rooms, bathrooms including the stench stained men’s urinaries. We even went so far as sweeping up the courtyard. We were turning the place into ours and making it as pleasant as possible so we could be ‘all there’ without sharing our emotions with here and home.
At the appointed time in the evening we went down to the kitchen for our supper. The staff were punctual and soon we were enjoying our meal. But the plates were kind of tinted; we tried to ignore this but finally had to admit the fact that the plates were not thoroughly clean. There were some places we could not clean...
We needed God and we needed Him badly. We went into the lounge and we sat and wept and then sang to the Lord out of our despair. ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion..’ (Psalm 137:1) God stirred up the hearts three ladies in our midst. One led us through songs of praise and worship, the other led us in prayer and the other preached the Word. Then we went to our rooms and slept.
That conference turned out to be one of the best Holy Spirit filled conferences I have ever attended. The devil wanted to crush our spirits before we even began so we could grumble and murmur all week long and miss out on the good that God had waiting for us. The devil comes to steal and destroy the abundance of joy and blessings that God has in store for us (John 10:10).
Every morning we would rise up early and have breakfast at 6am on dirty plates and come back in the evening in time for supper at 7pm again on dirty plates. But what was in between the day was the most important of all - the Word of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit and ministry through praise, prayer and healing.
I want to thank God for showing us how to be all there so that we would not miss the good that He had in store for us.
What about you? Are you grumbling and mumbling because of the long hours at work which are very poorly rewarded? Be all there for God’s glory. Or is it a below expectation marriage relationship? Be all there for God’s glory. An illness that limits your potential, a challenge in resources that stops you from achieving bigger, a church that will not acknowledge your gifting... Be all there in your situation for God’s glory. Take, eat and enjoy everything that God has put on your plate – for His glory.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

God Cares

Job 4 : 3 - 6

New Living Translation (NLT)
3 “In the past you have encouraged many a troubled soul to trust in God; you have supported those who were weak.
4 Your words have strengthened the fallen; you have steadied those who wavered.
5 But now when trouble strikes, you faint and are broken.
6 Does your reverence for God give you no confidence? Shouldn't you believe that God will care for those who are upright?"

These words were spoken by Eliphaz to his friend Job. Tragedy had hit Job right in the groin. The Word says that, 'his suffering was too great for words' Job 2:13b. And when he could finally put words in his mouth he cursed the day he was born (chapter 3) - that was Job's first speech! Job was mad from extreme pain and sorrow. 
But in his time Job had encouraged many, comforted many, counseled many, supported many, steadied and strengthened many. Yet at the time of his own pain he could not bring himself to remember the goodness of the God who had given him the compassion to strengthen others. Would this God surely not send others to be there for him?
Are we not like Job in our pain? Do we not forget that God cares for us? We drive the knife of pain deep into our hearts when we stop believing that God cares. 'Shouldnt you believe that God will care for those who are upright?'

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Young Lady’s Sad Adventure

In the Bible there is a young lady very little talked about. Her name is Dinah and she is briefly mentioned in Genesis 34.
She was born to a very affluent family, the Jacobs. She had everything a young woman could wish for; rich parents, big family, servants, rich cultural heritage and was a princess in her own right.

She had the pleasure of traveling the world with her family; seeing places that girls of her age group could only dream about. Among the servants were escorts and security personnel to provide protection against unwanted attraction from the handsome worldly men they came across as they traveled.

Dinah herself was quite charming, young and attractive. One day she got bored, really bored of her family’s company. She was fed up of the constant watchful eye of the servants and the constant reminders from her parents that she was of noble birth and should not affiliate herself with the commoners.

So one early morning she made up her mind to sneak away from her family without raising much suspicion. Among the servants she had a friend called Deception, who with the help of Disguise and Desire managed to help her sneak out of her family’s hotel rooms before they came down for breakfast.
She took the first carriage to the southern part of the country. She wanted to see how the people on that side of the country lived. She had heard lots of stories from Deception about how exciting their lifestyle was and how different it was from hers. Her curiosity and excitement was driving her.

She made it to the city of Shechem, excited to be alone and looking forward to a fun-filled day. She felt adventurous. And she was sure no one would notice her since she was not dressed in her usual rich Jacobson attires. Today she had disguised herself as an ordinary city girl out looking for entertainment. Today was not the day for propriety, today was the day for fun!
Her three servants had agreed to cover up for her till late in the evening when she would be expected to be present at the family dinner table. It was about midday and with her head in the air and a faint but naughty smile lighting up her face, she walked down the streets of Shechem city.

It wasn’t long before she drew the attention of the younger smartly dressed men of the city hurrying around their office buildings. One in particular was quite smitten by Dinah’s looks. His name was Sinister. He befriended her; and soon they were laughing and chatting away as if they had known each other for years. He had been sent to the city by his Master to do some errands and was just about to go back home in time for the midday meal. And since she was from out of town, he did the courtesy of inviting her home for the meal. They got into a carriage and within ten minutes they were ushered into a very rich looking and big double storey house.
This was the house of Prince Shechem, one of the world’s wealthiest and eligible bachelors. The young man who had befriended her was one of the Prince’s cousins. She was quite eager to be invited inside. As the servants lined to greet the visitor she suddenly realized the rare opportunity to be invited into a real five star palace.

Lunch was served. At the table she was introduced to the rich handsome powerful Prince of Shechem. Dinah was mesmerized by his strong physique and his eyes which tended to search deep into her soul. His voice when he addressed her carried her into unknown lands way beyond her imagination.
As she looked around the room she mentally compared her own royalty and luxury with that of Shechem, and she remembered her servant Deception’s words, ‘You will like it better out there’. As she drank in all the exquisite decors and expensive furniture she glowed even brighter.

The Prince was watching her, smiling at her or was it to himself; it really did not matter to Dinah. She was enjoying herself and was in the company of the best of the best. Her new found friend noticed the Prince’s watchful gaze on the girl and smiled with satisfaction.
Later in the afternoon Sinister took the girl for a walk in the palace’ beautiful organic gardens. As he walked and chatted with Dinah, his eyes kept darting to the balcony above where the Prince was standing watching them.

A single nod from the Prince was what Sinister was looking out for. Soon he was leading Dinah up the east side stairway which led directly to the inner chambers of the Prince’s private guest house. This is where he entertained his special guests in privacy.
Dinah was ushered into one of the bedrooms before she could realize what was happening. As the sun shone its descending rays into the room, Shechem took her and with those lustful demonic eyes burning into Dinah’s soul, raped her. Her pleas and cries for help were muffled by the opera music played by Sinister in the next room.

Three demons were assigned to Dinah as she traveled with her family. They were after her purity. They were just waiting and watching for a chance for her to slip up. These were Deception, Disguise and Desire. She thought she could deceive her family for the day. She thought she could disguise herself for a day and live the life of the person she was not. She thought she could just this once fulfill her desire to experience life on the other side of the fence. Just today, just this once…was the song playing her mind all morning.
On the road another demon was on a mission looking for young inexperienced, vulnerable girls to give to the insatiable sexual desire of his Prince of demons, Shechem.

Dinah didn’t start out intending to be a slut. She just wanted a bit of life outside her ‘high walls’. ‘Just a little bit of fun… and I will be back home before dusk’, she had promised herself.
Lesson for the young girls
If you have not yet strayed from home, do not even consider it. You are right where God wants you to be. Remember: You are safest at the center of God’s will.
‘For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?’ Mark 8:36

If you have already strayed away from home, find your way back. You will have to live with the consequences but shame and humiliation can never surpass the love, compassion and forgiveness of Home. If you cannot find your way to the earthly home your heavenly Father still awaits your home coming.
He will forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Woman Who Had It All and Yet Lost It All

Her name was Rachel. She was young, beautiful, witty and full of energy. She was a shepherd and knew how to look after camels, donkeys, sheep and goats. She was known throughout the village for her vibrancy. Everyone loved her and she was the source of envy to a lot of women her age. 

One day she heads her animals down to the drinking well. She approaches the well in her usual full spirits. But to her surprise there by the well she finds a handsome young man seated by the rocks. She has never seen him before and he definitely is a stranger. His dressing did not match that of her land. He extends his hand in greeting and introduces himself as Jacob. He mentions that he has traveled from a faraway land and was looking for the village of a farmer called Laban. Rachel is surprised again, for Laban is actually her father.

So she takes the stranger to her father and introduces him. Laban realizes that this young man was actually his sister’s son. He had heard about the trouble this young man had caused in his father’s household and how his mother had sent him to his uncle in the hope of solving the family feud. ‘So, this was Jacob’, Laban mused to himself. He was happy because with his growing herd, he needed more labor and one had just presented himself. 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Jacob fell in love with Rachel; who would not? About seven years later he married her. His love for her was so strong. But first there were some mishaps. Jacob came to Laban empty handed; he had run away from his father and brother. So he had nothing to give to his uncle as a bride price for the girl. They negotiated and agreed that Jacob would work for free for Laban for seven years and that would be considered as bride price. Jacob was not in a hurry to go back to his family, so he happily agreed to work the seven years.

However, his uncle Laban was shrewd. Rachel was very valuable to him, she was his shepherd. He realized that if Jacob married her and decided to go to his people he would lose two good farm hands too soon. So he connived with his other daughter, Leah to present herself as the bride on the night of the wedding. Jacob would be too drunk and too excited from the function to notice the difference right away. Leah was the older sister and not as witty and strong as the younger girl. Not many men found her to be marriageable quality. So the plan suited her as much as it suited her father. 

The plan was put in place and lo and behold Jacob woke up the following morning with the wrong girl by his side. Jacob was furious; but Laban already had a solution to the dilemma – ‘I will give you the other girl, if you are willing to work for me for another seven years’. Jacob could have said ‘no thanks’ to Laban, but he wanted Rachel not Leah. So he agreed to work another seven years for his girl. So, Jacob ended up with two wives, one he learnt to love slowly and the other who was his first and most beloved love.

Jacob had now become a very experienced farm hand and Laban was even keen to keep him. So with much trickery and manipulation he managed to keep Jacob for a couple more years. But with much endurance and farm breeding expertise of his own, Jacob decided that he had had enough of Laban and his tricks. Jacob now had possessions of his own. From his wages over the years he had managed to breed a special type of sheep. He had flocks of these sheep, plus camels, donkeys and his own servants. Laban and his sons were also becoming jealousy of the wealth Jacob had managed to amass for himself. They hated him and were planning evil against him. So one early morning Jacob upped, loaded his wives, children and possessions on the donkeys and camels, and set off with all his flock towards his home land. Laban and his sons were away shearing sheep. They only got to hear about the departure three days later.

Seven days later Laban had chased after them and caught up. He was angry with Jacob for running away from him, but he was also angry about something else. His family gods had been stolen. After much talking, shouting and searching the family gods could not be found. Rachel had taken them, stuffed them in her camel saddle and had sat on them as the search went on. Jacob did not know that she had taken them. But what Rachel did not know was that these gods were a curse upon her life. Jacob himself had replied Laban saying, ’if there is anyone in my midst who has taken your gods, they will die’. Rachel died on the way, she never reached Jacob’s homeland. She died giving birth to her second child, Benjamin. 

If I were Rachel I don’t know how privileged I would have felt, to be so beautiful, full of life and the center of most men’s attention. But despite being the beloved of Jacob, a mother to a much loved son, Joseph and all the wealth she could ever hope for, she still had one thing she desired most in her life – her family gods. She could not leave her father’s house without them. She had to steal them, even when she very well knew that they belonged to her father. They were priceless in money terms, but to Rachel they were a part of her. All her life she had valued them and worshiped them.

About twenty years of loving Jacob and being very close to him had not changed her allegiance to her father’s gods. Jacob and Rachel were very close, since the day they met at the well. He must have talked a lot about his family, their Godly values and heritage. He must have talked about his grandfather Abraham, the one whose faith they followed and believed in. He must have talked to her about his God, Jehovah. But when it came to placing her allegiance, Jacob’s God did not find his way into her heart. She was married to the gods of her father. God wanted to give her more than Jacob’s love, superiority over her sister Leah and all the sheep, camels and donkeys she could ever dream of. He wanted her to know and acknowledge Him as the only God, Jehovah. God did not curse her. The curse was pronounced by Jacob on ‘the one who had stolen the gods’. She could have had it all, but instead she clung to the ‘accursed thing’ and lost it all. How sad!
This story if found in Genesis chapters 29 – 35

Has anyone spoken to you about salvation through Jesus Christ? He was crucified for our sins on the Cross at Calvary. He died a cruel death for us. But God raised him from the dead and today He is seated at the right hand of God praying and interceding for us. Have you come to know this Jesus; have you put your faith in him? What is standing between you and your commitment to Jesus Christ? Do not let the gods of this world block your entry into eternal life.

John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

How to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior