Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Your Heart Is Priceless

A lot of people today are dying from heart related diseases which can be easily prevented by taking great care of one’s diet. I for one, used to love oily and salty foods a lot. The salt shaker was my favorite item on the table. That salty taste plus a lot of anxieties eventually led me to be diagnosed of hypertension.  

My problems didn’t end there. I was also a great lover of sugary fizzy drinks. I drank the sugary stuff to dilute the salty thirst! I was soon diagnosed of diabetes. Finally, I woke up to the realization that I was doing a lot of damage to my kidneys, liver and heart. I had to stop the fats, salts and the sugars immediately.

This is the physical aspect of the heart. There is the spiritual aspect, which if heeded would also take care of the physical.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. NIV

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. NLT

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. NKJV

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. ESV

Keep vigilant watch over your heart, that’s where life starts. MSG

Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it. GWT

Above all else, guard your heart, watch over it, with all vigilance.
Ø  Because everything you do flows from your heart
Ø  Because your heart determines the course of your life
Ø  Because out of your heart springs the issues which will affect your life
Ø  Because out of your heart will flow the springs of your life
Ø  Because out of your heart is where your life starts (and most probably ends)
Ø  Because the source of your life flows from your heart

These are the amazing truths we discover by reading different Bible versions of such a seemingly insignificant passage of scripture.
Out of your heart… Guard it, keep it, and watch over it, daily, consistently, with all vigilance and diligence. Your life depends on it.

I remember when I was still a young girl and in a boarding school. As the new term began, my father would walk me to the bus stop which was about three kilometres from our home. When we got there he would hand over to me the suitcase which he would have carried for me. Then he would take out from his pocket the exact amount of school tuition fees and neatly tuck the small bundle of cash inside the shoes I was wearing. Then he would count several coins into my hand, exactly equivalent to the bus fare to school.

I was to guard very closely those two sets of cash; for the ticket to school which was in the palm of my hand and the one in my shoes which was to be handed over to the school office upon arrival. Losing or dropping any of those small fortunes would have resulted in no schooling for me; my father always made that very clear.

I loved school, and my grades were always high, and so I had no intention of becoming a school dropout. So I guarded my cash very closely. Every now and again I would squeeze my hand just to feel that the cash was still there and I would pull up my socks higher in case the school fee was climbing out of my shoe!

Today I am a grown up Christian woman, and God has entrusted me with something very special to Him and to me - my heart. It has always been there inside me, beating and pumping. But it was without Christ, without the Holy Spirit. It was full of fear of the unknown - what would happen to me if my father suddenly died and I had no school fees. It was full of mischief - what if I just buy myself some fancy stuff with that school fees and just pretend it fell out of my shoe. My heart was also full of resentment - why didn't my father just give me more?

My heart was full of envy when I Looked at what the other students had that I could not have. I was a bright student and studied hard because I wanted to be noticed. That way I could make up for what I didn't or couldn't have. I was poor, envious, unfriendly, resentful and too serious with basically everything. The only time you would see a hint of a smile on my face was when they were calling out my name for prize giving. And that smile would fade quickly since my parents could not afford the cost of coming to school functions.

But I made it. I didn't know Christ; He was not in my heart. But He knew me, saw all my struggles as I grew up and pursued my heart with love and tenderness. Not human love and tenderness; that failed me too. But as a colleague led me to the Bible and my eyes started to behold what I never knew existed, my heart was transformed, light and life came and I began the journey to life - true life, meaningful life.

I found purpose in life. My life began to flow, in a way that made sense and gave me joy. Certain elements in my life that were big issues of discontent started to evaporate. It was as if the Spirit's flow into my heart was cleaning out all the filth of the yesteryears. I began to breathe easily, laugh with joy, make friends, reach out in reconciliation to those who had hurt me, as well as those that I had hurt as I traveled the road of bitterness.

I now feed my heart daily with God's Word. I don't seem to get enough of Bible reading and Biblical courses. Gone is the gloominess from my heart; now I sing or sing-along Christian music all day long. Prayer comes easy. In difficult seasons I am filled with hope and peace because I know that God is with me. Gone now are the sleepless nights and the anxiety and depressive attacks.

I gave God my dark, sad and bloated heart. He took it, healed it, gave it life and gave it back to me to enjoy.

Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this (earthly) water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never be thirsty again. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life". John 4:13-14

I am so thankful for my father who gave me what he could; the earthly water. He gave me a good start in life. Other helps have also come alongside me over the years. But this water, though good for me, was not enough. I also needed the living water that only Christ could give. Now I am overflowing.

Maybe this devotional has touched a raw nerve in your heart. Christ is ready and waiting to give you the eternal water that will quench all your thirst. Be blessed.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Lord I Have Come; Make Me Whole

18 You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. 
22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12 NLT)

Lord, I thank you that today I can come to you, just as I am. To you the Great Shepherd who has sought me and found me. I come Lord, to you my Master, my Savior, my Lord. I come my Father; touch me and make me whole. Amen.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What Drives You To Your Knees in Prayer by Sheila Walsh

One of the greatest heartaches a woman can experience is the inability to have a child of her own. Not every woman longs for motherhood, but for women who do and who month after month are disappointed they have not conceived, the pain they feel is cruel and unrelenting.

On top of that heartache, a woman in Old Testament times was burdened by the common belief that childlessness was a curse, a sign that God was angry with her, as well as by the sense that she had failed her husband. After all, every man longs for a son, an heir, someone to carry on the family name.

Played out against this backdrop is one of the most moving stories I’ve ever read, the story of a woman we meet in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah was one of Elkanah’s two wives. This is how the author introduced her:

Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. — 1 Samuel 1:2

Nothing more needed to be said.

Adding to Hannah’s pain was the cruelty of the other wife:

Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same. — 1 Samuel 1:6-7

That kind of ongoing pain changes a person. It either draws her closer to the heart of God, who understands suffering, or it makes her question His love or even His very existence. What did Hannah choose to do in her darkest night? This heartbroken woman knew where to take her pain:

Hannah got up and went to pray. — 1 Samuel 1:9

And she prayed with such passion that Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. Hannah wasn’t drunk; she was desperate. She told Eli,

I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. — 1 Samuel 1:15

Hannah could have become bitter toward Peninnah, toward Elkinah, and even toward God, but instead she cried out to Him in her pain. May we do the same.

Let your pain drive you to your knees, for there you will find your greatest strength.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ruth and Orphar, Two Outcomes in Life

One made it in life; the other one disappeared into the darkness.
What made such a vast difference in their outcome? They were both young women, same racial background, same marital status (widowed) and had the same opportunity to advance in life.

I was counseling my young maid, and used this Bible story on Naomi, Ruth and Orphar (Book of Ruth) to help her understand the opportunities she had in life and how important her choices would make in as far as how she would progress.

There are many reasons why one would find themselves in an environment far from being easy-going or comfortable. Some didn't get the opportunity to get a better education and for some being a maid is the only job there is, even with a good education. Sometimes employment choices are very very limited.

The maid to Naaman's wife was there by virtue of being captured from her homeland by Naaman's soldiers. (2Kings 5) But, I am sure that after she had directed her master, Naaman, to the Prophet Elisha so that he could be cured of his leprosy, she must have been rewarded with a promotion! Her chatty self and unwillingness to be bound by anger and bitterness over her captivity earned her respect and recognition within the household of Chief Commander Naaman. A man so great, yet cursed of leprosy.

Ruth and Orphar were faced with the same sort of situation. Naomi was not the best person in life to pin one's hopes on. Orphar saw that picture and quit 'wasting' her time and quickly went back to her old past. Ruth on the other hand, felt that it was better to move into the gloomy and unknown future than to go back ten years into the past!

Orphar is not the only person who goes back into the past. A lot of us do that. We fear the unknown; we refuse to see the positive or potential in our present predicament. The past seems the best option because we have been there before. What we don't know is that the past has moved even further beyond than we thought. What we were then does not balance anymore to what we are now ten years later. We go back and we find our past little life way too small to fit in and we sink into despair.

A couple of years ago I decided to visit the old village where I grew up as a child. I left that village when I was about fourteen years old. Thirty five years later, I decided to revisit my childhood memories. In my mind I had vivid pictures of the five roomed 'big' house we lived in, the 'large' courtyard that bordered our 'huge' maize field, the 'big' shops near our house, the 'wide' road that ran down to the primary school I had attended. I even pictured the 'very long' distance between the verandah where we used to sit in the daytime and the gate facing the 'huge' road to school. My little feet always used to get tired of being sent to close the 'heavy' gate at dusk.

So off we went with my friend to visit my childhood treasured memories. To this day I regret ever making that visit. I was better off with what I thought I knew than what a shocking experience I put myself through.

I got to the small gate facing a dilapidated small house bordered by a courtyard barely five metres from the fence. It took less than a minute to walk from the gate to the verandah and into the house. The new occupants actually welcomed us by the small shops situated by the narrow dirt road we had come by! Touring that small five roomed house must have been something like how President Nelson Mandela felt when he went back to Robben Island to recap his memoirs! I felt so lost and out of place in that little spot I had treasured as a big lovely place in the sanctuary of my heart for years. Even when I would become ill, I would dream of that lovely place and know that I was going to be well. That brief afternoon visit stole that fantasy away from me and it has never returned. All of a sudden I had become such a giant who had lost the only little space available!

That is what happens when we try to go back in time. Very little, if not nothing, will make any sense.  A local drama was once aired on our television for over some months and the theme was on looking ahead, not backwards - "Chiramba wakatarisa mberi kwauri kuenda".

This made the difference in the futures of Ruth and Orphar. Ruth focused her eyes on the future and hoped for something positive to come out of it, while Orphar took her big feet to her small spot in her past. Look ahead not backwards.

Jesus Christ said, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62).  So then, even in our Christian walk, we must never be seen as people that go back into the past. Lot's wife (Genesis 19:15-26) did that, and she turned into a pillar of salt, never to ever move again! Now, isn't it such a pity that one would be delivered, set free, and made to run towards safety, only to be enticed by the burning old city to turn back and lose what they had almost gained!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Life in God is Satisfying

The Lord satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. Psalm 103:5

What makes one feel youthful? If we would take a survey, I am sure we will come up many varying answers. Some would attribute feeling youthful to a good night out with good company, good food and perhaps good music to allow for dancing. That would most certainly take some edges off one's monotonous lifestyle.
But alas, some of us are more of hermits and prefer indoors and a quietish lifestyle. Even if you drag us to the dance floor, the feet by nature will only go as far as pretending to move to the music!

But thanks be to the God who created us; He knows how to satisfy our years with good things, so that our youth is renewed like the eagle (Psalm 103v5). The bad things in life do come, but we thank God for bringing us the good things so that we can heal and enjoy life yet again.

I had never been to a beach until recently. I used to picture a beach from the movies I have watched; where semi-dressed flirting young men and women would parade their almost perfect bodies. And so I would wonder what the big deal was all about. In any case the beaches seemed to be overcrowded anyway; with no privacy at all; as if anyone needed it!

So as I was standing by my hotel room window early one morning, just gazing across the beachfront, I was struck by the quietness of the beach and the serene atmosphere of the Palm trees by the water front. I could imagine how the Lord Jesus could wake up very early in the morning to walk by the beach and spent hours of quietness and reflection. I imagined him walking down that beach, speaking quietly with the Father and praying for lost humanity. As the gentle morning breeze moved his garment, I could also sense the same gentleness move his heart as he agonized for humanity.

After my late breakfast, I decided to take my own walk along the beachfront. For nearly two hours I walked; sometimes taking time to stand by the bridge to watch the surfers and sometimes sitting by the water edge just to observe the pattern of the moving waters. There was a ship far off and I wondered about its occupants and the nature of their business.

Then as I resumed my walk, I saw a young man seated by one of the benches. He looked clean enough as well as intelligent, but what struck me was his worn out clothes and the satchel from where he was taking out small bottles of food to eat. I wondered what his story was? Had he somehow got stranded in a foreign land? Silently, I prayed for him; that God would touch his life and lead him back home. And I prayed for many of our sons and daughters lost in a foreign land while trying to earn a living. After that, I just kept walking the beachfront singing quietly in my heart and praying about whatever the Lord brought into my heart. More people were starting to gather by the beach, but I was vaguely aware of them as I continued with my prayer walk.

In conclusion, I have come to realize that the good things God uses to renew our youth, could be in seeing new places, meeting new friends, gaining new thoughts and insights and given the ability to share them with others!

Friday, August 7, 2015


The Baptist Women World Conference was held from the 18th to the 21st of July 2015. It was held at The Indaba Hotel and Conference Centre in Fourways, Johannesburg, South Africa. About 1,000 women from across the world were gathered at this five yearly international event.

We kicked off the event with a welcoming dinner at the Indaba's Boma Restaurant, followed by a march into the conference hall by all the nations represented. Africa, being the host, had the largest representation.

During the course of the leadership conference which ran from as early as 7am with the morning devotion to as late as 10pm, the women could just not get enough of the worship, teachings, testimonies and interaction. The theme of the conference was 'Arise, Shine' based on Isaiah 60:1 "Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you." (New Living Translation)

“When we rise up as the women God has called to serve in our families, churches, communities and nations, God will rise up and shine through us”, said the outgoing President, Mrs. R. Contreras. 

In her opening message, she challenged us to think back on the past five years that had gone by and how our lives had been changed. She herself reflected on Psalm 90:1 ( Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations), and commented on how God had groomed her in her five year presidency and took her to many nations she had never dreamed she would visit.

The theme for her five year term was, 'In Step with the Spirit' based on Galatians 5:25. And to put the two themes together - "when we step ahead in the Spirit, we will continue to arise and shine". For the light to shine, there has to be darkness, the President continued to reflect. We are called to shine in a dark world. When we look at our countries, our communities, we see the darkness. And that is where we are called to shine. The Lord put us where we are, so that we can arise and shine. Our light will be what the world will see and the glory of the Lord will be revealed to mankind.

We also cried with our sisters as they shared the difficult periods their countries had gone through, and in some cases were still going through. Some of the words shared by the sisters were, "Sometimes when God takes us into troubled waters, it is not to drown us, but it is to cleanse us. God takes us in our grief, carries us and uses us in our situations to reach out to others". One testimony was of a sister who lost her son tragically. Barely two weeks later, a family in their neighborhood also lost their son in a road accident. As she grieved for herself and this family she heard the Lord telling her to arise and go and be with that other family. She mustered the little bit of strength she had and prayed for the Lord to give her comfort so that she could also comfort this other family. (Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another. 1 Thess 5:11)

Again we cried as the women from Nigeria shared on the plight of the 276 Chibok girl students abducted from their boarding school by the notorious Boko Haram Muslim extremists. Some of the girls were murdered because they would not renounce their Christian faith. Some were tortured until they lost their minds and the majority of the girls are still wandering in the camps of the guerillas as forced soldiers or mistresses.

Sisters from Liberia were with us and they shared the horror stories of the deadly Ebola virus which nearly wiped out their nation. Life came to a deathly standstill as the airports closed, with no one coming into Liberia or going out. Schools closed and businesses closed. Death was in the homes, in the streets, in the hospitals, everywhere. Some familes lost close to ten members within weeks. Both the poor, wealthy, affluent, young, old, including the health workers were dying. And yet even in those scary situations, there were those who risked their own lives and stepped outside their homes to go and offer assistance to those infected and helpless.(We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Cor 4:9-10) Then finally as nations prayed the Lord opened the airport and help came through. Now the nation of Liberia is not just existing; but the grace of God, is living triumphantly!

It was not all tears. We had our big pie of learning from the Word of God. We were taught from the women of the Bible who faced challenging situations but arose with courage and prevailed. Like in the case of Abigail when she acted wisely and quickly to deter David from killing her family (1 Samuel 25).

We were also encouraged as women to take leadership roles in the church, community and nation. Priscilla was one woman noted in the Bible (Acts 18), who took her leadership and mentoring role seriously. Alongside her husband Aquilla, they mentored Apollos, a very learned man of God. Together with the Apostle Paul, she and her husband were instrumental in starting the church in Corinth. The role of women in the planting of churches or in church leadership is sometimes downplayed but we were encouraged to search the heart of God concerning our ministry from such women as Priscilla. Theological overviews must not restrict us; we must arise and shine for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

S        Shed off impurities. Shake off hindrances. Strip off bondages
H        Holy Spirit. Eph 5:18. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Without Him you are useless. No matter how lovely or modern the lamp is, if there is no oil inside to light it, it is useless. (the bridesmaids in Matt 25:1-13)
I          Illumine your corner. Focus your light depending on where you are spiritually or intellectually.
N        Now. Here and now, arise and shine. Be like Abigail and don't waste time or resources.
E         Encourage and Evangelise.

My Testimony
If I do not give a bit of my testimony I wouldn't have done justice to this newsletter.
‘And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also’. 2 Tim 2:2

There was a room reserved all day long for prayer and we were encouraged to visit it. But some of us just could not find the time to go there. So it came to pass that during one free session my friend and I decided to visit the prayer room; more out of a sense of guilt than anything else. We counted ourselves as prayer warriors and had not yet been to the prayer room! So off we went.

The room was manned by one lady who welcomed us and pointed us to the two maps of Africa which we had been told were to be the prayer 'sites'. Another lady was already walking on one of the maps, while praying and wailing so loudly I wondered if I was ever going to hear myself praying.

I stepped on the other map and very quietly started to pray for the countries of Africa. I was going to be dignified about this and respect the solemnity of a prayer sanctuary. As I prayed and walked that map, the Spirit of God reminded of the night two days before traveling to the conference. I was gathering my travel items for packing and putting them by a side bed while listening to a gospel music recording. I kept replaying the music, while stopping to sing along and dance to one particular song. The Shona song referred to Jesus as he walked the roads, the wilderness, the river banks, the wells, the graveyards-----looking for lost souls, touching them and delivering them from sicknesses, demon possession, blindness, hopelessness and giving them new life and hope.

So as I prayed and walked that Africa map in the prayer room, I 'saw' the Lord Jesus walking with me, agonizing over Africa, weeping over those traumatised Chibok girls and stretching his hand and healing a nation that had almost been wiped out by the ebola virus. I 'saw'him reach out to the women of Africa as they struggled with domestic violences, health challenges matched by drug shortages and inadequate hospital facilities if one could even afford it. Poverty was rife, with food shortages and with the majority of breadwinners being unemployed. These prayer items including the dominance of Islam in North and West Africa and its threat to Christianity were presented in the nation's report by the President, Mrs Dhlula.

I do not know when that other lady stopped her praying and wailing, but the sound I recalled hearing was of a camera taking pictures. By then I was kneeling down on the map of Africa no longer able to pray but just sob uncontrollably for my beloved Africa.
Women, we must arise and shine and do what we must do for our God, for the sake of the generations to come. Amen.

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning
Keep me burning ‘til the break of day

Monday, June 29, 2015

When You Can No Longer Dance

There will come a time in life when 'age catches up on us'. A time when you can no longer walk, dance, or jump as you would want to. Sometimes you feel like you want to dance with joy like you used to do when you were younger, or healthier, but the body just resists all your efforts.
You can succumb to frustration; or switch to a form of joy that is not eroded by years. Loving people and praying for them brings the utmost joy when you see God intervening in the lives.
'Love is the very best gift we have to give to God and to others. It is no small matter, for love is the means by which we fulfill our whole duty to God and our neighbor', Our Daily Bread. 

Psalm 92 

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

It is good to praise the Lord
    and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
    and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
    and the melody of the harp.
For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
    I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
    how profound your thoughts!
Senseless people do not know,
    fools do not understand,
that though the wicked spring up like grass
    and all evildoers flourish,
    they will be destroyed forever.
But you, Lord, are forever exalted.
For surely your enemiesLord,
    surely your enemies will perish;
    all evildoers will be scattered.
10 You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox;
    fine oils have been poured on me.
11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
    my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.