On the Subject of Following God

On the subject of following God there are many things that can be said. Jesus said “follow me and I will make you disciples of men..” to his disciples. continuously the theme in the bible is that we are to forsake our own ways and follow God’s word that He has spoken over us. In Ephesians Paul tells us that we have good works that have been prepared for us in advance. Following God is fulfilling purpose and embarking on a journey with God to fulfill the plan that He has already laid down for our lives. These plans are not to work us to the bone and make us miserable but  these plans are to prosper us and give us a good future (Jeremiah 29:11).

One of the many illustrations in the bible regarding God’s plans for our lives is found in Judges 4. The story of Deborah, one of Israels judges. In her time Israel was under the captivity of Jabin the Canaanite King. God had allowed this due to the nations disobedience to Him. Jabin’s commander was a man named Sisera who had a great army and was feared by all. It was in this time that God gave Deborah a word for Barak who was of the tribe of Naphtali. Deborah called for Barak and told him that God had commanded him to gather 10 000 men from the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali and to march to Mount Tabor. There God would give Sisera into his hand.

Just like Barak ( and Gideon, Abraham, Jacob etc), God will place a call on our lives to do something. What we do with that call is very important. The story of Barak showed me one of the scenarios that can take place, depending on our response to this call.

Barak’s response was simple. He was willing to go and do what God said, but just to make sure that God really came through he wanted to take Deborah along too as a guarantee. Already most of us are probably thinking.. “Clearly he has no faith!”  Which is just a bit hypocritical of us to because more often than not we give similar responses to Barak, but because we have an extensive understanding of language, we word our response in a whole lot of words that we think will fool God into believing that we trust Him. I am not Barak but I can relate to what he  have possibly been going through in his mind.

It would be easier if you could take your pastor your home group leader and every other spiritual leader in your life with you when you go out to war with the enemy (wherever this war may be fought) i.e. new city, new job, country, school etc.). That’s simply because they will encourage you when it seems like things are not working the way that you perceived they would be, and to be honest some of us may feel that they can be a guarantee that the word will come to pass (“after all they are closer to God”). Barak thought he knew what God was asking him to do. In his mind, he was of the tribe of Naphtali and he has been told to gather men from the tribes of Naphtali and  Zebulun who were not the greatest warriors of the tribes of Israel. The bible says of these two tribes…  “(Gen 49:13) Zebulun shall live at the sea-shore. And he shall be a haven for ships, and his border beside Sidon”, and of Naphtali … “(Gen 49:21) Naphtali is a deer let loose. He gives goodly words”. These two tribes were probably not first choice when it came to chosing men to go fight. What he did not realise was that is just like God, to choose the foolish things to shame the wise.

So Barak was possibly overwhelmed by the mission , but then he still believed. He was willing to go and fight but was not willing to do it alone.When Barak refused to go without Deborah God did not take the mission away from him. He would still fight Sisera’s army and win, but then there was a consequence. The honour of defeating Sisera was taken from him and given to someone else, even weaker than he perceived himself to be. God wanted Barak to be the greatest and to receive the greatest honour but Barak second guessed himself. SO instead of being the greatest he became the great! It doesn’t seem like a long way to fall but we need to realize that God’s intentions for us are not mediochre, His intentions for us are always at the highest level. It is really only in our best interests to have full faith in him.

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Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound

Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound that saved a Wretch like Me.

There are days when you listen to words like these and you are struck by the Grace of God. It has not been mere good fortune or luck for me to be alive and to be the person that I am right now. I am not an amazing person by worldly standards maybe not even by biblical standards, if we take people like Joseph and Moses for comparison. But right now I know about the wretch that I was, the person doomed to failure and without hope. I know of who I was for a fact! But today… I have a hope, I have a future and I have life, because of an amazing Grace that came and washed over me. I did nothing to deserve it, I did not do anything to obtain it, it was freely given to me by God. By Grace my sins ( my fears, my weaknesses, my sicknesses) have been relieved. I have truly escaped death and I have continued to do so time and time again through forgiveness, as my stubborn flesh has tried to deny the life that Grace has placed inside of me.

What a poignant thought. My heart literally swells with love and gratitude for the saving Grace of my saviour Jesus Christ. Never mind what is happening around me, I am who I am because He is. I pray that I would never forget or live as if I am not saved when I am. I pray that I would share this with everyone with whom I meet that needs it. It is what the world needs, it is what every heart and every life needs. I once was lost and had no meaning to my life, but Jesus came and gave me meaning in my life. I might seem like any other person struggling to get through this life but I have hope. Hope is a powerful thing. It keeps you going, it drives you forward despite the circumstances. That hope I have found through Christ through His amazing Grace. It was freely given to me and I freely received it.

If you have never listened to the words of this song, take some time to sit and think about them. If you have not allowed the Grace to save you then think about allowing Jesus to be your saviour. If He already is your saviour, take a moment to absorb what He has done for you. Truly Grace will lead you home!

God Bless!

 

Down The Valley Up The Mountain, Jerusalem is Home

When I was young and in primary school we used to sing a song that went ‘Down the Valley Up the mountain, Jerusalem is my home’. I don’t think I truly understood what that song meant or what it could possibly mean. I was reminded of this song just now. especially with challenges that I am currently facing in my life right now. Challenges are an everyday part of life. We cannot run away from problems. This is common knowledge. It’s all about how we persevere through the challenges that we face in our lives, because at the end of the day we should be able to say/sing, ‘down the valley up the mountain Jerusalem is my home’. At least that is what we are supposed to sing. Sometimes we end singing… ‘ Down the valley…. after this Lord I am changing my place of residence, Jerusalem just isn’t working for me!’

I have been reminded of two scriptures, James 1v2 “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you face many trials of many kinds …’ Every christian probably knows this scripture and probably doesn’t know what to do with it when trials come, because basically it is hard to count it PURE  joy when the world is crashing around you, (“SERIOUSLY JAMES!”). But if you commit or make the decision that no matter what you are not changing, Jerusalem is going to be your home. That you will still serve God and that you will continue to worship Him then you can be encouraged by, Genesis 46v4a I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up [again]. God will walk allow you to come to a valley but will not leave you there. He will go down into Egypt with you and will bring you back again.

I had a revelation in my life as I was asking God … why? He said that He would lead me beside still waters and that He will take care of my every need. He did not lie about that. It is possible to go through really tough situations but He will not let me be overcome. It will be hard but I will not be overcome. It will seem like I will be overcome but He will not let that happen. There is no better way to strengthen my faith than to test it and since I passed the last test, naturally the next one is going to be harder. It seems to my natural mind that this is unfair but then I realised that often we are travelling through the valley so that we can get to the next mountain (high place) forgetting the most important thing. God is not taking us on a journey of mountains, He is taking us on a journey to Jerusalem, the city of our God. That is the most important destination in our lives.

This revelation caused me to look more closely to some of the men in the bible. Their journeys were all different. Some like Joseph, made it to a place of prosperity and some like Paul and the other disciples came to their end in what we would classify as valleys. They suffered many trials, worse than most of us will ever encounter but it cannot be right to say that they were not prosperous men. So we need to as christians change our minds and start to want to think the way God thinks because after all, we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2v16). I encouraged us to spend more time with God during our trials so that we can truly accept them as pure joy and know that He is with us through them all.

Be Blessed!

Better is One Day in His Courts

Psalm 84

 1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
4 What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises.
Interlude

5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
7 They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

8 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer.
Listen, O God of Jacob.
Interlude

9 O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield!
Show favor to the one you have anointed.

10 A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
what joy for those who trust in you.

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®

Other Side of Victory

This is a very popular topic among christians and all people generally. It’s really hard to come up with anything new and really original when speaking about victory because generally everything has been said already. Fortunately I am not a prolific writer so there is no pressure there amongst other writers. I would like to share though that I have noticed that the theme of Victory, usually attaining victory is a very constant theme in my life. Every morning I basically have to determine  and remind myself that I have victory over the many challenges that the day faces.

Most of the time I only remember that I am victorious at the start of the day when I am asking God to give me victory over the day. Then come day end I look back to see how I did. Some days I do well and some days I don’t do so well. What I’ve realised though is that there are few days when there is a consciousness of what is really happening. Its like I pray God help me to remember subconsciously that I have victory. I wonder though if that works. Surely if you are going to gain victory you need to be conscious of the battle you’re fighting. So there comes the challenge. If I am going to say that my strength is in God but am not aware of whose strength I am using during the day have I really lived up to the word? And when the bible says ‘not by might nor by power but by My (God’s) spirit..’ and then I don’t acknowledge or even call upon that Spirit, surely I am making that word redundant as well? Someone might say, ‘duh you can’t just blindly go through the day and not take the scripture with you.’ True it is only logical to engage with scripture(act) but then so many of us do the exact opposite. Lets actively get onto the other side of Victory by engaging in the battles that we are fighting. Just a thought!

Tell The Generations to Come

Tell it to your children, let your children tell it to their children and let their children tell the next generation (Joel 1:3). God has commanded us to tell the world. What do we tell them though? In the book of Joel a plague of locusts had come God was instructing the people, through Joel, to speak about what had happened. In many parts of the bible the Lord commands His children to speak about what happened. To preserve the story of what happened so that the coming generations would learn and so that they would have the right perspective. We have a responsibility to the generations that are to come. We have a responsibility to our children. So that they would learn from our mistakes, so that they would continue the good things that we have done, so that they would worship God. We need to pass the information on and thus making every single one of us a teacher. To him who much is given, much is required. It really is not a small responsibility. We need to speak and to keep speaking, to write it down. Whatever it is that God has told us, we need to pass it on. You don’t have to be a pastor or someone with some really great anointing, you just need to be willing to pass it on; to the person on the street, that person you meet in the bus, in your office, wherever you get talking to someone or wherever the opportunity arises.

We are responsible for the generations to come.

Think!

We are living in an age where there are a whole lot of theories and ideologies that are floating around out there. It really does become hard to decide which one you should take. I don’t blame anyone really who decides that they are just going to live their life and forget about the whole meaning of life and the purpose of it. There is one problem with this though, and that is that we as human beings are created for a purpose. Whatever you may believe that purpose is and whatever religion you believe in we are created for purpose. Everything that we do in our lives is geared towards fulfilling some purpose and when we feel like we are doing that we begin to feel right. Take a look at Maslows hierarchy of needs. At the top of the pyramid of needs is self actualisation. Maslow suggests that after an individual has met all their needs self actualisation is left. I’m not sure exactly how Maslow interpreted it but then I believe that self actualisation is a need that is always there. It begins to be more prominent after fulfilling all other needs because there are no more distractions. To me self actualisation speaks of reaching a stage in your life where you are now solely seeking to fulfil your purpose on this earth. So we are always looking for the answer and today there are many proposed answers out there. If you know what you believe and why you believe in it then all the proposed theories and religions out there should not be intimidating. Christians get swayed often because they have not taken the time to understand what they believe and why. Some believe that after having chosen to follow Christ it is sinful to ask why. But then that is a big problem because then when someone else comes to question your belief, you will be swayed. One thing that can be noticed in the new testament is that when the apostles wrote their letters they always spoke of the reason that they believed and what they believe in. They knew and were therefore able to distinguish any false teachings. Today some of us are afraid of finding out what teachings are out there and why they are different from what we believe. I used to be like that. I felt that to engage my mind to think of what is being said out there would be wrong and sinful. That’s crazy because firstly my ignorance to what is out there disqualified me from being relevant to my age. Secondly it spoke of an insecurity in what I believed in and showed that my spiritual foundation was faulty. God says in His word come and let us reason together. He gave us a brain, we have the ability to think reason create and all sorts of other things. Blind Faith is sometimes taken too far and we start living in a bubble. Of course the bible also speaks about having wisdom and operating in wisdom. It also tells us that we shouldn’t get involved in useless arguments. We are in the world but are not of the world.