Life in a dead hope

5613310391490960143She was his only daughter

A child like no other

On the verge of death

He left her to seek the Healer

“Don’t bother Him” they said

“She’s already gone” they cried

But Jesus increased his faith

Talita was raised from the dead

 

He was on the way to the grave

Her only son, her future now tainted

He is wrapped ready to be buried

When Jesus stopped the mourners

“Arise!” He lifted the boy’s hands

Helping him to his feet on the ground

 

The corpse stunk after 4 days

Death entered the house of Jesus’ friends

Lazarus was much loved until Jesus wept

Then He shouted, “Lazarus come out!”

Wrapped in grave clothes, he emerged to the light

 

Now here are these dry bones

Could there be hope for them?

Their flesh eaten by the ground

Their bones dried by desert sun

“Could these bones live?” He asked

“Only YOU know” I replied

So He spoke the word

Then these very dry bones rattled and joined

Tendons, muscles and skin

Then He spoke another word

A breath of life entered into the slain

 

Yes my God is Sovereign

Giving life to all His children

I choose to put my trust in Him!  

 

Though it tarries…

ecclesiastes-3-11

“For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.” – Habakkuk.2:3

God tends to give us promises that might be near and far. Some seem too good to be true, like Joseph’s dream of being a king. But when we are absolutely convinced of His promises and that He will do them as He has planned, we have such confidence in His ability. As they say in the world ‘good things are worth waiting for’, God’s best are always worth waiting for. 

God’s promises to Abraham, Joseph, David… they all had to wait and hold tightly to that vision that He had once given them. 

Abraham had seen the vision of having a son when he was about 75 years. At this stage it was already impossible considering his and Sarah’s age. But God had to make it even more impossible by making him wait another 24 years, so that Abraham’s faith grew stronger and stronger until he was crowned ‘father of faith’ (Romans.4:16) 

“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” – Romans.4:20-21

The same for Joseph and David; the kingdoms they were promised at a young age were only obtained after many years of suffering and pain. In the case of Joseph, contrary to his vision, he became a slave in Egypt. And in the case of David, he had to flee the very king he loved and who was also his father-in-law. These two men however, had such strong conviction that GOD never lies and that He has a time for everything. So they waited patiently for Him, avoiding the shortcuts the world had offered, for they feared and revered the Lord more than others and more than their dreams. 

For these great men of faith, the waiting was painful and the pressure immense. They often felt they were going in circles with no end point, just holding on to one end of the thread. But they knew one thing – that He who promised was faithful to keep His word! The waiting made the promise more precious, more beautiful and God used those years to build their characters so that they were equipped enough to accept those precious gifts. This is God’s way! 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah.55:8-9

 

 

God’s refugees

2As we turn on the TV or scroll through news feed on the internet, all we can read is people fleeing the place where they once called home and often risking their lives to find a place of safety. These places of safety are called refuge or shelter and are often free and there only for one reason, to help the refugees. 

Psalm.91:1-2 says: 

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.””

There are deep and awesome lessons to be learnt from these 2 verses. 

  1. He is Most High and Almighty

These verses reminds us that God is above and beyond everything that we face in life. He is bigger, mightier and wiser than all, so running to Him for safety is indeed a very wise decision. Of course, why would you seek refuge from someone who can’t even protect you? But God is Almighty, He can do anything and capable of everything. 

     2. Dwelling in His shelter and resting in His shadow

In order to dwell in a shelter, you have to first acknowledge that you are in danger and that you need some place of safety. This world is full of dangers with fleeting temptations, sins and fiery arrows that fly from the evil one. And if a Christian does not have a secure dwelling place to run to from all these, he is sure to fall by one of these. Now a shelter may not feel like home but a place where you are forced to stay at until home is made safe again. But the place where God has given us as home initially has been permanently scarred by sin and disobedience that all we can hope for is a new home. And God offers this home right where He is, under the shadow of His wing. Not only is He offering us protection, but also love and care to allow us to grow and thrive. (2 Corinthians 5:1) We became His adopted children, joining the angels to sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD God Almighty”.  So we rest in the bosom of our loving Father, safe, secure and sound! 

“He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” – Psalm.91:4

“But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” – Psalm.5:11

Just my heart

A few days ago, while I was doing some shopping, I happened to listen to a line in a song that was on the radio. The guy was singing something along the lines, “I’m in love with what you can give me”.  The world and all its associates are just interested in what they can take from us, as the Bible calls them, they are “ravenous beasts” (Psalm.57:4)

Our mindset sometimes follows that worldly pattern where we think that Christ is after what we can offer, so we run around making all sorts of sin, burnt, peace and praise offerings. We think that we have to do something to please Him. 

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” – Isaiah.64:6

“But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel.15:22

Here’s God saying, “I’m not interested in all the stuff you do, I just want your heart, your devotion…” and us thinking there’s got to be more than that… 

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord replied, “you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke.10:42

Mary chose to sit at the foot of Jesus, while Martha run around trying to juggle many things. 

He simply just wants our heart, then everything else will fall in to place. 

This song by Casting Crowns summarises it well…

No comfort by the graveside

lazarusSaul was once a man of God. He obeyed God and banned any idol worship and witchcraft. Yet, when he realised the Lord wasn’t with him, he thought of no other way than to turn to his old self and things that he once despised to find answers and comfort (1st Samuel.28). He awakened Samuel’s spirit, only to receive his curse and the worst things that lay ahead. 

We, like Saul were once children of darkness, waking in ways we thought best before our eyes. But, when Jesus came and gave us light, we died and were raised to a new life. Our oldself buried in Golgotha, while we walk in the freedom of the new Jerusalem. 

“For if we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans.6:5-6)

So why is it from time to time we visit the grave of our old-person, hoping to find comfort? Is there peace or ease in death? I once heard a lady in church give a testimony. She said, “Although I’ve been a Christian for a long time, I find myself putting back on and dragging the chains Christ had already broken and removed from my life.”  It sounds strange to wish for the worst and harmful, when we have already seen their devastating and captivating effects. Yet, that’s what sin does…it waits close by and in your moment of weakness, it drags you from your home of grace back to the grave of your old-self. 

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis.4:7)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter.5:8)

The Christian life is a war, a battle of the mind and heart. Evil intentions of the past against the righteousness of the new spirit. To win, we must train hard (pray), know our battle strategies (the Word of God) and above all learn the voice of our Commander. So that in the midst of the chaotic battle, we may learn to understand His guide. 

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians.5:17)

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death. Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans.7:21-25a)

********* “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians.5:1) **********

***Rest***

He hears the voiceless

ishmaelHagar…what do you normally associate that name with? Have you even heard of Hagar before?

Hagar was a slave of Abraham and Sarah. When Sarah became old and didn’t have a child, she asked Abraham to give her a child through Hagar. But when Hagar became pregnant, she started to make fun of her mistress. As a result Sarah mistreated Hagar until she decided to flee. Hagar found the Angel of the LORD on her way, who told her that He has seen her misery and that He will bless the child she was carrying and that she should name him Ishmael (meaning God hears). Then He told her to go back to her mistress. (Genesis.16)

Hagar, “gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” – Genesis.16:13

A few years later, Ishmael grew and Sarah bore a son, Isaac. Since Sarah was still not happy with Hagar and her boy (as Ishmael was mocking), Abraham was forced to send the boy and his mother away. Although he provided them food and water for the journey by the time they reached the desert of Beersheba, they run out of supply. Hagar refused to see her son’s death, so she left him under a tree and started to weep at a distance. Again ‘the God who sees’ met her in the place where no one else could answer to her cry for help.  He promised her that the child will be a great nation and opened her eyes to a well of water, so she and her son lived and did not die. (Genesis.21)

Hagar was a slave, a slave is a property and has no legal rights. Even if she was to speak or cry, she was voiceless, alone and poor. But the God who sees the unseen and hears the deepest cries of the heart, He heard her and met her in her hour of need. He blessed the son of the slave as He blessed the son of the queen (Sarah). The Bible says:

“Before a word is on my tongue
 you, Lord, know it completely.” – Psalm.139:4

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James.1:17

The potter’s love

we-are-the-clay-karinas-thoughtSo I was watching a programme a few days ago about a young potter. It showed the whole process of clay work. First she travelled miles to a river bank in a far away village to get the clay she needed for her work. Carrying it back home, she went through the whole process of cleaning it (separating the bad from the good). Through out, it required much energy and hard work, kneading it and preparing it before making it into a shape. 

It was not easy at all and it required much determination, hard work and getting her hands dirty. Once she started shaping her clay into different structures and pots, you can see the joy in her eyes. The sculptures were then put in an oven to bake them and allow them to dry and hold their shape. When they cooled down, she painted them and allowed them to dry. 

This made me think of how much God loves us. He left the comfort of heaven to come and save us. And continues to be so patient towards us even though we are hard work in the way we walk with Him. He never tires or gives up on us. He smiles and rejoices over us when we walk in His will and makes us vessels for glory to display His beauty. Now let us look back from where we came from… from the side of some river bank that nobody really cared about. Now fast forward to the present… we are precious treasure that Somebody really cares about! 

Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. – Isaiah.64:8

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us. – 2 Corinthians.4:6-7

 

Not who you are, but Who you have!

11297Dear readers, I know I’m writing my new year’s post a little late. Nevertheless, this thought has been marinating on my mind, since before the new year…

First of all, I pray this year will bring you many blessings and much joy, as you get to know and experience the Lord even deeper! 

Below I have pasted a small paragraph from Exodus 33 where God was having a conversation with Moses, as He often did – ever since the burning bush. Please read it prayerfully…

“12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” – Exodus.33:12-18  

I wonder how often Moses must have felt helpless to lead such a nation for the God of the universe. It’s quite a mission for an 80 odd years old man! Yet one of the beautiful characters of Moses is that he was always honest with God. Moses knew that neither his age nor strength will take this people any further and admitted his need for help. He asked, “whom will You send with me?” The answer was awesome! “My Presence will go with you…” What can be better than God Himself leading you!

Moses then reaffirms his faith by declaring that unless God’s presence go with them, there was no point in where they were going. Moses understood that God is the source of all good and purpose in life, and if He was absent from that story, the people were sure to perish in the desert.

“For who is God besides the Lord?
 And who is the Rock except our God?
 It is God who arms me with strength
 and keeps my way secure.”  – Psalm.18:31-32

It’s because God was with this nation that they crossed the red sea, escaped Egypt and survived the hot desert as though they were walking through a cool forest. And as a result, all nations trembled, they wouldn’t dare play with fire, upsetting the God of Israel. He, Himself was their Chief Commander. 

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. – Exodus.13:21

Then God agrees with Moses, saying “I will go with you” and He adds a reason, “because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”  Here, Immanuel knew His people, not as some distant commander who just knows their names, but as a close friend and as one who really knows them from the heart. (John.10:14)

So dear readers, this new year we can make lots of resolutions and plans, but if God is not there, ask yourself ‘what is the point? and how far can I go, before I collapse in the desert’. We need His presence of cloud to shield us from the scorching sun of the enemy’s terror, His flame of fire to warm and comfort us from the chills of swayed politics and dislocated ethics of these days. Above all, we need His presence to guide us, navigating through the desert of a broken and difficult world to reach safely on Canaan’s land. 

May God’s presence never depart from you this year! 

http://worshiptogether.com/songs/we-will-not-go/

Secular dictatorship

You say countries run by dictators have little or no freedom of speech or practising their faith. Well it’s true, I come from such a country where you are not entitled to have a different view point or worship and express your faith freely.

Coming to the west, I thought I would have the freedom I once longed for in a closed country. As I progressed through school, college, university and work however, I have noticed how secularisation has dictated over democracy; where freedom and tolerance have been double defined. We are at an age where teaching Religious Studies in schools is not necessary but an option and being debated whether to completely be stopped. How can young people make a choice if they don’t know their options?

Describing C S Lewis’ struggle with secularisation in his book – Pilgrim’s Regress, Ravi Zacharias explains, “handcuffed by the spirit of the age, not free but bound…how absolute freedom, can actually become a form of bondage in itself…”

Dr Zacharias continued to explain, “When secularisation has its full run at things… it will ultimately cease to have the ability to define distinctives and could ultimately produce a generation without a sense of shame.” A generation without a sense of shame! A generation so lost that it follows what it thinks/ feels is right! But surely there is one, single truth we ought to follow. Now we have reached a time where modern secularisation is stopping us from seeking that truth under the claim of tolerance.

Looking around us, what do we hear and see? “Do not speak about God, lest you offend somebody”, Nurse suspended from work for wearing a cross, another one fired for offering to pray and encourage the brokenhearted”. Where is the freedom? If we are not to offer the life giving gift to our neighbour, then we can question whether we are directing towards human robotisation.

Sometimes I worry more about the west than countries ruled by known dictators, for the slippery road is more subtle and dangerous in those that claim democracy. For when they forget the very Biblical foundation they were built upon, they are heading on the route to destruction. May God have mercy.

Only ONE of YOU- ever!

socialfeed-info-if-you-are-still-breathing-it-means-god-is-not-finished-with-you-yet“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:14

When God creates something, He doesn’t make duplicates, each person/creature has their own unique identity that makes them special. This means God doesn’t use the lazy copy+paste function, He places great value and care in each creation He makes, down to the molecular level. 

Now look into yourself. Every detail of your body, your mind, character,  your situation, where you are and the skills and flaws you have. Try to find someone who is exactly like you… Before you go any further, don’t waste your time, there is none. You are you and there was no one and will never be someone like you. Because God made this unique DNA code packaged with your name written over it. The day you were born, you entered the world with a special mission that only you can accomplish. Now your 1st task is to find what that mission is and secondly to accomplish it. It may not be major things like being a president. It could be just encouraging people, showing love to those around you or helping the poor. Yet, small changes mount up to  massive miracles.

Many young people suffer with depression and suicidal thoughts as they struggle to find meaning for their lives. They become driven by feelings and not self control and will making them volatile. Young people have so much potential to do great and awesome things, take the example of Joseph, Samuel, David and Daniel. Knowing this, the enemy has taken over those precious years for many and they struggle to go through those years without the need for pharmacological support. It’s really sad to see many youngsters on antidepressants and antipsychotics. 

Why am I writing this? Because as young people we have failed ourselves, our families and our nations. We ought to bring change, yet we find ourselves being moved by every wind of fashion and ideology that blows our way. We do not have unshakeable values that we are deeply rooted in, so we often find ourselves with the answer “I don’t know”, … I don’t know what I want… I don’t know what to do… I don’t know how to respond… We are a generation that’s fed lies with the screens of mass media and social networking sites on how we should feel about ourselves and who they think we are. And, unless we really know our identity, those lies will continue to consume young lives and eventual have fatal consequences with many unaccomplished missions. So next time you try to look or act like that some-body, remember that You-nique-body God has created you to be. 

The Bible says, 

  • You are the apple of God’s eye – Zechariah.2:8
  • You are engraved in the palms of His hands – Isaiah.49:16
  • He knows even the number of hair on your head – Matthew.10:30
  • You are a chosen generation – 1Peter.2:9
  • You are God’s co-worker – Ephesians.2:10
  • You are Christ’s ambassador – 2Corinthians.5:20
  • You are…. to know more about who you really are, read the word of God, the Bible. 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13