I have often heard of this verse (repeated three times) as a caution to young unmarried people to guard their hearts so I enjoyed hearing it as a prayer to God to stir up those feelings of first love we felt when we first became Christians.
I have often heard of this verse (repeated three times) as a caution to young unmarried people to guard their hearts so I enjoyed hearing it as a prayer to God to stir up those feelings of first love we felt when we first became Christians.
I have been studying James over the last couple of weeks and one of the themes he speaks repeatedly of are the words of your mouth. In fact, he specifically states that “perfect” is the man who is able to bridle his tongue. This has got me thinking of how I can restrain myself from saying certain things and therefore prevent myself from falling into unnecessary sin.
This morning I read this blog post cautioning against using secular language rather than speaking the words of truth that many in the world today need to hear about. This article brought to mind another area of the tongue that could lead us to fall into sin – the hollow words we speak of that while well meaning do not really mean a thing or profess the hope we have in Christ.
This article got me thinking of the number of times I have said rather vaguely “All the best”, “Good Luck”, “Best Wishes” or “I will think of you” rather than I will pray about this to Jesus and ask that His will be done. How many times have I heard of people talking of an energy/ the forces out there and not called it out and asked them to rather refer directly to Jesus – and this is true also of Christians and non-Christians.
So from the post, this is the challenge that I would like to leave you with.
I would like to challenge you, as a believer in Christ, to evaluate the phrases and hashtags you throw out to a world desperate for hope. It may seem harmless enough, but the vibes you’re alluding to are vacuous. Our friends aren’t strong enough on their own to “keep their heads up” and “pull through” life’s challenges, like vain platitudes suggest. No, they were made to find their strength in the God who made them. Theology matters. It doesn’t take long for someone to see the way we deal with the circumstances in our lives. We either have confidence in God or confidence in the flesh.
We mentally compress our networks when we are harassed, bullied or being threatened by job loss. We close ourselves off, isolating ourselves, creating a huge blind spot where we can’t see our resources, allies and opportunities.
Encourage your group members to choose a verse or passage of the Bible that illustrates:
And, to be clear, Jesus does encourage. He offers words of strength to the weary and comfort to the hurting. In a world where we so often feel we don’t measure up, we need his encouragement daily. By focusing on only part of his message, however, I’m concerned that we’ve reduced Jesus to a spiritual cheerleader. And, in turn, that’s what we’ve become to one another. We offer words of affirmation, but not rebuke; words of forgiveness, but not repentance. We rightly celebrate his grace, but often forget to mourn our sin.
Take your thoughts captive and examine them closely. Bring them into submission. Consider the fruit. Then fight back with gospel truths. This is how we go to war.
What can we do when we’re unmoved by God’s love and the gospel’s power?What can we do when we’re unmoved by God’s love and the gospel’s power?
You can have the best spouse on the planet and enjoy the most fulfilling sex life imaginable, and still this fact remains: if our hearts are not satisfied in God, they will never be satisfied. Spouses can be wonderful helpers, but they are sorry saviors. The best way to have a blessed sex life is to delight in the God who gives the gift. Jesus is always better than any gift he gives you, including sex in marriage.
On the last night of BSF we typically have a sharing night where class members share with each other lessons and thoughts of the study. It is a very encouraging and motivating part of the lesson as the Holy Spirit continues to affirm that He is the one who reveals knowledge to each of us.
Below see some of my thoughts and I pray that you will be deeply encouraged/challenged as I was.
Having learnt all of this, I can also say that my discomfort at the number of the unreached (unsaved) also grew. It is appointed for man to die once and after that to face judgment (Hebrew 9:27). My responsibility is purely to share God’s word and leave it to Him as he awakens faith in us and causes us to believe. While scary, failure to believe means meeting Jesus as Judge as opposed to as Saviour and Great High Priest. So I pray that we may continue to share the reason for our Hope when asked (1 Peter 3:15).
This week’s lesson at BSF was on John 3, where Nicodemus approaches Jesus and learns that all who believe in Jesus are born again and have eternal life. Salvation is the necessary prerequisite to access the kingdom of God and eternal life. We become children of God when we receive Him, believe in our hearts and confess in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. I love the song and the lyrics below because they express this point in a beautiful way. Salvation is to be found in no other name but the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4: 12). There is only way to heaven, not many.
There is Love
That came for us
Humbled to a sinner’s cross
You broke my shame and sinfulness
You rose again victorious
Faithfulness none can deny
Through the storm
And through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me
You are stronger
You are stronger
Sin is broken
You have saved me
It is written
Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all
No beginning and no end
You’re my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross
During my BSF break, I have been going through the Purpose Drive Life book. I had read it some years back and following the study on Revelation, I thought this would be a great way to meditate on those specific lessons. I have finished the first purpose, created for his pleasure and wanted to summarise some of my thoughts so far.
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
As Christians when we fast, the intention is that we would increase in our devotion and faith by willfully withholding something so that we could spend more time in prayer and hearing from God. It is a private act of worship. It is refreshing and draws one closer to God. I am reminded of the verse, rend your heart and not your garments (Joel 2:13) – God knows our heart and we cannot deceive Him by being ‘externally good’ but inwardly untransformed. What would inward transformation entail? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8) and Is. 58:6-9.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a child is govern
This day in Bethlehem is born a Child of the Virgin
My prayer is that Christ may be reborn in your hearts and in your midst this day. God Bless and richly scatter His favour upon you and your family!!
For the past two Sundays I have listened to a sermon preached about Mary’s response to the Angel in Luke 1 when she finds out she will be with child. About her obedience and the fact that she knew the character of God and His promises from everlasting to everlasting. Yesterday we sung the following hymns that also speak to this message.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age to same;
his holy Name–the Lord, the Mighty One.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.
Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children’s children and for evermore!
We are not our own, we have bought with His precious blood in order to live a life worthy of the calling we have received (as prisoners for the Lord) Ephesians 4:1! The life we live must show that we are Christ’s redeemed, being renewed by the transformation of our minds (Romans 12:2) and shedding light as a light on the hill (Matthew 5:14).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1: 3- 5)
I love this verse because it helps me to contextualise the present and remember that it is only temporal and that the imperishable is where we need to focus our energy and efforts. This body is fading away and this body will perish but our glorious riches have been purchased by the Blood of Christ and we can be sure that it will neither fade nor spoil.
I also LOVE THIRD DAY and it has been satisfying to hear this song and realise that it was drawn heavily from the Scriptures.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. ( Rev. 1:17)
This was the response of John the Apostle (the one that Our Lord loved the most) when he saw the voice that was speaking to Him. John had spent three years in close proximity with Our Lord yet when He met him after describing his eyes, his hair, his voice and his overall look, John fell to his feet in amazement and worship. It struck me the purity of his worship that was not overshadowed by his familiarity and previous proximity with Jesus. This stood out because every day despite our walk with Jesus, we get to experience Him anew again and again often in a refreshing way that deepens my faith and relationship with Him and that is how our daily walk is enriched.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. (Acts 2: 45 – 46)
Anytime I have heard this verse quoted, it has often had to do with some cult of a church that is asking it’s members to get rid of all their wealth and give the proceedings to the church in light with the early Believers. Yesterday in Church, the Preacher talked of the fact that the intention is rather for those that have plenty or abundance to rather give (meaningfully) to the poor around them. As a Church, we have to meet the needs of those around us otherwise we cannot proclaim ourselves to be Christian.
Be encouraged and strengthened.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thes 5:16 -18)
I especially like the part highlighted in bold.
I will also be honest and admit that so many times I have despaired and stopped praying.
Often this followed what I felt like was a long time for me to be praying for one thing repeatedly. As I type this I am struck at how ridiculous this must sound because this is the Great I AM, the Alpha and the Omega, the Rock of Ages. HE knows about eternity and that’s how he views our times that are in His hands (Ps 31:15). That is who we pray to.
This year I am reminded of two instances where I have been praying consistently in my personal life and then this shifted to praying sporadically and finally not at all only to begin the cycle repeatedly. I have been reminded without a shadow of a doubt that God is faithful and He hears us when we pray and that is the reason I should continue to praise Him and trust in Him. Also, that prayer is good for me and it strengthens my walk and my belief in Him and almost that God is not here for me but I desperately, desperately need Him to be in my life.
Yesterday in Church we sang great is thy faithfulness and the following sentences, that I will end of with, struck me:
Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Be blessed and strengthened in your walk and acts of faith.
PS: The title is also taken from the hymn mentioned above.
About the author
Lola Alli is an aspiring Development Economist whose broad research interests include: the political economy of Nigeria and India; the economics of globalisation; global poverty and politics; innovation in agricultural commodity chains in Nigeria and India; and Yoruba gender mythologies.
Economics and Politics undergraduate at Newcastle University ’15; Development Economics postgraduate at University of Cambridge ’16.
Authors Disclaimer: I wouldn’t advice a ‘new’ Christian or anyone with very minimal biblical knowledge to read this conversation
Lola Ali: “Just a little background before I ask my question, …. when they (the Israelites) demanded for a king during Samuel’s time, God said he would provide (King Saul) but He warned that the kings would destroy the land and enslave the people … This prophecy became reality after (I believe) King Solomon – The sins of the last kings of Judah, and the Israelites in this region are what led to the war between Judah (including Jerusalem) and Babylon. And from our previous bible study in Daniel, we already know that God delivered Judah into the Babylonians. This happened sometime between the book of Jeremiah and his second book, Lamentations. I cannot understand Lamentations without studying Jeremiah so I went through a few chapters. God specifically created Jeremiah to warn His people to return k to Him (Jeremiah 1-3) so they can avoid what happened next. So I’ve got an idea of the kind of oppression that the Israelites went through using Jeremiah’s writings in the Book of Lamentations 1&2
But what I’m currently meditating on is the nature of God in these chapters. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is God-breathed …etc. 1 Cor 13 says Love is patient … ; somewhere else says God’s true nature is revealed in Jesus dying on the cross and so on .. and then there is ‘if you’ve seen me (Jesus) you’ve seen Him (God)’. I was just thinking that hmmm Lamentations 1&2 depicts the opposite of these interpretations of God: love and patience. So I’m trying to understand why God appears so ‘violent’ in this book.
Jeremiah 13:14 says ‘I will smash them (the Israelites) one against the other, fathers and sons alike, declares the Lord. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them’. I can go on and on but …
Why is this question important:
1. The verses I included imply that this portrait of God is somehow consistent with the God we see on the cross – Jesus;
2. This is one of the main reasons why atheists do not believe in God – how can one worship the same God that is ‘smashing’ His children or allowing them to be smashed but still shows love and forgiveness by making us righteous through accepting Christ.”
T: “So I can kind of explain it a bit. We must remember that God sent Jesus because he didn’t want the law to go on forever where he punishes us for our sins literally. If you look at Deuteronomy 28 it explains the curses that came with disobeying the laws and then the latter part declares the blessings. When God realised that man could just not keep up with His Law, He sent Jesus to come and experience it, which is why he now become our intercessor because he saw it all, experienced it all! Hence the provision of grace and mercy to mankind….”
L: “I understand that – no doubt about what you said. The law wasn’t/isn’t efficient. But what I’m trying to understand is how can I reflect on Christ on the cross and Christ in Lamentations. How is the same God commanding genocide and war, but shows love on the cross? Is this perhaps the shadow of Christ? The negative contrast of Christ? The portrait of God pre-purposed in the law such that He becomes a shadow without light? And then the ‘real’ God is what we see on the cross. Am I making sense? Linking this to Job and Psalms, we see these representations of God again. But how do they reflect Christ and the God we know today. God of love, kindness and patience. Not necessarily the conditions for the coming of Christ as you explained”
T: “And that’s why even David although a man after God’s own heart was still punished. And Psalms 119:71 – David said it is good for me that I was afflicted that I may keep your statues. The suffering is only necessary because if everything went smoothly we would not respect him. He becomes more of a robot”
L: “Unless the law was needed to drive man to Christ, to show our need for Christ hence Lamentations.”
B: “What is the law? … so He (God) was punishing them (in Lamentations) for not obeying Him or rather trying to teach them a lesson of life without Him”
M: “….. The law includes the Mosaic law, and more. They were political and religious”
Lola: “Okay so this is my understanding of Lamentations. In the Old Testament the Israelites had to live Godly lives by following a set of laws. Obedience of the law was needed for blessings and forgiveness. I’m not sure what exactly the law was but it was more than just the book of Moses – the 10 commandments. I’m assuming it included some sort of political constitution as well – hence the role of the Pharisees perhaps? -Studying ‘The Law’. The religious Law, however, was included because of the sins of the people, and to escape punishment from God. But it didn’t work ….. by the ‘Lamentations-era’, the Israelites were known for worshipping other idols and committing other sins because of the Kings of Judah, and their foreign wives.
But hey! God did not actually destroy Israel by Himself. Instead, He let Babylon do so because His presence wasn’t there. It was His shadow – He was waiting for them to see the light –to see how life is different without the cross, without Christ and ultimately, without God. The Israelites went through the shadow of the cross, the non-presence of God, in order to understand that the law wasn’t inefficient. They had to realise that they needed Christ in order to have a better relationship with God.”
T: “Hence Galatians 3:13.”
Lola: “ YES! So in essence, we see what life was like without Christ and just The Law. This makes me appreciate Christ on the cross – the true nature of God, which is LOVE. So God wasn’t wicked during Lamentations, he was making a point about life – life without God is chaotic. When there is no God, there is no peace! There is Lamentations 1&2.”
Gnovembers add: This asks the age old question of how does a loving God sit by and watch while evil acts happen to His beloved children/ How does he actually punish His Children? God is a Holy God and he abhors sin because it is a stain before his presence. Because He loves us, He has sent His son to die on the cross that we may be reconciled to Him, when we accept this, we reap eternal life. If we don’t, the consequence of sin is death i.e eternal separation from His presence. Not wholly easy to accept but the moment we begin with the being of God then we can accept it somewhat better.
This is a belated Daily Post from the 8th of January titled:
Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life,
either for the better or the worse. How is your life different
today because of him or her?
I encountered the teacher that had the most impact in my life in my first year at University. She taught me a course titled “Communication and Culture” over two semesters and her name was Rebecca Ng’ang’a. Not only did she teach the course content but she was inspirational as well and imparted various life lessons. As a first year course predominantly, and for many, our first time in University these lessons were important as University tends to come with a lot of freedom and spare time.
I remember about her course that we had to write a “Reflection”, an essay on some part of her class and we had to write a minimum of ten of each per semester. They could not be superficial as what she cared most about was how the course content was changing your world-view or previous perceptions of a particular topic. I recently came across some of them and it’s amazing how much I have grown up or how in some areas I have developed. Case in point was in the area of marriage, in my younger days I might have been a bit cynical and even dubious of the fact that people could commit to each other in that way. Obviously, that has changed.
I also liked her approach to teaching because she taught us to really interact with the information imparted and to continually question our assumptions – something I don’t always do but I have recently been challenged to start doing once again.
On a less inspirational note, I did particularly like her because she was comfortable in her skin and would often poke fun at herself and make endearing self-deprecating comments of herself which made her human in my eyes unlike some of my earlier teachers that always felt the need to be super heroes. That and the fact that she took pains to dress up to class and would often colour coordinate her outfit, from the hat on her head to the little shoes on her feet and her bag. If it was a red day, she was dressed in red throughout and boy would she rock the monochromatic look!!
More importantly, she had a passion and a zeal for Christ and she often talked of her relationship with Christ and that inspired me to want to get to that point in my life and/or in my walk with Christ. And this is what I most fondly remember about Mrs. Ng’ang’a. My sister recently met her and I only wish I had gotten the chance to say to her how much she had inspired me all those years back and at that particular stage of my Christian life.
In this last year I have drawn on various quotes and verses for strength at different points.
I have a great need for Christ, I have a great Christ for my needs. Charles H Spudgeon
I do not merely want to possess a faith, I want to have a faith that possesses me. Charles Kingsley
Love is blind, marriage is the eye-opener. Pauline Thomason
Jesus Christ will be Lord of everything, or not be Lord at all. St Augustine of Hippo
Your best mentor isn’t usually somebody in the newspaper. ‘Your first mentor will be someone in the next layer. Within that layer, figure out who management likes and what they do. If one of them is consistently delivering and beating the odds on benchmarks, then they are being rewarded for the right things, so copy them.’ Monhla Hlanla – Destiny SA October
In a storm, the wise man does not pray for safety from danger, but for release from fear. The inner storm is the dangerous one, NOT the outer one. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. (Job 8:7)
The Lord is in His Holy Temple, let all the earth be silent before Him. ( Habakkuk 2:20)
O Lord, you are my God: I will exalt you and praise your holy name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvellous things. Things planned long ago. (Isaiah 23:1)
Looking back on this year, what words or image have given you strength for the moment and the day?