Some mellow songs to soak in …
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV)
Some mellow songs to soak in …
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We recently read this at BSF and here are a couple of thoughts that I would like to share with you.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
And then this same verse from the Message edition of the Bible
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (Romans 8:26 – 28)
God is sovereign. Nothing and no one will defeat His plans. Nothing is beyond His grasp. This is sometimes difficult to hang onto but it often gives me strength and the purpose to withstand and I pray it would give you the same confidence today.
Romans 4:20-21 NIV
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.
Like Abraham, I want to face the truth of my circumstance and not flinch in face of them but to maintain my eyes on the focus on the truths of His promise and His character. I want to have an active faith that clings desperately to God.
What about you, what qualities do you look for in other people?
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Source)
Psalms 103: 12 reminds us that God forgives fully and removes our sins from us as far as the East is from the West. This truth came up recently when I met a friend to discuss the bible studies that we had both done separately over the BSF break, her Hebrews and me, James.
A theme that separately came up for each of us is belief and how it is also possible for us as believers not to take God at His word and put in caveats that are not there OR that limit our overall ability to enjoy the time spent with Him. And this way, practice unbelief. In my specific case, this came through in the area of prayers. For others in my life, I am able to pray big prayers and believe on their behalf that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He said He will but somehow somehow in my case my faith is muted and I doubt that He will do what He said He can. So my pal rightly asked me: “what’s that about?” And in that moment, I was reminded of the verse that exhorts fathers not to provoke their children to anger by how they treat them (Ephesians 6: 4 NLT).
We often approach God based on our earthly experiences rather than step out of those and experience Him as the eternal Father who loves perfectly. Who has been perfectly revealed through His son Jesus Christ (Heb 1:3) and His living word (the Bible).
This contrasts with the devil who speaks from both sides of his mouth. On the one hand he is the father of all lies (John 8:44) and in the other, the accuser of brethren (Revelation 12:10). However, we also know that Jesus has fully overcome the world on our behalf and though we will have trouble we should take heart and have peace (John 16:33). This means that I can overcome this burden of shame and this fear of intimacy with Christ due to past sin by entrusting my all to Him and believing fully in Him. Additionally, I know that Revelation 12:11 talks of overcoming the accuser through the words of our testimony. By what we declare and what we state can we be renewed and overcome his lies about us, God’s children.
Lord we thank you that you are eternal yet unchanging, that your word is true and that you can swear by none but yourself which further encourages our faith in you. Forgive me where I have doubted your word in how I have acted, thought or spoken. Help me always to trust in you ( in the following specific areas of my life ) and believe even when my old self wants to doubt. Teach me how to hold onto my faith unswerving and this way to bring glory and honour to you. I thank you that you are a good Father who gives good gifts to His children and who forgives us fully and does not hold our past sins against us.
I generally hate letters written to future whatevers but today being Women’s Day in South Africa and because I just watched an advert of ladies giving advice to a younger self, I thought I would give it a try.
Overall, be confident. There is nothing as attractive as a woman who is confident in her skin and who draws out the best in the different people she encounters in her day to day life.
All the best!!
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
I love these verses. They remind me of God’s personal promises to us His children. We are loved and precious to Him. It also reminds me of a very dear friend of mine because she really got me into this verse. I have highlighted and underlined verses that are particularly meaningful to me.
I recently went to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and all I can say of the trip is heat, beauty and Vic Falls. Wow, just wow!!!
Some days never make sense and the more we try and make sense of them, the harder the truth we face is.
Today is one of those days.
I find comfort in the following: God is our creator and the sustainor of all life and in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). In the song “What I thought I Wanted” Sarah Groves talks of wanting to get to heaven so she could go and ask Job what he knew about faith and being able to remain focused on God through tough and trying times. Today, I wanna ask the same hard question. Thankfully, we worship a might God that we can directly approach with such questions.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born
not of natural descent,
nor of human decision
or a husband’s will,
but born of God.
Belief in God gives us access to eternal life and a godly heritage. We are siblings of The First Born who died for us, Jesus Christ. I love this verse. It reminds me of Carol services on Christmas Eve. We always read John 1: 1 – 18 and this verse about being called Children of God always gives me the warm fuzzies. Always. Today, if you too would receive him in your heart and believe in Him, you will surely also receive eternal life and right to be called a child of God. While we all have life and are in fact living beings, not all of us are children of God, that requires belief and faith in God.
Sometimes we forget to take a moment and breathe in and out and say Thank you God for all I have and all that I am. And so today, I would like to take that opportunity to say thanks, publicly because sometimes by sharing our testimonies, we can encourage or strengthen each other.
What are you most grateful for this day?
Prompt courtesy of A Beautiful Mess
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 past week I have had three significant spiritual prompts that I shall proceed to share below.
God desires to continuously bless us. However, sometimes we make a choice to walk away from communion with Him and he cannot bless us in those circumstances because He is a holy God and will not sully his name. However, His word does talk of God as a Father that causes sunshine and raise to fall on the just and unjust (Matt 5:45) and so in this we can take comfort because He will still bless us but the extent is limited or enhanced by our action.
Through suffering, God refines the just and the unjust. Speaking with a friend, I loved this explanation of why bad things happen to good and bad people alike.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Rom 3:3-5 NIV)
All of us need to learn something about ourselves or our faith at each point in our lives and so we each have that thing that makes us stop and cleave onto Christ because of the hope it inevitably builds in us.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. This is very true and never more this week.
First, I have been attending an evening Bible Study and a lot of it is tailored around group work. This week I sat next to these two friends (a guy and girl) and I was moaning about working in groups again (fourth week, one more to go) and then about being with them because they appeared very quiet and I’d have to get things going for all of us. The guy was very quiet and less expressive and only later did he explain how English is not his first language and how he struggles to express himself because he hasn’t studied much and I was so chastened and it also cautioned me to be very patient with people that are “other” in my life. Also, made me wonder how many people leave Church because of such superficial things like they feel like they are not speaking or sounding right, looking good, dressed well or driving a nice car.
Second, I have often felt like a new colleague is sometimes overbearing and quite bossy BUT, in the name of being professional I had decided to take it in my stride and handle that. Early this week, we got sharing and she shared with us about her mom’s final days in care and the toll it took on her being in South Africa and the mom in Europe (to protect her I won’t say the name of the country) and as she shared, I started to see her in a new light and based on that moment, I decided to be easy and take her as she is not out of pity but because of a difficult part in her past. I like the quote above and I always tie it to the fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) and therefore I must be careful with that fact for we are in that sense supernatural beings and deserve honour and respect just for that if nothing else.
I listened to a lovely sermon this week on giving and I felt it necessary to share it here.
Remember also that God loves a cheerful giver and that our giving does not depend on what our neighbour is doing or not doing. Or commonly, the question of what the Church is doing with our tithes or that they are not spending it well. Very often, there is a preconception that if we give our tithes and offerings (our money) that God must provide us with wealth, be it cars, houses, jobs and all that. Our God knows the number of hairs on our head and he looks after the birds in the sky. That is who we serve. His ways are not our ways and so we cannot expect that if we give we must receive like for like. And this is where I depart from prosperity gospel teachings. We are promised numerous blessings and we can call upon each of them before God and remind them of His promises to us but we cannot bribe him with our giving or hold him to ransom with that either. He is God and we are man. We can test Him (Malachi 3:10) by giving repeatedly but we dare not prescribe what we want in return like he is an ATM machine.
My theme verse for this year is:
This is the year for me to step out in faith and step out of the proverbial experience and open myself up to new experiences in life, greater depth in my relationships, loving more and living fully AND being present. The only way I can proudly say ” … be it unto me …” is if I review every experience as it unfolds and choose in that moment, what I shall do or not do and why.
In line with this, I also saw this quote from Seth Godin:
I have been too scared about so many things and this year, I am trying not to fall into that trap because when I ventured out, even a little, the returns were so much better.
What’s your theme verse? Word? Or quote for this year?