Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lessons From 2016

Sin is a horrible mess
Nothing good ever comes out from sin. This year has been another reminder of the terrible consequences of sins in my own life and the lives of others, family and friends included. From Adam through to 2016, life and relationships have felt the effects of sin. Sin not only affects the person committing the sin as they battle with the guilt, shame and all the awkwardness that comes with it but it also affects the people around you. Either your sins are against them and you are affecting them directly or they are feeling the consequences of your sins and they then have to suffer emotionally, spiritually, mentally or physically. Your sins ultimately affect your relationship with God. David cries in Psalm 51, “for I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Sin messes up your life, the lives of others and your relationship with God. Nothing good comes out of it and for those secret sins we somehow think we can get away the Lord warns us that “your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Local church family is essential to a healthy Christian life
Churches like homes are never perfect. In fact that might be deemed as an understatement by some people! The simple fact that churches are made up of people means that every church will have issues, sin has a way of messing up things! However, local church family is essential for the growth and stability of even the strongest of believers. It is dangerous arrogance to assume you do need the support and encouragement of your local church family. It is in fact trying to be clever than God who instituted the local church for that very purpose. I really feel sorry for people who neglect and see no good in their local churches, they actually do not realize how important the family is to their lives. Show me a person who is not a healthy church member and I will show you a person who is suffering from spiritual malnutrition and probably living in sin. We all need the support and encouragement of the imperfect, sometimes difficult and trying local church family.  

The Lord’s work is the Lord’s
Christ says he will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18). That’s a truth I constantly have to remind myself of. Our task is that of a steward managing the master’s work. It is both foolish and pride to assume the Lord’s work is your doing and dependent on you. Foolish because you then bear burdens you do not have the grace to handle. It’s like a child trying to figure out where the next bag of mealie meal will come from, it is unnecessary stress because they do not have the ability and it is not their job. Pride because you think too highly of yourself in thinking the Lord’s work is actually yours. I am learning to know where my stewardship ends.

People need the gospel
It does not matter your race, gender, age or social status, we all suffer from the sickness of sin and God’s remedy is the gospel. People from all walks of life need the gospel. It is God’s power unto salvation (Rom 1:16). We have the tendency to be clever and come up with clever ideas and solutions. I learnt that God’s solution is more than enough! You can for instance tell a couple the principals of communication all you want, if they have not learnt to acknowledge their sinfulness and humbly submit to Christ, you are pouring water on a dark’s back. People need the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Lord is good all the time

He provided all our needs at the right time. He showered us with many blessings both spiritual and physical. He gave us grace every day of the year. He answered many of our prayers. He was patient with us and forgave our many sins. Truly what the Lord has done for us we cannot tell it all. I will praise His name for His mercies endure forever!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Festive Season, Fireworks and The glory of God

One way you know Christmas and the New Year are here apart from the decorations and the songs is through fireworks! Granted the unexpected and unnecessary sound of fireworks can be annoying and can cause your blood pressure to go up a notch, we can all agree that there are no better sights than a fireworks display in the dark sky. We look up and join the “wow” “ooh” choruses as we are dazzled by the beauty and splendor of the spectacular explosions. It is truly amazing that man can light up the sky in such a beautiful way albeit for a short while and has every right to be wowed by such innovation. I at least have every intention of letting off a few fireworks myself this week.

A spectacular fireworks display
As you are impressed by the lights from the fireworks this week, I would like to remind you that from January to December there is a light that brightens the dark sky every night and we have got so used to it that we have forgotten its glory and splendor. We have become too familiar with the moon and its spectacular light that we actually do not notice it.
The moon at dawn

The moon is 384, 400 km away from the earth and has a radius of 1,737 km and a surface area of about 38 million square kilometers almost the surface area of Asia. Its weight is over 80 quintillions (yeah let’s leave it at that). The temperature at the moon ranges from -173 degrees to 127 degrees Celsius.

The amazing thing is that year after year it makes its circuit without complications (despite its size and weight) and it faithfully and quietly lights up the sky and we simply do not notice. What’s even more amazing is the fact that the moon pales in comparison to the size, heat and light of the sun. We should be grateful the sun is just the right distance from the earth otherwise we would be toast. Even the sun is simply another star in a galaxy of spectacular stars.

The Heavens declare the glory of God
And God made them all! “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;     who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me that I should be like him? Says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing” (Isaiah 40:22-26).

The psalmist then tells us “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1-3)
No wonder when the wise men from the east followed the bright star it led them to the creator of the universe who had just become man and they rightly fell on their knees and worshiped. Because while we should be amazed at the wonder and beauty of the bright shining stars, we should above all else honor the one who created them.

So as we marvel at the fireworks that will be beautifully lighting up the sky this festive season, remember the moon has been doing so for thousands of years at the creator’s command. Let your amazement and delights lead you to worship the creator whose glory is displayed daily by His creation.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Moment I Learnt How to Pray

Every Christian knows the importance of prayer to their spiritual well-being and yet you rarely find a Christian who is satisfied with their prayer life. Praying also seems pretty easy to do, however, it can be the hardest spiritual disciplines to do and the hardest to actually find pleasure doing. How many times do we struggle to consistently be engaged in prayer and how many times do our prayers feel dry and aimless? You soon began to feel like you are saying a lot words (sometimes the same words) and yet not saying much at all. If you are like me you desire to pray more and pray better, but borrowing a phrase doing its rounds on social media “the struggle is real”.

Struggling in prayer can be rather frustrating. You may genuinely desire to pray, even set a time for prayer and yet when the set time comes you struggle to get round to praying; and the times you actually do pray, the prayers are labored, just listen to our prayers at meal times to get a feel of our struggle. So how exactly does one learn how pray sincerely and meaningfully? Desperation!

It is said desperate situations call for desperate measures, well I beg to differ desperate situations call for desperate prayer. I recently was hit from all sides and angles with issues that not only drained the life out me but also left me clueless and totally out depth. Yes I prayed as is to be expected and I went about trying to apply all the little knowledge I have acquired and nothing seemed to work, everything that could go wrong went wrong. Then it hit, I had no answers, no solutions and there was absolutely nothing I could do to solve or deal with the different issues that were unrelenting. I was desperate. And in my desperation I cried out to God, and like a child speaking to the father I poured my heart out to him. I acknowledged I was totally unable apart from Him and His grace and trying to do life and serve Him in my own ability has only made things worse.

As I reflect on that moment I realized that though it was an agonizing experience and my praying was out of desperation it was at the same time sweet communion with God. And I wondered why not enjoy such communion on a daily basis? The answer is simple, I am self-sufficient. I am not desperate on a daily basis because I somehow believe I can manage my life and responsibilities on my own and therefore, do not pray with desperation. My head and mouth say God is sovereign and in control but my life screams I am in control of things. I am thankful the Lord allowed the many issues to teach me to pray earnestly, simply and with deep desperation.