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Christians in a troubled land

 

 

Folks,

Things are not good. A potent mix of Jubilee-ism vs CORD-ism (the collective term for which is tribalism), Jubilee’s incompetence, Raila Odinga’s irresponsible rallies, and recent events in Mpeketoni together mean that this country is at a dangerous point in its history. The nation is headed towards calamity, and we ourselves with it.

As Christians, we need to pray for this country now, more than at any time since 2007-08. We may not be in positions of power and influence. We may not hold cabinet positions. But we do know God – or we claim to. We claim that when we pray, He hears us and He answers.

In fact, we might say, we are praying. We are praying every Sunday in our churches for God to help this nation. Yet each week the country gets progressively worse.

Friends, this might come as news to some of us, but clearly, God is not listening. We should by now have discovered by long and painful experience that God is not hearing our prayers. We can’t say God is hearing and yet there was Westgate. We can’t say He is answering when after Westgate there was Thika Superhighway, when after Thika Superhighway there was Gikomba, and when after Gikomba, there was Mpeketoni.

We need to understand that He is not listening.

And then we need to ask ourselves why.

To my way of seeing it, it is no wonder that God is not moving when we pray, because when we pray we pray whilst harbouring (even nursing) biases within ourselves. Far too often, when a minister, a bishop, a well-meaning father or a concerned mother says “Let us pray for this country”, what he/she really means is “Let us pray for those areas in this country with whom we are politically aligned, and the people therefrom. The rest don’t matter.”

Friends, we cannot hate Kikuyus and pray for Kenya and be heard, because Kikuyus are also Kenyans. We cannot hate Luos and pray for Kenya and be heard, simply because Luos are also Kenyans. We must understand that our fate is tied in with each other’s fate. If we live, love and work in the same country, then we have one fate. Your fate is mine, and mine is yours, because we live in this one country. Nothing would prove this more emphatically than a civil war where we all would suffer horribly, as we shall see below… but we shall come to that.

God says in Ezekiel:

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”

God searched for just one man who could stand in the gap for an entire land and couldn’t find him. It would appear that He is still searching, and that is why though we pray every Sunday, the bombs keep going off, the corruption continues, and the country continues to deteriorate.

 Do we think that God hates Kikuyus? Might He hate Kalenjins? Might He hate Kambas? Might He hate Luos? If He does, then let us continue praying the same prayers, and thereafter expect the same results (or lack thereof). But if, perhaps, we are accommodating within ourselves biases that God Himself does not have; if He is as much a Father to “them” as He  is to “us”; if He cares about “them” as much as He cares about “us”, then we need to repent. Not them. Until we become aware that the problems Kenya has, we as Christians are harbouring these same problems in our own hearts, we can’t even start with God. We should cease to pray for Kenya. It would behoove us, rather, to pray for ourselves. We need to apologize to God for hating our brothers and sisters that He Himself made and whose welfare He is concerned about. We need to pray for ourselves until we are at a point where we can entreat God for every county in this nation with little variance in concern. Strangely, in praying for ourselves, we shall find that we have managed to pray for Kenya. Then God can begin to move.

 As we pray, we need to ask God to give us a love for this whole nation and all of its people whether or not they even agree with us. Whether or not they agree with us? Yes. You see, up to now while we were hating our countrymen, God has still loved us, even when His point of view and ours have differed. If we claim to be His children, we need to extend that same kind of tolerance and patience to our own countrymen, no matter where they’re from.

 I will end with a word of warning from one Kariuki Gachoki that came to my attention on Facebook. It succinctly captures the consequences of continuing along the path we are going.

 “RWANDA IN THE MAKING

Let me dissect for you the chronology of ‘Rwanda in the making’.

When the first cannon is fired, you will celebrate and bay for ‘their’ blood. Reports will start trickling in that some enemies have been killed in Coast, Rift Valley and the shanties in Nairobi. This will turn your celebration into a frenzy.

Four days later, the mood will change. As you are no longer getting the basic provisions such as food, your celebration will be cut short to attend to more urgent matters, that is, fending for yourself.

Two weeks down the line, when your energy levels have ebbed to the lowest, reports will reach you that your enemy has regrouped and is coming for your neck and that of your loved ones. You will now abandon the quest for food and attend to the matter of saving your own life. International news media will show you and your kin carrying mattresses heading to a safe haven, most likely a church. You will reach the church and much to your horror, find thousands of people, many from your perceived enemy tribe also camped there, fighting for the little provisions donated by the UN. That night it will rain heavily and exposed, hungry, scared and nursing a deep machete wound on your most loved one’s forehead, the slow realities of ‘Rwanda in the making’ will start sinking in. If you are still surviving one month down the line, 30kgs down from your usual weight, you will start wondering who is fighting who, since the camp is cosmopolitan and you are all fighting for basic survival not caring who comes from which tribe. But that’s just the beginning.

The next day, your camp will be raided, 5 of your loved ones will be slaughtered and you will be lucky to escape with a bullet wound on your right leg. UN will now heap you into lorries and transfer you to another camp. In excruciating pain and feverish from your infected leg, the second reality of war will hit you: what is the fight all about? You will die 3 days later – from neglect really since people around you are too used to seeing others die to bother about the feeble groans coming from your leaking tent.

Four months later, corpses, including yours, will be buried in a mass grave as the lieutenants that started the war sit at a table in some hotel in Kampala to craft another ‘power-sharing’ deal. There will be relative calm as the vultures enjoy the spoils of war. The politicians will be back to their cosy offices…

When the drums of war are sounded, everyone is a theoretical winner but the reality is so different a few months later. What’s more, war does not guarantee equality, it dehumanizes and traumatizes people. Every little thing you’ve worked for goes. I will leave you with this: a certain tribe is not your enemy. People that sit in ivory towers from all political persuasions and subdue you are.

 Change will come when you start demanding accountability right from your county upwards.

 Have a blessed and peaceful day.”

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Christian, Religious, Spiritual

 

Evening, then Morning

And God said, Let there be Light: and there was Light. And God saw the Light, that it was good: and God divided the Light from the darkness. And God called the Light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Gen 1:3-5 (KJV)

Introduction

The first 3 verses of Scripture, as compared to II Corinthians 4:6, are themselves the subject of an entirely separate study, for in the first Acts of Creation Jehovah establishes His template for His work of redemption in the human heart. However, that particular parallel is not the subject of this study. In this analysis, we concern ourselves with the concept of “Evening, then morning.”

A counter-intuitive reversal

The 5th verse of Genesis contains the first mention of the word “morning” in the Holy Scriptures. However, as early as this word appears, its particular mention is preceded by mention of “evening.” I never realized it until I saw it in a video sent me by a friend, but in Creation, and indeed throughout the first chapter of the Scriptures, God chronicled the days as starting from evening and then proceeding to morning. Now, we should pay attention to that. From the beginning of Time on earth, the human experience has been, is, and forever will be about a journey, not from Light to darkness, but from darkness to Light, from death to Resurrection, from sickness to Healing, and ultimately from sin to everlasting Redemption. This journey is what Jehovah primarily concerns Himself with in His dealings with us, His creatures. He alludes to it, as we have seen, in the first three verses of Scripture. If it is possible to think of God as being passionate, then He is passionate about this. Frankly, by the Third Chapter of Genesis, the entire Plan of Redemption has been set out on God’s great canvas.

Likewise, in our primitive dealings with Jehovah as His frail creatures, we must remember this to be the case: that He is primarily concerned about our transition from the evenings of our lives, to our mornings. I do not mean this in a shallow, financial, materialistic way. I mean this primarily as it concerns our souls, and secondarily our health: we come to Him in our nights, and He makes them our mornings; we come to Him in our darknesses, and He floods them with His Light; we come to Him in our moral and our physical sicknesses, and He inundates us with His Healing.

The order of our approach to God

As human beings, who are deeply conscious of our sin, there is a natural desire to want to get clean, and then face God. This is futile. It is futile because it is a morning-then-evening approach. The darkness in our lives necessary precedes the Light, for we are all “shapen in iniquity” (Psalms 51:5). We are personally, intrinsically incapable of the cleansing needed to stand before God. A short while spent merely observing God in His temple in Heaven caused Isaiah, a God-called Prophet, to cry out “Woe is me!” (The exclamation mark is Scriptural, by the way.) What we are forever trying to do in attempting a morning-then-evening approach is impossible, for it is part of our very constitution as humans, part of the very fabric of our nature and makeup, that we are sinful. We are as dirty as mud. And we are as able to free ourselves of our sinful nature by our own agency as we are able to wash the dirt out of a pile of mud. Where you have the mud, there you have the dirt. You throw the dirt away, the mud goes with it. You say: “I’ll let the dirt settle at the bottom.” You walk away, and come back, and somehow the mud has settled with it. You could wait on that mud 50 years and nothing would change. Why? The mud, you see, is dirty. The dirt is in the mud. If you could get the dirt out, it wouldn’t be mud any more. But it is mud, so it is dirty! It can’t be anything else but dirty, because it’s mud. And so it is with us and sin. We are human, and so we are sinful.

Now, the desire to be right and pure and holy is not wrong. It is God-given, and it is what drives us to seek. It is in our methods that we often falter. The first steps in coming to God cannot be puny, frantic attempts at self-cleansing; no. It was God Who spoke the first Light into the pre-existing darkness, and it is God Who must speak the Light into the darknesses of our own lives.

It was while yet in the pig-pen that the prodigal said: “I will arise, and go to my Father.” Darkness. He arrived at his Father’s house with the stench of the swine upon him, and still clad in his filthy, pigherder’s clothes. Darkness. Finally he stood in the august Presence of his Father, with all the tell-tale signs and smells of what he had been doing and the life that he had been living glaringly apparent. Darkness. For “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” But it was his confession of his sins – an agreement with his Father’s assessment of him – that caused his Father to say: “Bring the best robe.” Light. Evening, thus, preceded morning in this instance as well. We need to realize that we are as incapable of clothing ourselves with holiness as that penniless pigherd was of buying a new robe. We are about as worthy of a clean new robe as he was, too. As long as we think this robe is something we have to get before even starting the journey towards our Father, or even standing in His Presence, so long shall we discover by frustrated experience that “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

In like fashion, the publican in the Temple (as contrasted with the Pharisee) shows us that we need not be afraid that our current state is unpalatable to God. In the first, God knows it already (I feel the need to stress again the pressing, present need for present agreement with God about present status). And in the second, to pretend our state is different from what both He and we really know it to be is to be dishonest. Both men went to church. Both men prayed in the same Temple. Both men prayed to the same God. Both men’s prayers were heard. But one was in darkness, and knew himself to be so, whilst the other stood in pretended light:

And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [with God’s approval / absolved from guilt / declared righteous] rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:9-14 (KJV)

Righteousness and cleansing is something freely given by God when we come to Him, shorn of pretence, insensate of any pretensions to righteousness, and with a certain effective helplessness (not equal with a lack of faith) about our ability to cleanse ourselves. We must agree with His assessment of our lives as shown in His Word. We must make an end of struggling to appear presentable before Him.  We must lastly submit to His own intervention. The rest – speaking Light into darkness – is God’s business. After which we shall stand where Paul stood, when he said:

For God, Who commanded the Light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Cor 4:6 (KJV)

God’s attitude about all this

We have seen, above, that Jehovah has concerned Himself with the translation of mere, mortal, ordinary men and women from darkness to Light as per Colossians 1:13 & I Peter 2:9 (to the consternation of men of God in times past per Job 7:17 & Psalms 8:4). You ask: “Is this really for me? How can God want This for me, after all I’ve been to Him and all I’ve done…? I have been too bad and too wicked and too insensate to His call for far too long for me to matter to God.”

Or maybe mentally, you’re looking around and saying: “Surely this was meant for folks like Paul, or Peter and them. But This kind of Thing just doesn’t happen any more.”

Or perhaps you have a bit more faith and can say: “This is meant for Pastor so-and-so in church, Pastors need This kind of Thing. Or so-and-so in that other church, they’re far more deserving than I am. How can I really be the one that all This was meant for?”

Or maybe you’re saying: “Is it God’s will? How can I know God wants it for me? Does God want me to have that that kind of access to His glorious salvation? Is God still interested? “

The Scripture below describes what God’s attitude is to us, and He has never changed it from the day He spoke it to this minute when you are reading it. It is as He Himself stated in His commission to Paul. When God sent Paul to preach the Gospel, these were His aims:

But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to Light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.

Acts 26:16-18 (KJV)

There are no exceptions in that Commission. He wants it for you. Do you want it, for Him?

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Redemption, Spiritual

 

On the Passing of Professor George Saitoti

(Most of this was originally written as a lengthy status update on 19th June 2012. It is not a light read; I can feel its weight. It’s made me think, too. Let’s be sober, let’s be honest, and most of all, let’s be READY.)

If one was paying a visit to Kenya between 10th June 2012 and 17th June 2012, one could be forgiven for thinking that Professor George Saitoti singlehandedly fought for, and obtained, Kenya’s independence. I feel genuinely sorry for his grieving widow (a lady about whom I have heard only good things), and for his now fatherless son. Nobody would like to lose a husband/father.

On the other hand, if the late Professor is to be judged on the basis of what he did for (to!) his country, as a national leader, then let us talk plainly. The way in which politicians and the media whitewashed his reputation was disappointing, it was weak, it showed a lack of principle and it was a colossal, monumental lie of omission. It would appear that there are no depths to which one can sink, from which one cannot be magically raised and eulogized as a hero. As Kenyans, let us make a habit of calling a spade a spade. Even aside from Goldenberg, have we already forgotten that the late Professor did not even make it to Parliament in a credible manner this time? He had to flee for his life when irate voters stoned him after it was alleged that mysterious ballot boxes (some even with personal effects like lesos inside them) were appearing during vote-tallying. Before the chaos erupted, his main opponent, the Reverend Moses ole Sakuda, was leading with 9,412 votes. The late minister was “trailing by 4,127 votes from about 40 stations tallied“. The rest is now history. In short, this man in all likelihood cheated his way into Parliament and a ministerial post. In fact, he might not even have died, if he’d been more honest. Yet we bow obsequiously to his memory. We are serfs in our minds, a nation of intellectual slaves.

I also think we are very superstitious; we fear condemning the wrong actions of those who are dead. Why? Shouldn’t we be learning from that, and taking lessons as to how we can better live our own lives? Do we fear being haunted at night? If so, why then do we call ourselves a nation with an 80% Christian population? If it’s the truth, and if it is said with the aim of bringing light and clarity to the matter (not just out of malice/bitterness), there will no harm come to us. Let us be clear, let us be frank, let us be honest, and let us be fearless about the truth.

How did we, as the church, manage to bury the late Professor and not say anything about how he lived his life? Wasn’t this a golden opportunity to remind both ourselves and our fellow citizens that “every one of us shall give account of himself to God?” Where is the truth to be found, any more, if not in the church? Is there no-one left for whom black is black and white is white? No matter how large or how thick the clouds of incense we may have wafted over the late Professor’s coffin, the mists of untruth and falsehood shall never becloud the facts of his public life before a holy God. They shall not becloud the facts of our lives either – whether public or private. May God give us men who can draw that line in the sand between good and bad with neither fear nor favour.

Perhaps we make excuses for others in the hope that excuses will be made for us, when we die. Let me say it again: excepting that Professor George Saitoti repented and sought God before he died, his case is not unique; he is in hell right now for what he did to the people of this nation, among his other sins. And, folks, except we ourselves repent, we “shall all likewise perish.” There is one place where the rules cannot be bent Kenyan-style folks, and that is before the Almighty. Let the late Professor’s passing have two effects upon us:

  1. Let it make us think deeply about whether it is really worthwhile to live as he lived, amassing wealth (especially at poor people’s expense). All his wealth counts for nothing before God, and anyway, he left it all behind.
  2. Let it make us reflect on whether we are ready to die as suddenly as he died, and face God ourselves.

Oh God, have mercy upon us. Like Elijah, we say that we are not better than our fathers. Have mercy upon us all! Help us to live lives that can stand up before the scrutiny not only of our fellow man, but also before Your all-seeing scrutiny. The Scripture says that “there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” That hour must come for us all, and we know not when it shall come. May the fear of God return to this nation before all is lost. May we learn from Professor Saitoti’s untimely passing that we ought always to be ready. We ask You to help us be ready, always. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Politics, Spiritual

 

That First Good Friday (An Easter Message)

Although Christmas is the more heavily celebrated holiday, probably by virtue of its position in the human calendar, Easter is the weightier holiday in meaning, for without Easter, Christmas has less or no meaning; some will say there could have been no Easter without Christmas, surely the more accurate statement is that there could be no real Christmas had Easter not occurred; for the birth would have had far less meaning, except the sacrificial death had occurred.

Now therefore on this day around 2,000 years ago, the Christ yielded up His Life, exchanging it for death, that we who deserved death may have instead of deserved death, His Life, an exchange at once made the more beautiful (and un-understandable to the devil our accuser) for its seeming inequity. So we see that the Creator forfeited His Life for His creation, and the King became a subject to His own subjects, for their sakes; the Master became a servant for His Own servants, the Worthy One made Himself unworthy for we unworthy ones’ sakes; and “that Just One” was made unjust that we unjust might be counted just.

On that day when a sinless Christ was nailed to the Cross, paradox after paradox was thereby displayed, for He Himself created the tree of whose wood that Cross was made; He had nourished it from a seed, and had preserved it. In times of heat He had caressed the sapling’s boughs with gentle breezes, in times of cold He had smiled upon it with His own free sunshine. He had known of its primitive thirsts, and slaked them with the rain of His Heaven (for a tree’s thirst, primitive though it may be, still moves the heart of He Who clothes the grass of the field). Having taken such care over it, He was aware when they hewed it down, and foreknew its crude use; yea He was aware when one limb was shaped into crossbeam and another was shaped into stake.

The iron of the Romish hammer, and of those gruesome spikes, the Saviour Himself had forged; tens, maybe hundreds of millennia antecedent. Infernos of a nameless heat had melted stone and rock and crust into fiery magma, and by a great and violent belching the earth had spewed out of its belly the very rock from whence the iron for His nails was taken.

The Romish soldiers themselves He had fashioned in their mother’s wombs, perhaps not 60 years before. He knew their every sinew, He knew the manner of the beating of their heart. He knew their loves, their desires, their circumstance, their ancestry and their eventual end. Even as He hung on the Cross whose wood He had made, fastened thereon by nails that He had made, nailed thereupon by men that He had made, it was for the hearts of these men that a great compassion came over His own heart, and it was for their forgiveness that He cried out, beseeching His Father this grace on account of their ignorance.

That stygian afternoon as He hung between earth and sky, a black and awful silence came over natural creation. It was not the silence of peace, for peace had yet to be made. Nor was it the silence of awe. Nay, what stole over creation was the silence of utter, abject horror. Sun and Moon fled, un-chased, from the scene. Dovesong, breeze, and windsbreath, all ceased. Creation lay inert as its Creator hung dying, perhaps insensate that only by the death of that Wonderful One could its redemption be complete.

And so it was that when at last an end had been made of His great sacrifice, this Sinless One, this Just One cried out, “It is finished.” He of Whom all the Prophets had prophesied, and to Whom all true Prophets now point, He Whose coming the law made necessary, and Whose life – and death – the Law fulfilled (fulfills); at last He had finished His task. Listed below are a few of the things that came to an end at 3:00pm that afternoon so many years ago:

  1. The enmity between God and man – finished (Matthew 27:51a, Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:21-22).
  2. The distance between God and man – finished (Ephesians 2:12-13).
  3. The price that needed to be paid to pay for sin – finished (I John 2:2).
  4. The sin of the world – finished (John 1:29, I John 2:2).
  5. Our own sins – finished (I Corinthians 15:3).
  6. The sin in the heart of man – finished (I John 1:7).
  7. The difference in God’s eyes between Jew and Gentile – finished (Ephesians 2:14-19).
  8. The devil – finished (Hebrews 2:14).
  9. The dispensation of the law – finished (John 1:17).
  10. The power of death over just men who had died before Christ’s death – finished (Matthew 27:52-53).
  11. The power of death over just men who died after Christ’s death – finished (I Corinthians 15:21-22).

Such that this morning, it is indeed finished, and an end has been made of all these things; it only remains, therefore, for an end to be made of all these things for us, at a personal level.

Jesus paid it all
All to Him we owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Christ's Sacrifice, Easter, Spiritual

 

Do you see aught?

(Commentary for the Main Campus Christian Union Sunday Service 22nd May 2005)

And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw aught. And he looked up, and said, “I see men as trees, walking.” After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.

Mark 8:22-25 (KJV)

Often in the Gospels we find that just as parables have an inner, spiritual meaning within them, the events in the Gospels do, too. They are not told solely as a statement of fact, but also as an example to us.

Our event this morning is found in the book of Mark 8:22-25. It is only 4 verses long. We shall in fact only look at 3 verses, and we shall draw parallels between the story of this blind man, and the story of our salvation.

We pick up the story as the blind man is being led by our Lord out of the town. Salvation is always an individual affair, and cannot take place amidst the clamour, noise, hustle and bustle of everyday life. Normal activity comes to a stop. It does not often take place in the midst of a crowd. We find that the Lord often prefers to do his work within an individual alone with that individual.

He took Moses out of Egypt and into the wilderness for 40 years. John was in the wilderness from the time he was a child ‘til the day of his showing unto Israel. Paul was in the desert of Arabia for 3 years. It is not that we must spend similar amounts of time away from everything – these men had a special work to do. It is that it is the Lord’s way to lead us away from all the noise when He is working with us.

Picture yourself as the character in the story. You are aware that you have been brought to this Man to be healed. Your heart is thudding with expectation.  The first thing He does is take you on a long journey away from your usual surroundings. The street where you used to beg is quickly left behind. You pass the shop where you used to buy cigarettes. Student’s Centre is reached, and passed. The Carnivore is overtaken without a pause from the Saviour. The friends you used to gossip with are also left behind, far behind. Your drinking pals are left behind, step by sure step. And each step of the way, you ask yourself, “When is He going to heal me?” Before you realize, it begins to get quieter and quieter. Finally there is only the sound of your footfalls, and those of the Lord. And the constant, reassuring, safe feeling of your hand in His (the Bible says in verse 23 that He took him by the hand and led him out of the town). You are alone with Him. If only God could have us alone to Himself! If our Lord would do any lasting work within us, we must allow ourselves to be drawn away from the distractions of everyday living, sometimes even from friends and family, and be totally alone with Him.

The second thing we notice is that this healing did not follow the normal conventions of healing. We see that when the man was brought to Christ, those who brought him “besought Christ to touch him.” Christ did not begin with a touch. He began by spitting on his eyes. Credit to the blind man, he didn’t run away at this point. He had a need. He wanted to see. And if it took spitting to see, he was willing to be spat upon. He was willing to do anything, or have anything done to him, if only it would make him see.

Sometimes we think we need a touch, and what we need is a spit, first. What we need may not always be orderly and tidy. It may not always be what we think we need. It may not be what we expect. It may be painful. It might hurt our pride. It might mean giving up something that we treasure. But when the work gets messy, let us not run away. And if we are conscious enough of our need, we shall not mind about the spitting. We must let our overwhelming need for Salvation override the sometimes messy path it takes to get there.

The third thing we see is that the Lord asked the man if he could see anything. Now God in Christ is omniscient. He must have known that the patient was not yet fully healed. However He asked the man if he saw anything. I believe that up to this point, many of us are with the blind man. God has saved us, and called us out and away from the world to a Life lived in Him. However, the mistake that many of us make as Christians is to only let the Lord work up to a point. And God will do only as much as we will let Him. The omnipotent God has limited Himself to the wills of His people. He only goes as far as we let Him.

Let us continue with the little story. The man looks up and says “I see men as trees walking.” What a parallel of many a Christian life today! It is equivalent to only a partial sight. Our Christian lives are not all that they can be, and all that our Lord is willing to make them, if only we can just admit it. We see men as trees walking. There is an old temper in us that despite our most valiant efforts will just not go away. Perhaps some selfishness abides that we do not know how to deal with. Or maybe a pride yet lurks somewhere deep inside. There reside in our hearts sins and habits and lusts that we will not let go of or we cannot make to go away. We are the Christians spoken of in Romans 7, as opposed to Romans 8. Our vision is not yet clear. We need to look up, away from our daily lives and duties, away from our chores and tasks, take stock of our lives and ask ourselves if we are not really just living a half or a third or a tenth of the Christian life that is ours by promise.

God has said in His Word that He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 1:24). God has promised that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). God has spoken of joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8). He has promised peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). He has even commanded that we ought to be perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). But He is asking us “Do we see anything?” And we need to say, “Yes Lord, I see, but I see men as trees walking. Yes Lord, You saved me, but I want more. You saved me Lord, and I’m thankful, but what about my lust? Lord what about my lying? Will you take that away, too? I want to see clearly, Lord.”

Now, our work is not to heal ourselves. Thanks be to God. We can’t heal ourselves any more than the blind man could open his own eyes. God is the Healer. He is the Saviour. Ours is to admit that we need further healing. Ours is to cry out for a deeper salvation. Ours is to let the Lord know that we will not be content to live our lives in the wilderness, when Canaan has been promised. Ours is to want it enough not to leave Him until He does it for us. Let’s tell Him that we are not satisfied with just a small portion of Salvation. Let’s tell Him that we want every promise in the Bible to apply to us as Christians. Let’s tell Him that we are not willing to stand this side of Jordan, but we are willing to take the land that God has promised us. Let’s tell God that we need more of Him. Christ is sure to give us the second touch and we shall “see every man clearly”.

How do you see this morning? Do you see clearly? Is Heaven in clear sight, and does the love and Spirit of God abide within? Or do you see men as trees walking?

God bless you all.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Spiritual, The Christian Walk

 

Lessons from the prayer of King Jehoshaphat – Step 7

Step 7 – Praising and blessing the Lord

And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice on high.

II Chronicles 20:18-19 (KJV)

And when he [Jehoshaphat] had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.

II Chronicles 20:21-22

And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the Lord: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.

II Chronicles 20:26 (KJV)

It’s interesting to note that there are three places where there was praise or blessing was given unto the Lord. The first was after God spoke. The second was at the time of the battle. And the third was after the victory.

Praising God for His Word

There are times when God clearly speaks a Word to each of us. It may be spoken to us by somebody. It may be spoken to us in a dream. A particular portion of the Scripture may come to life. But God has always spoken, does speak and He will always speak to His people. If we are sure that God has spoken, it is actually the same as if He has done it. This is why the Levites praised God after the prophecy of Jahaziel. The answer to Jehoshaphat’s prayer actually arrives in verses 14-17 when God said through Jahaziel: 

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord…”

II Chronicles 20:17

When Judah heard this, they fell on their faces and worshipped, beginning with Jehoshaphat, and the Levites praised the Lord. If only we could have this kind of faith in His Word, that after we have heard It, we praise Him just as if it had already happened. That we would praise Him in advance of the victory. That we would praise Him because we have heard His Word and we believe Him. This is what Mary told Elizabeth after the angel Gabriel had visited her. Remember, Jesus had not been born. Perhaps she didn’t feel anything in her womb yet. She had only a Word. But she praised Him anyhow:

My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His Name. And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath holpen His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Luke 1:46-55

Praising the Lord at the time of battle

Let’s turn the camera to the camp of the Ammonites and the Moabites and the Edomites. The time is early in the morning (verse 20). Soldiers are buckling on their armour. Swords are being placed in scabbards. The generals are assessing the lay of the land, and finalizing strategies for attack. There is adrenalin in the camp. And then… wait, what’s that sound? Is that music I hear? Singing! The people of Judah are singing!

And so we see that praise is one thing we can do in the midst of battle. It sounds counter-intuitive, but imagine what it must look like to the devil when we praise the Lord in the midst of trouble that he (the devil) has orchestrated.. I’m quite sure he cannot stand it. There is an attitude I like to call a “Hallelujah anyhow” attitude. Those Ammonites are numerous, but hallelujah anyhow. They came with the Moabites too, but hallelujah anyhow. The Lord hasn’t healed me yet, but He said He would, so hallelujah anyhow. Hallelujah! Anyhow.

Blessing the Lord after the victory

The third time that Judah thanked the Lord, the Bible says they blessed the Lord. The Swahili word baraka is actually related to the word Berachah quoted in this Scripture. The word baraka in Swahili is Arabic in origin (e.g. Barack Obama) and Hebrew and Arabic share some words. The Bible says that after the enemy finished slaying one another, it took Judah three days just to collect the loot. On the fourth day, they said “Folks, we better bless the Lord.” Now, it is not good to be an ingrate. It is not pleasing to God to forget the things He has done for us or be ungrateful. Seems to me I can hear the hurt in the Master’s voice when He said:

“Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?”

Luke 17:15

God does not withhold the blessing because He knows we will be ungrateful. No, God’s heart is too big for that. But the least we ought to do is find time to thank Him and bless Him after He has done for us things we could never have done for ourselves. The people of Judah blessed God until that site was named the Valley of Blessing ever after. It became a memorial because of how they blessed Him. I like that. We too, ought to learn how to bless Him until our blessing of Him becomes memorable. Whether in song, or dance, or thanksgiving, offering, testimony or praise – it ought to be memorable, somehow.

In summary, we ought to remember to praise Him after He speaks, to praise Him during the battle and to bless Him after the victory.

Thank you for reading through these articles. I trust they have been a blessing to you. Remember, they will mean nothing to you or to me until we get down to it and pray. If there’s any way I can help you, feel free to let me know. May the Lord God bless you, and give you the faith and strength you will need on those early mornings and on those hungry afternoons/nights. And may He receive the glory that is due Him out of our lives as He answers our prayers.

Let us pray.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Prayer, Spiritual

 

Lessons from the prayer of King Jehoshaphat – Step 6

Step 6 – Stand believing

And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.

II Chronicles 20:13 (KJV)

Many of my own prayers have been mixes and matches of the previous 5 steps. ESPECIALLY Step 4. 🙂 And God has answered many of them. But I see another step that has been missing. And that is to stand before Him until the answer comes (II Chronicles 20:13). The Bible talks about having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13). Remember, to this point, we have:

  1. Set ourselves;
  2. Reminded God of His goodness and the great things He has done in the past, especially for us;
  3. Found a legal (Scriptural) basis for our petition and rested our case upon it;
  4. Honestly stated the problem, including examining ourselves; and
  5. Confessed our shortcomings and weaknesses, professing ourselves to be dependent on Him.

Having done all this, the hour comes when we must stand. Amen.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t physically move, although such situations may arise. It means remain in an attitude of waiting for an answer until one comes. After presenting your case,behave as if you have been heard. Remain expecting His answer! Too many of my prayers have ended when I got up off my knees, or after the amen, when they shouldn’t have. No doubt many an answer would by now have been received if we had got to the point where “all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives and their children.” The Bible says all Judah. Not just some of Judah. It’s got to be all. It’s got to be all of me, it’s got to be all of you. When all of us and everything we are is to be found in an attitude of expectant standing, wholly given over to waiting in faith for the answer to the dilemma, we shall receive what we ask for. It might, as in Daniel’s case, take 21 days. For Judah, I don’t think it was that long until the Spirit of God fell upon Jahaziel and he prophesied. But God help me henceforth to stay right there expecting, listening for Him to answer until He does.

In another place the Scripture commands us, when we pray, to believe that we receive what we have asked for (Mark 11:24). This is the same attitude. Our prayers may come to an end, but like Judah, we dare not cease to believe when we cease to pray. Believing can not, must not end with the prayer. Believing must go on past the “Amen” up to and even beyond the point where the object of the prayer is made reality. Like how Abraham believed for Isaac. Even after Isaac was born (reality), when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, that old patriarch climbed Mount Moriah believing that God would raise Isaac from the dead, because he still believed Isaac to be the son that God had promised (Hebrews 11:17-19). How’s that for standing!  Oh, may God give us the faith to make His Word live. When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?

Let us “walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham”  (Romans 4:12);  having done all, let us stand.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Prayer, Spiritual