Stewardship – The Key To Happiness (Part 1)

Stewardship – The Key To Happiness (Part 1)

Let me come out and say, I am one of those people that do not look forward to stewardship day in church. Before you stone me, hear me out. Not that I hate the subject, I hate what the subject has been turned into. I know that if it’s stewardship day, I must expect a sermon from Malachi 3:10 or if I am lucky, the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). From there, I can bet you the afternoon lesson is on returning tithes and offerings. You must see me yawning right now. Do you now understand why I personally do not like stewardship day? They should much rather just call it the money department day to be more accurate.

Stewardship is such a broad concept. Of course, it includes money, but it does not end with money. Consider the following train of thought for a while. When God made the man, every other aspect of creation was done. This included the animal kingdom; the food and plants; the days of the week and so on. God then said, “…and let them have dominion over…” Gen 1:26. What is dominion? An equivalent word would be “rule”. So, tell me, does Cyril Ramaphosa the current president of South Africa own South Africa; the people; the money; the land and all other things? Of course not! Is he, on the other hand, the ruler? He is! Same with you and I in the kingdom of God. He made us and placed us in a position to rule over certain aspects of life, but we do not own them, we just have been entrusted with those. Cyril Ramaphosa does not wake up one morning and decide to declare a public holiday for no reason because he is president. Although I must mention, it would be extra cool for the working class if he were to succeed in doing that. Why? He reports to those who entrusted him with the position and answers questions on the use of that day as a leisurely day. You too, are accountable to the One who put you in the position of dominion. You do not wake up and do as you please because the resources that have been given you, you are answerable to God for them.

With that said, realise then how this broadens stewardship. It begins when you wake up. The life is not yours, you have been given by God and it is a gift to breathe. The body that leaves the bed is not yours (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), how you dress it (1 Peter 3:2); feed it (1 Corinthians 10:31); treat it (3 John 2) matters to the one who entrusted you with it. The water you use for your shower does not come from the municipality. If He had not created the spring; rivers; oceans; dams and fountains, you would be doomed. The food you eat is neither for your gratification nor sharing on Instagram. It is to nourish and keep in health the body that you have been lent and that means whatever you feed it puts you still in the line of accountability. Moreover, the food itself is not limited to your feeding only but any other steward who has not what he can feed the body with. It’s not your food, God just made you a depositary. The clothes you wear, we call them yours because English has no better word for situations like these. If one of God’s rulers is in need, you supply. The car and the house, He has lent you not only for your comfort but for service to those who will come your way in need of transportation. He gave the house to you because He knew at some point a preacher may need a place to sleep while holding an evangelical meeting. He knew that His children may need a meeting place to pray and study the word. He knew that an orphan might need to pass by and sleep for a couple of days. You are merely a channel to the relief of humanity. Then, of course, the money as well. Not only are you responsible for tithe and offerings, but whatever remains is still not yours. The difference is that with this one, you can use it for personal things, which at the end of the day are also blessings to those around you. For me, in money I can tell you now, I do not believe that there is 10% for God and 90% for me. I mean honestly, if you are merely given dominion over what you found here, of which money is included, what can you call yours? I believe that with money, tithe plus freewill offering has already been predetermined as to its destination then the rest, God reveals as you go along day to day.

There comes also the issue of strength; time; skills; talents and opportunities. These are often ignored, and I really don’t know why. Maybe because we have idolised the money aspect and shrunk the whole idea of serving God into just giving Him money as though He is some street beggar. What an insult! Why would God give us things that would never be employed in His work? I can tell you now, most people are so lax with the stewardship of time and opportunities. I used to be one of those that never honoured time at all until I learnt that the whole 6 days God gives me time to practice keeping and using time properly so that I could keep the Sabbath time properly as well. I am not talking here about merely arriving before Sabbath School and leaving after sunset. No. I am talking about how I spend my special day with the Creator; how I use my fellowship time; the thoughts I spend that lunch hour on and so much more. How about opportunities? Many will stand to answer on judgement day for letting go of opportunities that could have brought blessing; healing; salvation and more to humanity.

The whole concept of stewardship is what brings us to the ned point that we are not our own and just like the order in heaven, none ought to live unto self. In every aspect of your life, you are steward! Come again sometime as we visit the bible and understand how faithful stewardship gives happiness and meaning to our life.

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Praying Always (Part 3)

Praying Always (Part 3)

Imagine we went out on a drive  in a game park and while I went to the bathroom, a lion suddenly crept up behind you. You are in the wild, by yourself and a lion is looking at you like that Big Mac burger. Panicking out of your mind, you see your life flash before your eyes because you do not even have the power to scream. Just as I arrive I yell “Shoot it with that riffle!” I am very sure that would be the end of our friendship, right? Generally because you would just wonder, “If there was a riffle, would I be standing around next to a lion that wants to eat me?”

See, in the spiritual war, that is exactly where we are. Standing motionless while the devil creeps into our lives and gets ready to totally finish with us. Weak and scared we stand, waiting for our lives to end any second from now. God is shouting, “Use the armour that I gave you!” and we are yelling back, “If there was  a powerful defence armour I would have used it by now!!” Here lies the problem with our spiritual war: we are visually impaired. Why do I say so? Look at the following verses:

2 Kings 6:15-17

15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Just like this servant, our eyes cannot see beyond the physical and so we spend time frustrating and crying when God has put everything at our disposal. Unless we see this armour, it is of not use to the blind. Elisha’s servant must have seen his life flash before his eyes when he saw the whole army camoing outside their house. He was not trained for war, his master was an old prophet and simple mathematical probabilities just was not in their favour considering the numbers. He cried to Elisha and could have just said their lives are over. From the physical world view, that was true, but remember where we started in Ephesians 6?

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

If we only look at that which is apparent, our armour we have will never be of use in any situation of our lives. The vision we need so we can see the real war lying underneath. Nothing happens in this world outside of the war between good and evil. Absolutely nothing! And so, because that is the case, we should pray for God to give us vision so we can use the armour He gave us, knowing that we are not fighting mere human beings but the spirits and principalities behind them. It was only after God opened his eyes that the servant understood he did not have to run around to try this or that. He then gained confidence because His defence was much stronger than the attack.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

The first and most important war strategy is to ask the Lord to give us vision, that we may see who we are up against and what we have to fight. God is love and He will never let us be at the mercy of the devil without any defence. Our weapons are not carnal, ask Him today to open your eyes that you may see the weapons He has given you. The riffle is there already, sitting in the car. All you have to do is reach out in prayer and your defence is activated.

Praying Always (Part 2)

Praying Always (Part 2)

So I thought I was going to get some long sleep this morning but then God decided to wake me up to honor my promise of a coming article. You can imagine me waking up at 04:30 hrs in all sleepiness and fighting with God because I so want to sleep. Well, the argument in my head eventually just took away all the sleep. I am here. Speaking about the armour of God, there is so much ground to cover that I do not even know where to begin. For today though, I will look at why we should put it on to begin with. I do not know about you but I am that inquisitive character that just does not do something without understanding the reasons behind it. That has often gotten me into trouble, but at least not this time.  The question is why? Why do I need to put on the armour of God?

“Put on the whole armour of God that  ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13

Paul puts it straight that we do not doubt for a second. We put on the armour for protection from the evil one and all his efforts in destroying us. The great controversy between good and evil is as real as you, the reader and I, the author. Okay maybe it does not breathe but it sure does feed of the souls of the earth, it grew into a universal war thousands of years ago, with every generation born it is inherited. Surely that qualifies it as a living thing, scientifically speaking at least. Satan is a real, walking; talking and thinking being. He has power to destroy but I thank God that He restricts the extent of the use of His powers. We would be doomed if God did not have the power to do this! Verse 12 particularly speaks volumes on why we need protection. The fact that we do not wrestle against human beings should be enough reason for us to recognize our need for greater power than the feeble human one. Our strength, in fact, got us here into a sin-sick world because at the garden, our parents failed to obey.

“Satan’s aim had been to reproduce his own character in human beings. No sooner was man created than Satan resolved to efface in him the image of God, and to place his stamp where God’s should be…In this world he has set up a kingdom of darkness, of which he, the leader in guilt, is prince. He desired to usurp the the throne of God. Failing in this, he has worked in darkness, in crookedness, in deception, to usurp his place in the hearts of men.” Ellen G. White The SDA Bible Commentary Volume page 1119

The description goes further to say “…principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places…” The bible is showing us a vivid picture of what we are up against. Spiritual wickedness that is so high that we can not even imagine what the next move could be. Who knew that after the Ariana Grande concert so many would die and be injured by a terrorist attack? Who could think that a man could one morning beat his own wife to death? What do we make of these new drugs floating around in the streets and turning children into senseless addicts?What do you make of a 57 year old man raping more than 20 children between the ages of 7 and 12? The depth of the evil embedded in these actions makes it even so hard to comprehend! Why do you think lately there so many cults and cult ideas in church? What do you make of our languishing churches because we do not give back to God? Why do you think there is an almost equal rate of divorce in our churches as there is between non-believers? Or the sudden craze about sex in everything? Rulers of darkness are at work somebody!

I can list the evidences of dark powers at work and I could never finish them. God says because our eyes are blind in seeing every detail that goes into destroying humanity we must lean on what He provides for us and when we do so, we will have done all to stand. God loves us so much He does not want us to perish. In fact, He says in the bible “…but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish,but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 This is why He is giving us a manual to this life thing. Listen to this:

“But unless we are constantly on guard, we shall be overcome by the enemy. Although a solemn revelation of God’s will concerning us has been revealed to us all, yet a knowledge of His will does not set aside the earnest supplications to Him for help…” Ellen G White, The SDA Bible Commentary Volume 6 page 1119.

So God has shown us these things that we may pray for His help when they come upon us. Above all, He wants us to stay alert and depend on Him who has all strength. See why my method of the previous article did not work? How can you just pray when you do not know what to pray for? That is when we end up praying selfish prayers concerned with a long list of wants. Prayer, to be effective, is used as part of an armour that God has prepared for our protection. We can trust God. His word says

“For He shall give his angels charge over thee , to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91:11.

This aid we need in this dark, sinful world and it is at our disposal if we ask for it in prayer. What do we say then? God is faithful and good to us in that He has given us stern warning. We are participating spectators in this war between good and evil. That is enough reason to pray. Come back tomorrow and let’s unpack more of this armour. God bless and pray on!

PS—–>The picture is just an idea of what powerful angels protecting us may be. They are probably a thousand times better, don’t sweat.

Praying Always

Praying Always

Okay, first things first. Please don’t start analyzing the image I used, it’s only for visualization purposes. I know some people will start talking about Freemason and Jesuit symbolism and all, let’s just look at the bigger picture. For the longest of times, I heard about praying more at church and you will not believe what strange idea I had about it. I remember at some point I had alarms every 2 hours so I could be reminded to pray. For me, prayer was kneeling down and presenting a long list of things I wanted from God. After all, they did say He wants to give us good things, right? The perplexing thing was that I also found myself so easily giving into temptation too. Things that I thought I would not say or do again were suddenly on the menu again. Why? Was I not doing something right? Of course! Let us look at the following texts:

Ephesians 6:11-18 “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil fay, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and having on a breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

You must be catching the drift by now. Prayer is not just a singular magic wand that we swish at God and He acts. the first verse puts everything into clear perspective for us. The verse says “Put on the WHOLE armour…” What this means is that we pray as part of a whole plan in our spiritual lives. There are other parts that we ought to do as we pray. Before I explore these parts, let’s talk about the praying always saga. What is prayer anyway? It is a conversation with God, the opening of our hearts to God as to a friend, right? Quick question: Do you always have to sit down and ask your bff to talk to him/her every time you want to talk? If you do that, my friend, it is about time you find a more liberating experience of friendship than that. We do not need to do that with our friends, in fact some mornings you do not even give a proper greeting because there is something burning that we just have to share. Sometimes I just send a picture and I know my friends will understand. There are also those times when we are not sitting together and when something happens; we just look at each other without a word and totally get what we are saying to each other. That is friendship!

If God is our friend why do we then define communication with Him as kneeling down with a list always? Why should the relationship be so poor and unattractive? Prayer is an active relationship with God where we share everything openly with Him. When the bible says “Praying ALWAYS…” it means that we are never to cut off communication with Him at any given time of the day or night. That as we get through that pile of work and it gets demotivating, we speak to Him about it and ask for strength. It means when a crazy driver swears because you did not want to speed through an amber light, we turn aside and tell God how tempted we are to give an appropriate response to such madness. Prayer is also listening. Imagine if you had a friend that always wanted to tell you something. Every time you are about to say something and they interrupt you telling you about themselves always. I had one a long time ago and walked away from that madness fam. I could not stand that amount of cling and love for attention. Why then do we become those friends to God? Some days we ought to say absolutely nothing and hear that still; small voice directing our paths. Only when the traffic becomes a two-way street like that are we truly praying. One man once said “I do not spend more than thirty minutes in prayer, but I never spend more than 30 minutes without prayer.” Sounds like the ultimate paradox, but let’s unpack this praying always phenomenon over a couple of articles and understand more about it as part of an armour. Stay alert, the armour of God is next up.

When demand is greater than supply, a catastrophe is born.

When demand is greater than supply, a catastrophe is born.

Probably one of my (many) favourite parables in the Bible is that of the 10 virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13. The events that transpired, how fitting it is to revisit them for such a time as this. The story says “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” So two classes of people here depicted, both professing a pure faith (because they are referred to as virgins), both waiting for the bridegroom and both fell asleep while in waiting. See, the difference here is found in the previous verse. “They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:”

The wisdom and foolishness is set apart by the preparations made. The wise become so because before they slept they prepared extra oil while the foolish are so called because they put not extra oil. Preparation decided their fate!
See, this reminds me of my high school days. I was one of those kids who would influence my friends to sleep early and while they slept through the night, I’d wake up for hours drilling stuff into my head. We would spend the entire time on that routine but the class tests and exams always showed the difference in our sleep patterns. (And please don’t blame me for making them sleep, no no, we all have the ability to decide for ourselves and see what is good to do). I would do better than expected always.

The foolish virgins are not people who don’t know the Bible, they do. I’m sure they even had memorised chapters and gave Bible studies during the week. They sang probably in the church choirs. They attended all night prayers, camps, afternoon lessons and were just busy with the things of God. The foolish virgins probably were not those who confuse others during the Sabbath School lesson (Lol…don’t even crucify me for mentioning that one, some people are so good at it, I can’t help but mention it). The only dismal failure was PREPARATION TO MEET THE BRIDEGROOM. They had no oil! What does the oil represent?
“The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.” EG White, Christ’s Object Lessons, page 406-411
The foolish virgins had no holy spirit working in them, that’s what made them foolish. Not that the Holy Spirit was in short supply by the way, it was their prerogative to drill for more of this oil of the Spirit.
Zechariah 10:1 “Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.”
There is never a time when the Holy Spirit was in short supply while they prepared for the bridegroom, they just didn’t actively ask for His outworking in their hearts. Oh what a sad sleep they slept, for they had no oil! Remember that one day when you slept the night before and forgot to set your alarm for the morning and it so happened that on that day you had not ironed clothes for the next day, neither prepared your lunch meal nor finished the report due that morning for the 9am meeting? Imagine a situation 100 times worse than that. The virgins awoke to the call that the bridegroom had come but only then did they realise they were out of oil. They could not meet Him with untrimmed lamps and so had to ask for oil. With no luck from the wise virgins, the foolish had to go and buy but that cost them entry to wedding with the groom. Just to take a detour here: The buying also had its dangers. Remember when the lamp has no oil it goes off and that makes the atmosphere dark? How would they discern the right oil in the dark? How will you know the real from the counterfeit latter rain if you have nothing real to refer to in this matter? Becareful of the oils you buy in darkness!

So it shall be at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We may sleep the sleep of death before He comes, but how is our life before the sleep? Are we prepared? Do we have enough oil? It’s not just a story to read and marvel at but an object lesson to remind us of the time we are living in. We still have the freedom to read our Bibles and pray, why not ask for the Holy Spirit to live within us and get us ready to meet Jesus Christ our groom? Yes we read the Bible, pray, visit the sick, give back faithful tithes and offerings, but are we truly and constantly asking for the Holy Spirit to be in us and live a life that He prompts? Has He changed us so much that when He shall appear we shall be like Him? Ellen G White once said that “Many will think they are on the right track and will only at the end realise they were on the path to perdition.” Faith and Works, paraphrased. Only by His Spirit can we discern the strait and narrow path and walk in it until the day of His coming. While others watch a soapie at 8pm, prepare your lunch; iron your clothes; set your alarm; brush your teeth; polish up the presentation and then go to bed. When He comes, you will be found ready to enter into that joy. The demand for the Spirit exceeded the supply when the groom came, a crisis immeasurable emerged. None were safe without oil. Are you doing some digging for oil everyday? Is it enough for the soon coming Saviour? Wisdom is in the preparation. Let your actions decide which class you fall into.

 

It cannot happen to you, Lord

It cannot happen to you, Lord

Like many other people in the Jewish nation, Peter believed that Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God yet understood little of His earthly mission. So long had the nation waited for the Messiah that everyone had their own fabricated idea of what the Messiah would be like. Finally, Jesus had to reveal to His disciples the blood-stained path that He should take. No mind was ready to receive such news, not especially that of Peter. The hope of ending the rule of the Romans and of taking over the throne of David was shattered upon hearing that a cross awaited their Lord.

Matthew 16:22 Then Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

Peter’s emotions got in the way of accepting the truth as it came. He, like every other disciple, expected Jesus to reign as Prince. Deep in his mind, Jesus was yet to come out of this shell of poverty and not live in obscurity forever. His instinct raced to “protect” Jesus from this shameful path.

Is it possible that we may be doing the same today? Creating man-made traditions and laws in an attempt to protect God from sinners? I’m reminded of an incident, as narrated by one Pastor that took place in church a few years ago. In some of our churches in Africa, head covering for women is of utmost importance. It happened that, coming from a church that did not fuss about the issue, a woman came as a guest to preach in a different church without a covering. Unfortunately, this church was highly traditional and she was denied the podium. What rather escalated the situation was that one of the leaders, in the heat of the discussion, said “Not in my church, not on our podium!” A sad turn of events it was. I believe that the leader in his heart was trying to protect God from what he perceived as an abomination. He like Peter figured “It cannot happen to You, Lord.”

Peter confined Jesus into a little box in his thoughts and felt the need to protect Him from sin and sinners. So do we! God does not align Himself to our little thoughts of what can or cannot happen; instead we ought to align ourselves to His will. It was the will of God, from the foundation of the earth to give up His only begotten Son and no human thoughts were to disturb that well-thought plan.

In diverse ways today, like Peter, we seek to protect God, forgetting that He is the One to save and protect us even from ourselves. We can never help God; He is too powerful to need our feeble hands. Our desires and imaginations of how things should unfold can be detrimental even to our salvation. That is why we cannot protect God from His will, we need it. True faith in Jesus as the Messiah requires accepting the perfect will of God, even if it leads us into the woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving the unlovable

Loving the unlovable

We all have that one person that we have really just given up on. I mean, that person who doesn’t greet you and when you greet them, you wish you had not due to the cold shoulder that they give. Or there is that one person you just don’t like. Come on, the Lord is watching, don’t lie! Ever asked yourself how to deal with such people? I have. Trust me, after one lady stopped talking to me from nowhere, I asked myself how I was going to deal with this. We are all sinners and still, works in progres, sometimes we do not do it well this Christian character. So the question still remains, how do you deal with such situations in life? Well, Jesus on the sermon on the mount seems to have an antidote. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44‭-‬45 NKJV
Jesus says love them. That’s all He says, love them. Difficult as this may seem, I ask myself, could Jesus command the impossible to us? Not at all. If He said it then it must be doable. Let’s analyse this from a practical level. We all know love is not a noun but a verb right? So if Jesus says love them then He is commanding an action from our behalf. What action? The first is to forgive and forget. Maybe you don’t like them because they wronged you, or because they are ego centric, forgive their actions and skewed character. Keep in mind that they are a work in progress, maybe in some parts of their character, the medicine hasn’t begun healing. Secondly, don’t stop greeting them. I know this is hard especially for us the ladies. Greeting someone who will not respond and will probably say something nasty when you walk away is definitely not an all time favourite. The proven fact is that by greeting, you reveal your true character, you prove your record in life. The humility it takes to perform that action repeatedly! But that is what Christ has commanded even before “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…” 1 Peter 5:6. Don’t do it for people to say “She is so humble” no! Do it out of your heart, out of obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ. If you find them stuck somewhere, help them! Jesus says love those who hate you (even those that you hate). It’s a doing word! Start doing for your enemies and see whether the Lord won’t grow your spirit and character. The command is that we be perfect as the Father is, it starts with such small things. Perfection is a progressive everyday work, start investing today.