Honourable Sacrifice

Many church communities around the world have joined in the movement of setting aside the beginning of January each year to fast and pray, seeking the Lord’s covering, deliverance and guidance for the year ahead.  My understanding of fasting as described in the Bible has always been that fasting means abstaining from food, either completely or partially, for the purpose of crying out to the Lord for help or mourning before the Lord in repentance. 20200212_104850_0000 It was a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord. It is supposed to be a time to demonstrate complete dependence on God as much as our bodies depend on food to survive. Fasting says, “Lord we need you more”. As Jesus put it, “it is written: ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4 NKJV).

 

However, the idea of fasting seems to have evolved into other alternative forms of fasting that are not in the Bible, for instance, fasting from television and social media. The main “reason” for this shift has been health issues. My question is: is fasting from anything other than food still a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord? And are health issues a real reason for not abstaining from food, or are they just an excuse for those who are not willing to crucify their flesh? I believe the Bible can never mean what it never meant. If fasting meant abstaining from food back then, it still means the same thing today.

Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way

In my experience, as someone who occasionally suffers from stomach ulcer attacks if I miss a meal or two, one would not recommend that I abstain from food under any circumstance because logically I would not only cause the problem, I would worsen it over time! However, I have found that amazingly I do not experience any attacks whatsoever when I’m fasting, whether it’s a partial or complete fast. IMG_20200212_105455_300My blood pressure which tends to be on the high side also behaves very well without medication during a period of fasting. Where there is a will, there is a way. Medical conditions will always need one to consult with a doctor when planning on fasting. They will advise you on how to go about it if you really want to do so. It has to actually be in your plans. It is what the Lord Jesus expects of his followers.

Cain and Abel both brought a sacrifice to God, but only Abel’s sacrifice was honourable. CAIN-678x381Maybe Cain figured he would just bring any old thing because hey, it is the “thought that counts” right? Unfortunately that was not pleasing to God. He had good intentions, but that was not enough. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks [and actions follow].

Fasting is a good thing, when done the right way. The results are beyond mind boggling! The closeness to God, the clarity of vision, the wisdom, the peace that passes all understanding and of course, the answers to prayer…to mention a few! As the prophet Isaiah said, 

“Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer.” (Isaiah 58:8 MSG)

Humility Before The Lord

Humility – a very rare trait in this modern age. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, humility means freedom from pride and arrogance, the two trending traits in people seeking significance and social status in life. The Bible however, tells us in James chapter 4 verses 1-4 that pride promotes strife and later in verses 7-10 we are admonished to repent and be humble.

Coming boldly before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) has unfortunately turned into coming with pride and arrogance before the throne of grace, with a list of demands. We seem to have forgotten who God is: the LORD of lords and KING of kings, the one who is able to destroy both our soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28)! Sadly for many, God has been reduced to a servant to whom our wish is His command. The fear of God has left many hearts and this needs to change. In the words of Pastor John Hagee: “prayer is not sending God to run all your errands”!

One of the reasons I love to travel so much is I get to experience different cultures. These experiences become metaphors that reveal some of the truths in the word of God. I recently traveled to Venda, Tshakuma, in the province of Limpopo South Africa. My youngest brother was getting engaged to a beautiful young lady from there. In the midst of their beautiful cultural celebrations, I was reminded of Hebrews 4:16.

IMG-20191112-WA0067

Our God is a consuming fire. He is holy. Sin cannot be in His presence. The angels cover their faces with their wings in His presence. He is to be feared above all else. He is the one who humbles the prideful. It therefore requires boldness to approach Him, with humility, worship and praise, before we even think of asking for anything. Even when we do ask, we should ask according to His will, keeping in mind that He is sovereign and He is good. He knows what is best for us more than we do.

I found this combination of boldness mixed with humility beautifully illustrated by the Venda women when they welcomed us and when they served us meals and when they received our gifts. It was a truly humbling experience. The fact that they did it with such joy was gave it more meaning.

I am so thankful that God brought this beautiful young lady into my brother’s life. She is beautiful inside and out. I pray that their union would be blessed abundantly and protected. 🙏😍💗

The Kingdom of God Is At Hand

While I was at the bank the other day the bank teller and I had an interesting conversation as he served me. It partially went something  like this:

Teller: “Telling a lie is not bad…”
Me: ” It will certainly wind you up in hell!”
Teller: “And what’s that?”
Me: “A place of eternal judgement!”
Teller: “And where do you get the idea of hell?”
Me: “From the Book I read”
Teller: “I know for a fact that hell doesn’t exist.”
Me: “And what is your source of information?”
Teller: “I just know it is a fact!”

Lake_of_Fire-2-759x500It is very sad that many people who profess faith in God do not fear His judgement to the extent of denying the existence of hell! The grace of God is taken so much for granted because it is being preached… (I’m going to be very controversial) erroneously, and thus grossly misunderstood. We are not being taught the whole gospel of grace. We deserve nothing but death because of our sin. But because of grace Jesus paid the price we had to pay. He went to hell and back for us. His grace not only lead Him to the cross, it also continues to empower us to say no to sin (Titus 2:12) and His grace leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4)

Without repentance there cannot be true salvation (2Corinthians 7:10). It is a requirement. Unfortunately the prevailing gospel of grace does not teach repentance… the very first message that Jesus preached, the message that John the baptist preached before Him, the message that Peter, Paul and the rest of the disciples preached after Him! I believe the great revivals of the past came about through the message of repentance, combined with hell fire and brimstone! We don’t hear that anymore. We need these messages back in our pulpits and on the streets.

end-of-the-worldPeople of God let us be vigilant and discerning. The kingdom of God is at hand! Let us not be people with a form of godliness but deny it’s power to transform our lives (2Timothy 3:5). Let us remember that our God is both merciful and just, and His justice requires him to execute judgement of sin, the same way we expect a murderer to go to jail or even get the death penalty.

For if we deliberately go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries. Anyone who disregarded the law of Moses died without mercy, based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, who has regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know the one who has said, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge his people. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Hebrews 10:26‭-‬31 CSB

We are to repent and sin no more, repent and prove it by the way we live our lives that we have truly turned away from our sinful former way of life (John 8:11).

Oh ye of little faith!

Back in the time when Jesus Christ walked the earth, he found that great faith was among people who were not God’s chosen, that is the Israelites. It was found among the outcasts, those who did not know the God of Israel, who were in the dark…upon seeing the light and hearing the Good News (Matthew 8:5-13; 15:21-28). Sadly God’s chosen people demanded signs and wonders instead, and refused to believe, much like their ancestors in the Old Testament who ended up wondering in the wilderness for 40 years! The Bible says they did not enter God’s rest (Psalm 95:11; Hebrews 4:5).

Not much has changed in our generation. I imagine it is one of the things that most frustrates God. Hebrews 11:6 says it is impossible to please God without faith, therefore lack of it greatly displeases Him. Jesus even went as far as saying that “sons of the Kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness” because of lack of faith! (Matthew 8:11-12)

It is so amazing that even after all that God does we would fail to trust Him. Outside the church the growing trend now is positive thinking, positive words and attraction of good things. The world is applying the principle of Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” way better than the sons of the Kingdom. They are mastering it and living joyful, fulfilled lives and they are financially free.

I have observed that some of the sons of the Kingdom in our generation tend to put problems ahead and ignore the solutions. Solutions require faith to implement. They want to be realistic, they want to see before believing, they want to stay in their comfort zones, they resist change. Even God requires us to change. It is the essence of repentance. Hebrews 6:1 says it is an elementary teaching to turn away from dead works and have faith in God.

It takes faith to step out of your comfort zone, to end a chapter and begin a new one, to pursue your dreams or to obey God’s call on your life. Without it, fear will paralyze you and you will never fulfill the purpose for which God placed you on this earth.

Ready for the task

In our network marketing business we meet all kinds of people. One time my husband and I came to a lady who was a contact of another contact. After showing her our business concept she was quite excited about it and told us she would be coming on board. Then she offered to lend us her sacred book of ancient prophetic writings. She proceeded to indicate the particular verse she wanted to share with us, saying we should read it when we get home. I tried to protest, stating that we already have a copy of the book at home, but she insisted, saying she’s not sure why we haven’t read our copy yet.

download

It took me a few days, if not weeks, to get the strength to actually read the book, in particular the verse she had pointed out. While contemplating the verse the Holy Spirit said “continue reading.” (Ironically the verse alluded to listening to the Holy Spirit!) As I continued to read, I came across some verses copied from 1 Corinthians 12. To my amazement, a new verse which is not in the Bible was inserted amongst the verses I am familiar with…a verse that supports the events around the beginning of the movement of the lady’s faith. The Holy Spirit said, “you know the word of God has been under attack since the garden of Eden?” I thought, “OMG that’s so true!” He said, “do you see that the strategy has not changed?”

At that moment all the events in my past came to my remembrance, the words God spoke to me, things I did not understand back then, everything came together and his call on my life became crystal clear: I am called to be a Christian Apologist! And guess what? I am now ready for the task!

22-BLOG-Open-Book-Wisdom

I remember my Bible School lecturer many years ago tell us that at the bank, the staff is taught the difference between real money and fake money by showing them the real note, and teaching them everything about it. This is because fake money comes in countless forms. It is not possible to learn what each and every one of them looks and feels like. There’s only one genuine note, so knowing everything about it will help you identify all the fake ones.

The same is true with the word of God. The Bible is the word of God. When you read it daily, the truth in it will become part of you and you will be able to identify the lies of the enemy from far off! Our Lord Jesus gave us the perfect strategy to fight the enemy’s lies: “It is written…” That is the only thing that can silence the enemy in our lives. However, we must know the word ourselves, and not rely on hearsay, like Eve in the garden of Eden, or else we will be easily deceived as she was. As the apostle Peter puts it in 1 Peter 2:2 

“Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation,” 

There can be no spiritual growth without daily consumption of the word of God. Likewise there can be no victory over the lies of the enemy without daily consumption of the word of God.

Abide In Me

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7 ESV

How easy is it to ask for money from a stranger? Or perhaps an acquaintance? Not easy at all! We usually do so with people we are in close relationship with, be it your spouse, sister, brother or best friend. I don’t have a problem asking someone I know for food. I do have a problem asking someone I don’t know for food because of the relationship factor.

Prayer is not just about asking and getting things we want from an all powerful being in heaven somewhere. God is not a genie that you rub the right way and make a wish for whatever your heart desires.  It’s about having a close relationship with him.

IMG_20200212_220022_827Abiding means to have a dwelling place. This is the essence of a close relationship with God. In other words…”if you are in a close relationship with me…ask me anything and it will be done for you.” The emphasis is on close because proximity matters! Jesus had twelve desciples, but only three got the invitation to witness the transfiguration!

Now, what does it mean to be in a relationship with someone? Well, would you appreciate being in a relationship with someone who wants to do all the talking and does not care much about your opinion or your feelings?  I would not. Neither would you. God does not appreciate it either. A person like that is not at all interested in getting to know you. Much like what my prayer time was at some point…giving God a to-do list and expecting results asap!

Prayer is a conversation between you and God. If you expect him to listen, he also expects you to listen. Having a conversation with someone involves both people taking turns speaking and listening. That is how you get to know someone. That is how a relationship starts and is maintained.

When you are in a close relationship with someone they have an obligation to do what you ask of them, and vise versa. If you are not in a close relationship, they don’t have to. God does not have to answer our prayers when we’re not in relationship with him, just as we feel no obligation to obey God when we’re not in relationship with him.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:21‭-‬23 ESV