Does God Understand?

Does Jesus really understand my struggles? Can he actually relate when I am torn between choices or struggling to obey God’s will? Does it make sense to Him or does He shake his head in disdain as I start to lean towards wrong choices? How do I receive His grace?

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Trusting Him in the Dark

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.
Isaiah 50:10 NIV

Sometimes, the righteous walk in the dark. They deal with uncertainty, feeling their way around and wondering if God has abandoned them. People who revere God and obey His word do find themselves in such places, not because of sin or disobedience, but because we live in a fallen world. But God uses those times for our good.

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Hosanna!

It’s Palm Sunday. That special (Sun)day set aside in the year to celebrate the triumphant entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem, just a few days before His crucifixion. The irony of this sequence of events was perplexing for Jesus’ disciples at the time. But today, that turn of events is no longer surprising – we know it was by divine design.

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He Leadeth Me

He leadeth me, He leadeth me
By His own hand He leadeth me
His faithful follower I would be
For by His hand He leadeth me

The title of this post is drawn from an old hymn, whose refrain/chorus is the paragraph above. Today, I invite you to set your mind on the blessed thought that the Lord leads you, through every mountain and valley, through happy and sad, clear and confusing moments alike. Let us ponder together what this means for our lives and how we should respond to God’s leadership.

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Our Father

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Matthew 6:9 NIV

Our Father. Such grace! Faith in Jesus opens us up to a new relationship with the Almighty God – a Father-Child relationship. Before Jesus, the Jews worshipped and honoured God but never related with Him as their Father. To them, that would be laying a claim to Divinity. That claim to Divinity is what Jesus has, and offers to everyone who believes in Him – the right to be a child of God.

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Praise You in the Storm

Today’s post comes from one of my favourites songs by contemporary Christian band, Casting Crowns. The song’s theme is maintaining faith in God through difficult circumstances. Praising God is a powerful way to declare our faith especially when we go through difficult seasons. It is our way of saying “God, I trust You, and I know you’ve got me covered.”

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Songs in the Night

“People cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?’ (Job 35:9‭-‬11, NIV)

The Bible verse above speaks to the struggles that people go through while often ignoring God, the One who is not only able to help them, but who has set them apart from animals by making them capable of higher reasoning. God, by this, already showed His willingness to help us in our times of need.

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Compelled by the Spirit

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. Acts 20:22 (NIV)

Have you ever gone to a place solely on account of God’s will? Or maybe taken a decision only because you were persuaded it was what God wanted? An action without benefit or profit for you, one that you have to take at great risk to your life or possessions – would you ever take that kind of action? This is what we hear Paul say in the verse above. Let’s look a little closer…

Paul was bidding the elders of the Ephesian church farewell. Convinced he would never see them again, he gave them parting words, sharing his commitment to preaching the gospel as he went from place to place. Although he lived with a lot of uncertainties, Paul knew one thing was sure – prison and hardships awaited him as he spread the gospel. Yet he was was unwavering. He was set for the defence of the gospel, willing to complete his God-given task at any cost.

Just like his master Jesus, Paul was headed to Jerusalem, knowing the danger that awaited him there, but convinced that he was being led there by God in fulfillment of purpose. He was ready to embrace pain, hardship or even death, that could become his fate as he headed to Jerusalem. He no longer counted his life dear to himself neither did he strive to preserve it – he only lived to obey the Lord’s command and follow his bidding. Like Jesus, Paul was sold out to God – a willing slave.

The lesson is clear; the application is challenging; the demand, unwavering. God wants our all – a total commitment to obeying his commands and doing his will regardless of the cost to us. Although He works with us at every stage to accomplish his purpose, God always desires for us to become more yielded by the day, letting go of everything until like Paul, we too can say, with full devotion and complete sincerity: “I consider my life worth nothing to me”.

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13 (NIV)

Further Reading: Acts 20:17-24, 21:10-14

A Requirement for Stewards

Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful (I Cor. 4:2)

The simplicity of the statement above belies its depth. Apostle Paul earlier mentioned that he should be considered a servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God. Then he mentions, as a matter of fact, that faithfulness is a requirement for stewards. It is indeed logical, that a steward should be found faithful. The real question is, “What does this mean for us as believers today?”

A quick word on stewardship: it is the bedrock of intentional and meaningful living. Understanding that we have nothing we did not receive, and that we are accountable to God for everything we receive from Him, helps us steer the course of our lives in the most profitable manner. Like Paul, we too are stewards of time, relationships, money, divine mysteries, and many gifts and graces imparted to us by the Lord. We are accountable to Him for what we do with all we have received.

On faithfulness, I am persuaded it is one of the most significant traits the Lord desires in the saints (who are all called to serve). That ability to stay true to what we have been asked to do and to do it with fervor, with or without glamour and fanfare, is priceless. It requires first, that one recognizes what he/she has been called to steward, just like Paul. It also requires that one possesses a commitment to finish the task regardless of how challenging it might appear.

Faithfulness in our lives is often challenged, on the one hand, by distractions, and on the other hand, by difficulty. We may be distracted by the attention we get while serving, or we could get from doing more “exciting” tasks. This requires focus on the task we are called to. We may also be discouraged by the difficulty of completing our assigned tasks, or the trials that come as a result of our service. This requires grit to stay the course as we continue our stewardship.

Both challenges described above require that we draw upon the grace of the God who calls us to serve Him as stewards in various capacities. God gives grace for us to stay faithful to our races. We must recognize our need for Him daily and commit to being faithful to our course – only then would His grace be available for us to stay faithful as stewards to the One who called us. Amen

P.S.: Seeing as this is my first post of the year, Happy New Year to all my dear readers! I wish you a prosperous and fulfilling New Year ahead!! Godspeed!!!

The Lord’s Scales

“Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s…” Prov. 16:11a

It is a wrap! As we crawl through the final hours of this exceptional year, we cannot help but look back with thanksgiving, seeing where we are in spite of the enormous challenges thrown at us as individuals, families, communities, states, and nations. No one has the manual for navigating times like these, and most of us have managed to pull through only with God’s help, arriving at the year-end safely. So regardless of what/who you may have lost through the year or what you may have been through, I’m just thankful to God you’re still alive to read this.

“…and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land” Acts 27: 44

Let me share a thought with you very quickly, hoping it will encourage you as we journey into the New Year. I’ve thinking long and hard about why I do the things I do, or why I want the things I want. Our time on earth is limited, and as 2020 has acutely demonstrated, we will all pass on from this plane someday. So why do I act the way I do? Whose approval or commendation am I seeking? And what is the basis on which I take pride in my actions? While the answers to my questions may be long and winded, God’s word is clear on what the right answers are.

I want to propose that we all act to either please ourselves, other people, or God – that these three categories summarize the motives for our plans and actions. If that is right, then it means we draw confidence that we are doing the right things from self-commendation, people-commendation, or God-commendation (permit my coinages). The trouble with being assessed or commended by others or oneself is that human standards are not even – they are based on limited knowledge and personal biases. We may commend ourselves or be approved by all men but still be wrong by God.

My recommendation instead, is that you focus on seeking to please only God. God is not just good and perfect; He is all-knowing and everlasting. He sees the end of things from the beginnings and understand the complexities of human interactions. If He approves of my actions or leads me to do certain things, I can be certain I am on the right path regardless of whether it feels good or others approve of it. I say this because taking the right decisions will not always be easy or feel good; it may even meet with heavy criticism or disdain from others. But pleasing God daily is the utmost pursuit.

So, join me as I recalibrate my decision-making process, centralizing God’s will and choosing not to be led by my own thoughts and emotions or the opinions of others. Let us determine to live out God’s will revealed in His Holy Word and seek to know His will where we need to make life choices, not driven by popular opinion, common wisdom or trending behaviors. Let us act with respect to the One in whose hands are the scales, who measures the actions and intent of all humanity and rewards each person according to their deeds.

I wish you a wonderful New Year ahead!

“…knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” Col. 3:24

P.S: I wrote an earlier related post about the Lord being the Judge, you can read it here.