Hearts and Treasures

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21)

The Bible verse above is such a simple but deep and beautiful statement that captures the essence of human priorities. It follows a short discourse from the Lord about laying up treasures in heaven instead of earth. Jesus is teaching his disciples (including us) the importance of keeping their focus on heaven with its permanency rather than on the earth with its transience. His instruction to them is that they should “store” their treasures to the heaven.

The powerful connection between our hearts and treasures is a matter worthy of frequent meditation. Our hearts go where our treasures are, but our treasures also go where our heart is. Jesus directly suggests the first, and subtly implies the second in the passage we have quoted from. As he prepares his followers to be spiritual beings enthroned with him in heaven, he teaches them to take natural steps which help keep their focus where they truly belong.

Reading this as a born-again believer translated to God’s kingdom through Jesus’ death and resurrection, I see “storing” my treasures in heaven as a move to keep my treasures where my heart is. This is necessary because of the divine insight Jesus provided – if my treasures remain only on earth, in places where they can be stolen or destroyed, my heavenly focus would soon be distracted as I worry about what would happen to my earthly treasures.

However, if I lay my treasures in heaven by investing my earthly resources in kingdom efforts – bringing the Word of God to the souls of men, drawing people into God’s kingdom, and building them up in faith so that they stand fast and cannot be moved from the truth – then my heart (emotions, thoughts, desires) will remain focused on heaven, and my resources cannot be stolen or destroyed. To keep your heart focused on heaven, store your treasures there!

The Lord is the Judge

For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one and exalts another. (Psa. 75:6-7)

One of the many ways in which God is described in the Bible is The Judge. This means He has the final authority to give a verdict concerning any matter or any person. While humans may offer opinions and perspectives, or even suggest who is right or wrong in a matter, the final authority rests with God. Similarly, God also reserves the right to pronounce the appropriate sentence or punishment for every misdeed or He can choose to be merciful, as He often does.

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We Shall See Him As He Is

This is one of the greatest promises in the Bible, tied to the appearance of Christ at the end of this age. To see Christ as He is (not as we think or imagine him to be) implies that we will be completely free from the limitations of our human minds, which colour our perception of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It means that our hearts will be completely pure and whole. Even more exciting is the resultant reality that “we shall be like him”. Our ability to see Christ in His true form will result in us being transformed into the same form as He. Exciting!

The Bible is also clear that as we behold the glory of the risen Lord, we are transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory. This is our reality here and now. The challenge we face today is whether our eyes are unveiled as we look on the Lord. Veiled faces do not make for transformed hearts. Every veil must be taken away, and that only happens as we turn to the Lord with sincerity of hearts. Do we still hide from the Lord like Adam and Eve after the fall, or are we honest about our struggles and failures as we seek His mercy and grace?

Scripture References: I John 3:2, II Cor. 3:18

On Repentance towards God

The thing about repentance is: it always has to be backed up by an action or a proof of change. The very word, “repent”, means to turn away from an action, behaviour or way of life, and embrace an opposite or different action, behaviour, or way of life. This is why John asked the Pharisees to produce fruits worthy of repentance – evidence in lifestyle that they have truly changed their ways. They came out in their numbers to hear him preach but his challenge to them was that of a changed lifestyle. You need to show me proof!

The preaching of repentance in the gospel must always be accompanied by the preaching of faith. This is because the natural man, at his best, is not capable of living in a way that pleases God. To be convicted and desire to change is one thing. To truly take practical steps in living differently requires the power that only Jesus can give. In the words of Jesus, “You must be born again”. To be born again or empowered to live differently requires faith in the resurrected Christ. A man turning from his sins must turn to face Jesus Christ.

Scripture References: Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8, Acts 20:21, Hebrews 6:1

Give Thanks!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thess. 5:18, NIV)

Today, I want to send you a quick reminder for a very important Christian attitude: giving thanks! Giving thanks refers to speaking words of appreciation to someone for something they have done (or will do) – an expression of our gratitude to them. While I will focus on giving thanks to God, I also realize that a thankful heart towards God usually doubles as a thankful heart towards fellow human beings. As simple as it is to give thanks, it is an attitude that many have not cultivated because they have allowed their situation to determine their attitude.

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Through It All

The last few days have been difficult for a lot of Nigerians. The #EndSARS protests which started as a spontaneous reaction to police brutality became a wildfire that spread across several cities of the nation. Hoodlums began to take advantage of the protests to wreak havoc, leading to a worrisome security situation. Sadly, on the same day a curfew was declared in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, armed security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters with an unverified number of dead people and several injured. It was indeed a traumatizing experience for many.

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Covered by Love

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Here I am, lying in quiet contemplation
As you gently serenade my soul
With lyrics sung to an eternal tune.
You speak peace to my storms
And bring an end to my fears.
Your words stir my lukewarm soul
And awaken my heart to heavenly love

Love so tireless that it chases me
Down to depths of depression where I sink
Love so true that it pulls me out
From the chambers of darkness and death
As I fade away from the view of a busy world:
A world that moves on with ease
When this fragile frame I finally lay aside

Your love draws me out of myself into You
Into purpose and service and sacrifice
With fulfillment and everlasting joy
In Your presence, I find abundance of peace
Even in the midst of a troubled world.
So, once I was lost chasing shadows in the dark
But now I am found, shining brightly like a star

The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I am loved with a love that never ceases or fails, drawn with a kindness that has no precedence. God’s love calls out to me in the day time, whispers to me in the night seasons, heals me when I am wounded and restores me when I am broken. This love, so surreal, rejoices over me with gladness, like a sheep once lost now found. He sings to me joyfully as I lay quietly in the palm of his arms, covered by His love, without care or concern in this world.

Altars and Wells

One common thread we quickly observe as we journey through the story of the Jewish patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – is their devotion to basic principles that underpin their lives. These men were primarily farmers, owning and raising livestock as well as cultivating the ground. And they were often on the move in search of greener pasture (literally) or better farming conditions. But wherever they went, there were two things they always did: raise altars of prayer and dig wells of water. These two actions have great significance for us now as it did for them then. Let us explore further…

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I Judge Him Faithful

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11

Somewhere between God’s promise and its performance is the necessity of faith, or the act of believing and acting on what God said. While God’s promises are a function of His covenant mercy towards man, the manifestation of those promises are often a function of our response to Him in faith. This means if no one believes the promises of God, there is no certainty the promises will manifest. Which is why Jesus asks: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith in the earth?”

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Thirty-Two – The Encounter

Yesterday, I turned thirty-two. By design, I was off work – I definitely like to take some vacation days around my birthday to rest and reflect on the past and the future. So, once again, happy birthday to me! For the past few weeks, I have been reading from the book of Genesis, one chapter a day. It has been quite insightful journeying with ancient Bible characters and standing in their shoes as they tried to make sense of their lives and purpose. Yesterday, it was time to read chapter thirty-two, and I thought that was an interesting coincidence.

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