Sunday, June 19, 2011

Improving, Nonstop

I saw this title on an advertisement on a billboard in New York City and kept thinking about its meaning, in a wider sense, as I passed by. I reflected on how, as Christians, we have a responsibility to improve ourselves, nonstop, by reading the Bible and doing as it commands, so that we can be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29).
As babies, we require milk for our nourishment but as we grow, we require more than milk to sustain us. In the same way, when we are spiritual babies (newly born again), we are nourished with the milk of the Word which is repentance from dead works, faith toward God, doctrine of baptisms and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:1-2). However, we are expected to progress from spiritual babies to spiritual adults; from requiring milk to using strong meat; from being students to teachers of the Word; and to eventually grow to full age being able, by reason of exercise, to discern between good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14).
Our spiritual growth is enhanced by renewing our minds daily with God’s Word. By this, we are able to know God’s will and if we do as we know, we become more and more transformed to the image of Christ and less and less conformed to the systems of this world. We are also advised by the Paul, the Apostle, to study the word of God so that we may gain approval from God and we will be able to handle God’s word when the occasion arises.
And you may wonder if there are any benefits of improving ourselves nonstop. God has promised to surely bless the one who reads His word continuously and remembers what he/she has read (James 1:25).
 Beloved, when we look daily into the “perfect law of liberty” we are changed from glory to glory and we have the mind of Christ. I encourage you to make the effort to improve nonstop by reading the Word of God daily, line upon line and precept upon precept, and doing as it says.

Come Away

Beloved, in my last blog I started telling you about how I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to “come away” with Him to a quiet place to rest. Rest is a word that the demands of 21st century living has almost erased from our vocabulary. Even when we go on leave, do we really r-e-s-t? I mean, do we turn off the almighty mobile phone or the laptop, I-pad or the other contraptions of modern day living just to be quiet for a period? In fact I am convinced that some of us have lost the art of being quiet, being alone with God. I must admit that on my time away I too was fidgety for the first day and very tempted to respond to phone calls, to sort out on issue or the other. My choice of destination turned out to be just the right one as the rooms in the Lodge where I stayed in had no telephone or TV! Quite unthinkable in the times in which we live in.
Yet the Bible records that Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, came apart often to pray, “as His manner was.” Now, if coming apart was second nature to Him who was the fullness of God in bodily form, how much more should we make it our practice?
When the Apostles returned from their first ministry trip, they recounted to Jesus all they had done and taught. After listening to them Jesus said to them “come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest for a while: for there were many coming and going and they had no leisure so much as to eat”. (Mark 6:30-31)
After hearing the news of John the Baptist’s death, Jesus went to a desert place to commune with His Father (Matthew 14:13). He was accustomed to going to the Mount of Olives to pray all night and on the night He was arrested, He was in the garden of Gethsemane, with some of His disciples, praying. Throughout Jesus’ time on earth, He was always going to a quiet place to rest in God’s presence. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ chose the disciples, later to be called apostles, after spending time alone with God. You may say that if He was hearing from God, why did He choose Judas? But you also know that Judas was there to fulfill the scriptures (Matthew 26:23-24).
Coming away to rest is mandatory if we must do the work God gave us to do in the way He wants us to do it. Physical rest re-energizes the body and mind and this is good. Spiritual rest is a place of communion with God alone, shutting out the cares of the world. God longs for us to get into that place often as He has so many things to say to us which we cannot receive if we are busy with daily living.
There are many benefits of being in the quiet place: we are strengthen, recharged, established, given new mandates or directions, answers to our prayers or questions, rebuked and encouraged, just to name a few. But perhaps the most important benefit, to me, is that God is able to share what is on His heart with us and equip us to carry out His mandate. Now that’s truly amazing.
I am looking forward to the next time away.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Divine Moments

Have you noticed that sometimes when you act on what you may call an impulse you get outstanding results that go way beyond your imagination and at other times, even when using the same methods, you just get the expected results? And have you also noticed that there are periods of time when all you do produces outstanding results, and periods where things are not going so well?
Many who needed physical healing turned up the pool of Bethesda waiting for the stirring of the water by the angel. The Bible tells us, in the book of John Chapter 5, that an angel came down at a certain season to stir the water and the one who was first to step into the water after this stirring became completely healed. The stirring of the water was the divine moment for the sick, and they were all at the pool just watching and waiting for this moment. The one who keyed into that divine moment got outstanding results in that they were not only completely healed of their disease(s), they were made whole; physically, emotionally, psychologically, in body and soul. For healing to take place without the stirring of the water by the angel was impossible.
 Divine moments can also happen over a period of time. Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ said “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work”         (John 9:4). So we see that Jesus took every opportunity He had to tell and show the goodness of God; whether it was healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons or teaching and doing miracles, He did it all to the glory of God. When the time of His passion came and he was to be crucified for the sins of the world so that we can be reconciled to God through His blood, the Bible did not record that he did any miracles. In fact, at his trial he was dumb like a lamb before his shearers (Isaiah 53:7). Why? It was because His divine moment for doing those things had passed.
We can recognise our divine moment by the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us and when this occurs we must immediately respond. To delay or try to decipher or rationalize what we felt inwardly will make us miss our divine moment. Many people can give testimonies of how their lives changed for good after they acted on the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
A couple of weeks ago, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to come apart into a quiet place and rest a while (Mark 6:31). I immediately obeyed and the consequences of my obedience were a refreshing from God, a restoration of His joy and peace in my heart and my family members experienced miracles that only God can perform.
Beloved, watch out for divine moments from God because these are His appointed times to meet with you and answer your deepest needs.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More Cups of Cold Water

The other day I was in the subway going to work and sat next to a child who was fast asleep while the parent stood guard by her. I observed them for a moment and the Lord spoke something to me. He said, "Do you see how this parent is standing guard for his child, watching over her while she sleeps on the train, adjusting her head when she was about to lean on you?; and do you also see that the child is fast asleep, un-perturbed about the situation around her, in total confidence that her parent is there?; That is but a glimpse of how I care for my children". Indeed, He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5) and to keep and watch over us at all times, since He will neither slumber nor sleep (Ps121:4).

As the children of Israel prepared to go into the promised land, Cannon, God promised Joshua that he will be with him as he was with Moses and that He will not fail nor forsake him. These promises must have been Cups of Cold Water to Joshua, considering the challenges that lay ahead of him both as the leader of God's people and tasked with the responsibility of taking them into the promised land (Joshua 1:1-9).

And the Cups of Cold Water are not only for the Israelites, they are also for every born-again child of God. He has promised to surround His people as the mountains surround Jerusalem (Ps 125:2) and to never let His peace depart from us or to remove His mercy from us (Is 54:10).

Beloved, God brings us Cups of Cold Water from His word everyday as we read the Bible so that we can find our rest in Him. In Exodus 15 He is our Healer; In Philippians 4 He is our Provider; In Isaiah 58 He is our Guide and in Ps 23 He is our Shepherd. And I can go on and on.

I invite you to search the scriptures today and anytime you feel you could do with a Cup of Cold Water to help you on life's journey.