Feed the Hungry

I have a very good reason to praise God today. This is the 200th episode that I’m publishing on the podcast. I have also taken 50 of my devotionals, put them together into a book and published them on Kindle. Technology is really awesome if used for good. Even though I live in the middle of nowhere I can publish a book without leaving town. All you need is the internet.

Having small victories to celebrate is wonderful and we should be doing it all the time. Sometimes it looks like there aren’t any victories to celebrate and everything looks bleak. There is an economic crisis at the moment. There’s less expendable income and there’s much more debt. There are crises at the end of the month where people who have borrowed more than they can repay. There are children who go to school hungry and some of them just go to school because of the feeding schemes. I know that there are social grants which are paid out to many parents for the care of their children which never reach the children. People drink, smoke and gamble and have paid television channels but they can’t feed their children. What is the problem?

In my opinion the problem is not the country’s economy. It is a spiritual problem. People are being held in poverty by the spiritual darkness that is part of the history of this country. There are so many people who are pretending to be Christians. I am deeply saddened by the mindsets of people who are in churches but who are still blinded by the wiles of the devil. They cannot see the problems which are right in front of them.

James 1:27, Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

If this verse is to be taken seriously then there are very few churches and Christians who do what the God expects of them. Why do buildings and programs get preference over missions and poor people. A few years ago a lady who represented one of the local churches showed me some sweaters that the ladies had knitted. She said that they were being donated to a charity in a neighbouring city because our town doesn’t really have needy people. I was so shocked that she didn’t know what was happening right in front of her face! In the early church the believers took care of widows who couldn’t afford to look after themselves. Acts chapter 6 gives a clear account of that. Where did things go wrong? When did people decide that the state should take care of needy people instead of the church? When the church stopped doing this and also stopped educating children they lost their voice in society. If a government which isn’t Godly takes care of the poor people and is in charge of education then the alliance of the people are to the government. They do not have to listen to the church because the church effectively becomes irrelevant in their lives. Why should people who are poor listen to a church which does not offer them anything to alleviate their situation? There are churches which are very affluent and the people who attend those churches reflect the state of the church. People who are poor and needy and do not operate on that economic level feel extremely out of place. If doesn’t help to preach to a man while he is hungry.

Matthew 25:35-36,   for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Only once we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked and housed the homeless we can preach to them. Preaching to the same people Sunday after Sunday for months and years is not the aim of church. A church should not be an impressive building with all kinds of social programs. A church should be the people who are followers of Jesus who are physically going about their daily tasks doing what Jesus did. We should all be preaching the Gospel, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, casting out demons and loving a broken world to wellness.

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Friend or Foe?

When I was a child we played a game where we said something like, “Who goes there, friend or foe?” I cannot remember the rest of the game at all, just the words. There is always a distinction in war between enemy and friend. In team sport there are always two opposing teams. Rivalry demands enemies. Who are our enemies? Who is the foe? Who is opposing us?
Psalm 18:37-42, I pursued my enemies and overtook them; U did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight , and I destroyed my foes. They cried out for help, but there was no one to save them- to the Lord, but he did not answer. I beat them fine as dust borne on the wind; I poured them out like mud in the streets.
Here in this Psalm David was praising God for delivering him out of the hands of his enemies and also out of the hands of Saul. In times of war enemies are people and there are physical battles which need to be fought. Our enemies are not people.
Ephesians 6:12, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
This sounds very intimidating. How do we fight battles in the heavenly realms? First of all we put on the armour that we are instructed about in Ephesians 6:13-18. We have to be truthful and ready to spread the Gospel and we also need to be in right standing with God. We need to know the Word and we have to keep up our shield to deflect flaming arrows. Often the attacks seem to come from people. People say and do hurtful things to us and we feel it in our hears and in our bodies. They are motivated by the devil to do these things. It is not an excuse and they should not be encouraged or excused, yet we cannot see them as the enemy. We must be aware of the dark forces that they are allowing into their lives. At other times we are attacked directly by evil. Joyce Meyers wrote a book called, “Battlefield of the Mind.” That is the main point of attack by the enemy. If he can gain entrance to our minds he can do almost anything with us. How often don’t we have thoughts of hopelessness, sadness or depression when we do not normally feel those thoughts. They seem totally out of character, but we feel them. We have to recognise that those feelings are coming from the enemy who is trying to manipulate our minds. Have you ever experienced it that when you’re in a difficult situation and under pressure, you think something like “I can’t handle this,” or “I’ve had enough”? I’m convinced that those are the kind of thoughts that the enemy is planting in your mind. God is not going to say that to you. He will encourage you to do things calmly and patiently. After all, giving up is not a fruit of the Spirit.
In Psalm 18:40 David says he destroyed his foes. If we draw a parallel to that verse it will be that we have destroyed negative thinking, depression, rejection, addiction or whatever it is that has been plaguing us. We have to destroy the effect that the devil wants in our lives. We have to work with the Holy Spirit to cause the foe to turn and run.
James 4:7, Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
We have to change the way we think so that we are no longer going to be at the mercy of the devil.
Romans 12:2, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
By studying the bible and spending time in prayer we are going to build a relationship with God. If we know our friend, Jesus, well enough, we will be able to recognise the foe without having to ask.

Read your Bible, pray every day

We aren’t merely puppets in God’s hands and neither have we been programmed to do the things that God planned for us to do. It takes effort to be in His will. First of all it is a conscious decision that we have to make to accept Jesus as our saviour. Secondly we have the responsibility of growing spiritually by reading the Word and by keeping up a relationship with God. We have to make sure that we are 100% sure that we want to follow Jesus and that we aren’t lukewarm Christians who just go to church on Sundays and read a daily devotional when it suits us. We should all be very much knowledgeable and aware of the contents of the Bible. It isn’t privileged information for pastors only. It isn’t just ministry and theological students who have to study the Bible. It isn’t just for missionaries to know the Bible. It is for every believer. Someone once said to me that it’s impossible for anyone to spend more time reading their Bible than it is to watch television. I proved her wrong, but times change and I want to say that we should be spending more time in God’s Word and in prayer than we do on social media.

How often don’t people complain that life doesn’t come with a manual, but it does. The Bible is our manual for life. There are no questions we can ask that don’t get answered in the Bible. If someone wants to practice law they have to go to university for a number of years and they have to study and memorize all kinds of laws and precedents. Imagine going to court and having someone represent you who has never studied law. What a disaster that would be. Likewise how can we step into the courtroom of heaven and ask God for something if we don’t know what is written in His book?

James 4:1-5, Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

If we don’t read the Bible and in the process discover that we should be asking God for His will for our lives, we are going to fall into this trap. We look at the world and at people who aren’t believers and we see the things they have and the things they view as being important and we are deceived into thinking that those are the things in life that really are important. Things, stuff, possessions and money are not bad, but they aren’t the most important things in our lives. The state of our souls is way more important than the state of our bank account. We are led to believe by the worldly way of thinking that we are less than good enough if we don’t have enough money. But here’s a newsflash, if money is our motivator, we will never have enough. There are billionaires that died of starvation because they were too mean to use their money to buy food for themselves.

1 Timothy 6:7, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Note that this verse does not say that money is the root of all evil, but that the love of money if the root of all evil. I know that there are people who have an anointing to make money so that they can finance the Kingdom, but that is different from having money as your motivator. Money can never be our reason to live. We can’t let money (the lack of it or the excess of it) keep us awake at night. We cannot be blindly led be the world and think that their way is the right way. We have to read our Bibles and we have to follow what they say. That’s the only way that we are going to be in God’s will.

Build and altar

The most awesome part of yesterday was very early in the morning. I woke up and went to the window. I looked outside and saw that there was no wind and the sky was absolutely clear with a million stars. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude because that is the sign that God gave me several years ago telling me that everything is going to be all right. It looked exactly the same as that night all those years ago. I praised God quietly for His love and His grace and went back to sleep.

I think every one of us needs a sign. Something that is going to let us know that God remembers us. Because we have very small minds that easily forget. We can of course make a sign for ourselves. When God has provided extraordinarily we should remember it. When God has saved us from desperate situations, we should remember it. When something has happened and we really don’t want to forget it we should make sure we remember it. I collect stones and I write on them. I like to think of it as building an altar. It isn’t a physical altar as such, more of a spiritual altar but with physical reminders.

God’s people, the Hebrew nation, were very good at forgetting things and this is said over and over in scripture.  God also tells parents to tell their children and their children’s children about the great and good things that He has done. When we’re in a difficult situation we often suffer from amnesia and fall into doubt and worry. We get desperate and don’t believe that God will save us out of the situations we find ourselves. If we remember the things God has done for us in the past and the situations He has rescued us out of it serves to strengthen our faith. We are able to find solid ground to stand on and we can praise God for what He did in the past and that in itself gives us a better hold on our emotions.

Psalm 103:1-2, Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

Then David goes on to list all the benefits of serving God, but he says don’t forget the benefits.

Exodus 12:14, So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.

Once again it’s about remembering. This was the initiation of the Passover. See what happened when Israel crossed the Jordan into the promised land:

Joshua 4:20-24,  And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.

This is meant not only for the Jews to remember what God did, but also for other nations to remember so that they can see what God is capable of doing. We have the opportunity daily to speak to people who don’t know God and we can tell them first-hand about what God does for us.

1 Peter 3:15, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

We should really be shining lights in this dark world. Like the stars that were so bright in the dark night sky. We have to stand out as being different, and as this verse says, as having hope. When things look dark we have to light up the situation and people have to see that we are different. We simply can’t be like everyone else. We also have to devise ways of remembering the goodness of our loving Father so that when there are difficulties we can rise above them.

Be like a child

What if Jesus came down to earth physically and stood right before you? Right now. Would you be able to look him in the eye with a clear conscience? Would you fall down and worship Him? Would you run and try to hide? I don’t think any one of us knows exactly what our reaction will be if it should happen. What is the point of my asking this question? The point is that a lot of the time we act as if God can’t see us and doesn’t know what we’re thinking. We do and say and even think things that are so totally not what we profess to believe in that it’s a bit scary. I don’t think that we should be looking over our shoulders all the time in fear of what God will think of us though. I think we need to get to a place where everything we do will reflect Jesus in our lives. We should be praising our way into heaven when we die.

But now we live on earth and we live with all kinds of people who don’t share our faith or our point of view. We are being constantly accused by the devil in the courtroom of Heaven. I try to remember that it’s only Christians who are going to be accused. The devil is definitely not going to be accusing his followers. And his followers aren’t only Satanists, anyone who isn’t a Christian is a follower of the devil.

John 8:44-47, You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

Here Jesus is speaking to the Jews who wanted to kill Him. Not to Gentiles or Heathens. As far as I am concerned there are two kinds of spirits on earth that can influence us. There is the Holy Spirit who comes from God and there are the demon spirits who assist the devil in his mission to draw us as far away from God as he can. Therefore if we aren’t under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we will be influenced by the devil.

John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

There aren’t any other ways to God. No other religion serves the living God. If they think they do then they have been deceived by the enemy.

Revelation 12:10-12, Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

At least there is light at the end of this tunnel. We will one day live in Heaven with Jesus, and God and the angels and it’s going to be really, really wonderful. But first we must overcome the world. We can do it if we are aware of the challenges and if we are willing to give our whole heart and our whole life to Jesus. Every teeny weeny little bit of it. Even the bad and embarrassing bits, especially those bits. We must become like children. A child loves unconditionally and trusts unconditionally. That is how we have to be.

Matthew 18:3-4,  “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Our faith must be pure and simple and we mustn’t try to complicate things. If Jesus comes and stands before us we must be able to do what any child would do to the one he loves and give him a huge hug.

Yesterday, today and forever

Yesterday a supplier delivered some soft drinks to our shop which had already reached their sell-by date. It’s a major inconvenience because now we have to wait until next week before there’s another delivery and we can’t get replacements before then. Food and drink expires all the time. Every now and again there’s a modern remake of a movie which had effectively reached its sell-be date. People are forced to retire from their jobs at the age of 60, regardless of their physical and mental ability. Clothing and furniture goes out of fashion and are updated all the time. I won’t even start on technology. Computers, cell phones and the like are constantly being upgraded. Getting ‘an upgrade’ has become part of our language.

The one thing that never changes is the Word of God. The Bible never needs to be updated or upgraded. There are various translations but the original meaning is still there.

Revelation 22:19,  and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Psalm 89:34, My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips

1 Peter 1:24-25, Because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.

The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

According to tradition Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. Moses lived about 3500 years ago.  Nobody is allowed to change the Bible so that it suits them. It doesn’t matter if someone thinks they have had a visitation from an angel or from God Himself – whatever he learns from that is good, but it cannot be added to the Bible and the writings cannot be altered.  It has been the same since it was first written. There aren’t any updates and changes that come out periodically.

God is also always the same.

Malachi 3:6, For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.

Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

James 1:17,  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

If we look around us at the changing sceneries, even nature changes daily. We have been observing strange weather patterns. Seasons that don’t feel like the seasons they’re supposed to be. People who decided that they don’t need to believe in God anymore because they’re modern and they don’t need God. School syllabuses that change all the time to suit changing needs. All these things are happening daily but we don’t need to worry or stress about them because we are children of the God who never changes and whose Rule Book never changes. We have the comfort of knowing that tomorrow morning when we wake up we aren’t going to be confronted by a bunch of rules which have suddenly changed. He won’t decide during the night that He doesn’t love some of us anymore and reject us because we have done something He doesn’t like, or because He simply doesn’t feel like putting up with us anymore.

Not at all! We have the promises He put in the Bible that we can rely on and that always have, and always will be the same. We have the assurance, that because Jesus died for us, we never have to stress about anything. All we have to do is give it to Him and He will take care of it. He is so big and mighty and awesome and powerful and we are His children and He loves us. What more could we ask for?

Wise as serpents

My husband coaches some children at golf. He has to do with different personalities and mentioned that of the boys is very street wise and is always looking to take a shortcut. If he can find a way to avoid work, he will. I was reminded of a Bible verse.

Matthew 10:16, Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

It’s always been a bit puzzling to me so I decided to think about it. Jesus was telling His disciples that He was sending them out as sheep among wolves. If a sheep is sent into a field where there are wolves and there’s no one to defend it, the wolves are going to tear it to pieces. That is a fact. Sheep are docile and have no means whatsoever of protecting themselves. Wolves are predators and very dangerous. The serpent in the Garden of Eden was very crafty and set out to mislead and deceive Adam and Eve. Even though Jesus says be as wise as a serpent He didn’t mean for us to deceive people. We have to be wide awake against deception and manipulation. When we go out into the world among people who are not Christians, but also hostile towards Christians. If you just see how Christian principles are being put under fire it is clear. There are people who are out to undermine Christian beliefs and laws. Bible reading and prayer are taken out of schools. People get upset when the name of Jesus is used or crosses are displayed. Christian holy days are removed as public holidays. Christians are actively persecuted. People are led to believe that things which were sins just a few years ago, are not only tolerated, but said to be totally acceptable. If Christians say anything against these things, they are made out to be intolerant and bigoted.

So when we go out into the world we have to be prudent and wise. We cannot be naïve and just accept things that people say. We have to be so aware and knowledgeable regarding the Word that we cannot be misled. We also have to be able to speak the language of the world so that people will understand us. If we are speaking ‘amens’ and ‘hallelujahs’ people aren’t going to understand us properly. I don’t mean that we must use foul language if that is what the people we associate with are using. But they must be able to identify with us.

Romans 16:19-20, For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.

We must be able to live scrupulously clean lives. Lives that shine with the glory of God. We have to stand out as being honest, but we must not be unaware of the pitfalls and traps of this world. We have to pray and ask God to give us the strategies whereby we have to run our lives and our businesses. We aren’t destined to be poor because we are Christians.

Proverbs 13:22, A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,

But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

Deuteronomy 15:6, For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.

Deuteronomy 28:12, The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

I really don’t think God would have put those verses into the Bible if he didn’t mean them to be for us. Why aren’t all Christians millionaires? I don’t know but I’ll definitely put it out there when I find out. Whether we run a business or work for a salary, we are to be innocent of evil, in other words, we have to conduct our finances honestly. We have to pray for wisdom to make good business deals and to make money so that we can finance the Kingdom. We also have to pray for the Holy Spirit to show us how to spread the Gospel in our everyday life and in our business dealings. We might be in the world but we definitely aren’t of the world. We are children of the King and as such we are royalty. Even if we are rich, life isn’t going to be without its challenges, but we are going to have the peace that passes all understanding.

 

 

Do the right thing

There’s been so much talk of corruption in the government over the last few years, and yesterday someone was talking about a local non-governmental organization where things were being done which were not according to the rules. Decisions were being made just to please people so that they wouldn’t take offense and leave the organization. The fact that these decisions did not comply with the constitution did not seem to bother most people. It doesn’t matter how small or informal a group is; if there are rules they have to be followed. I do understand that as people with feelings we sometimes can’t see the necessity of some rules, but unless we are going to challenge those rules officially with good motivation or alternative options, we need to follow them.

In the Old Testament God gave the Israelites the Law, which included the Ten Commandments. In that time people were expected to keep the commandments in their own strength using their will power. After the death of Jesus we received the Holy Spirit who gives us grace and the ability to be able to follow them more effectively. We are exceptionally privileged although we do not always see it that way.

What are we supposed to do when we see rules being broken and it affects us?

Ephesians 5:8-14, For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”

First of all, we cannot be part of anything that is being done in the dark and in secret. These verses make it quite clear. They also say that we need to expose things that are being done that aren’t right. I think this is one of the most difficult things to do. If you know the people who are busy with corruption, what do you do? If they know it is you who exposed their deed they might shun you. Yes, they might, and I would advise you to pray about what you are going to do before you do it. Paul suffered persecution all through his ministry. He was the one who persecuted the Christians and when he became a Christian, he was persecuted. We can expect to be persecuted if we are followers of Jesus.

James 4:17,  Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Matthew 24:9, Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.

Matthew 10:22, And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

All the apostles suffered persecution. Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome about 66AD during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded and Peter was crucified upside down at his own request. He did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. Andrew went to the Soviet Union (land of the man-eaters) and also Asia Minor, Turkey and Greece, where he is said to have been crucified. Thomas was most active in the area east of Syria and possibly as far east as India where ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers. Philip is said to have had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul cruelly put him to death. Matthew ministered in Persia and Ethiopia and was stabbed to death. Bartholomew’s travels took him to India with Thomas, back to Armenia and, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the Gospel. James, the son of Alpheus, is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. The Jewish historian, Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death. Simon ministered in Persia and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god. Matthias replaced Judas and tradition says he went to Syria with Andrew and was burned to death. John was the lonely one to die a natural death of old age. An early Latin tradition has  him escaping unhurt after being cast into boiling oil at Rome. He was exiled to the island of Patmos when he is credited with having written the Book of Revelation. None of these apostles were called from the priesthood or the official clergy of Jesus’ day. They were ordinary people like you and me who loved Jesus. If they did the right thing without fearing human opinion, surely we can be expected to do the same.

Life is not fair

Something upsetting happened today and I had a fleeting feeling of ‘life is not fair’. I say fleeting because I have learned the hard way that life definitely isn’t fair and that when things happen that we don’t like we have to go forward and make the best of it. It’s like when someone goes on a trip around the world and your holiday consists of a long weekend visiting family. Not that there’s anything wrong with visiting family, but you get what I mean. There’s a great contrast. Everything in life is relative. If I have a car that gets me from A to B and you have a Porsche and a Range Rover I will think you are rich. But the guy who only has a bicycle feels like I am privileged. Someone who walks wherever they have to be and lives in a shack might envy the man with the bicycle.

I was speaking to a missionary and she said that even though finances are really tight, she reminds her children that they are building a mansion in heaven.

Matthew 6:19-20,  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

How do we teach our hearts not to be attached to earthly things and earthly treasures when that is what we can see and what we are dependent on to survive daily. It’s a hard thing because it is so acutely real. The Bible says if you don’t work you won’t eat, but what if you can’t find a job? I live in a place where the unemployment figures are really high. If I drive through one township I at any given time there are many, many people who are doing nothing because there isn’t employment available for them. We live in a country with an unemployment rate of 27.6% which means more than six million people don’t have jobs. Yesterday’s newspaper said that the figure is 37%! It is a very serious matter. When people are employed and can take care of their families, they feel useful and worthy. When you have children to feed but you don’t have money to buy food you can easily fall into depression or even resort to crime. Where unemployment is high so is alcohol abuse, drug abuse and domestic violence. It sounds so depressing, and if that’s what we concentrate on it will cause us to become depressed.

The only answer to this problem is Jesus. If people can realize that there is hope, they can live differently.

In Luke 16 Jesus tells the parable of the unjust steward. The steward cheated his way back into his master’s favour.

Verse 8, So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

Look what the Message says, Verse 8-9, “Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”

To me this means that there is a different way of living that we might me missing. This takes me back to Matthew 6:33, (once again in the Message), People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Are we serious enough about our relationship with our Father or are we just playing games? Are we radical Jesus followers, or are we sitting on the fence between the Kingdom and the world? Let us all stand up and raise up our hands and raise our standards and raise our faith. Let us be salt and light and let us never become one with this world or conform to its thinking. We are God’s children and as such we are to straighten our crowns and claim the victory over evil.

Idolatry

I have been reading so much about idolatry in the Bible lately that I don’t think it can be by accident. If God wants us to sit up and take notice He will make sure we get the message loud and clear. Idolatry in Bible times was very easy to identify. People physically worshiped idols and mostly didn’t make a secret of it. In Genesis 31 Rachel had taken the household idols and her father, Laban, pursued Jacob and his whole family to find them. Rachel hid the idols and Laban went back home empty handed. Just look at the golden calf that Aaron sculpted in the desert when Moses took too long to come down from the mountain.

Exodus 32:19, So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.

It didn’t matter what the reason was that Aaron had made the calf, the fact remains that the people worshipped it.

Exodus 20:1-6, And God spoke all these words, saying:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Matthew 22:36-40, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

In Ezekiel 8, God gives Ezekiel a vision of the secret idolatry that was going on in the temple in Jerusalem. He saw women mourning for the God Tammuz, men worshiping the sun at the door of the temple and seventy elders worshiping idols in a secret chamber. I don’t know whether this was symbolic or real. Either way it was and still is not acceptable to God to have any other Gods before Him. If we profess to love God we cannot have anything or anyone which is more important to us than Him. What can become more important than God if we aren’t physically worshiping idols? Our children, our spouse, our job or business? What about the church? We can become so involved in the church and different programs in the church that it actually becomes more important than God. What about our leisure time? I know if you work hard you feel that you deserve to have time to relax, but what if God asks you to do something for Him in that time? Would you be willing to do it? I’m not doing a guilt trip here, I’m just asking you to think about it.

Romans 2:3-4 (The Message), You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

We must not be deceived into thinking that just because God isn’t consuming people with lightning bolts when they sin against Him that it’s okay to do whatever we like. God loves us so much that He was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be saved. Are we willing to put Him first in our lives too?