“REBUKE THAT HURTS YET SO GOOD”

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Related imageOur walk with Christ is one full of “Choices” and honestly one of the great wonders of the Christian life is that we never have to end on a bad note. There’s always a choice to choose the right path. God always gives us something good to say. He gave us a Book filled with His own words of hope, even when we need to identify, expose, and lance sin with words of love and truth.

Okay… So when was the last time someone sat you down to tell you that you were wrong?

Rebuke doesn’t always feel nice, especially when it is not done right. Personally, these have been some of the most memorable and important conversations in my life, the conversations when someone I loved — father, mother, mentor, pastor, roommate, friend,— had the compassion and courage to tell me when I was out of line. However I felt in those difficult (and often painful) moments, I now treasure those memories (For instance I can now leave home well dressed and covered because my parents especially my mum during our adolescent age put us in check)  — the kind confrontations, the caring corrections, the loving rebukes.

We all need a steady diet of parental and friendly course correction, because our hearts — even our new hearts in Christ — are still susceptible to sin (Hebrews 3:13; Jeremiah 17:9). Do you value the hard conversations that keep you from making more mistakes, and guard you against slowly wandering away from Jesus?

We often under-appreciate rebuke — in our own lives, the departments we join in church even in our churches — obviously because we have such small understanding of what rebuke really is. If we are truly going to speak the hard truth in love — or appreciate when others say the hard thing to us — we need a bigger, fuller picture of what this kind of love looks like in relationships.

Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort — As the apostle Paul closes his second letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, he says, “Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Meaning you can’t go rebuking that sister or brother with a harsh tone expecting a good outcome. Paul in his bid as Timothy’s mentor — He warns Timothy that people will turn away from faithful preaching, preferring instead to listen to messages that conform to their desires and make them feel good about themselves. They will gladly trade away truths for myths, as long as the myths make much of ‘me’ — and downplay their sin and need for help and change.

Do you love the people in your life enough to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort,” even when they don’t want to hear it? Reprove with Honesty. Why reprove, rebuke, and exhort? It may sound redundant and excessive at first, as if Paul was saying, “Rebuke, rebuke, by all means, rebuke!” The three words are related, but distinct, each highlighting a critical aspect of healthy, biblical correction.

The word Paul uses here for “reprove” appears several other times in his letters, and can mean simply to rebuke (Titus 1:13) or correct (Matthew 18:15). But in most or all of the uses, it means to reprove by exposing sin or fault. For instance, Paul writes, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). Or, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).

Similarly, the apostle John writes, “Everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed” (John 3:20). And then again, about the Holy Spirit, “When he comes, he will convict [or expose] the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Timothy, be ready to call out sin, not just when it’s convenient, but when it’s needed, and even when it’s socially uncomfortable or costly to do so.

To care for each other well, we need to ask God for the courage and faith to tell the truth about sin, and expose it as such, even when doing so might offend someone we love.

When Jesus rebuked someone or something, he demanded, in effect, on God’s authority, that it cease and desist. Winds quieted. Demons exorcised. Fevers dismissed. And sin forsaken. Jesus says, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). Timothy, after you have exposed sin for what it is — deceitful, empty, fatal, evil — summon your brother to stop, on the basis of God’s word and authority. Open the Bible, point to or quote a particular text, and call for repentance. And if he repents, extend forgiveness from that same Book and with that same authority.

If we are going to rebuke well, we must ask God to show us in His word what sin is, and what it is not. And having seen sin in one another, we must consistently and boldly — and graciously — speak up and charge one another to change, to turn, to cease from sin.

 

Welcome to the month of February!

Stay blessed, Always!

PS: I don’t own the rights to any of the images

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Finding Life’s Balance

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We are a few weeks into the new year new me season right? Lol. But it is not too late to wish you a Happy New Year, as usual I haven’t kept to my promise of posting more but that’s going to change definitely this year as I have made discipline and excellence among others, my core resolutions this year. I hope you won’t mind sharing some of your resolutions with me…

So I am coming your way with a few lessons from last year. I believe that our lives consists of an ongoing hand-off of tasks and juggling responsibilities that need strict precision to keep moving. There have been many times when I lived without a pause button, but last year tops them all. I took on four jobs, all with demanding and herculean tasks and that could be your story too. Where days ran into nights and weeks blurred into months without us having any time to relax and catch our breath. 

Thankfully, that season of busyness came to an end, but I declared that kind of overload would never, ever happen again. There was absolutely no margin for error or sickness. In the aftermath, I realized I had no non-negotiable boundaries set in place to protect me against that kind of crazy. Everything was secondary to cancel so I could get more done: I gave up family gatherings, leisure time, hangouts with friends and didn’t guard the Sabbath.

That season, and many others before it, proved that unless I put borders around my busyness, I will be a wreck, my family and relationships will too. But it also begs the question: Does life balance even exist?

 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12(NIV)

For most of us, there are few non-negotiable boundaries when it comes to busyness. We live without the built-in rhythms of the rising and setting sun that guided our parents just a few generations back. 

We could work 24 hours a day if our bodies and minds would let us. Hence, we get drawn into a nonstop lifestyle of work. Although I firmly believe the Bible honors hard work, the Bible does not say we need to be busy all the time. This is where we need wisdom to find a balance between work and rest.

I love how King David acknowledges God’s perfect plans:

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places: surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Ps. 16:5-6).

Although David refers to property lines, this is a lovely image of God’s plan for balancing our lives. God has boundary lines established for us that are pleasant and manageable. He never meant for our lives to be a jumble of overcommitment. Rather, God’s plan is peaceful and ordered.

And in order to find that pleasant place, we need to have healthy boundaries on our time with lots of margin built in. Margin plays an important part with a boundary, whether it’s on our property or in our lives. Margin creates safe places, adding beauty, breathing room and balance for the eye and mind.

Did a little research on editing and publishing and learnt this. The beauty of “a well-designed page isn’t just what you see; it’s also what you don’t see. The un-designed area, called white space, carries as much, if not more, impact as the words or graphics.”

A significant value of white space is to make the page visually appealing so you want to read it. As our eyes scan a crowded page, our minds tell us it’s too much work and we disengage. But a page with lots of white space invites you in. It doesn’t feel overwhelming or chaotic. It feels simple, doable, calm. White space gives the reader a mental break while at the same time drawing your attention to what’s most important.

And this is what a life with margin around boundaries does for us. When our lives are overcrowded with “content” and lacking white space, we will feel cluttered and confused. It’s hard to identify what’s most important because it all runs together in a blur. But by creating balance in establishing boundaries for our busyness, we give ourselves breathing room. We give ourselves time to think, dream and plan. Busy gets seriously out-of-control without boundaries.

Finding balance is possible. Establishing healthy boundaries involves editing the content in our lives, carefully identifying what’s most important… what God is asking us to do today and this very season of our lives. Then as we remove what’s not ours to do, we can breathe a sigh of relief at the beauty that’s revealed in our lives.

Prayer

Lord, thank You that Your plan for me is pleasant and secure. Be with me today as I seek to find the blueprint for my life ahead. I ask often; help me to listen well. Help me see those areas of my life that are crowded and confusing, and give me the wisdom to create a balance… to set boundary lines that bring peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Stay Blessed, Always!

Hearing From the Lord.

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Just thought I should share this with you; I hope you’ll forgive me for going silent while you’re at it. Does God ever speak? Perhaps you and I need hearing aid…

Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” James 1:21 (NLT).

We’ve all noticed that the reception quality on a cell phone varies widely. The same is true with you. You must be positioned correctly to hear God speak.

Sometimes we don’t give God a chance to talk to us. We’ve made up our minds. We want to do what we want to do, not what God wants us to do. Our hearts are hardened, and we’re unwilling to listen. I am definitely a culprit. 

When you have a closed mind, of course he’s not going to talk to you!

But if you really want to hear from God — and what believer doesn’t? — you have to understand what is keeping you from hearing from God. Sharing on three mental barriers that keeps our minds closed to God’s message.

  1. Pride. If you think you don’t need God in your life and you want to handle things yourself, you’re probably not listening for God to speak. Pride keeps you from being open to the possibility that God might want to say something to you.
  2. Fear. A lot of people can’t hear God because they’re afraid to hear God speak. Maybe you think that hearing God’s voice or sensing his leading makes you some kind of religious fanatic.
  3. Bitterness. When you hold on to hurt, resentment, or a grudge, you’re not going to be able to hear God, because your heart is hardened. It has grown cold and made you defensive, even to God’s love.

Perhaps you have been hurt badly, maybe this week or even years ago, and you’re still holding on to it. I want to tell you that you’ve got to let it go. Not for another person’s sake, but for your sake. The resentment is killing you! Resentment is a self-inflicted wound that allows people from your past to continue to hurt you today. You need to let it go, not because they deserve forgiveness but because you need to get on with your life. You need to get rid of the bitterness, fear, and pride that keep you from hearing God’s voice and living out his purpose for your life.

James 1:21 says, “Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” (NLT).

“Humbly accept” means you let go of your pride and stop trying to figure it out on your own. This is the key to opening our minds and hearts so that we can hear from the Lord.

Think this through;

  •  How do you hear God’s voice or sense his leading? (John 8:47, John 10:27,28, Psalm 25:4-5)
  •  In what ways has he spoken to you? (Mark 4:27, Proverbs 2:1-5, Romans 10:17, John 10:2-4)
  •  What changes do you need to make in your life so that you can get rid of the “filth and evil” (distractions) and hear God’s voice? (Ezekiel 3:10, Deuteronomy 32:1-2)

 

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 28:1-2

Stay Blessed!

“Love Everybody, Always!”

It’s easy to love kind, lovely, humble people. I mean, who wouldn’t? These are the ones I’ve spent much of my life loving. Loving the people who are easy to love made me feel like I was really good at it. Because the people I loved were kind and wonderful, they made sure they told me what a great job I was doing loving them.

What I’ve come to realize, though, is that I was avoiding the people I didn’t understand and the ones who lived differently than me. Here’s why: some of them creep me out. Sure, I was polite to them, but sadly, I’ve spent my whole life avoiding the people Jesus spent His whole life engaging. God’s idea isn’t that we would just give and receive love but that we could actually become love. The way we do this can be summarized like this:

His plan is that we would love everybody, always.

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

People who are becoming love see the beauty in others even when their off-putting behavior makes for a pretty weird mask. What Jesus told His friends can be summed up in this way: He wants us to love everybody, always—and start with the people who creep us out. The truth is, we probably creep them out as much as they do us.

Are there people you should give a wide berth to? You bet. There are people in my life and yours who are unsafe, toxic, and delight in sowing discord wherever they go. God gave us discernment, and we should use it as we live our lives. He’s also given us love and understanding and kindness and the ability to forgive, which have power we often leave untapped.

There’s a difference between good judgment and living in judgment. The trick is to use lots of the first and to go a little lighter on the second if we want to live the big life Jesus talked about.

Remember you heart is one organ that is always vacant and the tenant is LOVE.

God loves you,

I do too.

Stay blessed, Always.

I’d like to recommend Goff’s book, Everybody, Always, click here: https://amzn.to/2I5UF4K

When it’s Hard to Hope…

Sometimes it’s hard to hope for a miracle — it’s hard to believe in what God says when your reality seems so starkly dark, blurred, completely different. By nature, God is a promiser. He’s made a ton of them to His children.

A promise is the assurance that God gives to His people so they can walk by faith(hope) while they wait for Him to work. 

The Christian life would be easy now if the space in time is small between when you claim God’s promises and when you receive what He promised. Read it one day and get it the next. Wouldn’t that be great!? 

But life’s not like that.

The hard part is in the waiting between the promise and the answer; and even harder, when the waiting comes with uncertainties. 

Where’s this going? Where am I going to end up? What’s my future look like?

The reality is, we just don’t know and it’s this not-knowing that crushes us. We doubt because we don’t know. We worry and despair because we don’t know. We falter and sometimes fail – all because we don’t know. If only we knew how this trial was going to play out, we would be OK. But we don’t.

I can take a bad day. I can take a bad month. I can even take a bad year, if I have to, as long as I know how it will end up. For some of you it’s a health crisis. For another, it’s a question about your big moment. For someone else, it’s a restlessness in your soul. We all have areas of uncertainty where we need to hold on to what God has said. His promises are what we cling to while we wait for Him to work. Our Hope is in God. He knows what He has promised, He can’t lie, and He can’t forget. He will deliver on time, all the time.

Who else can make promises like that?

We see reflections of this same struggle in the Bible: Abraham and Sarah waiting for a son, Joseph waiting in prison, Moses waiting to reach the Promise Land, David waiting to be appointed king … or Jesus waiting for His ministry to begin.

How did they endure years of waiting?

11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed[b] that God would keep his promise (Hebrews 11:11) NLT

Another version says “She considered him faithful who had made the promise.” – (Hebrews 11:11) NIV

No matter the situation you find yourself in, you must choose to focus on the good, be hopeful. Focus on what is going right in your life. The devil often uses everything that is going wrong in our lives to make it seem like God is not working. But God is always at work in the lives of His Children. 

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalms 121:4)  

We serve a God that does not sleep. He does not miss a thing. Even while you are sleeping or waiting for your miracle and your enemies are awake doing mischief. God is up working the night shift on your behalf. He is fighting on your behalf. Despite what you may be facing today, examine the hand of God in your life. Don’t get me wrong, not everything in my life is going well but I am determined to Hold on to Hope.

Sometimes it helps to reflect on where God has brought you from. You’ve come along way; You’re still alive. You were sick he healed you. You were jobless but you have a good job now. It helps to count your blessings. Don’t allow other people’s progress in life to cause what God is doing for you to go unnoticed. We’re all different and move at a different pace. Be patient with yourself and stop being so hard on yourself. You are doing great, and God is greater than your struggle!

“Hold on to Hope of His faithfulness”

Stay Blessed, Always!

Can The Lord Just Hurry?

Impatience becomes our default trait when the promises of God seem to be sitting on a shelf without any sign of them getting fulfilled — at least the expected time on our calendar has already been crossed out! 

 I looked up again, but the scene before me hadn’t changed at all. Still behind this particular tractor. The traffic was obviously not moving and boy I was growing impatient. I desperately needed to get to this wedding and to make matters worse, I was one of the bridesmaids. Sigh.

Those of us who’ve lived in villages (rural areas) before know tractors on the road are a fact of life. However, just being “the norm” doesn’t make them any less irritating if you’re in a hurry. Some years back I remember I had to accompany my dad to one of His emergency cabinet meetings in the village, He was in a rush as our car followed a tractor down a narrow two-lane road. Once my dad’s patience was stretched to its limit, He completely lost it and started yelling, “Masa Hurry! Hurry! If you are not in a hurry move!” Amazingly, my dad’s impatience didn’t speed up the procession at all.

How many times have I approached God’s timing the same way? God rarely operates at a pace that pleases me, and I want Him to hurry, hurry, hurry! I’ve prayed impatient prayers for a job, for marriage, for ministry and even a greater understanding of His Word.

Just this week, I found myself reminding God that the year is ending and I’m fast approaching another significant birthday… as if He’d forgotten. There’s a dream in my heart that feels like it has an expiration date, so I was pleading with God to fulfill it quickly, before my bones are too creaky to do what I know He’s called me to do.

There was a woman in the Bible who also felt past her prime and had trouble with God’s timing. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, felt impatient just like I feel impatient. After waiting 10 years for the baby God had promised her (Genesis 12-21), Sarah decided to help God hurry. Surely 10 years was too long for anybody to wait, she likely reasoned.

So Sarah gave her maidservant Hagar to her husband, and the two of them had a child. Even our modern-day television dramas don’t hold a candle to what ensued! It turned out “helping” didn’t help, and the promise still wasn’t fulfilled.

Fourteen years later, Sarah and Abraham had a visitor who reminded them of God’s promise, causing Sarah to laugh out loud and say, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” (Genesis 18:12)

Do you hear your disbelief and questions about God’s timing echoed in Sarah’s? Well, I hear mine. Now, Lord? I thought this would happen years ago. Aren’t You just a little late?

God answered Sarah’s question in a way that answers ours, too. “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:14).

Less than a year later, Isaac, the child whom God had promised 25 years before, was born. God was not late. His timing was perfect. It was Sarah who had been in a hurry, but God called Isaac’s birthday the appointed time.”

According to the dictionary, “appointed” means “predetermined; arranged; set.” Isaac’s birth came at the exact time God had planned all along!

God may seem like a tractor in the road, slowing down our dreams, but He knows the entirety of our story from beginning to end. He also knows how our story weaves into the lives of others. We may be tapping our watches, but He is never late. He may seem slow, but He’s always right on time. He is never on the blindside of our challenges and storms – nothing takes Him by surprise. God Himself holds the appointed time in His hands.

Has God made a promise to you that seems delayed? Has He planted a dream in your heart that has not yet come to pass? You can see I’ve struggled with impatience too, but let’s stand together in confident hope! God is faithful, and we can rely on His perfect timing.

“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

Dear God,

Sometimes I don’t understand Your timing. It’s hard to wait, but I trust You. I want to rely on Your ways, Your thoughts and Your perfect timing. Help me learn what I need to learn as I wait, and help me resist rushing Your plan. May I wax stronger in you as I wait In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay Blessed, Always!

“ARE YOU FOR ME OR AGAINST ME?”

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We’ve all been there at one point or another — standing in the formidable shadow of difficult situations that refuse to budge, while fear whispers in our ear about the inevitability of our defeat. One of the many reasons I’m so thankful for God’s Word. Because tucked into its pages, we find story after story of people who can help us learn in the midst of our battles. People who show us what it means — to look to and solely depend upon the Lord.

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’” Joshua 5:13 (NIV)

Take Joshua, for example. If ever someone might feel overwhelmed at a situation totally out of their control, his experience facing Jericho was it.

Not only did the wall surrounding Jericho look invincible, but there was also the issue of Israel’s army lacking proper weapons for tackling such an impressively guarded city. You can’t exactly pull down walls with arrows and spears. That’s a job for battering rams and catapults — items noticeably missing from their arsenal.

But they had come too far to turn back. And the people of Israel were counting on Joshua to lead them into this land promised by God.

With all these facts and details weighing on him, Joshua is suddenly confronted by a man with a drawn sword. Scripture reveals this is no mere human. This is the commander of the Lord’s army — God’s presence in human form. And this is no everyday occurrence either. It is an incredible encounter.

Seeing the man is ready for battle, Joshua asks, Are you for us or for our enemies?(Joshua 5:13) Wrapped in this honest question I sense hesitancy in Joshua — a peek inside his thought life — doubt — and a need for reassurance. Such an honest question, but it makes me believe perhaps Joshua isn’t walking in complete confidence and assurance. If he were, he wouldn’t have asked. But he did.

This is where we assume that, of course, God’s presence will answer, “Joshua, I am with you, for you and on your side!” But that would be assuming wrongly.

When asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” the presence of God replies, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come” (Joshua 5:14a). Joshua falls face down in humility and reverence — asking what message the Lord has for him, His servant. (Joshua 5:14b)

I wonder what kind of message Joshua was expecting, even longing for. Perhaps one overflowing with war strategies or perhaps “Joshua you will definitely win this battle” . But instead of detailed plans, Joshua receives a call to worship. He’s told to remove his sandals, for the ground is holy. (Joshua 5:15)

It’s an invitation and a reminder for Joshua to worship the One who’s not only big enough to handle the impending battle, but also loving enough to address the doubt, fear and insecurity running through Joshua’s mind. And as Joshua slips off his sandals, I’m reminded of what I need in the face of my own seemingly insurmountable situations: I need to worry less and worship more…

When I’m desperate for God to give me all the details…

When I’m wishing He would give me the tiniest peek at His plans …

When I’m starting to wonder if He’s for me or against me…

I need to pause, lift my eyes to the One willing to meet me in the midst of my fears, and worship Him. Worshiping not only because it honors Him, but because it also changes me.

Honor the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

Worship might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we feel overwhelmed, but it truly is powerful. It reminds our trembling hearts and shaky knees that our God is mighty, our God is loving and our God is a more-than-able God. It both quiets us and strengthens us — perfectly preparing our hearts and minds for whatever battles lie ahead.

I don’t know what “walls” you’re facing in your life right now, friend. I don’t know how overwhelming and daunting they seem. But I do know the perfect battle plan for each and every one of us…

Worry less. Worship more.  Trust our God to lead us into victory.

Prayer

Father Lord, thank You for reminding me that the best way to prepare my heart and mind for battle is to simply and humbly worship You. So today, as I lay my fears down at Your feet, I lift my hands up to You in worship. You are worthy of my trust. You are worthy of my praise. Today and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay Blessed Always!