Living Reflectively

“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”  (Ps. 8:4)

Anyone who takes the time to think of how much God loves him or her would be amazed by how unfathomable God’s love for him or her is.

Those who live thoughtlessly:  There are people who live thoughtlessly and, therefore, aimlessly.  For them life is a seemingly unending series of trial and errors.  Such people never realize that God is good.  Their lives consist of their making one wrong impulsive decision after another, yet they have the gall to blame God for the consequences of their mistakes.

Those who live in the past:  There are those who live in the past.  Some huge wrong decision in the past had pulled them down and has kept them down, and they never seem to lift up their heads to consider the possible solutions to their problems.

Those who live for the moment:  There are those who live for the moment, the here and now.  Esau is a very good example of this type of people.  The Bible tells us that one day Esau got back home from hunting in the forest, and he was famished.  He saw that his twin brother, Jacob, had prepared a delicious-looking red stew.  Esau asked if Jacob would be kind enough to give him some of his stew.  Jacob responded that he would give Esau the stew only if Esau would sell him his birthright.  Esau, who was focused only on his hunger at that time, would proceed to sell Jacob his birthright for some stew that would satisfy his hunger that one time alone (see Genesis 25:29-34).

Those who live for the moment do not take the time to consider the consequences of their decisions and actions.  Their motto is, “Do it if it will satisfy a need now.”  Continue reading

The Domino Effect of the Consequences of Sin

lightstock_66582_medium_user_2441408The devil tries his best to get us to think of the pleasure of the moment.  His preference is to keep us from even thinking about the future but, failing that, he tries to get us to envision an unrealistic view of the future.  I am reminded of a multivitamin that was very popular in Nigeria when I was growing up.  Everyone simply called it ‘multivite.’  The manufacturers of ‘multivite’ knew that the core of the tablet was very bitter, so they made sure they had a thin sugar coating around it.  You were tempted to think that it was a very sweet tablet, but that feeling was short-lived, for you soon realized that much of the tablet was actually very bitter.  That is what the devil does with sin.  The devil tries to get us to concentrate on the thin, sweet, momentary pleasure of sin that would very quickly give way to the long-lasting bitter consequences.

Adam and Eve found this out the hard way.  When the devil in the form of the serpent tempted Eve, Eve explained that God had commanded them not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that should they eat of it they would surely die.  The serpent would respond by saying, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).   In saying, “You will not surely die” the serpent was lying.  The serpent then got Eve to concentrate on the pleasure of the moment, saying, “Your eyes will be opened.”   Finally the serpent over-glamorized what would be the aftermath of the fall.  The serpent would say, “You will be like God knowing good and evil.”

Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and, as a domino effect, there were some dire consequences for them as well as some dire consequences that went beyond them. Continue reading

Is the End of the World Near?

The question, “Is the end of the world near?” would conjure up a host of reflections and emotions in people. It would, no doubt, remind people of the recent natural disasters. It was barely two weeks ago when, on April 25, 2015, an earthquake which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale hit Nepal. As of today, the death toll stands at over 8,100, thousands are still nursing their wounds, and hundreds of Nepal nationals and foreigners are still reportedly missing and presumed dead. Even as I was writing this note, it was being reported that another earthquake of magnitude 7.4 on the Richter scale had just hit Nepal, with the death toll on this one being lower but still undetermined! There is not a day when there is no war in some place on earth. Earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires, mudslides, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc., seem to be more frequent now than ever before. NBC News reported this morning that in the last six days alone there have been 131 tornadoes from South Dakota to Texas. Unthinkable things are happening too! On March 24, 2015, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 deliberately flew the plane into the French Alps, killing himself and 149 innocent people. The Malaysia Airlines plane MH 370 disappeared from the skies over a year ago, and there is still no trace of it, no debris of any kind. These and other events should remind us of the words of our Lord:

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains (Matthew 24:6-8).

How people lead their lives in connection with the notion of the end of the world can be classified under four headings.

Continue reading

Forget Not All His Benefits

When we read, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2), many of us are quick to say that we are in no danger of forgetting our Lord’s blessings. Similarly, we read about how ungrateful the Israelites were to God in their wilderness wanderings and we simply cannot picture ourselves being such ingrates. It is instructive to note that the Hebrew word gemul, that is translated “benefits” in the King James Version, can also be translated “dealings” or “recompenses.” There are actually many ways in which one can forget about God’s blessings, dealings, or recompenses, and it is sobering to realize that almost every one of us is guilty of one or more of them. Here are some to ponder on.

You can forget God’s blessings:

1. When you refuse to remember any of His blessings
2. When you choose to forget all His blessings
3. When you fail to remember His blessings (by omission, just not getting around to it)
4. When you do not remember enough of His blessings
5. When you are pre-occupied with many things [in a way similar to what our Lord scolded Martha for (see Luke 10:41-42)]
6. When you focus on your circumstances, instead of focusing on the God who is bigger than, and who controls, your circumstances
7. When you focus on your job, instead of focusing on the God who gave you that job in the first place
8. When you focus on your achievement, instead of focusing on the God without whom you would have no achievement
9. When you focus on what you have not achieved, instead of focusing on the God whom you need to enable you to achieve those things
10. When you focus on what others have achieved, instead of focusing on the God who has your master plan to prosper you, not to harm you
11. When you keep on living for the next miracle, instead of thanking God for what He has already done for you (the Israelites perfected that in the wilderness!)
12. When you remember God’s blessings but refuse to be thankful
13. When you remember God’s blessings but fail to be thankful
14. When you remember God’s blessings but thank Him only a little
15. When you remember God’s blessings but thank Him only sometimes
16. When you feel that the Lord ought to have done more for you (forgetting that God does not owe you or me anything, for we are the ones who owe Him what we cannot repay)
17. When you do not realize that God recompenses you for your faithfulness.
The way to guard against stumbling in any of these and other ways is to practice what the palmist says in Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at ALL times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (emphases added).

We Are On The Winning Team

Normandy1Over the weekend, we commemorated the World War II D-Day invasion of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, exactly seventy years ago. On that fateful day, the Allied Forces went against a formidable foe in Nazi Germany. More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded in that epic battle. It must have appeared as though Nazi Germany was gaining the upper hand in the battle, but that wasn’t the case. Adolf Hitler’s troops were defeated. France, and then all of continental Europe, would be freed from the clutches of Nazi Germany.

We live in a day when evil dominates the news. If you did not know any better, you would think that the forces of evil were gaining the upper hand, but they are doomed to fail. How can we be so sure? We can because the Bible has given us a sneak preview of the final scene, and we know that victory is ours.
Continue reading

It was His Love

hbu cross 2013The cross may have been old and rugged
The cross may have been firm and secure
But it was not the cross that held my Lord up at Calvary
It was His love for you and me

The nails may have been long and sharp
The nails may have been sturdy and straight
But it was not the nails that held my Lord up on the cross
It was His love for you and me

The soldiers may have been fit and trained
The soldiers may have been ruthless and hardened
But it was not the soldiers who hoisted my Lord on the cross
It was His love for you and me Continue reading

Recapturing the Spring of Your Faith

Spring FlowersAs we begin the month of March, everyone in the U.S. is looking forward to the arrival of spring.  For our countrymen in the northeast and eastern seaboard, who have been pummeled by the polar vortex over and over again, spring cannot come soon enough.  Spring is an enjoyable season.  I have not known anyone who does not like spring.   The brightness of the sunshine, the budding of the trees,  the blooming of the flowers, and the chirping of birds unanimously strike a note of hope in the air.

The honeymoon is to a marriage what spring is to the weather.  Newlyweds enjoy the honeymoon, see every reason to love each other intensely, refuse to see any negative trait in the other person, and look forward to a bright future.  Years after the honeymoon, if one of the parties should cause their love to go sour, the result is always devastating.   Our Lord’s statement in Revelation 2:4 conjures up the image of this type of lost love.  He would ask the Apostle John to write to the Church at Ephesus, saying, “… Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have lost your first love…..”

Whereas in the case of married couples the fault of failed love cannot be blamed totally on one party, in the case of our relationships with the Lord, the fault is always ours, for the Lord stays faithful even when we are faithless (see 2Timothy 2:13).  But what would cause someone to lose his or her first love? Continue reading

Goodwill Toward People

by Felisi Sorgwe

When the angels appeared to the shepherds who were watching their flocks on the night that our Savior was born, they sang about goodwill. “Glory to God in the highest,” they sang, “and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14, NKJV). It is interesting to note that the English Standard Version (ESV) renders this verse: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” Without quibbling about which rendering is a better translation of the Greek original here, the two renderings of the verse prompt two questions. The first question is, does God have goodwill toward all men (people)? The second is, is God’s peace only for those with whom He is pleased? The answer to each question is a resounding yes.

God has goodwill toward all people. This does not mean that God approves of anything and everything anyone does. Continue reading

The Mystery of H₂O

Hello,

I am a substance.  I’m made up of two elements (hydrogen and oxygen). While it may sound as if I am bragging, I know that there is no substance on this earth that is as versatile as I. In my most common state I am a liquid (water).  I make up over 90 percent of the blood of a human being. People drink me to survive, and not having me can kill someone faster than not having food. When people heat up a pot containing me, they can use me to cook food.  When I am that hot, I scald people’s skin, so you have to handle me with care. If a person, house or forest is on fire, I am a must to extinguish the flame. People use me to brush their teeth, to wash their faces, and to bathe. When I am in a large body, such as a pool, lake, river, or sea, people swim in me. If someone does not know how to swim, that person can drown in me.

water drop

When I am in a body that is not only wide but also deep, canoes can be rowed, boats can be ridden, and ships can sail on me. Plants need me to grow. Without me all lawns and farms are parched. Much of the earth’s surface is made up of me. When powerful winds push me in an ocean, I become a tropical storm, a hurricane, or even a tsunami, and I can be very destructive. All of this is just for when I am in the liquid state.
Continue reading

Is Christianity a Spectator Sport?

Is Christianity a spectator sport?  The mega-Church phenomenon—what a sight!  Tens of thousands of worshipers at a football stadium, or what could be a football stadium.  It brings a smile to the face of anyone who wants to see the body of Christ continue to grow.  But before every young pastor aspires to lead a mega-Church, it needs to be realized that there are some drawbacks to the mega-Church phenomenon.   One such drawback is the tendency for Christians to be perfectly satisfied with being spectators at their worship services.  They sit attentively not only to hear the preacher preach but also to watch music bands perform—with the performance being sometimes indistinguishable from what would be seen at a Rock concert.   Each congregant would of necessity be watching them on one of the monitors that have to be employed, for anyone on stage is barely identifiable to the man or woman sitting on the stands.   The effect is akin to the experience someone has while sitting at a stadium and watching a football game, a basketball game or a soccer match.  The worship experience becomes a spectator sport. Continue reading

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