Friendship turned sore? Forgive

And the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:..Galatians 5:22-23

Once upon a time there used to be a beautiful Egyptian maid servant known as Hagar that used to live with an old couple in the land of Canaan. She was gentle and obedient. She served the couple and worked diligently to please her masters. She was faithful, caring and took care of the homestead and the animals. She fetched water from the wells and kept the tents and linens clean. She baked bread and cooked mutton stew for Abraham and Sarah. Sarah liked her and they shared a warm friendship. Sarah needed a friend, she found one in Hagar. A female friend to chat and talk as Abraham is away with the male servants herding the livestock. Abraham and Sarah had no children and they were past their fertile years.

One quiet afternoon, Sarah and Hagar were sipping some herbal tea and some freshly baked bread that Hagar had prepared for them. As they were chatting over mundane issues that bond girls, :) Sarah’s demeanor changed, and she looked into Hagar’s eyes. Hagar could not help notice that there was something wrong. So she asked her ‘Is anything the matter Sarah? Is it the tea, I know I might have boiled it longer than usual, it’s ok I can make something else’. Sarah interjected, ‘No! No! No! It’s not the tea, the tea is just fine’. Light shimmered through the tent’s entrance it was almost dusk now, just a few hours and Abraham would be home. She had decided to do it, she couldn’t wait any longer. Sarah looked into Hagar’s eyes again this time with gloom in her eyes,’ Hagar, you have been with us for a long time now, you have cared and loved us. I need to ask a favor from you.’ Hagar responded ‘Sarah you are my friend and more so I respect you as my mother, you have taken care of me as if I was your own daughter, anything for you my dear. Sarah hesitated, she had played this scene over and over again, and she didn’t know exactly how Hagar would react. She finally asked her, ‘Hagar, I would like you to lay with my husband that I may have an heir to my name’. Hagar laughed, and then she paused and glanced at Sarah and realized that Sarah was serious! ‘Sarah, you cannot expect me to do that!’ Hagar argued. But Sarah kept on insisting and managed to put in a convincing argument. Finally, Hagar told her friend that she would think about it.

That night as Sarah rested on her husband’s shoulder, she leaned closer to her husband’s ear and said, ‘Abraham my love, the Lord has kept me from having children, I am requesting that you lay with my maid servant Hagar may be through that we may maintain our lineage. Abraham rose up with a start, ‘Sarah, how would you ask of me to do such an outrageous act!’ An argument ensued and in finality Abraham agreed to sleep with Hagar to please the wife, out of love I suppose. (Gen 16:2). Sarah then organized for the meeting between Hagar and Abraham and Hagar conceived.

Days went by, Hagar’s pregnancy grew. Sarah marveled at the changes, she took care of Hagar and had wonderful thoughts about her new family. One day, Sarah found Hagar asleep in the middle of the day and she inquired of her. Hagar was indignant and asked Sarah not to disturb her. The sweet maid servant who had cared for them all these years was now arrogant and rude. She despised Sarah. Sarah was mystified she could not understand what had got into her friend. This went on for days, disobedience and arrogance instead of the respect and love she had accorded the couple for all these years. It was confusing to Sarah, so she sought the help of her husband. Abraham did not want to get into trouble between the two and informed Sarah to do what she intends to do with Hagar. Sarah started mistreating Hagar. Hagar fled from the homestead for her safety. (Genesis16:6)

Does this scenario sound familiar? At one point bosom friends become worst of enemy’s and cannot stand each other. These two must have been bosom friends for Sarah to have trusted Hagar with her husband. Though, it would seem offensive in this modern era to ask your ‘bff to have a baby with your husband. So what happened to these best friends? Is it jealousy, envy and insecurity? Each must have felt betrayed by the other after that incident. In life and as Christians we may find ourselves trusting and building friendships with one another that end up being sore like that of Sarah and Hagar. It can be destroying emotionally and we may end up losing trust with our loved ones or other believers.

James 3:16 says that ‘where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there will be disorder and every evil practice’. That definitely echoes with what happened between Sarah and Hagar and definitely in our day to day relationships. So the question is, is it possible to live free from selfish ambition and jealousy? If Sarah had been patient and not be driven to having a child from another woman (read selfish ambition), they would have continued with their friendship don’t you think? On the flip side, if Hagar would have continued to be a faithful servant and not yield to envy and jealousy, would the friendship have blossomed, I suppose Yes! The book of James continues to say in verses 4:7 ‘Submit to God. Resist the Devil and He will flee from you! This implies that, God has to be the author of life, if we submit to Him all these evil desires will not be a concern to us and will melt away. Jesus Christ is the greatest author of friendships; He showed His utmost love for us by giving up His life for our sins.

Our friendships do not have to end up like that of Sarah and Hagar but we can choose to reconcile and forgive for our own sakes. This may not be possible by our own strength because we are bound by evil desires that emerges from our flesh, but glory be to God, when you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, the Holy spirit indwells in us, the fruit of the Spirit will be manifest and we will exercise all that is in Him in accordance to the Word of God. We will have that tranquil heart that is described by King Solomon in the Proverbs. In conclusion, Ephesians 4:32 says, ‘Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you’. We did not deserve to be forgiven Jesus Christ just did it for the great love that He had for us. Go forth and show forgiveness to one another and don’t allow your bones to rot (sic)!

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30

 

I’LL TRUST YOU

 

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalms 119:105

The words from the doctor that cold evening stung. They stung to the deepest core of my heart. ‘I will put you on another round of medication’, he said. I felt lifeless. He must have noticed my demeanor, as he was quick to reassure and comfort me, urging me not to give up and try not to worry. ‘That’s easy for you to say’, I muttered. I had kept my hope for many years and waited patiently and it didn’t seem to get better from the look of things. I felt I had little strength left within me to soldier on.

As I walked towards my house, pondering on the turn of events, I must say I was crestfallen nothing would make me smile. So I grabbed my bible and went to bed. While scanning through the bible I came across this verse, your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light to my path. Something jostled up within me and I sat up straight. I asked God to tell me what that meant for me. His answer was wonderful and comforting.

When you experience power outages at night, and without a generator, then a lamp becomes a necessity. The lamp will only provide light where you are, so that you will not stumble as you walk each step. You may not know what lies ahead but so long as you have the lamp at your feet you will make it up the stairway and to your room safely. The lamp will light your path not the whole house. I wondered why God would not say in His word, My Word will light up your whole house.  Instead, He chose to use a lamp for every step. It is then that it occurred to me that He purposes for us to take each step, not to go ahead of ourselves, knowing it’s not because we can see (with our physical eyes), but there is a Word (lamp) to light our paths and therefore ensuring that we completely entrust ourselves to Him.

The word of God speaks to our particular situation. That time I needed a comforter and a lot of reassurance and He provided me with Jeremiah 31:3, I have loved you with an everlasting love. That was the lamp to my feet and the light to my path for that day. I slept like a baby; not because my request for healing had been fulfilled but I had everything I needed for that day, God’s reassurance that His love is everlasting.

It doesn’t matter what kind of trouble or situation you are in, God has the right word for you for that specific situation. He will provide the lamp to your feet and the light to your path. That way, you gain trust in HIM, fully reassured.You may not have the light for the whole house (future life) but you rejoice in the knowledge of the lamp (WORD of God) for every step.

Thank You God for your Word, I will completely entrust myself to you that you may light my path ooh Lord!

 

 

I AM YOUR BELOVED

 

Again he says, I will never leave you nor forsake ~ Hebrews 13:5b
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things ~ 1 Corinthians 13:7

I have a cat, we call her Cat. She is now five years old. She has blessed us with wonderful litters’ overtime and provided great company. We definitely consider her ‘family’. Over the years, a lot has changed we have moved houses and changed settings and Cat has faithfully been with us.

I remembered a time we needed to travel for a holiday for a week. At the time she had three kittens that had not yet been weaned. I felt sorry that I had to leave but we really needed a break from our busy schedule. I therefore took the time to leave enough meal and water to last for a week. Off we went to our safari. However, after a long week stay we decided to extend our holiday with a few more days.

When we came back home, we were ‘greeted excitedly’ by cries and meows at the door as Cat and her kittens purred and chattered. I had mentioned to my husband that she would probably have left after such a long time and looked for another ‘more available’ family of humans to live with. J Oh, but she didn’t, she waited patiently for our return. She was hungry and looked a bit emaciated but she was good. No damage or broken utensils either just the way we left the house. I thought to myself, that’s great loyalty.

That got me thinking about how we relate to God. God has said in his word, that he gave us everything through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ and loves us immensely. However, whenever we experience trials of various kinds we start doubting Gods loyalty towards us. We stop believing and enduring, we start lamenting and eventually we distance ourselves from our maker who loves us immensely.

The verse on 1st Corinthians 13:7 states clearly what love as a virtue ought to achieve, it ought to bear even when it feels unbearable, it ought to endure even in the most difficult circumstances. It ought to hope and continue believing even in the darkest moments. I also find the word in Hebrews 13:5b very comforting that indeed He will never leave me nor forsake me. That’s a solid promise right there.

When you are assured that indeed God is with you and for you, it does not matter what happens or what challenges you may encounter you will be able to hold firmly to the resolve that indeed His love is the best. You will endure, hope, bear and believe and come out stronger and better. The bible also says that His thoughts are not our thoughts and neither His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), therefore when try to interpret circumstances with our own logic we may not entirely understand the mind of God.

I believe God loves us so much and wants the best for us as demonstrated in His sacrifice of His only son for our sin John 3:16. Back to the Cat story, Cat is assured that we love her and she will not go to a neighbor’s house when we are not present to seek out ‘favors’, rather she waits for us for she is assured of our and in essence ‘we will not forsake her’.

Rest in his everlasting love, I am.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.  ~ Augustine

Finding Wisdom

 

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice

Proverbs 13:10

‘I am not feeling very well today’, I muttered to myself as I sat at my desk that morning. My heart was feeling so heavy I didn’t even want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to cry. ‘Why does he like to hurt me so’, I wept. Yet, his words resounded so much just like many other times. ‘You always complain to me how much you don’t like getting late to work and at the same time, you are the one delaying us’ he retorted. I was surging with anger. I wanted to shout and tell him he is being unreasonable. I kept quiet and looked ahead. He noticed. ‘Now you are angry and won’t even talk’, he said. ‘Half of the time, you act defensively, whenever I correct you, yet you never see me do that to you whenever you talk to me concerning various issues regardless of the tone you use’, he continued. ‘He should not be saying such things to me’, I thought to myself. I took longer than five minutes leaving the house that Monday morning while he was waiting out at the car

My husband has to drop me off every morning on his way to work; it’s quite a long drive. He always drives two hours every day while dropping and picking me from work. Such a wonderful deed could not even cross my mind that Monday morning. I could not understand why he had turned so cold towards me. And yes, I became defensive and angry. I said things like, if you don’t like me talking about my work frustrations whom else do u expect me to tell. He says, ‘I didn’t say you shouldn’t tell me’.

‘You completely misunderstood me, you know me, I would not hurt you’, he said. I could not believe his words, I was already hurt.  After quite some silence, I said ‘I am sorry that I don’t take corrections positively, I will try to be more open to corrections, and having known me for years, then I want to believe that what you are saying is true’. He glanced towards me and said nothing. The rest of the journey we drove in silence. Fortunately, we were all not late. All the more, I felt justified that I should not have received that backlash.

At the time I do not know what hurt most, either the fact that he was right that I act defensively when corrected or that I received a criticism and we didn’t even get late. Now I know what hurt most, the fact that he was telling me the truth. He was being honest with me. That I don’t like to be corrected and that is pride, Period! It has been said truth hurts and I believe them. It hurt so badly and his words resonated in my mind the whole day.

King Solomon wrote some of the amazing wise sayings that have been used to date in the book of Proverbs and that day Proverbs 13:10 hit me like lightening straight into my heart. While I may act defensively feeling justified, I am walking towards the opposite direction of the wisdom spectrum. Further along in the same chapter he says, whoever heeds to correction is honored (Proverbs 13:18b). Again he says, that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34). My imagination run wild on what I would have responded in humility without exuding pride which lead to an argument that had left me hurt and a bad day.

I prayed that day that the Lord God who gave King Solomon wisdom will endow me with the same gift that I may gain knowledge and understanding and reach out to my husband with humility as I allow him to correct and shape me as the leader of our home. It’s hard having to unveil a shield of pride that I had carried for so many years. But it was time, its time I let go and let God. It was a great lesson,  those that care to correct you actually care about you more than you can imagine and they dare to help you become better

Lord, I receive of your wisdom.  I pray that my speech will be filled of your knowledge and understanding and that the meditation of my heart and the words of my mouth will be to glorify you my God.  Thus being counted among the honorable (Proverbs 13:18b).

The alarm ringtone

 

We all use the alarm clock innumerable times especially mornings to be reminded that we need to fulfill our duties and live or starve.  The choice of the ring tone varies depending on mostly the size of our ear-drums (pun intended). While others would prefer a ‘cock crow’ others prefer the ‘harp’ that soothes one to more snoozing.  However, I have come to realize that the effectiveness of any alarm ringtone is in direct correlation to how much you don’t want to hear it. That will certainly get you waking up with a start and roll the sheets with the speed of a galloping horse. In essence, if your desire to not hear the alarm outweighs the desire to keep sleeping then you are beyond doubt going to wake up.

In the same way, we have alarm ringtones in the form of great ideas we have to either excel professionally, financially or whichever sphere of life. We set them and majority of the time we find ourselves snoozing to gain a few more minutes of ‘much needed sleep’. The ‘snoozes’ are excuses we make so as not pursue that dream, blame games on government and everyone else except you, and most of all procrastination.

I have come to appreciate, that no matter how many times you snooze .you still have to wake up anyway and then the rush begins. I know I have done that quite a number of times actually. :)

Each one has the choice to select the ‘alarm ringtone’ for their life. Set one that will absolutely wake you up and rise you to your optimum. Let the ‘alarm ringtone’ outweigh your desire to ’sleep’ and indeed this year, may you hearken to the great idea in you and fulfill your heart’s desires.

Rise Again

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed

2nd Corinthians 4:8 a

Recently when I was in the yard enjoying some sunshine I saw a flower-seedling caught in between two rocks. With only two leaves and a weak stem the plant looked like it would not survive. For curiosity purposes I left it there and I didn’t move the rocks. A week later I went to check what had become of the flower. Honestly, I would have expected for it to have been totally destroyed since it was not getting enough nutrients. However, I noticed something, the flower had pushed itself through the rocks, had access to the light and now was not only having six leaves but the stem looked stronger. That flower knew what it needed..focus on the light and keep going.

That got me thinking about our lives and how we react when push comes to shove. It could be a health or wealth issue. Those situations that make you want to sink in despair and give up on life or even take away your own life. For someone, who has lost their marriage through divorce or other, their job, their home and all those people or things that they hold dear would feel like its the end of the world for them.

The encouragement for us is that we may be hard pressed on every side but not crushed and this resonates so well with the flower I described above. the bible says in 2nd Corinthians 4:10 ‘We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body’ , further down we are implored not to lose heart.We have the life of Christ in us. Its time to rise again and embolden the life we have been given for free thus experiencing Christ’s renew day by day (2nd Corinthians 4:16 b).

No matter your situation, there is life in you. Rise up its your time to shine.

 

 

The hole in the dough-nut

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise

2nd Corinthians 10:12 (NIV)

One day when we were having some ‘catch up’ time with my husband while enjoying a cup of tea, he shared something. He said, ‘I don’t understand why some people see only the hole in the dough-nut. ‘Why?, I ask curiously. ‘Something happened today’, he said. I listened.

It occurred that he had met an old friend from high school days and the discussion that ensued was about at which stage they are at in their lives. The gentleman stated that he had done a masters degree and graduated and had a family . The child is going to school, and he was doing this and that. The gentleman went ahead to ask my husband why he had not pursued a masters degree and how come he had not had this or that with an inclination that hey..I am way ahead of you. At the end of the day, my husband felt worse than the excitement would have been expected of meeting an old friend.

The first time I read 2nd Corinthians 10:12 it was sort of like a pan because we were sharing with a friend and she told me that she got see a tongue twister in the bible. Its easy to meet an old friend and all you have to do is to start comparing what they have you don’t have and vice- versa. I think its too much work when we compare ourselves when God has created each o us uniquely for a unique purpose. So what if I have a house and you are still paying rent, does that make you less of a person than you already are. I believe we become what we think. Proverbs 23:7(KJV), ‘For as he thinketh in his heart so is he’. When we compare ourselves with other people irregardless of who they are, we are not living our lives appropriately rather we are living other peoples lives.

I am not saying we should not emulate what other people have done especially if they positively influence us. Paul was addressing Corinthians who commend themselves with themselves and eventually make us feel bad about ourselves. In other occasions, we have compared ourselves with others and end up degrading them. The bible says clearly, they that do that are not wise.Well, wouldn’t want to be a fool.

I read an anonymous quote recently that said, “Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren’t. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are – and aren’t – that you will truly succeed.” That is truly profound.

May we accept the love of Christ and know that God made each of us uniquely and for a purpose. The need would be to ask myself if I am living according to His purpose in Christ Jesus.

Its time to see the dough-nut and not the hole in the dough-nut. Thank God and appreciate for what you have and be sensitive when sharing with others about your life without beating your chest. :-)

The Old is gone, The New has come!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the Old is gone, the New has come.

2nd Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

I love flowers, more so the nurturing process.  One day I bought a lily plant from a flower vendor. It was packed in a plastic bag so I needed to transfer it to a pot. I managed to transfer it properly to the pot without hitches or so I thought. Few days later I noticed that the leaves were turning brown, sort of drying up and therefore I watered the plant in hope that it would rejuvenate.

For a month I watched helplessly as all the leaves dried up,  I was at a loss! I could not understand what happened. I thought I did everything right, proper transfer, fertilizer, water. Nonetheless, I did not give up, I kept checking and caring for the plant. A while after, I noticed that there were some small tubers rising from the pot. The dried leaves had gone and there was something new growing from the pot. It was amazing! The process wasn’t easy, it required patience. After waiting for about three months, I can now enjoy the beauty of the glowing white flower! And guess what, I even got more tubers that I can transfer to more pots and that means more lilies for me!

Sometimes in life, we may encounter challenges like my lily flower. Life may throw us into sickness, stagnation, loss, suffering even to death. However, we have great reassurance that we who believe in Christ Jesus we have a new life. It doesn’t matter how small the beginning, like my lily plant all it requires is a new tuber and God will feed it to growth and maturity. Its a subtle process but He is the maker He will make everything right! Like my lily plant, something had to die for it to come to life.

 John 12:24  Jesus said ‘ I tell you the truth, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds’.

 

When we allow Jesus Christ in our lives, we have new life! New life with great prospects, many seeds.

 

Fruitfulness in every area of your life! Thats the power of our God. All you have to do is believe.

 

 

I lay it all down

Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light’

Have you ever been to a shopping mall and observed that there are times some shoppers will pick the shopping cart, move through the aisle and as they pick the items, they hold the items with their hands, their hands become too overwhelmed and overcrowded yet the shopping cart is still empty. Weird right? What would be your perception of this person? What would you tell him or her? I am sure we would all have something to say. This is what I would say ¨Lady or Sir, why don’t you place the items on the cart, lay it down that will ease your burden”. I would then watch as they realize what they have been doing, placing the items on the cart and as they start pushing the shopping cart with ease.

As a young believer, Matthew 11:28-30 never made much sense. I would struggle to understand why I should let go of one burden and be handed another. How can a burden be light, a burden is a burden! It implies a load heavy and strenuous. Until, I asked God to explain to me as a child what He means. The scenario I have shared above was the answer that he gave me. My daughter, how long will you hold the items in your hands, yet I have given you a shopping cart and its FREE!

The bible provides answers to our every need. When we are filled with worry, this is what Jesus Christ says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food and body more than clothes. Consider the ravens, they do not sow or reap..yet God feeds them. And how much valuable you are than the birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Luke 12:22-26(NIV).  What if I am anxious, how do I lay down that burden of anxiety, here it is “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Philippians 4:23(NIV)

I must admit its not easy though, the tendency is to do quite the contrary to worry, being anxious, being angry but Jesus Christ says ‘You may ask me of anything in my name and I will do it. John 14:14. There we have it. We have one whose burden is light, Ask in His name it shall be given unto you. He is real to me, I pray that He will be real to you too.

 

 

The Father’s Love

‘Behold, what manner of love the father has given unto us, that we may be called the Sons of God, that we may be called the Sons of God’

Oooh how i loved that Sunday school song, i would shout it loud, I still do. The picture i had was of my father, you know the one i left at home as i was going to Sunday school. My dad was not the ideal picture of a father, but i love him and he did a good job.

However, i did not understand the implication of this song until i got to read Luke 15: 11-32 and i got a different view inspired by one of my pastors. This is the parable of the lost son. I marvel at the wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ who used parables to teach.

The parable of the lost son is a story of two young men and their wealthy father. The younger one man lets call him Mark figured he had lived his life in that house, had gotten tired and wanted to explore, cruise the world and get to know places. “Father, give me my share of the inheritance¨. Luke 15:2 (NIV). So the father divided the property between the two. Note the father gave him what he desired.

Fast forward, Mark squanders all the money and starts eating with the swine!(Can you imagine that). The Bible says, the young man came to his senses and decided he will go back to his father and ask for forgiveness. Oh what a joy when the father saw him! He was delighted at his presence and a fattened calf was slaughtered to celebrate his return. Hey, the father had a fattened calf waiting for his return, isn’t that amazing!

Meanwhile, the older son we will call him Matt heard the celebrations from a far and the bible says, he was enraged with his father “Look, all these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so i would celebrate with my friends!” Luke 15:29 (NIV). Matt was angry, and i can actually identify with him. I could be angry too. Mark has been squandering all the wealth, he is the bad boy and not Matt.

But look at what the father says ‘My Son, You are always with me and everything i have is yours!’  Bang! My eyes were finally opened. Like Matt i never really new that i have an inheritance with God our father. I have since ceased to complain and grumble but acknowledge that everything that God the father has is mine. I may not have the greatest of wealth, but i have this righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, thatś the kingdom of God and the bible further seek first the Kingdom and all these things will be added unto you.

Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us“. We now have life, its time to embrace it, do not reject Godś love. Have you been lost? God says come to me, i have prepared a fattened calf for your return, i will dress you up with the best robe, you are Mine! Have you been in the father house and not known your worth? He says all he has is yours, embrace the glory and the splendor of God our father and be at rest as you enjoy His Greatness!