Monthly Archives: June 2014

The grace of giving – part 1

“Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.” (Ex 25:2)

Although by this time God had already received the name ‘Jehovah Jireh’ in praise of benevolence as Provider, He seems to be asking for contributions! Why would the owner of the entire universe requisition for contributions from a group of fleeing ex-slaves in a wilderness? They were not rich, not settled, not sure of tomorrow, and they were a very young nation. For God to be asking for contributions from this kind of people may sound strange, but there must be a justified reason. Also think of the episode leading to that name ‘Jehovah Jireh’ (Gen 22:14): Abraham pronounced that name after the Lord had asked this very old man to sacrifice his ‘only’ son! Surprisingly, Abraham obeyed and was giving without holding back – then the Lord intervened and provided in ways beyond
human understanding.

When it is time to give to the cause of the Lord’s work, it does not matter your age, your status, your riches or scarcity, your residence – rented or owned: God owns everything, but He gives us opportunity to participate in His work by surrendering part of what He has given us; He knows we need this discipline to grow more into His likeness and learn not to be attached to material possessions. Our hearts are moved by different situations:
sometimes a hungry child, or suffering war refugees, or a needy student about to
miss exams, or sometimes a sick relative who needs an operation abroad. Our hearts are also moved, and strongly so, when a close friend needs support towards their wedding, or when you need a new car, or a house. Is there a nobler cause? The Lord commanded Moses to express the need for a Tabernacle to people of Israel for them to respond with their hearts first, then their contributions would follow. It is time to give, and this is an
opportunity.

Your heart will only move you if you understand that giving is for your own good. Moses’ Tabernacle was the place where he interceded for the nation of Israel and the Lord brought them provisions and healing during tough times. Abraham’s ‘sacrifice’ unlocked
phenomenal blessings that would outlive him by generations. Yes, the ultimate result of our giving is for our own good beyond what our eyes can see. Our current need is to
complete our Sanctuary and its furnishings, and the call for contributions is on. Open your heart today that you’ll be moved to give to a nobler cause.

God bless you!

Commissioned for Service

“children of God… shine as lights in the world” (Php 2: 15)

You are warmly welcome!

Today’s Baptism and Confirmation are a form of rebirth for the candidates. When a child is born, the umbilical cord has to be severed; the baby girl now has to draw air with oxygen by itself, ingest and digest food, cry for help when in need; it is a fundamental change. The born child is now dependent on anyone who can offer help, but never in the way it was
dependent on the mother while still in the womb. The child’s dependency keeps changing and reducing – she stops breast feeding, starts eating solid food and walking, then soon after starts fetching water and participating in house work, adding value to the home and community. A child of God is called to growth and development in the same way.
Remember Jesus Christ’s important commands:

“Come follow Me” (Mark 1:17) is the first instruction. As Christians, we are called to
be disciples (followers of Jesus Christ). This is a call to relate, and all who receive Him are given the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12). Observing and honouring
our relationship with God as our Father and Christian people as brothers and sisters is more exciting than getting a passport for the first time; it is of supreme importance when in a foreign land. Without it, identity is lost and one is handed to the police and detained in bondage; even your home embassy can hardly help. Christians are foreigners in this world; our passport and indicator of our true citizenship is Jesus Christ. Without Him, one is
detained by the devil’s police to live in sin – bound to all manner of vices – unbelief, lies,
substance abuse, greed driven stealing, dishonesty and the like. Jesus Christ calls us to find our true identity and citizenship, our true family in God our Father.

“As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:19). As the children of God grow, they must become productive and constructive in the Kingdom. Paul encourages the
Philippians to shine as lights in the world. We are called to stand out with clear identity as
believers wherever we may be. Together with those being Confirmed today, we are all
reminded that we have been commissioned as children of God in this foreign land to shine as lights and thus draw many people to God.

God bless you all.

Stewardship at Ministry: Jesus’ Example

“So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won’t get discouraged and give up.” (Heb 12:3)

Once in history lived among us, one who was there at the point of creation, when what is visible now was created from nothingness. Heaven had always been His home; He had never been in a place away from God’s presence. There at home are indescribable
creatures, in inexplicable splendor, constantly singing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy…’ From glorious celestial yonder, He came down to earth and fit in a simple society of human beings. He came and lived among people, who have never seen anything else but the physical, the tangible things of earth.

Jesus Christ had to find a way to explain His mission on earth. How could He explain all that He had seen, about His father and home, to such simple minds? What words could He use? Would we contain it? Could we handle such information? But in His wisdom, He was able to tell us all that was necessary for us to know, all that He felt was important for us; and He asked us to have faith, to believe Him and obey Him, without questioning. He pressed on with His mission – even in the face of opposition from without and betrayals from within. He encouraged Simon in Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to test all of you as a farmer sifts his wheat. I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” How could He explain all that happens in the spiritual to us? He decided to tell us to simply follow His lead as He takes care of the spiritual.

So knowing who Jesus is and where He came from, I am more than anxious to hear what He has to say, more so, watch how He lived among us, how He related, what His reaction was to different situations, and His opinion about different issues. This was God incarnate; His life shows us God’s lifestyle, God’s priorities, concerns and God’s heart. Whatever He said, whatever He did… His love for children, His compassion for the sinners, and for the out casts, His passion for the temple, His parables, the sermon-on-the mount… His prayers, His rebuke to the Pharisees, His conversations with people like Nicodemus and the woman at the well, His humility and His love – what an example! He excelled as God’s steward and achieved His mission.

He lived among us; He came to show us how to live, before He died to restore our broken relationship with God. Think about your own stewardship; your God-given assignments – call it ministry, and press on against all odds; march on and move after your Captain.

God bless you!

Stewardship at home

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deut 5:16)

Stewardship is the act of taking care of or managing something such as property, money or an organization, especially on behalf of others. Good stewards increase the value of the goods under their care with time; but a poor steward either maintains or even diminishes the value! There are many tips on being a good steward in business – we even have degree courses in business and management – but what does God say? He is the supreme source of all wealth, and we should be interested in His guidance on good stewardship. This month of June will be dedicated to surveying this question. To begin with, right in the heart of the Biblical Law we have an instruction with a promise of prosperity as quoted in Deut 5:16 above:

There is a solid relationship between wealth and relationships. Healthy relationships are fertile ground for living long and increasing wealth. The first relationship to pay attention to is ‘your father and mother’ – children and parents in the home – but in Paul’s
exhortation to the Ephesians, he speaks about many other relationships: husband and
wife, servant and master. In each case, there seems to be one party higher and greater than the other, but Paul call upon both to pay attention to the relationship with dignity and respect. It is not about lordship, being over someone else or feeling inferior and a
subordinate, but it is all about healthy relationships. Back home, the blessedness of the healthy relationships is corroborated by a curse upon children who dishonour parents (Deut 27:16); this curse can manifest in chronic failure to increase wealth no matter how hard one works.

Do you want to be a good steward of your God-given gifts, wealth or responsibility? Pay close attention to cultivating healthy relationships beginning at home. It takes time
to listen to one another, to talk, to understand what someone feels or perceives, to clarify meanings – it takes time. Time to eat together, to play together, to sing and pray together, all these contribute to building health relationships at home. Beginning here gives us a good foundation and foretaste of cultivating a good relationship with our Father in heaven; and it is He that pours out blessings of health and wealth. We enjoy these blessings here on earth, and even to eternity with Him in a blissful relationship.

Peace be with you!