Marangu!

Two weeks ago, our umbrella church organisation, CTMI (www.ctmi.org) held its 15th regional East African ladies’ conference in the small Tanzanian town of Marangu, situated on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The heartwarming moments, and the inexpressibly beautiful scenery, were priceless.

For most of the wonderful ladies who travelled from Singida to attend the conference, it was their very first time to travel so far from home and to such a beautiful gathering as this, not to mention the paradise-like greenery of the Mt. Kilimanjaro ecosystem.

For unavoidable reasons, I was not able to post this report earlier. But now, here, in pictures, is the story of their experience.

Stepping out.

Ogling at the age-old eucalyptus trees at Marangu-Mtoni.

One of the beautiful services at the conference.

Two of our sisters from Kenya.

Image19258

The Singida ladies welcoming their “mother”, Flo (yours truly), who arrived late.

Image19261

Some of the Singida ladies braved the early morning cold to catch a glimpse the elusive mountain.

Image19274

Mt. Kilimanjaro can just be seen in the background.

Image19275

Finally, a moment of rest for Pastor Stephen, sister Frida and the elders from the Lake Region.

Image19310

Prior to starting on their journey back home (and fully refreshed in their spirits), a group photograph for the Singida ladies.

Image19314

And… here comes the bus. Bye bye little town of Marangu.

Image19316

A Great Reward

“27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.6:29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.6:30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.6:31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.6:33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.6:34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Lk. 6:27-38)

Here, in our last deposition, we will look at two words that Jesus used, and the implications behind them. The words are “thank” and “reward”. Jesus said,

“32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.”

And He said,

“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” (v. 36)

Actually, the two words “thank” and “reward” mean the same thing. There will be a great reward in heaven for those who do the things that Jesus commands us to do here.

There are many other things that God commands us to do. You might have a hard time finding them in the Bible. But they are all clearly written on our hearts. And when we do these things – not as fulfilling a list of requirements, but as a welcome lifestyle – God will “thank”, or give us our due reward when we get to heaven.

It all boils down to our willingness to OBEY God. It boils down even further to we, His children, possessing a humble heart. There we hit where God is at. Humility is the single most important thing that God is interested in in our hearts. The reason for this is because when we nurture a humble spirit in us, God is able to write His laws on the tablets of our hearts.

I believe that God values obedience more than anything else. It is the same with we earthly parents: I doubt there is any parent who does not put obedience FIRST among the qualities that they desire in their children. I know today people are unpredictable but this is something that God has put way deep in our hearts, hence even the most uncaring parent experiences an inexplicable joy when their children show respect and obedience. And it gives a parent immense pleasure to be able to reward a child who has done them proud.

It is the same with God. When we pay the price to maintain an obedient heart, we will reap the reward He has promised.

Jesus said:

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

Obedience has a price. We will suffer when we decide to obey God. But the rewards for obeying are equally unspeakable.

Who would have thought there is a great reward awaiting me in heaven just by doing the things that God asks me to do? Has such a thought ever crossed your mind? It does mine every day.

“You Which Hear”

“6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.6:29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.6:30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.6:31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.6:33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.6:34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Lk. 6:27-38)

Our second study in this series is based on verse 27:

“But I say unto you which hear”.

Oh, the beauty of these words! And, equally so, the challenge in them!

Our key lesson here is “you which hear”. Who are they “which hear”?

Simply put, it is those who are WILLING to do the will of God. It is those who are ready to obey God! By implication, in these scriptures, it’s those who will do exactly what Jesus has said to do here.

Notice Jesus was speaking specifically to “you who hear”. God talks only to those who can hear Him. That sounds cruel until you accept the fact that, even in the natural, you cannot talk to a deaf man. But, unfortunately, the ABILITY to hear God is one of the things that elude us most as children of God.

Jesus was therefore not using these words in a light manner.

Telling who has heard God is very easy. You will find such people doing the will of God! It is that simple.

And what, pray, is the will of God?

Again the answer is simple. The will of God is doing ALL what Jesus commands us to do.

Unfortunately, when people are unable to obey God (which is due to the hardness of their hearts), they chop off a bit of the gospel and graft it onto something of their own creation, something born out of the desires of their flesh. That is the way rogue gospels are born. Amongst the many rogue gospels that are out there today is the prosperity gospel. Here they tell you that God’s will is for His children to prosper financially, materially and emotionally. That might be so, but Jesus said to seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness first. He also said to not seek after the things of this world; they would be added to us (Mat. 6:33). The prosperity gospel has spawned so much trouble for God’s people in the Spirit. Recently, in our own country, twenty people lost their lives during a stampede at a mass ‘holy oil anointing’ meeting. Greed and commercialism have become the modern by words for the gospel.

But let us not be deceived. God’s will (the gospel) is fulfilled by living the words of Jesus in our personal lives. And the commands of Jesus are pure and holy.

Finally… How do you think God speaks to us? Is it with anger and brusqueness?

By no means, no. God is the most loving Father. His voice is extremely gentle and comforting. The person, therefore, who hears the voice of God: it means that, in their spirits, such a person understands the love of God. Such a person is one also who responds with the heart. The true mark of a person who has heard God is a someone who responds  to God’s voice with alacrity, willingness and joy.

“You who hear” = those who understand the love of God in their hearts = those who DO the will of God.

You can always tell someone who has not heard God. They have no peace about them, nor joy. On the practical side they are the people who have to be pushed to go to church and to do anything that has to do with the gospel, even though they are saved. When it comes to the things of the church, for these people, push moves to shove! They are so sluggish you would think they were dead! But then all of a sudden some worldly thing comes along and grabs their attention, and you could almost have a heart attack the way they come alive so suddenly! That is a believer who does not hear God.

But that ought not to be so. The sad fact is that if we are incapable of hearing God we automatically become incapable of doing His will even if on the outside we may appear to be busy for the Lord. God is served from the heart, by a heart that understands His love. On the contrary, we might be hearing men, and serving men. But when our service comes from the heart then we can be sure that we are serving God.

The Mark Of God’s Love

“6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.6:29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.6:30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.6:31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.6:33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.6:34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Lk. 6:27-38)

I thank Jesus for His words. Our first lesson in this trilogy – I have prepared three studies – focuses on verses 32 to 34.

“32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.”

Notice in these verses that God separates, or sets us apart from sinners. He does not count us with the sinners. He makes it clear that He does not consider us sinners!

Imagine that. He sets us apart!!

But… are we really not sinners? Is it true that we do not sin? Who amongst us does not sin?

I believe we sin every day. But, out of the great love that God has for us, He is willing to push our sin behind His back and look at us as if we never sinned!

This is the singular most important thing that Christ accomplished for us on the cross. If we are looking for a mark of God’s love upon our lives, nothing could beat this, God deciding He will consider us holy even though we sin every day.

I believe that as long as we have a humble and repentant heart, God will go to the extremes on our behalf even when we sin. Repentance is the only road that we have to go back to God through when we sin.

It boggles the human mind how God views His children, those whom He has called. This is the heritage of those whom God has granted to believe in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the result of our faith in Christ.

Because we have believed in His Son Jesus, God has opened the gates of His Kingdom wide for us. We have now been born into His Kingdom and we have become His children. For this reason He has given us riches and freedom in the Spirit the likes of which we can hardly dare imagine. He loves us so much He wants to spoil us! (But God’s spoiling of His children is good, for everything about Him is light.)

God is proud of us. We are His trophy in the spirit realm. He wants to show us off to the powers in the spirit world. That is why He wants to perfect us. And that is why it saddens His heart when we walk in sin.

I want us to just sit back and reflect on and rejoice in the incomprehensible and absolutely unmerited love that God has for us. If we are to believe in this truth, this ought to give us the most exhilarating pleasure in the Spirit!

Nuggets…

“27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Lk. 6:27-38)

It’s no secret that, amongst Pentecostal circles, the most read, the most talked of and without a doubt the most popular verse in this portion of scripture is verse 38. The reason for this is not hard to see: the verse talks about giving and receiving! And where there is a possibility of receiving, particularly money, is where most people’s hearts will be. That is the sad state of the church today.

But God’s heart is not in material blessings. The heart of God is on the things of the Spirit. The Bible therefore is filled with spiritual riches which the human mind cannot comprehend. In the above portion of scripture alone there are unspeakably glorious riches in the Spirit.

I am therefore posting a series of posts that will try to glean a tiny portion of the riches that are contained herein.

Here we go…

Jesus And The Wild Beasts

“12 And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.” (Mk. 1:12-13)

When you don’t have the revelation of the scriptures you find yourself carrying about all kinds of fantastic theories about the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the more fantastical ones that I had concerned the above scripture. Somehow – and you never can tell where these thoughts originate from – I always assumed that Jesus was in the wilderness the way the ‘earth’ people engage with the earth. Y’know, those people who claim to ‘live with’ and converse with ‘mother earth’. You will find them in some tropical forest talking to the trees, the little animals and the birds. What I am absolutely sure of, though, is that these people wouldn’t try that tack in the Serengeti. There are lions there.

With Jesus, though, I used to think that because He was God, when He was in the wilderness the lions and the other wild animals were lying harmlessly around Him as he patted and stroked them. I used to think that, somehow, these animals were under His control, and they could not harm Him.

That was what I thought, for a long time. But God in His mercy came and showed me differently. Probably, all along, my flesh did not want to know the truth!

We ought to pay attention to the wording of the scriptures with the help of the Holy Spirit. Here in the first place, the Bible tells us that He “was with the wild beasts”. He was not with tame beasts. There were lions and boars, snakes and scorpions, amongst others. These are DANGEROUS animals. This meant there was danger all around Jesus!

There was also the wind and the elements.

Jesus was also as human as you and I when the Spirit led Him into the wilderness. In the wilderness, therefore, He could easily have been attacked by the wild animals just as you and I could very easily be attacked by them. It is for this reason that the Bible tells us:

“and the angels ministered unto him.”

The angels ministered to Him on account of the wild beasts. Probably, when the wild beasts approached, the angels stood between them and Jesus. Or maybe they muzzled them when they came to attack Jesus, like they did to the lions in Daniel’s time. Sometimes, maybe, the angels alerted Jesus to some dangerous beast marauding about and He was forced to skirt around it, or even to move away from that area. Who knows? But the angels ministered to Jesus in the wilderness.

It’s a long story. But I just wanted to underline the fact that Jesus’s stay in the wilderness was no tropical outing. It was a rendezvous that was fraught with danger and hardship of every kind. This knowledge leads us to the bottom line of this saga, which is that Jesus suffered.

 

 

The Cross: An Offence

“And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.” (Gal.:5:11)

We cannot overstate the singularity, or importance of the gospel that the apostles preached: Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Paul the Apostle states unequivocally the gospel that the early apostles preached:

“But we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Cor. 1:23).

He does not say, “We preach Christ”, no. He says, “We preach Christ crucified”.

I am so happy that in Galatians, Paul specifically talks about the cross and that it is an “offence”. That is as clear as it could possibly be. Under the New Covenant, God no longer talks in riddles: He wants things to be as clear as day.

Paul talks about how he was under constant persecution on account of his preaching the cross of Jesus Christ. Why would it offend people when Paul preached about the cross of Jesus Christ?

Today, somehow, the cross is not presented as an offence. In other words, it is not presented as an enemy to the flesh. There are many gospels now presenting the cross as flesh friendly. They tell believers about all the blessings that they are supposed to have in the natural because Jesus suffered on the cross for them to have them. They tell you how you are not to allow yourself to endure the slightest discomfort in this world because Jesus took away all your pain.

But the early church did not view the cross in this light. On the contrary, they viewed the cross as an “offence”, or enmity, to the flesh.

The cross is not grasped by the intellect; on the contrary, it is spiritual. It represents the true war that goes on between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, between the Spirit and the flesh.

You would wonder why, wherever he went, the Apostle Paul was bitterly opposed! He was hounded out of every city! It was not because Paul was a thief or a trouble maker. But in the spiritual realm, by preaching the cross, Paul was creating quite a scene! He was setting men free by preaching the offence of the cross to the flesh. And the flesh and Satan did not like that one little bit, and therefore the Jews ganged up against Paul and ran him out of town.

Today, the church wants to know the cross in a way that is not genuine, as a friend. But this will never work for the church. On the contrary, we ought to desire nothing less than the true knowledge of Christ Jesus, and Him crucified.

A Merciful God

“… thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” (Jon. 4:2)

Let us pause for a moment and think about the Apostle Paul. Let us consider the gospel that he preached,

“Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23).

Do we really appreciate the profundity of what a man such as Paul would preach? And it is not for anything that we are to think this of Paul but for the sufferings that he went through for on account of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so we see that Paul preached Christ crucified. The entire message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is founded on the revelation of Christ crucified. This revelation is what puts us on the road to gladly accepting God’s will in our lives.

The man who spoke the above words was the Prophet Jonah, a man who suffered intensely on for the gospel. What I want us all to see was that Jonah, being a prophet, acknowledged the goodness of God even in our sufferings. We could say, in other words, that Jonah had a revelation of the crucified Christ.

Many times we acknowledge God only when we are being ‘blessed’. (I have deliberately hyphenated the word ‘blessed’ because we are now going to have to review this word and discover whether it really means what we have been taught all these years.)

When we do not have the revelation of Christ crucified within us we want to acknowledge and thank and praise God only when we are being ‘blessed’ and things are working out for us.

But the prophets of old, and the apostles of the new covenant all knew that even in suffering, God was in charge and He was in control of the situation. We are going to suffer; but He is still a good God and He it is who is in control. That is true faith – rejoicing in suffering for the gospel’s sake.

This revelation – Christ crucified – was what the early apostles preached. The Apostle Paul wrote,

“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:22-23).

We are to see Christ crucified in every situation, whether good or bad.

Sorry…

“… thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” (Jon. 4:2)

“The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” (Ps. 145:8)

I have children. I know what it means to have compassion. If I know nothing else I certainly know compassion. Having children of my own has taught me what compassion is. If one of my children is in need I know how to be compassionate about it. Their needs touch the deepest part of my soul.

One of the reasons I decided to write this post is on account of the many parents, especially mothers, and particularly in the US, who lose their children daily to gun violence. I read these horrendous stories every day, and I am left wondering how these parents cope in their hearts with these tragedies that are guaranteed to break any heart into a million pieces.

In today’s society, it is the mothers especially who suffer so much. It is easier for a man to walk off his family, which many do. But the mother cannot leave her children. She tries to raise them in the best way she knows. Granted, some of the ways are certainly no way to raise a child, like encouraging them to join rap groups or allowing them to party at night. But still, the death of a child breaks a parent’s heart in a way nothing else can. The parent has deep compassion towards their children.

I therefore take this opportunity to say “Sorry” to all the suffering mothers. I am sorry for the immense heartbreak that you have been through.

I cannot pretend that people have not written hurtful things about your children’s deaths. But I will not dare go in that direction. For I know compassion and I know the hurt that a parent has towards their children. And this post is all about compassion, for our God is a compassionate God.

May God comfort and heal you. May love and peace be your portion. I love and feel for you all.

What Truly Matters

“3 And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. 4 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar. 5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. 6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? 10 And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. 13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. 14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. 15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.” (1 Ki. 3:1-15)

It is universally known that King Solomon was the richest man in the world. What most people, especially believers don’t know is that Solomon did not PRAY to be rich. And God actually gave him the opportunity to do so, but he did NOT pray for riches. But still God blessed him and he became the richest man the world will ever know.

But all this hinged on the kind of heart that Solomon had. The Bible states that Solomon loved the Lord. We will see later what it means to love the Lord.

 I am thinking of what someone who has been brought up under today’s modern absurd teachings would ask for if God invited them to ask for anything they wished for. There are people today – church people – who spend all their energy praying, not for the things of the Spirit, but for the things of the flesh. There is a local Christian radio station in our town that spends the whole day praying for people’s businesses and finances. That is all they know about faith. Unfortunately, this is the result of a lack of the revelation of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

I heard the story recently of a certain man who was a leper. This man was saved, but he had never walked in his life. One day he woke up and said to his wife, “Wife, I will not eat until I can walk. It is unacceptable for me to be saved and not walk like other men. So I will fast until I walk.”

The wife, fearing what her husband’s resolve might lead to, begged him not to take such a drastic decision, but the man’s mind was set. He would fast for as long as it took to have him walking.

To cut a long story short, this man died. He died from his “fast”. It is incredible the energy that one can have once they decide they want something. Despite desperate efforts by his wife, this man refused to eat until he died.

What this man did might appear gallant, but in the Spirit it counts for nothing. If he went to heaven, it certainly wasn’t on account of this deed. But what he did was a product of the gospel that he had been hearing.

The Lord told Solomon,

“Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment”.

Because Solomon had NOT asked for the things of this world, which cater to the flesh, God was now going to bless Solomon with the true blessings, which are the blessings of the Spirit. He was going to give him wisdom. But God would also give him the things he had not prayed for – riches and honor.

The Bible says that Solomon loved the Lord. The opposite of loving the Lord is loving self, or loving the world, for the two are bedmates. It is no secret that most people who are born again do not love the Lord, in spite of proclamations to the contrary. This is borne out by the desires of their hearts. Many believers’ hearts are not on God’s spiritual Kingdom. And our Lord Jesus Christ said where your treasure is there will your heart be also. In fact, let us read the entire scripture.

“19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mat. 6:19-21)

Jesus specifically told us to lay our treasures in heaven! Our hearts should desire for the establishment of the Kingdom of God in our lives, in the church and in our communities. God thereafter promises to meet all our earthly needs.

I suspect the reason we have so little faith in God is because we do not realize the magnitude of His love for us. How much we miss out on these things! How poor we are in the Spirit when we should be so rich! Those people who knew how much God loves us went even to the death rejoicing because they knew the riches that God had preserved for them in heaven.

Black vs White: The Truth

“18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. 20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard. 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.9:27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. (Gen. 9:18-27)

Probably the most understated fact in the world is that the truth is hard to take. It could very well be a fact that the hardest undertaking for man is to accept, or acknowledge the truth. This is borne out by the example of man’s relationship with God. God is Truth; but most people cannot accept God. That means, basically, that most people cannot accept the truth about themselves, because the truth of God’s Word tells them how they are and how they need to change; and people don’t like that. In the Gospel of John, chapter 3 and verse 19 we read:

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Notice,

“men loved darkness rather than light”.

Truth goes against human nature; and man will always fight against the truth. But when someone REFUSES to do the right thing or refuses the truth it means they are hardhearted. God condemns man for his hardheartedness. But praise God because Jesus came to remove our hard hearts and to give us another spirit: a soft and malleable spirit where God’s will can reside. That means I can accept the truth about myself – my sinful nature – and accept to change. But according to scripture, few are willing to take up the offer.

Let’s conclude with some truths contained in the above portion of scripture.

It is unfortunate but there was something immoral in the nature of one of Noah’s sons, Ham, for when he saw his father’s nakedness he went and made fun of it to his brothers Shem and Japheth.

But the other two boys did not think it was funny. On the contrary, they considered their brother’s action as evil. Their father’s nakedness ought to have been covered, not made fun of.

(We love comedies, but God is not in the fun business.)

So Shem and Japheth went and covered their father; and they dared not look at him.

That there is a big lesson for the church – and for the world too. God created order and authority, and we are to respect that. We are to respect God, we are to respect our parents, we are to respect church leaders, and we are to respect the government. You can bet that a person who manages to respect all those institutions is a well rounded person in character.

When I was a young boy, living in my African village, there was a man in the village, a father to one of my friends. This man would often say, “The white man is a child of God.” He loved to say that, and he said it with a lot of respect. The fact that our country had just come from colonial rule did not seem to have any negative impact on his belief. Many years later, I understood why my friend’s father used to say that about the white man. It was not so much about the cars that he drove or the planes that he flew. Rather, it was something in the CHARACTER of the white man that this man noticed, and he was willing to acknowledge it.

In an unrelated incident, I have a friend who went to the US many years ago. In the course of the racial violence that engulfed the US recently, this friend told me that one day as he was standing at a store waiting to be served, a young Negro man ran up and stood in line behind him. The attendant was nowhere to be seen, and after a while the young Negro got agitated and, looking over my friend’s shoulder, he began shouting, “They won’t serve us now, huh?”

“Who?” my friend asked.

“Why, these White people!”

Right at that moment a man emerged from an inner room and came to serve them. But the man who came out to serve them was not a white man; he was Black.

My friend told me something else. He said, “Here in the US I have been served both by the white man and by the black man, and by far the white man will serve you far much better than the black man.”

Ham had a character flaw which his brethren did not have. If only Ham had acknowledged that he had sinned I am sure his father would have forgiven him and the outcome would have been much different.

The black man needs to acknowledge his failings and look to change them instead of playing the victim, which is the surest way for one to fail in this world. Depending on such victim-mentality organizations like the Black Lives Matter for liberation is a one way ticket to doom. The Black man should not desire to be liberated from the white man; the truth is, he needs to be liberated from his own self: he needs liberation from a failure in character.

This is why the black man needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to set man free, free from his own failings so that he can fulfill his destiny in this world, not through a victim mentality but through freedom of spirit, where he is able to take his position in life and become responsible in the family and in society. Where he is able to love and not hate his enemies, and to overcome evil with good. That is the unique opportunity that the black man has been offered.

This post is not a defense of the white man. Far from it. Actually, the white man is not any different from the black man. But the bottom line is that the white man has his unique position and responsibilities in life and he, too, can only fulfill them in Christ Jesus. Without Christ we will see him only exhibiting more of the failings that we already see in him.

The truth shall set us all free.