The Just And Faith

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. Heb. 10:38

Oh, to be “the just”, what a grace!

Without a doubt, this scripture speaks far more that just about trusting God for our earthly needs; but the latter is exactly what I want to speak about. During the year that has just passed, I can comfortably say that the greatest challenge that I had to deal with among believers on my turf had to do with money – or, rather, the lack of it. For reasons that are beyond my understanding, it just so happens that there is very little money around, and this natural situation has affected believers adversely. On average, out of every five challenges that I have come across amongst believers, four had to do a lack of money and the natural consequence of that, which is a lack of basic necessities.

The Bible, however, makes it clear that no situation comes to a believer without the express knowledge and permission of God, our heavenly Father. One of the most unmistakable instances in this regard is the Book of Job.

But one of the hardest lessons that the believer has to learn is that all these contrary situations come into our lives to test our faith. The reason for this is because God has said,

“The just shall live by faith”.

This scripture also talks of pleasing God. We cannot please God if we are not walking by faith.

And pray, what is faith?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)

The believer is to live an entirely different life than the natural man. He is not led by what is seen, nor what is available. He is led by things unseen, and by hope.

Such terrible times as most people are undergoing financially should be times of rejoicing. Why? Because we can exercise our faith more. When the ‘hope’ of this world ceases to be, it is the time for the Christian to pull out his ace card: his faith. It is a time to trust in God more. It is a time to see heaven that much closer. Actually, as I will be detailing in my following post, tribulation brings us far much closer to God.

So, as I received phone call after phone call from panicked believers who were in dire financial straits, I casually told them, “Relax, you are not about to die yet.” On the contrary, I had a solid message for them:

“The just shall live by faith.”

Where is our God? Remember, God is in heaven; He is above all.

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Taking A Break

There is nothing wrong with taking an end-of-year breather when God allows. This year Flo, myself, and Bryceson have been vacationing in Musoma, my home town, with dad and the church.

With much thanksgiving to God and the precious brethren who made it all possible. Here below, in pictures.

God Can Use Anything

One time I went to visit a relative in the city and as I was sitting alone in the living room, his young son came in and found me reading a book. He told me, “That is my dad’s book.”

“Oh, great!”, I said jovially.

He didn’t seem to think it was so jovial. He looked blankly at me and said, “Put it down, you thief!”

I am no thief and in my tribe, the least form of punishment that I would have given that boy for insulting me was instant death.

But God gave me grace and I realized exactly what was happening. I realized God was checking to see what was in my heart.

God can use anything – even a small child – to show us what is in our hearts. Whenever something negative comes into our lives, we should beware that God has allowed it in order to uproot something that He does not like in our lives.

In my case, the Lord allowed me to see the mountain of pride that was in my heart. In fact, I was so humbled by what the Lord revealed to me that I became as small as a pin in that house and especially towards that boy. And by the time I left, he and I had become best of friends.

[God can use even a small child to check your pride level. And no, this is not the boy in the story]

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Final Ministry Update 2018

The final three weeks of December were incredibly eventful for the churches in Singida. During the second and third weeks of December the churches were refreshed by the presence of our elders’ wives, Mrs. Amas, Mrs. L. Maalim, Mrs. Samuel, and Mrs. Fie. They traveled to every church and, by the grace of God, they did a marvelous job. The church was deeply touched and encouraged by their presence.

During the last week of December, Pastor Edward and I traveled to the capital city, Dodoma, to visit our three churches there. The grace of God went with us and the churches were greatly encouraged through the Word of God.

Below, in pictures.

[Mrs. Maalim and Mrs. Samuel visiting with the new church at Lighwa]

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[With the church at Matongo]

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[Apart from preaching and encouraging the brethren, the pastors’¬† wives also planted trees in one of three church plots that the church in Singida bought in 2018]

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[In Dodoma: Pastor Edward with our host, Pastor Madaha]

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[Pastor Moses from neighboring town of Hombolo came to join us in Dodoma]

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[We had great times of fellowship]

 

[Traveling back to Singida on New Year’s eve, Pastor Edward and I had all the bus to ourselves; and, late in the evening, to the west I espied a beautiful sunset]

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Welcome, 2019

… for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Mat. 5:45

On this particular day, 1st January 2019, I feel a great sense of thanksgiving to God. The reason for this is because I feel He has been overly gracious to me. I can plainly say that during the last year, I cannot put myself anywhere near those who have been “good” and “just”. I have not only not done many things that I ought to have done; but I have also done things that I ought not to have done. And yet, come the year 2019, and I can clearly hear God whispering in my ear, “I love you.”

In Psalms 51:10-13, David wrote:

“10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”

After David had confessed his sin, he was given the chance to start doing anew what he loved doing best: teaching transgressors the ways of the Lord, and converting people to the Lord.

I feel forgiven, re-born, and ready to start anew. It is a difficult mountain to climb, this way of the cross. But through His Holy Spirit the Lord gives us a love for such a challenge. I cannot comprehend the joy that awaits me as I return again to the place of restoration, and to serving the Lord wholeheartedly.

It is therefore with a deep sense of thanksgiving  that I welcome the year 2019.

[I kick off this year with my favorite song]

Hospitality – A Virtue

16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. 17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. 18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all her camels… 25 She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in. Gen 24:16-25

The town that I live in, Singida, is located at the crossroads to virtually every region in Tanzania. Every main road that cuts across the country passes through Singida. This is the reason Singida has the largest bus terminal in Tanzania.

It turns out, naturally, that our home receives heavy traffic in terms of visitors and passersby. We receive literally tons of visitors every year. On average, hardly a day passes by without my house being home to a traveler of one sort or another. Most are brothers and sisters in Christ, of course, who happen to be on their way to a distant town or village in this land of far-flung regions and who of necessity must lodge in Singida. At times they come in car-loads; and we even on occasion have had to put them in near-by guesthouses after our house filled up to overflowing.

In general, the vast majority of the church considers our presence here to be an unprecedented boon. In earlier days these same travelers had to lodge in guesthouses or, if they did not have the money, they would spend the night out in the cold at the bus terminal. Now everyone knows we are here.

But this is exactly the kind of situation that I am absolutely ill-suited for. What I mean is, I would love to be more welcoming to visitors than I find I am. I am the sort of guy who “counts the cost” – all for the wrong reasons. I calculate the amount of food visitors eat; I count how much water they use; and I always keep an eye on the electricity meter. One time a man came to my house and he had five suits which he washed but he needed to dry with our iron box because they would not dry fast enough. That cut deep into my meagre budget and I vowed I would never allow him back into my house. Later, I repented, of course.

I could write a book about my attitude towards the visitors who come into my house; but I guess it would just about depress everyone.

I may not have been suited to come to such a hotspot as Singida; but it is definitely not so with my wife. With her, it is a completely different scenario. The business of welcoming visitors is her perfect setting. She loves welcoming people into our house, and she welcomes everyone. Moreover, she will go out of her way to do all she can to make them comfortable. According to my calculations, she nearly always goes way, way overboard. If there are visitors at home, she cooks so much food which she later compels them to carry on their journey. Moreover, if someone wants to stay on and enjoy our (her) hospitality, she is more than willing. They can stay for whatever length of time they want.

One thing I can say with a clear conscience is that I have never heard my wife grumbling or complaining about the amount of visitors that come into our house. In all the years I have lived with her she has always welcomed visitors to our house with a smile and a very open and generous heart.

Actually, I could write a book about Flo, and maybe one day I will.

I thought I was the only one who observed these things until, one day, my daughter Keren said to me, “Dad, mom teaches us so much.”

But… this is exactly the kind of heart that God wants us to have – a kind, loving and hospitable heart. The Bible says we are to be

“… given to hospitality” (Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2)

And in 1 Peter 4:9 the Bible says,

“Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”

The great spiritual men and women of old were not people who knew the Bible from cover to cover; on the contrary, they were people who lived to the full the little they knew about God. Their hearts trembled.

Hence, Rebekah, a simple village girl, but one who had the heart of God, became one of the greatest women in the history of the Bible.

May our homes be a place where people can feel the love of God through our hospitality. This ought to be always. But during such times as the Christmas season especially, let us pull all stops, rev up the gears, and go out there and show the heart of Christ to people in need. And it really ought not to matter whether you celebrate Christmas or not. For Christ’s sake.

[My wife, Flo: the greatest of them all]

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I am Back

I would have loved to plunge right into the story that is on my heart this evening; but I felt that would be heartless given the amount of time that I have spent away from this blog. So, to all my readers and friends, I have to say first: Sorry for the long absence, but…

I am back.