A Red Letter Day

Today was a truly rrrrrred letter day as the church in Singida witnessed the completion of our first church building on our own church plot. This was in the village of Matongo, in Ikungi District. All the ZGACT pastors from Singida were there to thank God for this wonderful doing.

One final check…

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… And bye bye little church

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Count Your Blessings

Hi everyone. Shouldn’t we be grateful to God always for the littlest good that He does for us? But He does far more good than that for us.

And, pray, shouldn’t we be thankful even when the cross seems difficult to bear?

When we have the right (i.e. spiritual) eyes, we can see the good that God is always working on our behalf in every situation; and we can thank Him.

Count your blessings one by one, and you will have reason to praise and thank God.

Do Not Murmur

Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 1 Cor. 10:10

Recently, someone failed to deliver on a promise he had made to me. The worst part of it was that he began giving excuses and, listening to him speak, it appeared to me as if he did not care that it was going to affect me adversely.

As I sat there listening to him, I could feel my heart beginning to turn black. But, just as quickly, something spoke to my heart. It went, “What is important to you? Is it for the man to deliver, or is it for you to maintain a clean heart?”

The answer was as clear as day. Nothing could come close in importance to me keeping a pure heart.

At that very moment, I felt the biggest burden ever lifting from off my shoulders. I thought, I can forgive and let go; and I did so immediately. In fact, I spoke so peaceably to the man I could see the surprise written all over his face.

At about the same time, someone showed me a clip of some Arabs, purportedly Libyans, beating to death a young black man, supposedly an immigrant. They had stripped him down to his pants, bound his hands and feet with tape, and sealed up his mouth completely with the same. They had locked him in a room and were beating him with what appeared to be a baseball bat. They beat him until every bone in his body was broken. Someone grabbed him by the back of his head and stabbed him repeatedly in the back with a large knife, and soon the boy was swimming in his own blood as he struggled for his life. Finally, as they went on bashing, he gave up the struggle. I had to steel myself to watch the video to the horrible end.

Again, I felt the old anger and hatred rising up in me. But, again, just as quickly, something spoke to my heart: “Watch out!” It was telling me to watch out for the purity of my heart. In my heart I immediately cried out to God; and just as quickly I felt the anger and hatred seeping away.

I am not blowing my trumpet and, indeed, the victories in my life are not always so forthcoming. But I rejoiced greatly when I saw clearly my responsibity in these two cases, and the grace of God that was so easily accessible to me.

Most of us don’t realize how important it is to watch over our hearts. But the Bible in Proverbs 4:23 tells us that watching over the purity of our hearts is the most important exercise that we can engage in here on earth.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Notice, “with all diligence”. The Swahili Bible reads, “Guard your heart above all the things that you guard…”

Murmuring means grumbling, complaining; and it prevents us from keeping a pure heart. Ultimately, it destroys us. In fact, murmuring can be considered the silent killer of the spirit. It is so subtle and muted we often are not aware of its existence in our lives.

Much of the time, of course, we murmur because we feel we have been robbed of our rights. But that is what the gospel is all about. In fact, the gospel is more about us gladly giving up our rights rather than just waiting to have them grabbed from us. It is about rejoicing in persecution (Mat. 5:11-12). As children of God, we must pay the price to maintain a pure heart at every occasion and at all costs. And this state of affairs can only be achieved by the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ in our lives.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:14:

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

And, in Galatians 2:20 he writes:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Paul’s faith was revealed in his dying to self.

Let us not murmur. However great the injustice, let us not murmur. Let us learn to rejoice and give thanks to God in every situation. Notice the Bible says that, when they murmured, the Israelites were given over to the Destroyer. Murmuring will destroy us; it will destroy our souls. Instead, let us learn to take every injustice with patience, for injustice is God’s way of testing our faith. We are to be men and women whose lives are ever full of love, forgiveness, joy and peace.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. 14:17)

[And now, for your listening pleasure…]

 

“Thank You, Lord”

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Heb. 12:1-13

The Americans gave the world the mega-church; but they weren’t half-prepared for the surprise that Africa would give them: the field church. These are super mega-crowds of believers so huge that no structure in the world can hold them. They therefore congregate in open fields, in football grounds, etc. In the southern part of Africa, where they have a propensity for such things, there are countless such churches.

The lives of most of the leaders of these churches, though, are less than exemplary. The word “exemplary” means being so praiseworthy or excellent in something as to be an example of. When I say less than exemplary, I mean these men are not examples of the Christian life.

One such preacher of a field church that claims to raise the dead – a man so rich he owns aircraft and a fleet of expensive cars – has a knack for generating fights of every sort, except the good fight of our Christian faith. He has been involved in altercations with the leader of the Roman Catholic church in his country and currently he is involved in a bitter confrontation with one of that country’s political leaders. We get to know of these things because they cover every news channel.

The reason this man is involved in these childish skirmishes is because he cannot afford to be opposed or disagreed with. He is lord of whatever turf he believes he owns and everyone has to bow down to him. He cannot endure to be slighted.

That is in stark contrast to the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says that when men opposed Him, Jesus “endured” their opposition.

“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself…”

In 1 Peter 2:22-23, it further says of our Lord:

“22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously”.

This was because Jesus had the grace of God in Him. And we are called to carry that same grace in us, in order that we may live an exemplary life… a life of faith, forbearance, forgiveness, love. And we are to thank God exceedingly for sending His Son to come down to earth to show us that these things can be lived. If God had not sent Jesus down in human form, we would have no example to follow. We could rightfully say to God, “God, You are in heaven, and we are down here on earth. What do you know of what we are going through? Just continue living your life in heaven and leave us to our earthly lives.”

I tell you, that would leave God speechless and, on judgment day, He would have to waive His judgment on all humanity.

But, in Jesus, we are presented with this amazing example of a Man who, in human form, could live out the grace of God in its fullness and perfection. We are only called upon to run after Him, taking hold of God’s grace that is readily available to us. The Bible says that, in the dispensation of the new covenant under which we are living right now, this grace has been given without measure (Jn. 3:34).

The greatest measure of the grace of God in our life is when men oppose us. That is the moment we can reveal the grace of God in us.

For this confrontational preacher, therefore, instead of continuing to raise the dead, he should instead go back into his closet, lock the door behind him and cry to God; cry to God for the grace to bear with the opposition of men against him. He should cry to God to help him to learn to love them and to bear with them. For it is in the opposition of men that the chastisement of the Lord – and the love of God towards us – is hidden. And this is the gift that we can truly thank God for.

The Awesomeness of God’s Grace – Part 1

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Cor. 15:10

Why would the Apostle Paul speak the words he spoke here? Why would he speak of the grace of God in this manner? It was because he came to understand how unworthy he was. One day, this man realized how useless and how undeserving he truly was before God. Only God could make him otherwise. And thus Paul extolled the praises of God’s grace.

Jeremiah 17:9 makes the point: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Notice scripture does not say, “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, but at times it can also be amazingly good, truthful and sinless”. No. (God is not like us. We love flattering people. But God is God and He does not engage in such posturings.)

In fact, the Bible goes even further and tells us that the human heart is not only wicked, but “desperately” so. There is not a scrap of goodness or righteousness in the human soul; only evil resides there.

(We also love to think that we are good people; and when we look at all the “good” we have done, we are tempted to think that our assessment of ourselves is actually true! But the Bible does not even come close to entertaining such a thought, and we, too, should not. I am sure there are a few things that you and I know about our hearts, and it is no exaggeration to say that only through a miracle of God can we find any good in us.)

Inside the human heart there is a spiritual world which is bigger than our known physical universe. And the Bible here declares that this measureless world is full of only evil. That means there are many more things that we do not know about our hearts. There are depths in our hearts that we simply cannot fathom; but, alas! they are depths only of wickedness. That is why the Bible says that no man can know the extent of the wickedness in him.  Only God can know that. He alone can plumb the depths of our hearts.

There is neither white or black, yellow or brown. There is neither rich nor poor. There is neither cultured nor uncultured. Fact is, we are all the same. We are evil through and through.

But through His grace, kindness and mercy, God takes our evil heart, washes it sparkling clean. It is like someone picking up a piece of dung-covered something and, while you would expect that he would bury it away, he instead cleans it and out of it comes the most beautiful gem you ever saw! That gem happens to be us, when God washes us of our sins. Remember God created us in His own image and likeness.

We therefore have absolutely nothing to boast about when it comes to us and God. Indeed, it is a miracle that we can be found in Him. That is why we should be extremely thankful to God for His grace. It is by grace alone that we were reconciled to God, and it is by that same grace that we stand today. The Apostle Paul understood this aspect of grace probably more than anybody else. He said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am…”

That statement reflects the highest point of faith.

But not many believers can live out that statement. Many of us say: “I am what I am by the grace of God and a little effort on my part”. We do so subconsciously, of course. Our faith is that small.

But Paul did not say that. Instead he said, “All that I am, I am by God’s grace alone.”

But that is not all. After He has washed us clean and reconciled us to Himself, God comes to live in us.

The Bible declares, “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). God is in us! This is a tremendous scripture. It is also a scripture which we love to think that we know perfectly well; but, again, few of us are really capable of grasping it in its fullness for it can only be fully comprehended through the kind of faith that Paul had.

In the second part of this post we shall see an even more surprising aspect of God’s grace.

[Below: “I Stand In Awe Of You”]

Nature Glorifies God!

All of nature, except man, naturally declares the glory of God. Man is naturally so selfish that He wakes up every morning grumbling instead of giving thanks.

The birds wake us every morning with their joyous chirping. They are happy to see another day. The house rooster crows and flaps its wings in utter abandon upon observing a new day. The trees sway in unison to declare the glory of God. The honeybee begins its rounds to collect the materials needed to make sweet honey.

Every part of God’s creation wakes up bright and cheery – except man. He can only wake up cheery if there is anything that will profit him in the flesh, like a new job, or if he is getting married that day.

But in the Spirit, I believe we as believers ought to be bright and cheery all the time. That is one of the ways to declare the glory of God. If we could only see in the Spirit, we certainly would wake up shouting like madmen with joy every morning.

That is why Paul and Silas could pray and sing songs of praise after they had been badly beaten and were put in the stocks (Acts 16:25). Do you know what stocks are? It was a most agonizing form of  punishment way back in those days. It was difficult to breathe when in the stocks; but Paul and Silas were so happy they sang praises to God! They did not sing the blues, no; they sang praises!!

God has done so many things for us in the Spirit. Many of these things cannot be seen with the eyes of flesh. They are only discernible in the Spirit. And yet they are the most profound things that He has done for us. And when we see them, nothing can stop us from praising God.

The Lord also blesses us in the flesh. He gives us many things freely.

When we are seeing in the Spirit, there is nothing that can be above us. There is nothing that can prevent us from rejoicing in our spirits even when the flesh is undergoing persecution.

May we pray for a spirit of revelation and understanding. When we walk in the fullness of this spirit, it is one way that we can bless the Lord.

[Below: Children, too, naturally declare the glory of God]

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A “Cross” New Year!

The title there is not intended to make anyone cross. It is my way of saying “Happy New Year!”

To all my beloved brethren in the Lord, I wish you a happy and blessed New Year, 2015. I wish it to be a year where we all, you and I, will come to understand and live the revelation of the cross in our hearts as the Lord Jesus gave it to the Apostle Paul and the Early Church.

On a personal level, I thank everyone who took so much as a peek at this blog. Every “Like” and every comment was of great encouragement to me. May the Lord repay you for your love and kindness!! There were those who took it upon themselves to be especially close to me. I am especially thankful!

To those dear bloggers whom I was not able to show my support in word or deed, I sincerely ask for forgiveness. I certainly ought to have done more, and I pray that in the New Year I will be more of a giver than a receiver of love and support.

May the love of Christ encompass you all. I love you!

Your brother,

Zakaria Mwita.

[Below: My laptop, too, has been of inexpressible help in the running of this blog!]

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