Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tahir's Journey - a Testimony

My name is Tahir and this is my journey from Islam to Christianity.
Soon after arriving in the United States from Palestine 14 years ago, I married a nice Christian girl. She tried to become a Muslim to please me, but the more she did, the more I turned away from her. We had a child together, but the marriage didn’t last because it is hard to love when your heart is filled with hate. Hate is what I was taught growing up in Palestine; hate towards the Jews, the Christians and hate against the world. As a Palestinian, you are taught from day one that the whole world is responsible for our misfortune especially Jews and Christians.

After we divorced, my ex-wife told me that she had my daughter baptized. I was so angry that I stormed into the church, cursed at the priest who performed the baptism, and told him that he was going to hell because of it. I didn’t want my child growing up Christian. My unsupervised visitation rights were taken away because my ex-wife feared that I would kidnap my daughter and take her to Palestine. The courts agreed and now I don’t get to see her much anymore.

My next church experience was in college when a Muslim Arab girlfriend and I toyed with the idea of converting to Christianity just because it was a more lenient religion. We knew what we were doing was wrong and the punishment for apostasy in Islam is stoning, but we needed an ideology that would justify our sinful life. Because of an invitation from an Arab Christian girl from the collage that we both were attending at that time, we visited her church one Sunday. The Church service was full of joy, something I had never seen in Islam. After the service, a Bible and a book about the divinity of Christ were given to us. A few months later and then again on Christmas Eve we looked for a church that some Arab Christian friends from collage told us about, but to our surprise it was closed.

My friend, Khalil, and I used to get together and talk about life and the state of the world. At times we wondered about Islam and why things are such a mess in Muslim countries. We wondered if this religion that we barely followed by tradition was for real. But our wondering didn’t lead to immediate action.

I got married again. This time it was an arranged marriage with a girl from Palestine. This took place after my family stood in my way of marrying my collage girlfriend due to the fact that she wasn’t pure enough for them. I brought my new wife to the U.S. but found it hard to love her since I barely knew her. So, I was glad that my job took me from city to city. That way I could indulge in things unmentionable (including having girlfriends in every town) and not have to think about my situation.

Then September 11, 2001, happened. As the towers collapsed, the last bit of respect I felt for Islam collapsed as well. This catapulted me into an all-out search for Truth.
I was laid off from a very good job as the result of the economic fallout of 9-11. As I was online every day searching for jobs, "for some reason" I frequently landed in Christian chatrooms. One day I even found the Bible in Arabic online.

One late wintry night I found myself reading the gospel of John. I never trusted the Bible, and I was taught my whole life that the Bible is corrupt and has been changed. As I started to read I was astonished. As I began reading about Jesus and his beautiful, pure, sinless, holy, amazing, miraculous life I couldn’t stop. I remember reading the whole Gospel from start to finish. It was early in the morning when I finished reading. I was crying so much that I was worried I might wake up my wife and I didn’t want her to see me crying so that she won’t ask me why.

A few days later, I logged on to my computer and "for some reason" looked for Arabic churches in the area. I then called one and the voice on the other end of the line told me that his dad was the pastor, but he had passed away. He gave me another number to call—a man named Farooq. This man is my current pastor and the person the Lord chose to lead me to himself. We discussed deep issues like Muhammad’s personality, lifestyle, his many marriages and his many wars. Farooq gave me a book he wrote that compares Islam with Christianity, complete with references from the Koran and the Bible.

As I began reading Farooq’s book, I was both shocked and fascinated. I looked up the Biblical and Koranic references—all of which were actually there—and couldn’t believe my eyes! I realized I had been deceived all my life! The main issue that grabbed my attention was the completely different way the two religions treat women.

I can’t pinpoint the exact day on which Farooq led me in a prayer accepting the Lord in my life as my personal Lord and Savior, but it was sometime in early 2002. I do remember the exact day I was baptized. It was the most incredible and scary day of my life! And I have changed so much since I accepted Christ.

I am free! I have found that there is no comparison between Christianity and Islam. Where I once had many rules to follow from the Koran and the Hadith, I now have a relationship with God. It’s so different. Islam is based on force, but Christianity brings so much peace and love. I am a completely different man now. I am committed to my wife and am learning to love her. Now, instead of partying, I read the Bible. I attend church and Bible study when I can. And I don’t hate Jews anymore.

I have been sharing my testimony and faith with pretty much anyone who comes in my way. I shared it with my family, co-workers and even people on the street. It didn’t go so well with my family especially with my wife who still refuses to accept the fact that I have converted. She thinks that I’m toying with this and soon enough I would wake up and come back to my senses. My family, on the other hand, tried talking me out of it through debating about Christianity and Islam, then through abandonment and ignorance, but finally they have come to accept me for who I have become, due to the good and loving relationship that we have. Were we still living back in Palestine I’m sure things would be different and they would disown me or even try to threaten me.

By the way, my friend, Khalil, has also rejected Islam completely and refuses to obey by its rules and commandments. He is living his life as a secular person away from religion altogether. I’m in continuous prayer for him to come to the Lord and get free from the evil one.

I gave my wife a copy of Farooq’s book, but she was offended when she read it. Please pray for her to know the Truth. I want to go to church as a family, but this is only a dream unless she accepts Jesus. Currently I attend Sunday morning church when conditions permit. My wife knowing where I go is constantly making up last minute plans to prevent me from going.
I get most of my spiritual "feeding" through reading the Bible alone and listening to pastors on the radio while I’m in my car or online.

I wanted you to know what the Lord has done in my life. If you’ve been in America for any length of time, you understand that Christians aren’t the ‘big Satan’, as you were taught."
I am proof that a life can change when Christ sheds light in the darkness. I hope you will be challenged to see and learn more of the Truth, wherever it is found — radio, TV, books, or online. May Jesus lead you in your search.

Tahir from Palestine

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Arabs in the Bible

By Benedicte Bahjejian
(From 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World 2009, day 6, pp.15-16)

God really loves Arabs

Muslims are found in literally hundreds of different ethnic groups around the world. Possibly three quarters of the world’s Muslims are not from an Arabic background; however, Mohammed’s Arab lifestyle and cultural background have profoundly influenced Islam. Knowing that Islam has such deep roots in Arabia it would be good for all Christians to understand that God really loves Arabs. The Bible is a major source of Arab genealogies. We know that there are at least three types of Middle-Eastern Arabs: the Joktanites, the Ishmaelites and the Keturahites.

The Descendants of Joktan

Many Arabs see themselves as descendants of Joktan (Gen 10:25). The Arabs call him “Kahtan.” One of the very famous tribes descending from Joktan was Sheba whose descendants founded the kingdom of the Sabeans in Yemen and Africa. The Arabs call the famous queen of Sheba by the name “Bilquis.” Her visit to Jerusalem during king Solomon’s reign is an example of how God’s people had an influence on Arabia even in Old Testament times. Solomon writes one of the so called “Messianic Psalms” (Ps. 72) partly with Sheba in mind (see verses 10 and 15). Jesus speaks very positively concerning the Queen of Sheba (Mt. 12:42). It would appear that at least some of the Semitic tribes worshipped the God of Shem even if they did not know him fully.

The Descendants of Ishmael

God made promises to Abraham concerning Ishmael that he would bless him exceedingly (Gen. 17:18-27). God’s covenant to bless all the nations did not come through Ishmael but rather through Isaac, however, God did not forget Ishmael. His descendants are included in God’s promise to bless all the nations (all ethnic groups around the world) through the seed of Abraham (See Gen. 12:1-3; 18:18; 22:18; 24:4; and 28:14). This promised blessing was eventually fulfilled in Jesus. I

t is remarkable that Ishmael’s name is a revelation concerning God’s person and character. His name means “God hears”. God clearly heard the distress of Hagar when she called out for help in the desert (Gen. 16:1-16). It was God who designated the name. The name Ishmael is an everlasting testimony of God’s concern for the weak, the afflicted and those who are unjustly treated. The descendants of Ishmael seem to have settled predominately in northern Arabia. One of Ishmael’s twelve sons named Nabajoth (Nebaioth) fathered the tribe which eventually became the head of the Nabatean kingdom. The kingdom’s famous capital, Petra, is in present day Jordan. Muslims believe that Mohammed was descended from Nabajoth.

The Descendants of Abraham through Keturah

After Sarah’s death Abraham took another wife (or concubine) named Keturah (Gen 25:1-3). Abraham had six other sons through Keturah after the birth of Isaac (Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah). All of Keturah’s sons eventually became the heads of Arab tribes.

Later Moses married Zipporah the daughter of Jethro the priest of Midian, (Ex 2:16-22). Jethro recognized the true God and even gave Moses good advice which apparently pleased the Lord (Exodus 18). Certainly the Midianites had some revelation of God through their father Abraham. The Midianites also attacked Israel during the time of Gideon. The Arabs were involved in gross idolatry for many centuries. In a very similar way the Jews were also involved in idolatry and God gave them scriptures and prophets to bring them back to repentance.

Mohammed (AD 570 - 632) eventually sought to turn the Arabs from their idolatry to worship the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus but he did not have a full revelation of God. His distorted understanding led his people into error and this has resulted in present day Islam.

Hope of Salvation for Arabs

Millions of Arabs around the world already identify themselves with the Messiah. Many are in the ancient churches of the Middle East in Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq. Isaiah the prophet speaks of a time when the glory of the Lord will be manifested among the Arabs (Isaiah 60:1-7). We also find encouragement to believe God for the salvation of a multitude of Arabs from the story of Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost some of those who were filled with the Spirit spoke of the mighty deeds of God in Arabic (see Acts 2:11). The praises of God were proclaimed in Arabic before they were ever proclaimed in English, French, German or Spanish! Arabs can also be blessed with Abraham through Christ.

Recommended reading: “Understanding the Arab World” by Louis Bahjat Hamada

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do These Things for Jesus

By Odon Bulamba (summary only - 13th April, 07 -by Benedicte Bahjejian)

If you don’t do these things for people,
you don’t do them for Jesus

‘For I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat;
I was thirsty and you gave nothing to drink;
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in;
Naked and you did not clothe me;
Sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.’

Matthew 25:43-45

I was hungry…
In this life, we are so blessed with everything: clothes, food. Food is the most important thing in life because if we don’t eat, we can’t survive. And what happens when we don’t have food? We die. In Africa, parents cannot punish children by not giving them food, it’s like a crime.
If God didn’t give us food everyday, we would die. The Church is crossing a hard time because the pastors are always talking with jokes and anecdotes.

If you have faith & good actions & the Word of God, you can feed a good number of people.
People are hungry for the Word of God, and we do not feed them. Some people don’t even know what food is. Who will feed them? We have already been fed a lot by God.

Jesus is the bread of life, and you have to share Him with those who are hungry.

I was thirsty
The Word of God is water. Water is everywhere in NZ, no need to pay for it. And we, people of God, we are full of water. Some people are dehydrated, but we bring them superficial food, not the real water from God.

• Many people think they are free & do anything that they want, for they think that God is not watching them. We need to care about others’ souls. The Holy Spirit is there to spread the Word.
• When visitors are coming to my house, I need to quench their thirst, give them water, give them the Word of God because I love them.
• Sometimes we tell people, ‘If you want food, make a fire here or there’ and we completely destroy them.

I was a stranger
We have to care for strangers, sick people. Not reject them because they have been living in darkness. Make friends with them, don’t think, “I am a businessman, he is mechanic, I can’t have a relationship with him or I am rich, he is poor or I am white, he is black”, etc.
Discrimination is a big problem in the Church, we create differences and show favouritism.
Also, we go to people only when we have needs, after that, we forget about them.

We have received a cheque from God, what do we do with it? We need to welcome people into the kingdom of God.

I was naked, I needed clothes
To be naked means not to live by the Word of God. When Adam and Eve sinned, God didn’t reject them, he came down & covered their nakedness with clothes which means He helped them to understand what they did wrong & to forgive them. Do we also cover people’s sins? I will defend him & help him. Don’t criticize them, but help them.
I was sick & in prison &you didn’t care for me

All of us, we are sick because we are sinners. Who is taking care of whom? Sick people think they are alone because no one visits them & takes care of them.
People are dying because of wrong messages, and we are here, looking to fulfil our selfish desires & security. God will come to harvest the fruit of our work.

Conclusion: If you are not feeding, quenching, welcoming or taking care of others, you are not doing it to Jesus, so forget about the kingdom of God. If you’re not on the right path, you’re on the wrong one. It is an alarm from God: we need to stand up and to do the work of God.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

30 SIGNS ALREADY FULFILLED

By Odon Bulamba (summary only -by Benedicte Bahjejian)

Besides the many signs that appeared to the church in antiquity, many more have emerged in the last two centuries, especially in the last fifty years. God has furnished these signs of the times to alert us that the Lord is at hand. He stands at the door, waiting to enter this world again. His return cannot be far off.

What exactly are these signs? There have been thirty major signs in five categories, all thirty resting upon Biblical prophecy. But besides these we could state other signs that rest on reason and logic. For example, the resources essential to sustain human civilization are being rapidly depleted.

1) Progress of the Truth
1. There has been a second period of rapid expansion in the church throughout the world, and the expansion has ceased (James 5:7-9).
2. The gospel has reached the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
3. Christianity has become the leading world religion (Matt. 13:31-32).
4. Since 1800, believers have had a sense that the end is near (Heb. 10:25; Rev. 3:3).
5. The understanding of Biblical prophecy, including the writings of Daniel, has increased (Dan. 12:4).

2) Apostasy in the Church
6. Throughout Christendom, faith in the Bible has been replaced by the modern world view, combining skepticism and uniformitarian evolutionism (2 Pet. 3:3-6).
7. Corruption has infiltrated the whole church, causing a nearly universal departure from orthodoxy to heterodoxy and from holiness to worldliness (Matt. 13:33).
8. In both the modernist and tongues-speaking movements, many false Christs have emerged and deceived many (Matt. 24:5).
9. Within the churches, people of godly character are becoming rare (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
10. A few retain a pure religion (Rev. 3:7-13).
11. Western society has been secularized (Rom. 1:28-32).
12. People in general throughout the world are ignorant of the Bible and of impending judgment (Matt.24:39).
13. Watchfulness for Christ's return has sharply declined (Matt. 24: 44).

3) Corruption in Society
14. Modern society is obsessed with eating and drinking (Matt. 24:38).
15. Modern society is obsessed with marriage and giving in marriage (Matt. 24:38).
16. Violence of all kinds has risen to unprecedented levels during recent history (Matt. 24:37; Gen.6:11).
17. In the last fifty years, there has been unprecedented news coverage of war and unprecedented fear of war (Matt. 24:6).
18. The practice of homosexuality has become commonplace and socially acceptable (Luke17:28-29; Rom. 1:26-27).
19. Interest in the occult has exploded (Matt. 24:37; Gen. 6:4-5).

4) Globalization
20. Since the founding of the United Nations, there now exists a world government (Rev. 13:7).
21. For some years after the founding of the United Nations, the world was divided into two opposing political blocs (Dan. 2:41).
22. Almost all of the world's nations now belong to one of nine regional associations (Dan. 2:42).
23. More children today than ever before have mixed parentage (Dan. 2:43).
24. A homogenized global culture is supplanting traditional cultures with a regional base (Dan. 2:43).
25. Interethnic and interreligious conflict persists and, in many places, is intensifying (Dan. 2:43).
26. The world has acquired a heightened vulnerability to famines, pestilences, and earthquakes—the kind of disasters that will strike at the beginning of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:7).
5) Reemergence of Israel and Other Ancient Nations
27. Many Jews have returned to Palestine (Isa. 11:11).

28. A Jewish state has been established (Zech. 12:5-6).

29. The Jews have regained possession of Jerusalem (Luke 21:24).

30. Egypt and Syria have reemerged as autonomous states (Dan. 11:40).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Disobedient to Parents

(II Timothy 3:2)

The Greek Word used to describe disobedient is Apeithes. A = without and peitho = persuaded so it means “unable to be persuaded”. We can be disobedient to God (our heavenly parent) because we are unable to be persuaded by God and therefore we disobey Him. Sometimes He asks us to do something and we are not sure if it is God or not and we doubt and by the time we realize it was God, it’s too late. For example, one time God asked me to tell something very specific to a person at uni and I was taking so long to decide if I should or not that the time passed and I lost the opportunity. So I wasn’t able to be persuaded and therefore I disobeyed God. Also, God can tell us a mistake in our lives, for example I might be a habitual liar and God shows this to me but I justify my lies and say they were necessary and continue to lie. I am in this case unable to be persuaded to change and therefore I disobey God.

We can also be disobedient to our physical parents (mum and dad) and if you ever watch the program super nanny you’ll see just how disobedient children are today but they learn everything from their parents. If you are not able to be persuaded by God to obey Him then your children will also not be persuaded by you to obey you. For example, anger; if you are not persuaded by God to give up anger you will disobey God and get angry. Your child will learn your technique and although you tell him to not get angry, he’ll never be persuaded by you and therefore disobey you. And by disobeying you, they are also disobeying God because the Bible says we have to obey our parents. For example smoking and drinking; most children will smoke and drink if their parents do and this is true of drugs as well. So if you have a bad habit that you don’t want your child to copy then you better stop that behavior because if you love your child you will lead them in the right way.

Pr 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
We can see that children are getting worse and worse at obeying their parents and people in general are not obeying God and it’s getting worse and worse, so we can see that this sign of the end times is being fulfilled today showing us that Christ is coming soon. So we must get ready for His return and one way to be ready is to make sure you are not doing what it says in II Timothy 3:2.
So don’t love yourself more than others, don’t love money, don’t boast (blowing your own trumpet), don’t be arrogant (love is not proud), don’t blaspheme (ruin the reputation of others; God & people), don’t disobey your parents (God included; be persuaded by God to do what He tells you to do or to change).

By Hayley Boud

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Fire (Part III)

By Odon Bulamba

If you look at the sun for a time you will see colours that don’t exist, but when you stop looking at the sun everything becomes a blur. When we turn our eyes towards God we can see mysteries, but when we look at the world everything is a blur.

Do you know the speed of light? 300,000 km per second, it means that the speed of the sunlight is extraordinary and it is like our God. God can see and react in a few seconds, you can pray now and find healing, you can ask God for something and receive it straight away, you can sin now and God will see it and that is why the Bible says God is not far from us. The speed of light reflects the presence of God among man and there are no secrets under the sun because God knows everything. You can do something against your brother and try to hide, but God will know because His grace is here. So for us Christians we have to be very careful because the eye of God is everywhere. Unfortunately Christian’s today fear man instead of God, when Albert is with you your behaviour is good but when he is not, you play up. So why do you fear Albert when he has only two eyes while God has a lot more? We must know that the presence of God is with us always and if we think about it all the time we will be led by the light.

Nobody on earth forgets when it rains, but with modern technology we know if it is going to rain or be sunny. Why aren’t we like these machines so that we can know the presence of God in our lives?

There was a servant of God who had a rabbit who would eat with them at the table. When it came to the rabbit’s turn to pray it would flap its ears, and when everyone said amen it would respond. Even animals know about God’s presence and if this rabbit had a soul he would be saved, but for us humans will don’t even care about God’s presence. After a few years this rabbit died and the daughter said we must give glory to God because we will see him in heaven, what a faith? Many Christians are like this rabbit, they can close their eyes to speak and they might be careful in what they say, but they don’t have a soul within them because their souls are dead. People always say that they will see their brother or sister in heaven because they belong to God, only to find out that God hasn’t chosen their soul because their soul is like a rabbit’s. Don’t be an animal Christian like Paul says in Corinthians but take advantage of the suns light so that you can be transformed from an animal into a human being. Sometimes evolutionists are right when they say man came from a monkey. It is true that we have evolved spiritually because once we were animals, but now we are children of God who represent a perfect image and those who have one foot in sin and one foot in the Lord are considered like animals.

I have a movie at home that is about a chimpanzee married to a woman. Even though the chimpanzee had a nice suit on everybody still knew that it was a chimpanzee. If you try to cover all your bad deeds up remember that God knows who you are, even if you get married at a church and you made an agreement with your Pastor, God will view you as a chimpanzee. During the reception the chimpanzee really showed who he was, and when a man threw the chimp a piece of meat he left the table so he could devour it, and many Christians are like this. We are called to sit at the table with the Lord but when God shows us our sins through His word we go after food that God has thrown on the floor. The Bible says that we aren’t allowed to hate but we still hate, the Bible says don’t be angry but you are angry all the time. Come back to the table of the Lord and eat what is proper on it and leave what God puts on the ground because it is sin. That is why God talked about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that is why grace is here today so we can know what sin is. The sun is here today to shine on both good and evil so let’s be careful and know the importance of the sun in our lives.

How important is the sun in your life and why? Can you answer? When it shines it makes us happy, it gives a nice atmosphere, it brings light and it makes vegetation grow. So we can see that the sun is so important for everyone in this world and everyone has his or her own reasons. It is the same thing with the word of God, some people receive joy from it, some people are refreshed by it and there are many reasons. The sun represents unity so let’s come together without hypocrisy and we will produce a beautiful light for the world to see and feel God’s power. Although we may be far from people our prayers will be like sunlight and it will transform the skin of many churches on this earth. Amen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Fire (part II)

By Odon Bulamba

The light mentioned in Genesis is not the sun, light never burns or dries out anything but the sun does. What is the sun? The sun is round; it doesn’t have a beginning or an end like Jesus who is the Alpha and Omega. Is the sun round? Do you know where the sun starts and ends? What colour is the sun? God is the beginning and end of everything and He is the God of every race. If you are yellow you will find your colour in the sun, if you are black you will find it in the sun and those who are violet will also see their colour in the sun. Our God is a God of unity and He unites all races together under Himself. The sun never goes down so it is up to us to raise our eyes towards the sun. We have to obey the first command, which means to obey God who is over us, as David said when he didn’t know where to find help, he had to raise his eyes towards God. That is why Christians pray with their hands raised and look upward, it doesn’t mean they are looking at the ceiling but it means that God is over them.

We all know that the sun is far from us but any eye can see it, even those who are blind can feel the sun’s rays, and it means that everyone knows that God exists. To see Him or not you can feel it in yourself and if your body doesn’t feel it then your soul will.

Many Christians today, instead of comparing God’s presence in our lives we compare each other physically, for example we say that Oscar is more handsome then Michael, but if you compare Oscar’s soul to Michael’s how many times does Michael pray more than Oscar, and this is why the church today loses its light.

While the sun burns it doesn’t only touch the skin but the flesh also. It means that the sun is not limited to the skin. Many people try to get a nice tan in the summer to improve their appearance, but can a black man get a tan? What we as Christians should do is get a tan spiritually. Physically we want our skin to change colour but we don’t want our soul to change. When you have a tan everyone can see it, but our souls also need the blood of Jesus so God can see us, and the soul that doesn’t receive blood for purification will become pale. While the sun is here let’s work because nobody wants to work at night.

What kind of fire represents the sun? The sun represents God who gathers all the Christians under Him and He keeps giving us grace. The light that burns in our hearts exposes our sins through our conscience. The Bible says in the book of Joel that the sun will be transformed, so what will the sun be transformed into? What will the moon be like? Joel 2:31, the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon to blood. One day we will look for the word of God but we will not be able to find it, it means that this light will be turned into darkness and purification won’t exist anymore. The precious blood of Jesus will not work and our conscience won’t have time to remind us of our sins because when the sun stops burning that is when grace will finish. So this is the first category of fire, a fire that hasn’t been created by anyone except God, and nobody knows when He started or when He will finish.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Fire

By Odon Bulamba (summary only -8 March, 02)

Fire was created for our service, for example fire transforms our food so that we can eat it. When you are given meat that is cooked you will eat it with no problem, but if you are given raw meat your face will change. Will you eat raw meat? I don’t think so. It is the same with us who belong to the kingdom of God, when God presents us with a situation we have to decide if it needs fire or not. Some tribes in Africa can eat meat raw and they find it normal, but most people don’t. Meat that has been prepared has a different taste to meat that has not, and it is like the word of God. The word of God without fire is still the word of God but it has a very different taste to the one that has been touched by fire. Prayer that has fire is quite different to prayer that doesn’t have fire and the result is noticed in the taste. Meat that hasn’t be cooked is not easy to chew but meat that has been cooked is, and if you don’t have good teeth you will struggle to break it down to make it edible.

Where does fire come from? Can gas produce fire by itself? I have learnt that fire first started in Brazil, they would take two pieces of wood, rub it together and then you have fire. Two pieces of wood cannot produce fire by itself because you need a certain force to bring the two together. Also you can’t have any old piece of wood but only certain types. So what does this represent? Jesus said that He is the true vine and we are the branches (John 15:1-8). Will all know that wood comes from a tree and without a tree there can be no wood. If a tree has not been cut or dried it cannot be burnt. When a branch is cut it must be dried out before it can produce fire, so what is this covenant we have with our God? When we were born we were holy and perfect and we were in a world of eternity.

Once we arrived on earth God gave us a body but we cut our relationship with God and became sinners like a branch being cut from its tree. When we became sinners we needed something to dry us, and that is were the sun comes into it. When a child is born they usually cry and if it doesn’t cry then the nurse will probably wonder if it is alive. Why don’t children smile when they are born? It is because they suffer. When we as Christians entered this world our souls start crying because the devil is hurting us. If you are proud, people will hate you and in your heart anger will brew with a reply, and your soul will keep bringing you down while the devil leads your life. But there is a time when the sun will come, and as the Bible says the sun is for the good and evil.

Rain is given to good and evil men but when the sun comes out your soul will start drying. It means that the light will be with you and this light is the word of God. While reading the word of God you can get an idea about what sin is, and you will know what pleases God and what doesn’t. So when the sun enlightens us, it is up to us to decide what we will do. When God gives you the word it is up to you to accept this word or not, and whoever doesn’t receive the word will not to be transformed.

The sun never dies but we do and the word of God says it is there for eternity.

Monday, September 21, 2009

CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT

What does this mean, ‘curiosity killed the cat’? Many years ago people faced a problem where there was not enough meat. So butchers used to kill cats and sell their meat in their shops. The way they used to catch the cat was to put a sack on the ground in the alley and then wait. Cats are very curious animals and when they saw the sack they would wonder what was inside. They would crawl inside and then the butchers would close the bag with the cat inside. An easy catch.

We as humans can also be curious but in the same way the butchers caught the cat, satan also traps you. You think there is no harm but satan has you in his bag and later there will be a consequence.

In this world knowing too much information can get you killed. If you are involved in the mafia and you decide to leave, you will not be able to leave without being killed because you know too much information. Many people say that Marilyn Munroe was killed because she knew too much information about the Kennedys. Eye witnesses to the death of JFK were also killed.

Knowing too much information can not only kill you physically but also spiritually. A few years ago I bought something that was really nice and a good friend of mine asked me, ‘how much did it cost?’ When I told her $5 she became jealous to the point of hating me. This information caused a spiritual death.

There was a man on the bachelorette who was curious to know what the woman was doing on another date. He saw her kissing another man and this had a negative impact on him, he became angry and he hated her which lead to a spiritual death.

Another man on temptation island was given the opportunity to see a video of his wife and because of curiosity he watched it and he saw her kissing another man. This made the man to become so angry that he wanted revenge so he slept with another woman. His curiosity lead to spiritual death.

A young girl working in a cafĂ© was curious to know her bosses age and so took the lady’s handbag and found her wallet and then opened the wallet so she could look at her license to find her age. As she was doing so the boss caught her and assumed she was stealing. Because of curiosity her reputation was ruined.

You hear many people say, ‘out of curiosity, blah, blah, blah’ or they ask a question and the person answers with, ‘why do you want to know that?’ and the answer will be, ‘just curious’. We take it for granted and don’t really think about it but it’s actually quite serious.

Cats as you know are very curious and they often crawl into the chimney because of curiosity and they get trapped and then someone lights a fire and the cat dies. Satan’s trap will lead you to fire and death also.

Some of you know my parent’s cat Arnold. When he was a kitten he climbed under my grandparent’s car because he was curious. When my grandparents left we didn’t know he was under the car and he traveled all the way to their house. Curiosity can lead you far away also. Because you need to know certain information you will try any means to get it. Maybe you will listen in to phone calls, maybe you will read people’s mail or diaries, maybe you will ask too many questions and push people to the limit, maybe you know that Lebon was at Michael’s house in the weekend so you will ask him, ‘how was their house, what did you eat, what did Nathanael wear?’ In your quest to find the truth you will be lead further and further away from God and as you know God is the ultimate truth so you will actually travel far from the truth thinking you are getting closer to the truth (satan is good at distracting us).

Also, this kitten was very afraid when he got to my grandparents house. Curiosity can lead us to fear and to doubt also. For example, your husband comes home and you say, ‘Where were you?’ and he answers, ‘With Michael’. The next day you decide to check on him and you ask Michael, ‘What did you do last night?’ and he says, ‘oh, I was home’. You start to fear that your husband was lying to you and then you start to fear that maybe he’s having an affair. You start to doubt your husband and your curiosity causes you to lose your faith in your husband.

Also, the kitten was completely fumed out with poisonous gases and since that day he’s been a bit slow in the brain. So the consequences of his curiosity were serious.

There are many examples in the Bible but the one that came to my mind straight away was Lot’s wife. I can understand how she felt though, I would have been curious to know what was going on behind me too. But her curiosity caused her to become a pillar of salt. Salt in great quantities is deadly. The dead sea is the way that it is due to salt. There is no life in the dead sea and you will lose your spiritual life and cause death in others too because of your curiosity. Salt is very tasty and so is curiosity. Everybody enjoys a good gossip but in the end it will kill you.

Eve was also curious to know how the fruit tasted and to know how it is to know good and evil but her decision to taste it led to death also.

In Genesis 9 we can read a story about Noah and how he got drunk and lay in his tent naked. Ham was curious and looked at his father’s nakedness and called his brothers to look also. What we can learn from this story is the reaction of his brothers. They refused to look at their father and instead walked backwards with a blanket and covered their father.

When someone brings information to you that does not concern you or is potentially harmful, you have to stop them like Ham’s brothers did. But how many times do we stop someone when they come and says, ‘look at this’? We usually don't stop them but enjoy together.

We also have to be aware of curiosity in others and be careful with what we say. For example, if I tell Colleen, ‘I saw Pete yesterday at Burger King’. That information might cause Colleen to be more curious and need to know more information. And does Colleen really need to know that you saw Pete yesterday? How will that benefit her soul?

Recently on the news a cat got trapped inside a pipe. People had to rescue it and it was dirty and had to be cleaned and it was hungry and had to be fed. When we get trapped by satan, we also need to be freed, cleaned and fed. For many people curiosity is something that is deep in them and if this is you, you will need God’s help to free you from that. You’ll need to repent and ask God to clean you and you will need to feed on the Word of God to help you to resist when satan tempts you.

By Hayley Boud

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The God of our Ancestors (part III)

by Odon Bulamba

God is the God of Jacob. What does Jacob mean? Jacob means to grasp the heel, and the heel helps us to balance. If someone doesn’t have heels they won’t be able to stand up.

1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

We are going to look at the pillar of truth. Jacob means to hold the heel that supports the whole body, and what holds our spiritual life is the church of the living God, that is the pillar of truth. We don’t have any other support apart from this, men can have their truth but God’s truth is supported by His church. The Bible says that Jacob was chosen while in his mother’s womb.

Romans 9:10-13 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

God has a plan when He chooses man, and man’s calling only depends on God. God chose Jacob when Rebecca was pregnant, and from here he started fighting against Esau. Jacob and Esau fought against each other in their mother’s womb because they wanted first birthrights, and that is why Jacob would hold on to his brother’s heel.

To have the support of God’s truth in our lives we must fight for it in order to receive it, and if someone takes it from you don’t hesitate to grab their heel so you can follow them to know what is in them. This is what Elisha did because he didn’t have what Elijah had. Elijah tried his best to escape from Elisha, but Elisha grabbed his heel because he needed the support of God’s truth that was in Elijah.

Elisha received a double portion and became more powerful than Elijah, as Jacob was stronger than Esau. When we receive God’s word and are thirsty to know God’s truth, God is able to make us very strong and take us to a higher level. Many people say that Jacob was a deceiver and wasn’t serious in his actions, but why did God bless him if he was a deceiver? Can you answer?

Jacob pretended to be Esau so that he could receive a blessing from his father, and Rebecca was an accomplice for Jacob, so why did God still bless him? Was it God’s plan that Jacob was to deceive his father? Think about it. The fight Jacob fought against Esau didn’t start when they were adults, but they started fighting in their mother’s womb. How many times do you fight with God? How many times do you discuss the word of God with your brother? If you want to learn the Bible take the time to discuss it with others and ask each other questions. If you can’t find an answer to a question that was asked, go home and look for it in depth, but if you are not able to discuss the Bible in a small group of 2 or 3 you risk not to grow, because God always starts with small groups. We must learn to fight with each other, and to fight with each other means to read the Bible together and learn how to pray together and you will see what God will do. If we don’t do this it will be hard for God to say that He is the God of Peter or Angela.

We have been talking about the God of our ancestors to remind ourselves about what they did during their lives on planet earth, and to know what their end was. We have talked about Abraham and looked at how he served his God, and to see how much faith he had, and after we know this we can compare it to our life. We also talked about Isaac and saw how much humility and joy he had, and finally we talked about Jacob and saw how much support and balance we need for our spiritual lives, so that we will know how to fight in this world. Spiritual food has different levels, if you don’t understand humiliate yourself and ask questions, but if you don’t ask questions you will be left behind.

For the full message please email: littlebethlehem@windowslive.com

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kingdom Realities

By Tyrone Garrat

Matt 11:16-19

“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’
For John came neither eating nor drinking and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions” NIV

Are we as Christians like this? Do we act as if we’re at a funeral, sad with long faces or do we act with joy even playing the flute? We have a lot to celebrate!.We are invaders from another world.We are no longer constrained by the world of what we see hear touch etc,but we are living out of an invisible,unseen world.This new world is not governed by the laws and rules of the old world,but has superseded them.It is a far greater and superior world dimension realm.The old world must submit to a new and far greater kingdom reality or realities.The kingdom of God has come amongst us and its power is in us and is working through us.Do we focus on the cross or on the resurrection of our Lord? If we focused more on the resurrection we would be joyful. People loved to be around Jesus, prostitutes, tax collectors, undesirables. People invited Jesus to their parties!

Sometimes we can be fearful of the ‘world’ and be afraid of being ‘polluted’ by its ways. But Jesus was not in the least fearful of being polluted. No, He actually sought out those in the world and went to where they were. We may be worried about our reputation and think that people will judge us wrongly because of whom we associate with. But Jesus wasn’t concerned at all, and that is because He was full of light and the Light is far greater than the darkness! Amen

The Bible also says we must be ‘as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves’ (Matt 10:16). Think about the TV programmes at the moment. For example, the DIY programmes that feature gay couples. These programmes are not about renovations but are about a lifestyle and the subtle ‘normalizing’ of that lifestyle in our culture, so that what was once unacceptable becomes acceptable. We act as innocent as doves but perhaps we should also consider the ‘other side of the coin’ and act more shrewdly in getting the message of the gospel out there.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The God of our Ancestors (part II)

By Odon Bulamba

Acts 7:32

Who is Abraham? Abraham is the father of our faith; it means that God is the God of the faith, and to know how powerful God is you must know faith. To do anything great or receive anything from God you must have faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God even if you have good deeds. If your deeds are done by faith God will manifest Himself in your life.

God is the God of Isaac. Isaac was a young man born from an old mum, and with human thinking this is not possible, but our God can do anything. Young people only want to pray when they are old, and old people only want to pray when they are old because they know death is around the corner. What does Isaac mean? Laughter. When Sarah had Isaac she said that everyone will laugh when they see my son (Genesis 21:6). How many times do people laugh when they see you? How many times do people look at you in anger? Because God is the God of Isaac people must laugh when they see us, and God will help us to walk as Isaac did. Isaac was proud of his old mum, but many people today are not grateful for being spiritually breast fed, and this is a shame. Isaac was a good man and he loved Ishmael, even though his mother despised Ishmael, Isaac loved his presence. How many times do we flee from those who aren’t good enough? How many times do we talk behind people’s backs?

As Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, Isaac asked his dad, “I see the fire and wood, but where is the sacrifice”? Isaac was a clever man and observed things around him, and this is what the church doesn’t do today. The church today doesn’t take the time to observe or count those who are missing, but Isaac observed and knew that his father had everything he needed for a sacrifice except the sacrifice itself. This is missing in the church today, you can say that you are going to heaven, you can show people that you are on fire for God, but if your soul and spirit is not ready to be sacrificed your work is useless because all God asks of us is to give Him our lives.

Abraham told his son that he was to be the sacrifice, the God of Abraham was to sacrifice his son, and this is how we must love our God more than anything else. Abraham understood that Isaac didn’t belong to him and considered himself like a caregiver, so what would you say if the owner was to ask you for the child you manage? You have to give the child back, and this is what Abraham did, but as Christians today we don’t do this.

A brother got married but one day his father-in-law said that he wanted to take back his daughter, and the brother said “no, why can’t you take my old mother”? As Christians today we don’t want God to take things away from us, and when God does we think He is unjust, but Abraham didn’t hesitate to give his son, although his heart was burning he still handed him over to God.

Will you be able to sacrifice the things you love in your life? Maybe you won’t sacrifice your child but you can sacrifice your sins, and if you do this God will regard you as worthy.

Isaac respected his father’s voice by lying down on the altar, “father, here I am, you can kill me now”. How many times do we humiliate ourselves to the point where we give our lives? How many times have we been on the altar? What would your reaction be if you were Isaac? Could you walk back with your father if he tied you up knowing that he was going to kill you? I think not, especially with our human nature, maybe if you had the grace but we lack this today because we don’t respect God’s voice and authority. When God tells us to humiliate ourselves we say, “no God, I am not a slave”, and when the preacher tells us to give up our sins we condemn him, and in the end we refuse to sacrifice ourselves.

Everything that Isaac did would please people, if someone was in distress Isaac was there to comfort, if someone was sad when Isaac was around joy would come. God is a God of joy, and joy means Isaac, which is a fruit of the spirit. Each fruit of the spirit has a man’s name in the Bible, and Isaac represents joy. How many times do you show your joy around others? Are people afraid of you when they see you?

Why do you show people that you’re angry when God is a God of joy? Isaac also means humility and respect (especially God’s voice). How many times do you respect God’s voice? Abraham means father of our faith, and when faith talks to joy, joy humiliates itself. When the father of our faith speaks, joy accepts everything that faith speaks about and humiliates itself. If you have the gift of joy, which is a fruit of the spirit, everything that the gospel tells you, you will put your soul on the divine altar, and when this happens you will be ready to sacrifice your body. But if you don’t have joy in your life it will be hard for you to accept the word of faith, it will be difficult for you to accept what God has to tell you because faith is always the father of joy, and what happens if we don’t respect our father or mother? The Bible says that your days will be short (fourth commandment).

When you have the fruit of joy in you but don’t respect God’s message (which is our foundation of faith) your days in the Lord will be short. So what does the day of the Lord mean? What does the day in the Lord mean? Think about it.

For the full message please email: littlebethlehem@windowslive.com

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The God Of Our Ancestors

By Odon Bulamba (summary only - 26 Oct, 01)

The Lord is good and His loving kindness has no limits. If you were to count what the Lord has done in your life you won’t be able to find words that are worthy enough for our God to hear. Unfortunately as human beings we are ungrateful and when God does something for us we believe that He should do it anyway. You may say you have a right to live, or it is your right to wake up every morning, but when we say this we are mistaken because this right belongs to someone else. We are like eggs to God, we live but we don’t know God’s last decision because we don’t know what will happen in the next 2 minutes, and this is why God is called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham is the father of our faith.

Acts 7:32, I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

Who is the God of our ancestors? Because we are not grateful God reminds us that He is the God of our ancestors, so who are our ancestors? Why does God say that He is the God of our ancestors? It is because they use to live as we do today, they also said, “we have the right to live”, but where are they now? God wants us to look at what happened to our ancestors because everything that existed back then exists today. Our ancestors use to eat, drink, marry and pray to God, but when their lives stopped they had to give an account to God, so we must learn from them. How did they live? Did their lives please God? If their lives didn’t please God, what can we as Christians do today to avoid the same mistakes they made?

Many people are selfish because they don’t think about other people’s lives, whether they are pagans or Christian’s selfishness is a problem for a lot of people. If you are lucky enough to have a grandfather you can tell him that the God we pray to is the God of his ancestors. Our first ancestor was Adam, it means that we must think from Adam’s time up until now. It is not enough to say they are just your ancestors but they are all those who lived before you. God created pagan and Christian, so don’t be surprised that a pagan says that their God lives in heaven.

One thing that God doesn’t like is for us to imitate what our ancestors did, and this is called culture. If your ancestors didn’t have a culture that fitted God’s word you will sin, and when you sin nobody will help you.

1 Corinthians 11:16, if anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

Many Christians practice their culture. So, what do we do, do we follow the cultures of our ancestors, or do we follow God? Culture causes confusion in the church and in the life of a Christian. In New Zealand the Maori have their protocol’s whether you are Christian or not, and they do things according to their ancestors, but as Christians today we must think about their behaviour to see if it fits with God’s word.

For the full message please email: littlebethlehem@windowslive.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Despise not prophesyings

IThess5:20

By Michael Bahjejian

The verse we are studying tonight comes from the book of 1 Thess. This letter, written by Paul has for theme ‘the return of Jesus’. In Chap 5, we learn that Jesus will come as a thief in the night and believers are advised to be self controlled and alert. Among many other recommendations that are useful to the Christian walk, the readers are advised not to despise the prophecies.

Do not despise prophesying RSV
Despise not prophesyings KJV
Do not treat prophecies with contempt NIV

1. What is it to despise?

According to the dictionary, to despise is ‘to considerer as unworthy of attention or interest’. In Kiwi slang, you would say, ‘I couldn’t care less’ for example and there are many other ways to express despising. In Jesus time, Publicans were despised by the Jews because they were the tax collectors working for the invaders, the Romans. In France, during the last war, collaborators with the Germans were despised by the population. In India, Untouchables are despised by all the other people and in Pakistan or in Egypt today, Christians are despised by Muslims. We could say that to despise something or someone is to reject them as soon as possible and as far as possible. It is therefore a very strong term. How come then, is it possible to despise a prophecy that is supposed to be a special message from God?

2. What is a prophecy?

The Illustrated dictionary of the Bible, p875, defines a prophecy as a special message from God, often uttered through human spokesmen, which indicate the divine will for mankind on earth and in heaven. I think that the type of prophecies mentioned there is similar to the prophecy given to Timothy about himself in I Tim 1:18
This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare ,…
This is a prophecy about someone, yourself or someone else. As Tyrone asked us recently, we have all been given some prophecies some day that might have been a promise or a warning. We might have forgotten them, but God always remembers His words.

3. How is it possible to despise a prophecy?

There is a paradox between people’s apparent eagerness to ear God’s voice as we sing it ourselves when we sing “let me hear your voice” for example and the obvious difficulty that people have to accept and remember prophecies, even when they are positives and concern themselves. It is true that we can forget and we often forget things that are spiritual. However, I don’t think that forgetting is despising; it is just neglect.
For example, when Jesus meets the disciples on the walk to Emmaus, it seems that these disciples have forgotten all the promises. Jesus then takes the time to remind them about the promises and they can feel their hearts burning within them (Luke 24:32b).

To despise is more than forgetting. It is an active word requiring an active act of reject. A prophecy can be frightening, as it happened to Moses at the burning bush, making us feel inadequate for the task and we tell God, ‘Sorry God, I am not the right person, please choose someone else’ as if God didn’t know who we are and what we can do in His hand. It can seem unreasonable as it happened to Jonah. ‘It is not fair!’ can be our judgement, or it is not legal, as it happened to Peter when he was asked to eat the impure animals. It can be difficult to believe, supernatural, like being promised a child when you are not able anymore to carry a child anymore as it happened to Sarah or without knowing a man as it was announced to Mary. Sarah laughed at the prophecy and then she did not laugh anymore as she realised that it was serious but Mary just believed. A prophecy can be about doing something we really don’t want to do or going somewhere we wouldn’t like to go, but I think that what make a prophecy despicable is that it comes most often through the mouth of a human being, someone who is a sinner as we all are. It is then up to us to discern when it comes from God and when it doesn’t.


4. What are the ways to avoid a bad attitude?

A special message of God, whether it is good or bad, whether we like it or not is something rare and precious. It is worth trying to remember it and not let the devil rob us and the church of God’s messages. Let us remember that a prophecy doesn’t depend on the person who gives the prophecy. Good on you if it is given by God personally or an angel like Gabriel or even an official prophet like Ezekiel. But keep aware that God can also use ordinary people, believers or not and as a last resort he can make a donkey talk to you. So you see, there is no easy exit door to judge about the authenticity of a prophecy. It is most of all a question of fear of God that gives discernment. The Bible provides us with magnificent people who can teach us about dealing with prophecies properly.

Ps 62:11 David
God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.
Ps 119:11
Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
Luc 2:19 Mary
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

It requires courage. Paul encourages us to be his imitators as he is Christ’s in
Acts 26:19
"Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
and
Act 9:15-16
15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

5. A word of conclusion

A last advice: if you hear prophecies that concerns you, write them down as soon as possible and keep them in a safe place even, if you don’t dare reading them for a few years.

May God bless you

Monday, September 14, 2009

CONTENTMENT

Phil 4:11-13

We need to be content (happy, satisfied, thankful, grateful) in every circumstance. Whether we get grade A’s or C’s, whether we are sick or healthy, rich or poor, married or single, children or no children, friends or no friends, gifted or with few gifts, the obvious gifts or secret gifts, honored or not, working hard or unemployed.

Usually we complain no matter what situation we are in. If we are single we will complain because we need to be married, while those that are married are complaining about all the dishes or dirty washing. If we have a job we will complain about working but if we are unemployed we will complain. Therefore we should be happy, satisfied and grateful for every situation and think of the positive side to it and not be stuck on the negative.

1 Timothy 6:6-9, What do we gain from godliness? It actually seems like we lose something – that’s what non-christians think which is why they don’t want to become Christians. So what do we gain?

With godliness we can gain peace with ourselves, with others and with God but if we are not content then we won’t have peace ‘cos we will be thinking of what we don’t have instead of what we do have. For example, ‘my husband is messy’ instead of praising God I have a husband. With godliness we will have self-control but without contentment we won’t be able to control ourselves. For example, I can control my tongue but when I see someone who has something I want, I will criticize them because I don’t have contentment with what I DO have.

So in order to gain from godliness we have to also have contentment. Be happy with what you have and don’t think about what you don’t have. For example, my arms are very painful and sometimes I wish I were not me but praise God I still have arms, better to have painful arms than no arms.

Remember verse 7, we didn’t bring anything with us when we were born and we can’t take anything with us when we die. So lets be grateful for what we do have ‘cos it’s more than what we deserve.
(vs 8) as long as we have food and covering, be happy. How many of us here don’t have food or covering? No body here.
(vs 9) be careful not to chase after what you don’t have ‘cos this will end in destruction and ruin.
(vs10) love of money can even cause someone to lose their faith, therefore chase after godliness and be content with what you have and God will do the rest.

Hebrews 13:5, Our characters must be free from the love of money. Character means that is a part of who we are so it won’t be easy if this is your's or my character to change and to be honest most people do love money. I remember a story once told to me about a pastor who invited his church to pray with him week after week and only one or two people would come. One day he invited the church to pray saying that those who come will receive $1,000. Of course everybody came. It was just a test. How many of us would do that?

Loving money is a danger because we risk to place finding money before God. Loving material things is the same which is why we must be content with what we have. If we are happy with the little that we have, we don’t need to work extra hard to find what we don’t have. It’s not bad to work hard but it’s a danger if we are working so hard that we don’t have any time for God or we are working when it’s God’s time. For example, it’s normal to work eight or even 10 hours a day because there is still time after that to give to God but if you are working 20 hours a day in order to get all the material things you want due to lack of contentment, then you will have no time for God and you actually will not be contented because you will always find more things you want.

Not being content with what you have can push you to be jealous and envy others. It can make you sin when you see something you want but can’t have by the words that will come out of the mouth or the thoughts in our heads. ‘Oh, that’s not fair why does Michelle wear such nice clothes while I have ugly ones’. ‘Oh, that’s not fair why does Ange have nice hair while mine is ugly?’ But I should be content that I have clothes, and I have hair.

God reminds us in this verse that He will never desert us or forsake us so we can trust in Him to provide for us and be happy with what we have. He will never leave us without the things we need so don’t worry and be satisfied with what we have because that is what God has given us.

By Hayley Boud

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Little Town of Bethlehem (part III)

By Odon Bulamba

As we know in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, the inner keepers had no room for him. When Joseph knocked at the door they would ask him, “where have you come from?” “Nazareth” Joseph replied, “you are poor, we don’t need you, what do you do?” “I am a carpenter”, “a carpenter cannot sleep in our beds because they are only for rich people, but if you had five thousand dollars we would consider.” Everywhere Joseph went he found no room to lay his head.
How many times does Jesus knock at our door as Revelation 3:20 says? He knocks at our door but we don’t open, we always say our house is full of visitors and we have no room for the Lord. Jesus says open the door I am here but because we have visitors we shut the Lord out. We would rather let jealously, hate, lies and so on in our lives then let Christ lay His head in our rooms.

Because we know Jesus is full of mercy and kindness He forgave the inner keepers and went where the cows were kept. This is how man treats creator God, but what is disappointing the most is that the animals accepted and treated Him well. When we are sinners the animal has much more value than you, when you are a sinner you cannot say that the animal doesn’t understand anything, it is you who doesn’t understand. What happened in Genesis 6 with Noah? Noah invited people to get in to the ark. People refused but when he invited animals, the animals didn’t even discuss but obeyed. The lion and the lamb were together. The lion hide his character and forgot that he was the king of the forest. The lion humiliated itself for Noah’s word. Christians today do not want to humiliate themselves; Christians today don’t want to give Christ room in their lives.

The Bible says that where the animals would eat is where Jesus was born. This was His cradle. What we eat is Jesus Christ with us? When we eat spiritual food is the plate we use spiritual? Is Jesus in that plate? The animals gave Him their plate but what do we give Him?

When the wise man came they worshipped the child and gave their presents. One of the wise men gave gold and you are the value of gold. The Bible says that Christians are compared to gold and that one day we will go through fire to see whether we are pure gold or not. Woe to you if your gold is not pure! When it will go through fire you will be consumed. It is now time to seek purity, it is now time to see wether you belong to God or not, it is now time to see if you can offer your gold to the Lord. This is done in worship. With worship we need humility. How many times as Christians do we humiliate ourselves? In little things we must show how pure we are before the Lord, and from here God will give us great things. We don’t say halleluiah in church when our household isn’t right or our relationship with our classmates or fellow workmates are not at peace with us Christians.

The wise men gave their presents and went. Once outside they wanted to go back but the Spirit said, “Do not go back to Herod but go back another way.” The Spirit of God never lets His children carry on with evil, the Spirit of God never makes a Christian plan evil, but today many Christians are traders and hypocrites. Many Christians don’t really want to follow God’s way. The wise men obeyed the Spirit of God and left. Herod waited for them but they didn’t go back to him.

The Bible says that Rahab cried and the way she cried touched everyone. This was a prophesy from Isaiah right up to the New Testament. She screamed because her child was killed. Why? Because Jesus Christ was born. When He was born the Bible says Herod became angry so he decided to kill all the children less than two years of age because the wise men never gave him a report. How much as Christians do we want to kill other peoples’ souls? When you speak against Jamie and Jamie finds out he will be shocked and it might lead him to spiritual death. When you speak against Michael and Michael listens, he might lose his peace for three days and you might make him regress spiritually. So Christians today have become like Herod, what we say with our mouth is not from the depths of our hearts. The Bible says that when Rahab cried, according to theology she had a five-year-old child, and this child couldn’t walk even at that age. He could speak and eat but couldn’t walk, and when the army came they found Rahab’s child and killed him. As for us who don’t grow spiritually and are happy with just words and don’t move on, if we don’t reach full maturity for Christ, Herod’s army will kill us all.

Example: Imagine a pit in front of the house and rain has filled it, the water in it will stay in the pit until it evaporates. What will become of this water? After one week the water will start to smell and mosquitoes will lay eggs. This house will then become victim to the mosquitoes. If you try to touch the water in depth you’ll find it slippery down the bottom, and if you take some water and test it, you’ll find many germs. Because this water stinks everybody walking pass will turn their heads away from the pit because the mosquitoes will attack you. This is the consequence of dirty water. This is to compare the Christians who don’t want to grow. The water is the Word of God but we don’t want to make progress, we don’t allow this water to saturate us. When you speak everybody can smell your bad breath, why? Your words have poison in them and you’ll see that wherever you go you will produce a negative spiritual health.

Most Christians speak negatively about others; they never speak about positive things.
This puts a barrier between Christians and puts out the fire of the Holy Spirit; this is against the Word of God. As you know in Corinthians it says love is this and that, but here we have the opposite. When you give presents like the wise men gave to Jesus do it with a sincere heart, when you give to others you give to God, but never show favouritism. It is good to give material things to others, but to give spiritual things is even more effective before God. You can give someone something but in the depths of your heart you are not happy, this is not a good gift. When you give, give it with a big smile from the depth of your heart. God who is the provider will give you more.

Give all your life to God because He wants to use it, God wants to teach you who He is. As little Bethlehem was neglected also accept to be neglected by people, also accept to keep the wheat in you to produce bread in the house of God. It is more important to give then receive. There is a story in the Bible about a servant of God who went to a city suffering from famine. There was a poor mother who had children; all she had was a little bit of oil. The servant of God was hungry so he used the oil the mother was keeping for her children. The Bible says he blessed her and told her to get some containers, and when the servant of God prayed all the containers became filled with oil. This woman practised what the Bible says about loving your neighbour as your own soul.

You can give to your brothers and sisters. When we were in the refugee camp we had a small share given to us from the United Nations. Sometimes they gave to the church, but for people who had never suffered before would drink blood and urine to supplement their hunger. They killed animals and drank its blood. When they saw this they started giving to those suffering also. If you had ½ kilo of flour you had to share it with your brothers and sisters and starve for three or four days. God blessed us seriously and greatly. Nobody could understand why we had clothes, food etc more than the United Nations offered and people would envy us thinking we were doing business, but it was the hand of God upon us, so the gift of giving has great value. We had a river that would run once a year and after four days it became like a desert, but in this river was fish. We would keep bags of fish in our houses exactly how Jesus fed the five thousand. This river had no connection with the ocean or lake but filled only when it rained. We didn’t understand if the fish came with the rain or not, but we praised God because it was a miracle. If you give to others and pray for them seriously God gives you great things.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Little Town of Bethlehem (part II)

By Odon Bulamba

Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem and His birth was miraculous because the Spirit went into Mary and Mary conceived. The Bible says Mary was a virgin and as you know a virgin cannot become pregnant, but because of God’s power this was possible. The Bible says we are the church of the living God; we are married to Jesus Christ as His wife. Jesus Christ also needs virgins, not women who have two or three husbands but women who are wise (he needs both men and women in Christ to belong to Him 100% and not to belong to this world). The Bible talks about ten virgins that went to meet their lord. There were 5 wise virgins and 5 foolish; we must know how to be the wise virgins. The Bible says in order to be wise we must keep our oil.

What does spiritual oil mean? It means the anointing of the Holy Spirit and also the fear of the Lord; this will make us wise. While Jesus was in Mary’s stomach, Mary met up with Elizabeth who had John the Baptist in her womb. The Bible says they shook hands and something happened, a power not from man but that of the Holy Spirit was hidden in their stomachs, and the two children communicated and this affected their wombs, and Elizabeth started to prophesise. How does something in us transform what we have on our body? When you meet other Christians do you feel that the power of God is in them? How many times does God’s power make you speak of His love?

The Bible says they departed and 6 months later Jesus was born. When Jesus was born angels came down, and as we know in Hebrews an angel is a messenger of God. First the angels visited shepherds, but why? Were they the only ones visited on the whole earth? Yes, they were the only ones ready to receive the Lord, other shepherds were there but would not wait for the coming of the Lord that is why the Bible says we must watch at all times because we don’t know the time or the day. How many Pastors today look after their sheep’s souls? How many husbands look after their wife’s soul? How many wives look after their husband’s souls? You will see that very few people look after other people. The Bible says that when the angels spoke with the shepherds they could see the glory of God, and surely after that they went to see the wise men.

As we know wise men are people who study and people well educated, but through this God wanted to show them that He was God, but what struck me was that they were thirsty to go. Are you thirsty to know the word of God? Are you thirsty to correct the mistakes you have done? Most people say I haven’t been taught this, what I know is that. For example this is strange for me, I cannot lose my faith because of this, but the Bible says the Spirit is here to lead us. Ask the Spirit of God to enlighten you because in the end times many will perish because they lack knowledge.


The Bible says the wise men received the message from the angels and were ready to go. There answer was yes, however this is opposite to Christians today. When God talks to us about something we doubt and don’t have the courage to move on. We first must seek what God tells us and not seek what people think. So the wise men got up and left. Before they left each one took a treasure that had great value. The wise men gave gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Bible says a star led them on their journey; they had someone to lead them as the Bible says that the Spirit will be there to lead us. We must accept that the Spirit of God will lead us wherever we go, we don’t have the power to say no to this Spirit, we have no right to do what we want because we are slaves to Christ and are His prisoners. So the star led them, can you imagine all the stars in the sky, only one of these stars led them. Did the star fall? Was it in front of them? Where was this star in order to lead them?

When the Holy Spirit leads us, in man’s eyes it is hard to understand because they don’t know how the Holy Spirit can lead. They will not know how to interpret it because it is beyond them. The Bible says the wise men went. When they came back from seeing Jesus one of them said lets go and see Herod. Maybe they were employed to observe the stars and watch for the Lord to come, and maybe if they told Herod he would give them gifts. I don’t know if it was for that reason, but the Bible says that they left the star that was leading them and went to Herod. And they spoke with Herod. How many times as Christians do we leave the way that leads us to the Lord Jesus Christ? We always leave the way that leads to heaven and turn ourselves to the kings of this world to receive material things.

When the wise men went to Herod they lost the star. Herod told the wise men to see the child and come back to him, but when they left the star wasn’t there to lead them anymore. Understand that when we leave God’s way to follow the world’s way the power of the Holy Spirit leaves us

SUMMARY

- We must give our lives 100% to God
- To be wise we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the fear of the Lord
- We must watch and be ready for the return of Jesus Christ
- We must look after the souls of those around us
- We must be thirsty to know the Word of God and correct our mistakes
- We must be led by the Holy Spirit

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Little Town Of Bethlehem (part I)

By Odon Bulamba (summary only)

Micah 5:1

“Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops; they have laid siege against us; With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek."

This is talking about the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a little town that was neglected by everyone. Remember Rahab’s story when she left Jericho? The Bible says she married an Israelite and moved to this town. God prepared this town a long time ago, but people were waiting for a king to be born in Israel. They knew that Jerusalem was the capital; they knew Jerusalem bred kings but God did something different, He said, “The one who will come in my name will come from Bethlehem”.

What does Bethlehem mean? Bethlehem is three words combined, so one word with three words in it. Beth means house, le is an abbreviation for Elohim which means God, and hem means bread. Together it means the house of God’s bread.

Why did God choose it? When Boaz went to the town of Bethlehem with Rahab the Bible says they started growing wheat. Bethlehem produced a lot of bread and everyone would come from Jerusalem to buy.

Everybody needs bread and everybody knew that Bethlehem had good bread. The Bible says, “Jesus Christ Himself is the bread of life,” John 6:35

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst".

Jesus Himself said, “I am the bread of life.” Because He is the bread of life and from the house of God it was therefore necessary for Him to be born in Bethlehem. This is why Bethlehem was chosen.

It’s the little things that people neglect and don’t care about that God makes into great things. Where man does not care about little things, this is where God shows His power. There are big churches and big groups led by wonderful people in man’s eyes, but God can leave those groups and bless the little groups. What is essential for God is when two or three are gathered together in His name, He is among them. God doesn’t need a lot of people but He needs people with sincere hearts and people who can surrender everything to Him, both body and soul.

Rahab worked very hard and was very patient waiting for the harvest because she had to wait for four seasons before she could harvest. It is the same with us, we are in the house of God and we are also in the house with the bread of God. How do you produce bread? Do you produce wheat, or do you produce other ingredients? God needs wheat. If you read the Bible you’ll see God is the seed. The seed is what gives life to the plant.

Most people today say that Jesus was born in December and only remember the little town of Bethlehem at this time of year, but as Christians we must think about God’s bread everyday because He says, “whoever is hungry can come and eat,” unfortunately we wait until December. If you read the Bible carefully you’ll see that Jesus wasn’t born in December. According to the Hebrew calendar Jesus was born in April.

Scientist did something with the Roman calendar so that Jesus would be born in December. What they call Christmas is not a Biblical word and I don’t know where they got it from. I tried to look it up in the Bible but found nothing, I also tried to ask some of God’s servants but they don’t know where it is written in the Bible. If you know about Rome you’ll see that there were a lot of gods and each god had a day where you would worship it. I don’t want to say anything more but this is where we get our days of the week Monday, Tuesday etc, and that is where the date of 25 December came from. This was one day where they would worship a tiny god. When the Catholic Church promoted this idea, all the people agreed to follow it.

So we see people worship what they don’t know. Sometimes people give their body and thoughts to something that is not alive. As for us Christians we must remember Jesus’ birth every day, not only in December.

SUMMARY

- Bethlehem means the house of God's bread
- Jesus had to be born there because He is the bread of life
- God raises up those things that the world neglects
- God needs people whose hearts, souls and entire life is submitted to Him
- We need to remember Jesus every day of the year

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In the last days men will be BLASPHEMERS

II TIMOTHY 3:1-5

The word ‘blaspheme’ comes from the Greek word blasphemos which can mean sluggish, slow, stupid. Stupid is the opposite to wisdom and we know that in proverbs it tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom so these people who blaspheme do not fear God. How do we fear God? By remembering God’s presence every second and so these people forget that God is watching everything.

The word Greek Blapto means to hurt and the Greek word Pheme means reputation or fame. So blaspheme means to hurt some ones reputation with reports or words. Malice is another word to describe blasphemy and it’s Greek word Kakoetheia means an ill nature that takes everything with an evil connotation and giving a malicious interpretation of the actions of others. That nature is evil and makes one suspect evil in others. It is a habit of the mind. To be pure we must ask God to help us control our thoughts and mind and then our bodies will follow.


TO HURT THE REPUTATION OF OTHERS: slander, malice & false witness

I Corinthians 4:13, servants of God will be slandered for their faith.

Titus 3:2, malign no one. Malign means to hurt the reputation of so therefore we should say nothing against anyone to anyone, only pray and go to that person, this is Godly living.

Mark 7:22, out of the heart of evil men proceed …… slander (lets not be among the evil men by speaking negatively against others).

Ephesians 4:31 & Colossians 3:8, remove malice/slander (it’s a command)

I Timothy 6:4, those who don’t agree with Jesus will use abusive language (we want to be among those who agree with Jesus not disagree)


AGAINST GOD

Mathew 27:29, those who hurled abuse at Jesus as He hung on the cross

Luke 22:65, at the arrest of Jesus, people blasphemed against Him

Revelations 13:6, the beast will blaspheme God

AGAINST THE WORD OF GOD

Titus 2:5, a woman must behave in a certain way so that the Word of God cannot be blasphemed. This means our actions can cause people to talk negatively about the Word of God and as we know the Word of God is God (John 1:1) so we also cause people to slander God through our actions.


AGAINST MAN

Acts 13:45, the Jews blasphemed Paul because of Jealousy
When we talk negatively about others we are destroying their reputation and this is blasphemy. Many times I have seen this as a result of jealousy. One time I bought something really nice and it was very cheap, I told a friend and because of jealousy she started to talk about me behind my back, ‘o did you see that, she is too cheap’. I have even seen this with friends who like the same man, and when that man chooses one and not the other, the one left behind becomes jealous and you will hear stories from her that are just not true, ‘o he chose her because she is a prostitute’.


AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
Mark 3:28&29, “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit means to resist the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to repentance. Without repentance we can never be forgiven. We blaspheme because we disagree with God, we don’t believe that we have sinned and therefore call Him a liar. This destroys God’s reputation to call Him a liar. Until we agree with God that we have sinned and ask for forgiveness, we can never be forgiven and therefore blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven.

As this verse says, ‘in the end times people will be blasphemers’ and I think we are living in an age where people can easily blaspheme, especially God. There was a time when no body could blaspheme God but now it’s normal.

IN SUMMARY

- Blasphemy means to destroy the reputation of someone through our words
- Blasphemy can be against - God
- The Word of God
- People
- The Holy Spirit
- Blasphemy is a sign of the end times
- God commands us to not blaspheme
- Stupid people blaspheme (those who do not fear God)

By Hayley Boud

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Mountain (part IV)

By Odon Bulamba (summary only)

You must have strong legs to climb a mountain. If rain comes you can slip or fall. For this reason people can now use a stick to support them. A lot of Christians don’t have this stick and that is why they slip and fall in their Christian walk.

God gave us an example with Moses. The mountain was the only place he could meet with God. When we are on top of our faith and come across a hard situation and you’ve reached the maximum of your faith, God can help you to see Him and will open Himself to you. Where your thoughts stop, that is where God’s thoughts start. If you want to see God as Moses did you must be clean spiritually. You must do your best to be the right person.

Climbing a mountain is like analysing your faith, “am I strong? Is my faith enough? What makes me fall into sin? Why do I doubt?” After knowing all this you shall ask God to help you change or give you enough strength so your faith can become strong. If you have faith and can be assured that God will give you what you need, you will start to hear the voice of God.

If you don’t feel any wind when you are climbing the mountain, you must know whether or not the presence of God is in your life. When you know you have God’s assurance in your life you will have joy in your heart and whatever you ask of God, be sure you will receive it.

If you don’t have that feeling in you then pray and ask God, “I need your presence Lord, and I need to feel you in my heart”. If you want to accomplish anything in your prayer life, your faith must be pure. In order for your faith to be in action you have to pray. “Lord, I want my faith to be in action so I can climb the mountain to meet you”.

A mountain has a junction, it goes from a flat surface, which is on earth then when it meets the mountain it starts to climb. When you’re on a mountain you can see everything going on. The flat surface (plain) represents the world of Satan. A Christian must be above to see and know the tactics of Satan; he must know what is sin and what is not. You must see everything around you and know what is going on, not to be curious to satisfy your body, but to be careful.

When Moses came down from the mountain he had been transformed. Moses had brought something new to the Israelites. When you have faith and are praying to God about your life or for the life of others, you must be sure there will be change. People must see results from your prayers, if it doesn’t happen ask yourself, “Why did I pray?” Meditate on Elijah.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Mountain (part III)

By Odon Bulamba (summary only)

As Christians we work hard to save money and go overseas, but to work hard for our spiritual life is a problem, and this is what destroys our mountain. If you want to see the whole of Hamilton city you will not go to the lowest peak in the city but you will go to the highest point of the city, because when you are high you can see everything. This is what God wants in us. He wants us to be the highest mountain. Whenever He comes in us He wants to see all the gifts or the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. However, if God can only see one side of your mountain, you have to climb another mountain, which is not an easy task.

Climbing a mountain requires a path. A mountain has a lot of ways or paths by which you can take. These ways are called educators. You can have 1000 ways up a mountain but all have one destination. We must know as Christians, which way we are taking in our lives.

The Bible has different ways as well, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t hate etc are all ways God puts on our path. God puts these educators in different corners of the mountain, but they all have one goal and that is to please God and inherit His kingdom. When you start climbing a mountain make sure you find the right path so you will not have to go back down because this is a waste of time and energy. Whenever you get the occasion to do something good don’t hesitate, don’t say I’ll do it tomorrow because you don’t know if you’ll be alive. If you find time to pray then pray!

There are different types of mountains but they usually fall into two categories. Mountains that are just mud, dust or what we call earth; the other category is a rocky mountain. The mountain that is made up of dust and mud will be destroyed by heavy rain without any problem, why, because there are no rocks to hold it together. Mountains made with solid rock won’t move at all. Also on a rocky mountain eagles make their nests and live on it, but the mountain made of dust and mud is not a good place for an eagle to dwell. An eagle represents God. Eagles live on top of mountains and not any mountain but one that is solid rock. Jesus gave us an example with Peter; On Peter Jesus built His church. If Peter had a stony or dusty mountain in his heart, Jesus could not build on it. We must be strong in our faith and God will live on top of our life. He’ll accept your life to be His life as Jesus said in Rev 3:20.

Some Christians are Christians just physically. You can be baptised and go to church every Sunday but inside of you is just the fruit of the flesh. Their mountain is not rocky but dusty, and what does the dust represent? The dust represents our bodies or flesh. You may think you are a good Christian but it is God who checks the deep thoughts of the heart. When rain comes it can mean a blessing, a curse or the power of God, but when the time of testing or temptation comes they fall apart because of the pressure.

When it rains the mountain made with stones and mud crumbles to the ground, and these stones can’t go back to where they were and it’s not easy for that stone to occupy its same position it once had. When a Christian sins it’s not easy for them to humiliate themselves in order for them to go back to their right position. Instead of confessing or asking people to forgive them they decide to run away and break the relationship with that person or the church. They run away accusing and judging that person or church.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Mountain (part II)

By Odon Bulamba (summary only)

God created mountains with majesty but man sometimes find a way to transform it, and when this happens it’s always to gain a profit. When a Christian allows Satan to come into his life, Satan will move around your soul to see if your faith is worth anything. If he finds a good point of entry he will start to destroy you. The way Satan works is that he will put a certain desire in you. When you fall into that temptation and sin with the same sin repeatedly it becomes like a habit. This habit will eventually become your character if you do not stop. Eventually, the character will a normal part of your life and you will declare, “it’s just the way I am” instead of fighting to change.

A volcano is a mountain, but has a hole in it and has emptiness inside of it. In this emptiness you can see fire and it boils up everyday. If you are a volcano Christian you want to show everybody physically who you are, but inside of you is bad thoughts, hypocrisy and bad actions etc. People can say you are a good Christian but what they don’t know is your heart, and when the fire comes out it will be just to destroy the work of God.

Jesus gave us an example. Two people built their house on a mountain. One had a foundation and the other not. When you climb a mountain it becomes cold and windy, and if you don’t have a good foundation you won’t last long. What is a good foundation? It is to know the will of God in your life and practice it.