Monday, February 28, 2011
By Odon Bulamba (17th June 2005)
“When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour”.
This is the last of the seven seals (the sixth seal).
John is still in heaven and everybody looks different from him, he is the only human being there. He was taken there at an unusual time, neither after death nor at the resurrection of those who died in Christ. He looked strange in an environment full of holiness.
Imagine, if you or I are visiting a palace or an unfamiliar place, our first impression will be to look around and appreciate things, what we like and what we don’t. John also saw different things in heaven and God had already taken him through different stages of His revelation. But here again, God told him this was another new thing, he must be careful and look properly.
That day, he saw the seventh seal opened. On that scroll there were seven seals and as the last one was opened, everybody was curious to know what will happen. At last, they will know the message on the scroll. So when this was open, the Bible tells us there was silence for at least thirty minutes: it was time to listen, everybody was expecting the Lord to start reading.
But something strange happened when God created the world: He didn’t work on the seventh day, the sun came up but God rested. The heaven, angels or other creatures that were working with Him were surprised at God not working on that day. God said: “I’m not working today. It’s a day I keep for my glory.”
And here on the seventh seal, everybody was expecting something to be read and … it was not the right time to read. Instead of someone reading it, there was a big silence. According to God, 2 Peter 3:8,”with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years”. If I think 1 day is 24 hours, half an hour is almost 20 years and 8 months and during that time, everything was quiet, no one moved. This is that time now, the world is in that situation, we are waiting for Jesus to come back and we ask ourselves day after day when will the Lord come back? The signs are already here and servants of God are still preaching about Jesus’ return.
We count on a calendar, from Adam to Abraham, 2,000 years, from Abraham to Christ, 2 000 years, from Christ to now, 2,000 years. Six days (6,000 years) have been already covered and we are waiting now for the morning time to come. In every church pastor’s preach and warn us; this is the evening time. It means that the end of time is now, time to expect the Lord to come and see the new day, the 7th day.
But don’t forget that when the ten virgins were waiting for Jesus, Jesus didn’t come at 7am, but at 2am, the time they expected him the least. Although it was the 6th day, and Sabbath was the next day, he appeared any way and they knew about his coming because of the noise people made: people were yelling and screaming, ‘The Lord is here! The Messiah is here!’ and the other women were foolish enough to go outside, far from the house. Then Jesus entered the house and locked the door.
This is a picture of the church. Everywhere, people of God and pastors are saying Jesus is here! Jesus is coming back. Some of us will say that ‘Jesus is coming back soon, but it’s not morning time yet, we can still enjoy life on earth for a few hours’. But what a shock if Jesus comes today, unexpectedly! Let’s say for example, if Jesus knocked at the door of the sky today and said ‘Here I am, I am taking the people who are ready’, would we really feel ready to go with him? If today we hear the trumpet, all of us will remain silent, we will know that it is not a trumpet from an army, but the sound of God’s trumpet. What shall we do? There will be a big silence everywhere around the world because this event will shake the world.
So we must be ready because the time is here. Some people today want to teach others about Moses or Elijah and it’s good but remember it’s now time to remind people Jesus is now knocking at the door. The seventh seal has already been removed and we are just waiting for the day of judgement. Whoever really believes in God sees that there is no time left under the sun. If today God gives half an hour of silence, there is no time to lose because Jesus says he will come back and people will go in a split second, “tic, tac”. It will not even take 5 seconds, just whoever is ready will go with Him and that will be it.
If it is so, will we be ready? Let’s admit that we often wait for God to talk to us personally or we wait for Him to touch us or push us to start moving, but that day we might be distracted!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
By Odon Bulamba (10th June 2005)
Benjamin means son of my right hand.
When he was born his name was sorrow. So he has two positions.
He was so good to his father, he would do anything for him.
Jacob’s blessing was:
He is a wolf.
What does that mean? He is dangerous. Wolves are wild, strong and they can destroy. Their sight is better than the dogs’. They are farsighted and they never give up. They will follow you with perseverance and call other wolves so that all of them can attack you and kill you.
This was Benjamin. Someone who was called a right hand is now blessed as a wolf.
In America, wolves represent something evil. If someone wants to kill you with magic, they can use wolves. Their teeth are different, their eyes will tell you they’ve no joy or peace. Benjamin was someone like that.
Most of Benjamin’s descendants are good and they are also left handed people. If someone says he is from the tribe of Benjamin, they will be surely asked: “Are you right handed or left handed?” There is something extra-ordinary about them: if you put a stone on someone’s head they’ll hit it with great precision. In the Bible there are some examples in Genesis 35:18, Judges 3:15, Judges 20:16
Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
With their left hand they can hit anything (Judges 20:16).
Unfortunately, although they have the ability to hit things very small, they could never go and fight for God’s glory. They were not motivated for that.
In our churches today, many people also have nice gifts, God has blessed them in different ways, they could fight for the glory of God in their church and society but they don’t care.
Saul was a king and a Benjamite. He led people very differently, he didn’t reflect he was a descendant of the right hand of Jacob. He just only brought sorrows and problems among his people.
Monday, February 21, 2011
By Odon Bulamba (10th June 2011)
Asher means happy.
Born in 1900 BC, second son of Jacob and Zilpah, the maidservant of his first wife, Leah.
Genesis 30:13, 34:26, 46:17, 49:20, 1 Chronicles 2:2, Luke 2:36, Revelation 7:6
Why was he called “Happy” since Gad already had that name?
Remember Asher was born from Leah’s servant. When she gave birth to that boy she thought he wouldn’t have the same rights as Leah’s children. She called him happy because this child brought happiness into her life.
You might be slaves or minimised by the world, but don’t lose joy. Joy doesn’t only belong to rich people, here God wants to teach us that even though we are only servants or workers happiness also belongs to us. Don’t be disappointed! Some people think this belongs only to people who have prayed for 30 years. It’s not true. For God we are all servants of God, Asher and Gad were both Jacob’s descendants and had the same right to bring joy in the family.
It was hard for Zilpah, a servant, to believe she could give birth to a son of Jacob. She was nobody but through giving a son to Jacob, she has become someone. She felt she didn’t deserve it.
God says that those who humiliate themselves as children do, will be raised up. You might sometimes feel you don’t deserve to enter God’s kingdom but because of God’s love and mercy, today you are someone. If you’re crossing the hardest situation, tell God you know you are weak, but if He visits you, your sickness or pain will be changed into happiness. Don’t neglect yourself because God will come to you when you think you’re not worthy of the Kingdom.
Timothy was not sure if he could lead people, he found himself too young for that ministry. But Paul told him not to minimise himself, that he was someone in God’s kingdom.
Another example with Zacchaeus. Jesus told him although he didn’t find himself worthy, He’ll come to him and live with him a live full of joy.
So we are all called to produce that fruit of joy. Let’s bring joy in this country.
When God Himself came down, He was nobody. He was really neglected in that society. Noone would even believe what He was saying but He was God among people.
Personally I say that weak people today are greater because they commit themselves to God all the time and they can easily change and become someone.
Joseph is a picture of Jesus-Christ and of someone led by the Holy Spirit.
How can you be led by the Holy Spirit?
Some people think that to be led by the Holy Spirit is to sit down and listen to your conscience or your senses or sit down and say: What can I do now, do I take right or left? They listen to their own thoughts that say to take left, they take left and think this is to be led by the Holy Spirit.
To be guided be the Holy Spirit is something really important in Christian life. If we understand it, we can never be misled. Satan also can guide people, give them instructions, and mislead them. So we need to understand how the Holy Spirit talks to us and to discern if it’s Him, our own thoughts or Satan’s voice.
We will learn more about Him when we talk about His functions in Christian life and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Understand the Holy Spirit is among one of the hardest topics in the Bible. If you ask your pastor how he knows he is led by the Holy Spirit he might answer, it’s just there. How can you explain the Holy Spirit working in you?
To produce fire, you must do the right thing with your matches, the Holy Spirit also makes you do the right thing. To understand His ministry, power and action you must know how to apply the Word of God into your life and how to match His power into your personal life.
Joseph lived a good life.
What is the difference between Joseph, the son of Jacob and Joseph, Jesus’ father?
They might have the same name but they lived at different times. The timing is very important. What we are facing today might not be among us tomorrow. What we are living today might be known to our children only in 10 years.
They both went to Egypt with different purposes, one was taken by force and the other one was escaping. Which one is the better, to be taken by force or to escape? We would prefer to escape.
If we say we belong to God, there are two ways to follow Him:
1. The first one is for God to force you to do things to go on the other side, on the Christian life’s side. If you don’t, it’s disobedience. If you do and accept it, it’s painful and you will suffer like Joseph but remember he had a reward. At the last minute, he was lifted up and you will too.
2. But the other Joseph was given a choice. He was visited by the angel of God and told to escape. If he didn’t believe the dream, he could have stayed. His son might have been killed. The choice of leaving or not was up to him.
Personally, I prefer to be forced by God, because if I have an option, I might think like a human being and not do as I am told straight away. It was up to Joseph to decide.
This is a serious problem for the church today; we have grace, God warns us about a danger, we hear Him but ask for 5 more days instated of leaving right now. On the contrary, if God forces us to leave now, we don’t have the power to say no, it’s better. You’ll be protected from a danger. It’s sometimes better to be pushed by God, He’ll prove His power on you but He’ll protect you from trouble later.
So, Joseph, Jesus’ father respected God but was sometimes confused with his own ideas. When Mary got pregnant he thought it was a good opportunity to break up their relationship. He was ready to sacrifice his love to Mary because of the baby. He said he couldn’t accept her pregnancy.
The other Joseph, sold by his brothers, forgot and forgave completely everything they had done to him in the past. When he saw them again in a new country, he thought he had to support, accept, go through this fire to regain his family.
Here are two pictures of Joseph.
Some preachers say that Joseph, Jacob’s son, is a picture of Joseph, Jesus’ father. Others say the second Joseph was a holy man. They even adore him, offer him flowers and make statues of him.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
By Odon Bulamba (10th June 2005)
We saw last week that some of Jacob’s children were not included in Revelation 7. There is a reason for that. We also see that some of the children that were not Jacob’s children are in Revelation 7: Manasseh, and Nephtali. Manasseh was chosen but his brother was left out.
Gad means fortune, happiness
Born in 1875 BC and the seventh son of Jacob.
His Mother was Leah, meaning “cow”.
Let’s put that together: can a cow give birth to joy or happiness?
Cows can give birth to wealth through milk and meat.
But a cow can never look after a child’s safety for example, they are with us just to produce things we need in our lives.
Happiness was one of the things she produced. Although Jacob didn’t like Leah at the beginning, God put Gad into Leah’s stomach, so that through that young boy, joy could come into Jacob’s family.
Gad was a really good son. For example, when they wanted to kill Joseph, Gad kept quiet. Why? His role was to bring happiness in the family so here he just kept quiet. It was because the Word of God was supposed to be fulfilled.
In our lives today, we sometimes say that God is our joy, the Word of God brings joy in our lives. But at other times, we ask for happiness and we don’t receive it immediately. So why does God sometimes keep quiet when we cross a hard situation of sadness and we continue to suffer? Because through suffering we can get closer to God. If we lived a life of joy every day, it would sometimes be hard to remember God’s greatness or that God is able to deliver us from our distress, pain and to bring us back to joy. That’s why God will sometimes give us joy and sometimes He will take it away.
When Jacob blessed Gad, he also said something else: “you’ll be attacked”. If you think about your life every time you have joy, it’s only for a short time, joy is attacked by something and the next minute it’s gone. Whenever you’re happy it will just be for a short time, if you bring joy to people Satan will be allowed to come to you, attack you and shake it somehow.
God’s purpose is to strengthen your faith not to destroy it. Gad was told he’ll be attacked but he’ll attack back. He will destroy the heel of his attackers.
And what do the people of God do today when they lose their peace, their joy?
Answer: We sometimes complain, we hate our lives, we tell everyone about it or sometimes we are discouraged with God. Remember we have a power and this is not to cut off Satan’s hand or to kill the temptations but to bite the heel and if the heel is bitten, the whole body suffers.
So when you lose your joy, the only secret is to say:
“God, I’m crossing a hard situation here, I’ve lost happiness and it doesn’t come from any type of medicine or doctor but from You. So, God help me overcome my distress.”
This is my own experience. A few days ago, I was so happy but then, someone put me somewhere uncomfortable. They told me it will be for an hour only but I stayed there for six hours, just waiting. And I said: “Oh, my God, where is my joy?” And because I didn’t have patience, I started to feel a bit sad and to judge the people who put me there. Negative ideas started to fill my mind and condemn people. Then something came to my head: “Rejoice in the Lord”.
Thank God for this and tell Him you’re happy because you’re there and ask him to give you that spiritual joy more than the physical one. Through the spiritual joy, the joy from the Holy Spirit, we can become over comers. Thank God every time and start a new life in the Kingdom. But if you worry about things around you at every moment, you might get crazy, because everything will make you lose your joy.
Today people’s salvation is shaken because of a lack of joy. They forget to pray and keep their joy forever. It’s like the Holy Spirit. We all have it, but we sometimes do things that are not led by the Holy Spirit. We just forget Him, we don’t remember He is among us, in us and we’re walking with Him and do everything with Him.
God has called us to have victory. This victory is not to give up. People will fight against you but don’t give up, stand up on your feet and say you’re not the one who is fighting but God is the one fighting. “I’m not the one crossing a temptation, I’m not the one crossing sadness, if I say I open my life to Jesus, why shall I suffer then?”
Every time I’m crossing a hard situation, I say: “God we agreed on something, I gave to you my life and you said that you and I will be one, you said you died for me and paid the price of everything, why am I crossing such situation then? If you paid the price, why do I have to suffer?” and this is how I can get joy and strength and God really helps me. This is my experience.
Other people will do something different and they’ll get support from it. For example, some get happier whenever they have money. If I give Ange $20,000 now, she’ll smile on the spot even if she were angry just seconds before, she’ll start praising God straight away, God is so great! Even if she had small problems in her house, she’ll forget them.
So if we remember God is our provider and He gives to us things that are better than money, we’ll never be shaken. God gives us something priceless and more important than my life. Let’s remember it and be happy!
Imagine you are sick, you are the 300th patient on a waiting list and you hear the specialist is coming to Hamilton in two years only, you’ll feel disappointed straight away, and think you’ll be dead by the time you can be treated. You might complain about the health system in NZ although your complaining will change nothing to your situation. But if you remember prayer can heal, you can always commit the problem to God, it will be faster than waiting for the doctor.
“God, can you wake up and do something for me?”
Although Gad was strong and was told the victory is his by biting the heel, he used to forget. In the Bible you’ll see he was lazy, forgetting his victory, forgetting he was the one supposed to bring joy. When his descendants visited a country filled with giants, they were scared and afraid to go. They were supposed to encourage others, to be strong and bring back victory but they were full of fear. “Don’t fear!” is written in the Bible 365 times. So every day you can tell yourself not to fear. If I don’t fear I can become victorious but if I’m fearful, my fear will turn my strength into weakness. Strong people can lose their strength because of fear and become really weak, and when weakness comes, happiness goes. Remember if you’re happy even in a hard situation, your happiness will help you make it and reach your goal.
Gad was a simple person, chosen by God from the beginning but he destroyed himself later because he didn’t have the courage to do things. Lack of courage is something really bad in Christian life.
Be courageous in any circumstances even if you don’t know what tomorrow holds for you. Say:
“God, I trust in you, you know better than me. I can’t lose my faith or my joy just because I don’t know what’s for me tomorrow. Never. I know you’ve got a plan for me.” And God will do it.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
By Odon Bulamba (5th June 2005)
Dan, “He has vindicated” is the fifth son of Jacob born to Bilhah (Rachel’s servant) Genesis 30: 6.
He was told by his father he will provide justice.
But in Revelation 7, this name is not mentioned. God has removed this name. Why? Because some people in Dan’s tribe started to adore other gods and consequently God removed even that small blessing of 12,000 people. If someone of Dan’s tribe accepts Jesus-Christ today, he’ll be saved but if they don’t accept Jesus-Christ when God comes back, they’ll not have that chance. You might wonder why? The same happened to Lucifer. He wouldn’t be forgiven even if he asked for it today. He can’t repent. He knows about these coming days and his punishment. Grace is not there for him.
That grace has also disappeared for Dan’s tribe. They tried to practice justice and tell others about it but their justice is not Christ’s justice, it’s just the justice of Judaism, justice of their own rules/culture/this world but not of God. Most preachers in Israel today are of Dan’s descendants, they proclaim the Word of God with power and talk about Jesus-Christ; they are trying to apply justice. But the real Jesus-Christ has no place in their lives.
In the church today, Dan’s descendants help poor people, assist the sick, give away good things and think this is salvation and justice but they don’t practice true justice from God.
WHAT IS GOD’S JUSTICE?
Think about what is God’s justice. We will talk about it next Friday. It will help us understand the trumpets and how the seven bowls work. It will help us understand what will happen on the day of judgement. We are today in front of that justice. What is it and where is it? People say: “We need justice, justice must be done!” But where is it, what type of justice do you want? There are many types of justice: justice of our country, our nation and community … God also has His justice.