Saturday, November 4, 2017

Leah



By Odon Bulamba

It’s a joy to be here and I’m going to share with you the Word of God not my words, your words but the Word of God and whoever listens to that Word will never perish.  When you talk about the Word of God most of the time people think it’s just a simple Bible reading and forget that behind that Word is a powerful God, someone bigger than our universe hiding behind that Word.

As a child when I watched scary movies I would scream because of fear.  God’s voice is bigger than the scary noises on scary movies.  Why don’t we fear God speaking and listen carefully?  The Word of God was written many years ago and to understand it God decided to use human beings to write it and translate it.  At the end of the time no one can say, I didn’t hear it or understand it because God will say I sent it to you in English.

Genesis 29:17, we see the daughters of Laban.  Bible says, Leah was tender eyed but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.  Leah was the older sister of Rachel and both were born from the same mother.  The two girls were descendants of the same parents but in human being’s eyes, people could see a difference.  One had eyes that looked tired/drunk, her eyes reflected ugliness and for people to describe Leah they only took the reference of her eyes. When they talk about Rachel they say she is so beautiful.

How can the same womb produce one beautiful girl and one that looked different?  How can God can use the same father and mother to produce two different things and human beings can notice.  That difference made them unbalanced: one was loved and all favour to her because of her beauty while the other lost favour because of her appearance.  That is not fair.  What did Leah do to be given the weak eyes?  Why did God decide to give those eyes to Leah and Leah lose all the favour?

Have you come across a situation in your life where people look at you and say, “wow, I love you” or where people prefer to be with your sister than you?  Have you felt that people are rejecting you?  Maybe someone else is favoured more than you.  Have you ever felt humiliated because of your appearance and people don’t think you exist? That is the life of Leah.

These two pens in my hand look similar.  One pen represents Leah and the other is Rachel.  Both daughters of Laban but in this pen the ink is different compared to this one.  God made one to be perfect on purpose while the other was different on purpose.  Maybe Rachel didn’t need make-up or even look in the mirror while maybe Leah tried to make herself look better, “Do I look ok today mum?”  “Try again daughter”.  Maybe she tried to use make-up to cover her weak eyes.  By keeping on trying…time kept ticking and moving forward.

Leah was now old.  “What can I do?  My only solution is to pray and cry to God.  I have spots that spoil my beauty but God can help me”.  She prayed and committed her burdens into God’s hands.  “I know that people don’t like me, they treat me lower than my sister regardless of my birth right. They don’t consider me as someone special”.  By praying to God, her age didn’t stop and she found herself older…maybe 30 or 40 years old and no one came close to her and tell her that they love her.

On that day, God looked inside just like we can look inside this pen to see the ink.  God says, “I won’t look at what human beings look at but what human beings don’t see.  I want to see your beauty inside”.  The Bible says that God doesn’t look on our outward appearance but focuses on the inside.  You can do make-up and wear expensive clothes but what He considers most is what is inside you.  People can refuse to give you favour but God doesn’t look at that but what is inside.

God mad you short, fat, slim or ugly or beautiful but God doesn’t focus on that.  The Bible says we should be beautiful on the inside.  Who is the beautician to make our inside beautiful to rearrange my inside to look beautiful?  The Holy Spirit is the only one who can do it and He does it free of charge.  All the tools He uses are painless, you don’t feel pain, they are soft and rearrange them inside you and your beauty doesn’t attract human beings but God.

When Jacob saw Rachel, he cried out and admired her beauty, “wow, I have never seen this”.  Automatically his heart beat faster, “I love you, come and hug me” and he hugged her and in other versions, he kissed her because he saw something pleasant with his eyes.  He gave her that favour to kiss and hug her and automatically decided to marry her.

As you know to express love some people write poems to describe their love to someone.  Others express through their spoken words.  Others through their eyes.  Here, God our Lord, He chose not Rachel but Leah.  “I see your beauty inside you Leah, this is what attracts me and I will be your God, I will be the God of Leah. Leah someone who is humbled every time, someone who is minimised and everyone looks down at and I want to make you someone”.

As I said last time, that at night Laban came to Jacob with a different girl, “This is your wife, it is time now to start to celebrate your marriage”.  That trick, I don’t know how much it affected Leah?  You know that the husband is the fiancĂ© of my sister and now it’s night time and in the next few hours the morning will appear, I will have to explain to him.  What is going to happen? Maybe he will kick me out, call me a liar, how will my sister look at me when she discovers that I took her husband?

What would you say Ange if Debbie your sister took your husband? How will you feel when someone you trust, your older sister who took care of you, to advise you and now she takes your husband?  How is Leah going to manage that? I might say, no God, this is wrong, this is unbelievable, you will just put me in trouble, how can you put me in this situation where everyone will be shocked when they hear this story.

If Ange will take Debbie’s husband, I am sure that Debbie will never believe that Ange or her husband acted in a right way and Ange will feel guilty and the family will be shocked and people will talk badly about Ange.  “What she did, no way, do you know what she did to her sister, it’s unacceptable”.  But for God’s plan, Leah you have to pass by there.  If you were Leah, maybe you would resist, or if you were Laban you might not be able to do that to your daughters.  It would be very hard as a parent because your youngest daughter will hate you for the rest of your life.

God who looks at the inside of human beings, He believes that this husband doesn’t deserve to have Rachel first but Leah.  That is God’s decision, that is His voice.  Jacob, you are not having Rachel or Leah.  Is the choice yours or mine?  How often do we make a choice and put God aside and we don’t care who is God and what He is talking about?  When we choose, how often do we think about God’s plan?  How often do we consider God’s choice is not good?

Our choice is based on our feelings but God chooses what is inside.  Now Leah is in front of Jacob and spent the first night and the story comes out in the morning.  I’m not sure if Leah came out of the bedroom with pride in the morning.  How many people looked badly at Leah from the neighbourhood?  Poor Leah.  She conceived and God was now I have to prove.

God said, I promised that my nation will be built through you.  God of Leah started to act and after nine months, she gave birth.  First son.  All this time Jacob doesn’t love her.  Imagine living with someone who doesn’t love you, imagine sharing the same bed, cooking and washing after them and they don’t love you.  You need patience, perseverance and to push yourself to live with that person.

Jacob was focusing on his 7 years coming to get what he wanted.  Leah you are not what I want and this 7 years will be focused on your sister and not you.  You can imagine the conversation between the two.  After the first son, “behold son” she named him.  “Look”, she was proud to present son to the world.  The world responded, “Shut up, you stole your sister’s husband.  We don’t give you the favour you thought you would get”.

When children are born, the world is happy but not in this case.  She had a second and third sons, up to six.  Half of the tribes of Israel come from her.  That did not let Jacob to love her.  Then she took 2 other children from her servants.  God was trying to defend Leah by giving her more fruit for the humanity to see, “Me God, I am the one giving you the gifts of the Holy Spirit”, but no one wanted them.  No one accepted she had the right to carry those fruit.

Most of the time we don’t know what we carry inside ourselves but want to focus on what people will see and what we can offer e.g. house, money etc.  This is to be kind because I give you material things.  When God gives you spiritual gifts, how do you receive them?  If someone says, I will give you this house, how will you feel?  You will be happy.  When you need a flash car or clothes and you feel happiness to receive them but when God gives you a spiritual gift, how do you welcome that gift? ‘Oh yea, I’m a prophet, I have the gift of intercession,’ and your joy is minimised just like Leah.  My gifts are not good.  The eyes of my gift look awkward, this is not the gift I wanted.

I used to pray 2 hours per day but today I can’t make it, praying is a waste of time.  We start to prove to God that we look down at that beautiful gift that He has given to us.  With joy God says, I will give you this and this to build my nation and half of those 12 tribes to be yours but you tell God, no I don’t need all of this, I just want Jacob (human beings) to love me.  Your gifts don’t impress the world.  We want our children to look like Benjamin who was handsome.

We want to impress human beings.  What is the secret of your life? Who do normally impress, yourself, husband, neighbours, boss or your God?  When it’s time to impress people, who do put as the first on the list?  Sometimes we forget to impress ourselves.  If I have the privilege to read my Bible, why don’t I read it? 

Leah knew the secret, all glory was returned to God first, thank you for this son, this gift and another one and I need more.  The nation you are preparing God, I want to be a part of that nation and I want my descendants to be a part of that.  If they call you today to present only one thing that belongs to Christ, what will it be?  Does your life really belong to God? Our lives, we don’t give them to God, we treat ourselves harshly, we try to impress others but not our souls.

When your soul and heart is crying inside you, how do you make it happy?  My soul, be quiet, God will make it pass. When a child is crying, we will comfort them and hold them and encourage them and build up strength and power in them and they feel motivated.  Our souls need to be cuddled sometimes – repent.  My soul I did something wrong, sorry God, I fix the problem.

My soul and heart has more value than my child.  If I can hold my child, why not my soul?  Your soul is what will go to heaven and therefore it is the only treasure you have, not your body.  How much care do you give to your soul?  I can call my child, my baby.  What do I call my soul?  Most of the time I forget I have a soul.  That soul needs attention.

Leah needs attention and forced people to pay her attention, “look Jacob what I can do for you, 8 children”.  Jacob was not impressed.  I’m inviting you this morning to beautify your soul in order to attract God.  Whenever God looks at you, He can be impressed.  The beauty of your soul needs a place in your life.  Take your soul to the beautician.  This is the time to consider making your soul more attractive.

Our sisters know how to apply make-up.  I see on television a make-up product called Thin Lizzy.  You can see the skin colour changes by using it.  It’s thin according to the name but achieves great things and makes the person more attractive.  Thin Lizzy can cover birth marks and make them disappear.

If human beings can make a product to improve skin, what about the product God gives to our souls.  “Lord, visit my soul, make me more attractive to you and let all my gifts be a part of your nation and produce”.  To be Leah doesn’t mean you are ugly but you are more attractive to God than Rachel and you produce more than others.  Hold onto what God talks about you, don’t hold onto what human beings testify about you and you will become a winner.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

God of Time

By Odon Bulamba


God of Time – Focusing on Leah & Rachel

Ephesians 5: 16

Making the most of all opportunity because the days are evil.  Redeeming the time because the days are evil.  Today I want to share with you a little bit about God’s time and I will link it with what we started last time and today I will talk about the wives of Jacob.  First, I will talk about God’s time.  Before anything else existed, God brought into existence time because without time, nothing exists.

In Ecclesiastes, it says that there is a time for everything, even creation.  God had time for creating.  In Genesis, it says that there is a time for the spirit to move upon the water.  On the first day, He created from morning to evening and all was based on the time.  Maybe at 6am, God started to plan what He will do today and God was creating one item after another.  There was no time for distraction, or wasting time and He forgot completely about His Godliness and put time first.

What is God teaching me about time?  What does God want me to learn about Him working from morning to evening and then take a break.  God doesn’t feel tired but He stopped in the evening and continued in the morning.  God’s time doesn’t stop and moves on until the end.  Time moves forward.  We can change the time on the clock but time keeps moves forward. 

You can’t stall God’s time and try to use it tomorrow.  We can postpone appointments with our friend but for God, when time passes, you can’t catch up, it passes forever.  What Ange sung last Sunday won’t be the same as this Sunday even if she uses the same voice and the same songs, it won’t be the same, it will be different circumstances.

Jesus our saviour thanked God for the time God gave to Him, “I have completed my work in the time frame”. 

When I was conceived, I was nothing and as time passed I was developing in my mum’s womb and then I was a baby and as time moved forward, I became a child and today I am an adult.  I can’t stop growing old even if I go to a doctor to change my face or change my date of birth on my passport, I can’t change the time.

We have to be wise with our time because these days are not good days.  What do you do with your time?  Six days God created and then He left it.  On the second day He created something different and on third day and so on.  We were created in God’s image.  What do we create each day that is different from yesterday?

God created trees, oh they are not good by themselves, I need birds.  He adds on what He did yesterday to produce more and all look beautiful.  Fish in the water, be there.  Beautiful.  I need someone here to take care of everything.  Whatever God created at that time and today His creation continues to produce food and fresh air for us.  He didn’t create it to disappear after two days.  His good deeds are continuous.

When you do good deeds yesterday, that is enough.  I moved the chairs last week so someone else can do it next week and we try to limit what we do because we are selfish.  Someone told me they go to work because they need money not because they love their job or to support others.  How do you invest in your time?  We have all learnt that time is money.  Time is precious.

What you do with your time is an investment in Kingdom of God.  How do you use it?  When time passes, you can’t bring it back. 

Laban, the father-in-law of Jacob, had two daughters.  Leah, the first born wasn’t married yet and Laban looked at the time and realised Leah was growing old, time won’t let her go back to being young.  When Jacob arrived, Laban maybe thought, now is the opportunity for someone to marry in my family.  Maybe they were distracted or no one was there to marry Leah but now Jacob is there to marry Rachel and not Leah.  “God what can I do to help my daughter?”

We don’t know how often Leah was crying to God to find a husband.  We don’t know how often she was grieving because she wanted her own family and she was counting the years passing.  You can see how time is flying.  It’s only ten minutes but it turns into an hour.  If you don’t plant seeds in that 10 minutes, you will see that hour gone. 

Laban thought if I tell Jacob what I want to do, Jacob may turn Leah away so I will have to give Jacob his wife during the night.  God has split time into two: day and night.  Do we really need darkness?  No, when we wake up, we need light. Why did God create darkness? Why did God sacrifice half the time to be darkness?  Why didn’t He make 20 hours of daylight so we could do what we want to do and only 4 hours for night.  There is a reason for that. 

Laban came at night time, “Jacob, your wife is here”.  Jacob had worked 7 years for Rachel.  Jacob started with one minute, then one week, one month and then one year and then for 7 years he was a slave because he loved Rachel.  What type of love is that?  Working so hard without salary for that person.  For 7 days, God worked so hard for his love and your love (7th day he rested) to teach humanity that working is very important and working walks in parallel with time.

Jacob didn’t remember the importance of time.  He didn’t tell Laban to wait until the morning, it’s late maybe bring my wife early in the morning.  Because Jacob had no mention of time, he believed it is fine.  Do you know what happens during the night when you sleep?  You can’t control your body, your mind shuts down and your eyes are closed and you dream.  You can be in your house but be in the US in your dream.  A time of confusion, a horrible time.  You don’t want anyone to touch you and wake you up.  Your body doesn’t want to function during that time.

Jacob received Leah during that time.  Time is very important.  Even the oxygen you are breathing, what do you do with it?  When you try to pull in the breath, it is a work.  What does it produce?  Sometimes you pull it in because of anger.  When you are walking it is a work, you must make an effort and after walking you have to produce something.  When I leave here, I must walk around the Base and God asks me, “Is it beautiful what you planned today?”  Then what?  How does this help your family and those coming after you?  How does what you are doing help others.  God gave all to help us, why can’t we help others.

Laban gave Leah to Jacob to help.  When I can’t produce something I have to find another way.  If I can’t preach, why not pray for those who preach to preach. Rachel couldn’t give birth so gave Jacob to her servant to produce offspring. If I can’t pray, why not support those with the gift to support them with my prayers.  However, we very often think, because I can’t preach, that is not my job to read the Bible, others can read it for me and bring message on Sunday.  My job is to watch tv and whatever pleases me.

God’s time can’t be changed.  I can’t wear the same clothes I wore as a child.  The clothes can be the same for 50 years but children will change their appearance.  If you will never be the same again, why do you try to make yourself to be the same.  My job is tv and you make yourself stuck there and you don’t want to move.

You promised God when you were saved to work for Jesus.  Add flesh to giving your life to Jesus, He needs to see your actions and your faith.  This is a dangerous time.  My phone distracts me, it is a danger.  You can spend hours on it.  Spiritually, you forget God.  When I watch a tv series, it is a danger and I can forget about God’s time.  When food is there, we can adore it more than God, I love it, it tastes so good.  How often have you said in front of others that you love God?

Time is more important and Leah understood time was precious and she took more servants to produce more children for her husband because the time that was given to us is the time to produce for God.  Jesus came down to produce something.  He came for a job and when He had finished that was when He left.  We are here to produce for God and not for ourselves. When I work I produce my money for myself.  Even offering to God at church can be a problem for some people.

God gave us everything for our own use but when it’s time to create for others, we think 20x.  The time God has given us is limited. Keith Green had a time.  God gave him the talent.  That time has finished.  What we are doing now produces something and although people enjoy it today, it will not be the same tomorrow because God will say it is finished.   Then we can cry like Jesus, my father why have you forsaken me?  This is your time to produce for God, today. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Submission


By Hayley Boud

I have been watching a TV program called about a women detective called Miss Fisher.  It is set in the 1920’s.  Two of the characters are young and about to get married.  Hugh is protestant while Dot is catholic.  Dot wants to get married in the catholic church and the only way that can happen is for Hugh to become a catholic.  The priest has given Hugh a pamphlet about the catholic faith and now they are meeting together to discuss it with Dot present.



The priest asks Hugh, do you have any questions?  Hugh says, it all seems pretty clear to me but I just have one question, is it true that the wife has to submit to her husband?  Dot looks at Hugh with a face that says, what?  The priest says, yes that is correct.  Dot asks the priest, surely that isn’t for today, the bible is very old, that must have been for the old time.  The priest says, no, the Bible is the same today as it was yesterday, it doesn’t change.  Hugh says, oh, I think I’m going to like being a catholic.  Dot looks unhappy.



Watching the program made me laugh but also made me think of some questions around submission:

1.           What does the Bible say about submission?

2.           Why was Dot unhappy about submitting to Hugh?

3.           What is submission?

4.           What are the consequences of not being submitted?

5.           Given that God has commanded that we submit, what are the benefits of submitting?

6.           How to be submitted?



1.           What does the Bible say about submission?



James 4:7, “submit therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you”



Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ



Ephesians 5:22-23, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything”.”



2.           Why was Dot unhappy about submitting to Hugh?

For Dot, she was unhappy about submitting to Hugh because she knew that he would ask her to give up her job and become a stay-at-home mother.  Dot didn’t want to do that.  She was afraid of losing something that made her happy.  I think that is the same for most of us, we don’t want to submit because we fear losing something that we want to keep.  Most of the time, it comes back to our pride that we don’t want to give up.



3.           What is submission?

The Greek word for submission in James 4:7 is “Hupotasso” which means to place in an orderly fashion. 



Christ has the supreme the supreme rule.  He is above all other gods, people, ourselves etc.  Then our husbands, then others.  We need to see that the order is not to put ourselves first but to put ourselves last.  To put our ideas, our desires, our plans, our time, our needs last and to put others’ ideas, desires, plans and time first. 



E.g. I might see that things could be done a easier or better way but maybe my boss doesn’t want to listen. I can explain my point of view and then leave it.  If they don’t want to listen, submit to their way.  Can anyone think of other examples they have faced during the week where they had to submit to others?



E.g. a husband might recognise you are right when you tell him that the towel belongs on the towel rail and not on the floor.  Pick up the towel without saying a word is to submit.  Putting your husband’s needs before your own.



4.           What are the consequences of not submitting?



James 4:7, says the word “therefore” which means we should have a look at the previous verses 1-6.  There were quarrels, lust, murder, envy, hate, wrong motives.  These are the consequences of not being submitted.  You will not have peace in your life.  In verse 6 it says that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. 



Pride causes quarrels because we have to be right and keep arguing our point.  Pride causes lust because we want to have what we don’t.  E.g. I see Ange with a new pair of shoes, I lust after them and my pride makes me want a pair too so everyone will see me with beautiful shoes.  Pride makes us commit murder in our hearts when we hate someone, e.g. they wronged me, I hate them.  Pride causes envy, “I need that car” because we want others to give us glory.  Pride causes us to ask for things with a wrong motive, “God make that person sick for the way they treated me”.



5.           What are the benefits of submitting?

The benefit of submission is that you will live a life that is without quarrels, envy, lust, hatred but instead live a life that is peaceful.  Who doesn’t want a peaceful life? 



6.           How to be submitted?

James 4:7 tells us that humility is the tool needed for submission.  If we are humble we will submit to other people’s ideas and not have to argue with them.  If we are humble, we will submit to God, others and our husbands.  Other tools that help is love and especially patience (fruit of love).  If we are humble, have love for one another and are patient, we will easily submit.  It’s only when our pride gets in the way that we make it hard for ourselves.



E.g. “husband, why do you leave your mess everywhere, can’t you see I just cleaned up, don’t you love me? If you loved me you wouldn’t do this to me”. That’s women logic.  We think that if someone doesn’t do what we want, it means they don’t love us instead of realising that when we complain and are not submitted, we are the ones that don’t love.



Any other tools that you can think of that is needed to be submitted?




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I Want to Know Christ


Philippians 3:10


By Colleen Podmore

 

In the book of Acts, we read how the Lord gave His Apostles the task of testifying to His resurrection as eye witnesses.

Matthew’s gospel proclaims his resurrection (Matt  28:7, he has risen from the dead’)

Mark, a disciple of the apostle Peter writes, ‘Don’t be alarmed..He has risen’ (Mark 16:6)

Luke the doctor who associated with the Apostles but was not an Apostle also testifies, (Luke 24:7)

John also proclaims the resurrection (John 20:9)

Luke confirms it again in the letter he wrote called Acts. He says in Acts 1:3, ‘many convincing proofs that he was alive…’

Acts 1:22 states why the remaining 11 apostles thought they should replace Judas, who betrayed Jesus.

They say, ‘For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection’.

Peter testifies in Acts 2:32, ‘God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.’

And again in Acts 3:15, ‘You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this’

Acts 4:2, ‘They were greatly disturbed because the Apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead’

 

The fact of the resurrection has profound implications for us 2 000 years later.

 

The gospels and Acts are testifying to the resurrection. Most of the rest of the New Testament comprises letters that Paul wrote to the churches in the regions where he had planted them.

Paul teaches more theology and describes in detail how Christians should live.

Paul who never met Jesus before his crucifixion also testifies that Jesus is alive through the encounter he had on the road to Damascus when Jesus spoke to him after which Paul became a follower of Jesus Christ.

 

Paul was a really remarkable man – we know quite a lot about him through his writings and he also has some autobiographical parts in his letters. (Phil 3:5).

He also tells us what motivated him, what drove him on to do all he did and how he survived persecution, disappointments and suffering. He spent the rest of his life proclaiming the gospel. He believed whole-heartedly, without reservation that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and that His Name is the only Name by which we can be saved and that He is alive. Everything that he had achieved up to that point which may be to his credit, he considered as rubbish (Phil 3:7), in comparison to knowing Jesus.

 

Philippians 3:10 – this was Paul’s heart’s desire – what he lived for and worked toward. He said,

 

‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead’ (NIV)

 

Paul writes, ‘I want to know Christ’ – interesting!

He didn’t say ‘I wish I had of known Christ when he was alive’ or ‘I want to know more about Christ, let me talk to the people who knew him personally’, but he said, ‘I want to know Him’ – because he knew without a shadow of doubt that Jesus is alive!

Jesus is alive! The Bible testifies this through the eye witnesses at the time and the testimony of many who have met Jesus down through the ages and Paul, perhaps the greatest Apostle testifies that he can know him in a personal intimate way.

 

Which is good news for us, because like Paul we have not seen Jesus, we have heard of Him and we know a lot about him but we can also know Him personally because He is alive, not as we are but in a new resurrected dimension.

Knowing Jesus and knowing Paul -  Our minds testify to this, for example I really admire Paul but I would never think that I could know him as I can know Jesus. Paul is dead and will one day be resurrected but not yet and therefore I can only know about him.

In fact Jesus invites us to know him as a friend as a lover, as a brother, as a husband, as our Father – all the relationships we have on earth are kind of a shadow of what real intimacy with God looks like.

 

I want to know Christ – how do I do this?

We do need to know about him – we do need to read about him in the gospels, hear about him through preachers but real knowing comes through spending time together, talking with him and walking with him through all the ups and downs of life. Like any relationship, if it is neglected it will die.

 

In conclusion let us press on toward the goal of knowing Him. There is a song we sing ‘The Greatness of our God’ and a line in it which says, ‘I spend my life to know and I’m far from close to all you are’

And Paul felt the same way – his goal was to know Christ and yet he felt far from achieving that goal. It is our life’s work as it was for Paul!

Paul confesses, perhaps like us that he hasn’t got there yet but he ‘presses on’ (Phil 3:12) as we also must do. Let us not give up, but make it our goal to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death and somehow we also will attain to the resurrection from the dead! Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Friends - Communion meditation


By Colleen Podmore

At home, we have a new friend living with us. He is very loyal to us, always happy to see us when we turn up, no matter what the hour. He always comes to greet us and accepts the odd rebuke and is always forgiving. His name is Jimmy and he is a puppy.

I called him a friend – but is this correct? Can a dog be a friend? Can an animal be a friend?

Strictly speaking, no, because the definition of a ‘friend’ is a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relationships. I may experience this bond of mutual affection with an animal but they are not people so they are more companions than friends.

I know a couple who have been friends for about 10 years and are now more than friends. They are still friends but a better description of their changed relationship is they are boyfriend and girlfriend. A friend is someone exclusive of sexual relations.

At the place where I work there are about 80 people that I know. I wouldn’t describe them as friends – more like acquaintances.

I, like you have many relations scattered around the country and world. They are relatives, some may be friends as well but not because they are relatives.

The term ‘friend’ is often used very generally to describe many relationships and in some sense I think that the idea behind the word is lost. Having friends and being a friend is one of the most important relationships for people. You may be an orphan and single and still be blessed because a friend is always possible.

A friend is a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual and family relationships. A friend is someone with whom we have common interests. Friends do things together, care about each other. Anyone can be a friend and can have friends.

What do we look for in friends? What sort of friend do we want to be?

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Do we cultivate friends who push us nearer to God, spurring us on to love and good deeds.  And are we friends like that?

In conclusion, it says in John 15:13 ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends

Jesus laid down his life on a cross for his friends – that’s you and me.

Our friend Jesus has asked us to remember Him in only one way and that is through His death on the cross, the bread we eat represents His body broken on the cross, a substitute for our sin, taking the penalty of our sin on Himself, giving His life as a ransom for many.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’

We also take the cup, representing his life. The Bible says that life is in the blood (Lev 17:11). His life given for our redemption. What a friend we have in Jesus.

Let us never neglect our friends and our friend Jesus is particular



Lord we thank you for your sacrifice on the cross for our sin. We have come now to specifically remember that and thank you for dying in our place.

Please bless both the bread and the juice as we eat and drink together,

In Your Name Jesus, Amen.

Nothing can hinder God's purpose - only if...

By Onyekachi Raymond

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The God of Sarah

By Odon Bulamba



Wife of Abraham

We have started a new day and we are losing time and before we realise it, it will be gone so blessed are those that are in the house of the Lord to feed their souls and prepare themselves for the coming of Jesus.

Ex 3:6, God calls himself God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Who would not be happy to be called the wife of Abraham since he is just an amazing man.  He is the father of faith, the man that God is proud of, it is a privilege to be married to such a man.  If I were married to Abraham, I would feel like the entire world would look at me at think I have a good husband. 

God says to us, whenever two come together, they become one.  Mark 10:8 states, the two become one flesh so no longer two.  God gave Sarah to Abraham.  When we talk about the God of Abraham, we should not forget that the same God is the God of Sarah since they are one flesh.  When we talk about Isaac, we also focus on his wife.

Today, I’m going to talk About the God of Sarah.  Why? Through Sarah, God has accomplished a lot of things, lessons that are very important for our faith to grow.  Abraham is father of faith but Sarah is a path that will teach us what faith is.

Sarah, one day God spoke to her husband (Genesis 17) your wife should not be called Sarai but Sarah.  Imagine when someone does not pronounce your name correctly.  Some are offended.  Here, God is changing the whole name.  Who are you to change my name?  My mother gave me this name and you Abraham, you are telling me that your God has told you that my new name is Sarah.

Without discussion or resistance, Sarah accepted that name.  she didn’t ask the meaning of the name or why God spoke to you Abraham instead of me.  She accepted it without resistance.  Sarah loved her husband.  She called Abraham, “my lord”.  She lived with Abraham in all conditions, even impossible ones.  Abraham told Sarah, you can go with this king to protect my life.  Wasn’t it for Abraham to protect Sarah and to keep her safe from danger and not to expose her life and give her away so that she now has to protect your own life?

Imagine your husband/wife doing that to you?  How will you react?  Maybe you will think he doesn’t care about you and is self-centred.  This poor lady accepted and by doing so, God intervened. There are situations that we come across in our lives where we ask ourselves, how come my husband/wife who is a servant of God can ask me to do such things?  How can he push me to do something against the Word of God? Is this man really a man of God?

How could Abraham do such a stupid thing? Sarah is teaching us submission not only to Abraham but to the Word of God.  How often do we submit and follow the Word of God?  When God tells you, I have changed your name, your life and for you to submit, do you submit?  In life we come across situations where your morning starts heavy with your wife/husband/family and things change and the person becomes angry for no reason.  Maybe you ask them to please calm down or maybe you answer with, “I’ve been repeating myself and you don’t change.  I’m sick of living with you”.

Maybe they will answer, “Look back, where have you come from?  We have been through a lot, you know all the good and effort I have made for you and our family, you know my contribution in your life but because of one simple thing, everything changes”.  How often do you make the lives of your wife/husband/family hard?  You are happy with them but suddenly you change like a monster.

Abraham felt his life was on top of the list because Sarah understands.  Do you sacrifice the interests of others for your own interest?  Do you sacrifice other’s joy or comfort for your own joy or comfort?  This is common in the church.

One time, I was given a five minute lesson to challenge children.  I wrote 1 + 1 = 3.  Everyone said no you are wrong.  Why do you believe I am wrong?  Because you have been taught 1 + 1 = 2 but someone can bring a new lesson to you to contradict everything you believe in.  You can have your culture, experience but God can bring you new lessons that can sometimes contradict everything you previously learnt.

Let’s say you put $50M in ASB bank and tomorrow ASB bank says, we are closing down and we can’t pay you back.  We agree we received your money but we can’t pay you back.  You go to court but they can’t pay you back because they have no money.  The person who was rich is automatically poor, a huge change.  The person was happy because they had a lot of money and now they have zero dollars.  Now God is looking at you, now praise the Lord.

Why only me, why not them?  I feel bitter, jealous for those who are customers of ANZ and wonder why I went to ASB and someone will tell you, I told you.  Very often when God wants to do something in our lives, he takes us downhill to humble us and if you accept to submit, God will bring you up as a winner and victory will follow.

Sarah followed Abraham.  I’m old and I can’t have a baby.  God promised I would get a child at 90 years old.  If God promises you to give you a car or a house and at 90 years of age, if you haven’t yet received it, you might start to doubt.  I’ve lost my strength to work, how will I afford to buy a house.  even if I buy today, who will give me a mortgage at 90?  Doubt will grow up. 

In your life, how often do you doubt God when you look at yourself and your situation?  You start to lose hope and you are not sure that it will be done because God is taking so long to intervene.  God amazingly gave Sarah the child but before giving the child, God challenged Sarah.  Sarah told Abraham, “This is a beautiful handmaid, to please to you Abraham, please have a baby with her”.  Look how much this woman cared for her husband.

Other men will say no, I’m married to you, I love you and if we don’t have a child, I will continue with you.  Abraham accepted Hagar and she conceived.  Sarah is now living in the same house not with the handmaid anymore but someone who now shares the same husband.  What joy will be in the family? 

When Abraham come homes, “Sarah will say welcome home my husband” and maybe Hagar says, “welcome home father of our son, I could give to you what Sarah could not provide”.  Sarah will feel bad.  Sometimes God will not give you what you need in your life but give it to your opponent to make your faith strong.

You wake up, Hagar is there, Abraham I need your help with the baby.  If you were Sarah, what would your reaction will be?  You will say what mistake did I make?  No mistake made because God allowed it for you to strengthen your faith.

Hagar started to look down on Sarah and humiliate her, you are nothing because you cannot conceive.  For only one thing people will look down on you.  Because you don’t have this one thing they will look down on you and forget all your good qualities. Sarah didn’t care much and decided to continue to live with Abraham but requested Abraham talk with Hagar.

Hagar left and God met with her and told her to go back.  Maybe when she left Sarah was relieved but minutes later Hagar returns.  There are things in your life that God will force to come back.  Temptation will make you become the foundation of faith and through you others will learn.  Sarah welcomed her and life continued in that family.

God saw that she had faith in her husband and in Him and now it was time for her to become pregnant.  Did Sarah say, Hagar it is now my turn.  No she was wise.  She didn’t do anything wrong to her servant while pregnant because she knew that she needed her.  Someone can step into your life to shake your life and family but remember your position you hold in that family and continue to play the role in your family regardless of the waves or things that happened on the way.

Abraham and Sarah received their new baby boy Isaac.  Abraham took the child to the mountain to sacrifice the child without telling the mother.  The mother didn’t hate Abraham, she accepted to carry on.  If you are Sarah and the world has been making your life hard and treating you like someone who has no value, do you cry or look at God and ask him to be the solution?  “God I trust in you and this situation will end”.

Husbands cannot live without their wives although they tell you that they know what they are doing and you should follow them but without their wives they are useless, they can’t do one simple thing.  We husbands are worse than children, we want to be bossy and everything that our wives proposes is useless and we see it as not what it should be, our ways should be the best way.  The husband will wake up in the morning and look at their new car and wipe it but they can’t even wipe the coffee table where they left their coffee last night.

When the wife tries to drive the car, the husband will say no, “don’t touch it” or if you accidently scratch it somewhere the joy of the husband will turn to anger.  Without your wife telling you, this is a nice car, you may never have bought it, your wife is the one who helped you to choose something good.  All your friends come, this is my new car not our new car, it is my car.  The same husband will wake up in the morning, you feed him, prepare his clothes but sometimes when they come home, they want to treat you like you are a slave, like you are nothing.

Instead of coming home and praising God, this is my wife, all their focus is on the children.  Sometimes daddies can forget about their wives and all their love shifts to children, material things, to friends.  Although Abraham was the father of faith, he had weaknesses.  He used to hurt Sarah and make her life harder but God is teaching us that a woman is trustworthy with characteristics that are very special.

If someone tells you that they need help, it means they can’t do it by themselves.  God says that the woman is the helper.  Very often we put that aside and think women are weak.  Women are not weak, they are strong.  We have to be grateful to these women who accept to be called any name.  I don’t know the names your husband calls you but you continue to love that man.

Abraham sometimes forgot that Sarah was there, he didn’t tell Sarah about God asking him to sacrifice the child.  He forgot that they are one.  There is not written anywhere that God asked Abraham not to tell Sarah.  When you are faithful to God, what about your wife?  When you want to offer God something, why don’t you come together.  Regardless of whether Sarah wouldn’t want to sacrifice, God is the solution, God what shall I tell my wife so we can do this together.

I have never seen someone keeping a secret from themselves.  It is impossible.  You have your wife/husband and the two of you are one.  Without Sarah, Isaac could not exist and Abraham could not have sacrificed and therefore Abraham couldn’t be the father of faith without Sarah. 

If Sarah was blessed to keep the baby in the womb, now Abraham gets the glory.  What do you think when you do all the work at home and you get no glory.  You cook food and put it on the table, daddy can we eat now.  I cooked it for you, hours for you but you just touch it and put it aside.  it is discouraging.  You need to be strong in order to have faith because you might say, yesterday I cooked and you didn’t like it, why cook again.  Cook and encourage him to eat and sometimes ask him what he would like to eat.

It takes a lot of faith, patience and strength in order to please the person.  The church of God is the bride and we are to be like Sarah going through ups and downs and God can be tough with us and not give to us what we want but give to others but we must continue to trust in Him and serve Him.

Whenever things go wrong and don’t work in your life, do you complain?  Do you cry?  Do you move on?  Maybe not because many feel stressed and that will eat your brain and mind and you feel that you can’t sleep because of what someone did in your life, you lose your joy, peace, strength and commitment.  Remember, Abraham could not be Abraham without Sarah.  If we are talking about God it is because we are alive and others will come to know Jesus because God is using us. That is why God wants us to serve him.  God has chosen us to be with him in all seasons.

Now it is cold, you wear a jacket but when hot, you will take off the jacket.  In summer people sweat but not in winter.  You are forced sometimes with circumstances to make yourself fit in those circumstances.  What season of life have you been living in?  Is it the season where Sarah had no child and she gave her maiden to her husband?  Is it the season where you are pregnant?  Is it the season where you have a small baby?  Is it the season where the child has grown up and is now getting married?  Forget and forgive what your wife/husband did to you.  Sarah didn’t talk or remember what Abraham did wrong or what Hagar did wrong.

What can separate you from your husband/child/God?  nothing should separate us from the love of God, even death.  Don’t become angry, anxious, sad because your husband acted badly but instead consider him as a child.

We went to sit an exam and this lecturer walked in and shook his head and said, you are so stupid.  If you were that student, what would your reaction be?  Maybe that student wondered, what did I do wrong?  Where did you see my stupidity?  Morally that student was melting just before the exam.  The student next to him said, don’t mind him.  That student ended up with more than 80%.  For the lecturer it was a test to see how my students can fail just from a word.

Maybe words thrown at you will make you melt, to fall into anger or lose joy.  Don’t’ consider those words.