February 16, 2013

Misplaced Hope? Find It In Christ.

If you have been following the news, then you are definitely aware of the situation surrounding Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius. The news of him shooting his girlfriend took the world by surprise and i am almost certain that some like myself,have not only been disappointed to see such a young man with so much potential go to possible waste, but have been asking so many questions in our minds. Questions that we might never get answers to.

As shocked as i still am about the whole situation, i couldn't help but think about the thousands of people that Oscar must have disappointed, the thousands of people whose dreams have died with his ordeal and the thousands of people whose hopes have been crashed in all the chaos.

In the last few days following the incident, so many articles have been published about Oscar Pistorius. Some detailing his life, how he was born without fibula and became a double amputee,his life's journey of how he came to be an athlete, how he became the first double amputee to compete in a major event such as the Olympics and how he became a source of inspiration and hope to so many. Yahoo News reports that he came to have a cult following and became a major celebrity after achieving this feat.http://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics--distraught-oscar-pistorius-could-face-charge-of--pre-meditated-murder--111548119.html.

This got me thinking about all those people who had come to admire him, to look up to him, to be inspired by him, who dreamt and hoped to one day be like him especially with the handicapped population. Some of these people's dreams and hopes, together with O.P's career died the instant they heard about O.P's ordeal and that, is the problem with our world today.

It is understandable that as humans, we need some sort of motivation to keep us going on our various causes but that is as far as it should go-motivation. Nobody could have predicted this in O.P's future and neither did he plan to hurt the thousands of people that looked up to him with this unfortunate act. Some of his loyal fans might even be too distraught to want to continue living, forgetting that O.P is just a mere mortal like them and they should have never placed their hope or belief in him in the first place.

Our hope for everything in life and salvation should be deeply rooted in Jesus Christ and not man. Numbers 23; 19 says ' God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?'.Every thing and every one in our lives will fail and disappoint us at one time or another whether they want to or not. But there is only one person in the world who has given us His word that He will never forsake or abandon us because we are His children and He never has. That person is Jesus Christ and that is whom we should be putting our hope and trust in, because what He says He will do, that He does and He always has the final say as long as we talk to Him, believe and hope in Him only.

 Romans 8:24-25 says 'For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.' Why do we humans always put our hope in mere mortals like us? It is clearly stated in this verse that hope that is seen is not hope.All those who had their hopes in O.P were somehow setting themselves up for failure, for no body knows what the next minute holds. If O.P knew that this awaited him in his future, he would have done everything in his capacity to stop it i am sure but since God holds our destinies in His hands, even he didn't see this one coming.

Faith and hope are two words that are in someway intertwined because you cannot hope without having faith in the first place, and hoping in something or someone means you are believing and trusting in them or putting your faith in them. The Bible in many instances warns us against trusting or putting our faith in humans. Passages like Psalms 118:8 which says ' It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” and Micah 7:5 which says 'Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms' state it very plainly for understanding.

How many times have loved ones failed us,close friends betrayed us or parents disappointed us? But we have many Bible guarantees that when we put our faith and hope in God, He will never fail us. Passages like Proverbs 3:5 says '“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”, Psalm 9:10 says 'And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” and Psalm 37:5 says 'Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” .Every time we choose to believe in God,rely, depend and hope in Him, He will never fail us, betray us or disappoint us because He is a God who keeps His promises.

For all those people who had built their faith and hope in O.P, together with O.P himself, it is not late to reroute their attention and focus in the right direction. This is a period of trial and tribulation for both O.P and his loyal fans but they can delight in the fact that God will be there every step of the way to give them strength to carry on, support them when they feel alone,give them courage when they feel weak and work things out for their own good. Romans 5:2-5 says 'Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.'.But they can only tap into all of those blessings when they put their faith in God which Romans tells us, has been made freely accessible to us through His grace and love.

For O.P, his fans and anybody who is faced with a difficult situation and is in need of hope, let Job in the Old Testament be your inspiration, your motivation and a Biblical story you can use to draw strength from. For despite all the trials and temptations that he went through at the hands of the devil,he remained adamant to all the talks trying to convince him to give up on God. Instead, he remained strong in his faith and continued to hope in a God who eventually vindicated him before all his enemies. Job 13:15 reads 'Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.'

I hope the message of this piece is not lost in translation because i am in no way judging O.P. It is very unfortunate what has happened to him and i sympathize with him and his family and that of the deceased. God alone knows the full story and i can only offer up prayers for him, his family, the deceased family, and those heartbroken by these events.I pray they all remain strong and put their faith in God, for He alone knows best why things happen the way they do. Find hope in the words of Romans 12:12 which says 'Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.'

I just simply got inspired to use this as a wake up call to all of us. So many of us have misplaced our hope and faith.There are those who put their faith in fake gods,those who have false belief systems and then there are those who put their hope and faith in their fellow man.For all these people, betrayals,failures and disappointments are just moments away.

But there is only one True God who when we believe and hope in, we are certain that He will keep His promise of never failing us and make us the envy of those who do not know Him yet.For all those who had misplaced their hope, it is time you found it and put it in Christ Jesus.

Romans 15:13.'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.'

February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday: Be An Ambassador For Christ During Lent

Happy Ash Wednesday Fellow Christians

The messages of today's liturgy were perfect and on time to usher us into the Season of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days set aside for Christians to worship God in His entirety, experiencing the pain Jesus Christ went through for our sake, changing our attitudes towards the things of God, and striving for righteousness. This is not peculiar only to the Catholic Church as other denominations partake in it too and i think every Christian ought to share in the Lent, the Passion Of Christ Jesus.

The readings were Joel 2:12-18, 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 and Mathew 6:1-6,16-18 for the first reading, second reading and the gospel respectively.

In the first reading, the Prophet Joel is delivering a message to the people of Zion from God. God is asking His people, men, women and children alike to return to Him with their whole hearts, fasting and mourning for their sins. But that he is not looking at their outward appearance but the depth of their hearts, and He being a merciful, kind and gracious God will always be slow to anger, relent in punishment and shower them with His love.

During this Lent season , we are invited from the first reading to make changes in our lives. Prophet Joel tells us how God wants us to change on the inside and not just on the outside. So what change of attitude do you want to enact during this season? God tells us that He doesn't look at our garments but our hearts.I think the most reasonable change for any of us who call ourselves Children Of God would be to acknowledge our sins each time we falter this season and genuinely ask for God's forgiveness. Every time we sin, we are separated from the Love of God and all that comes with it and the only thing that brings us back into that love, is when we realize our faults and seek forgiveness for He freely gives it to us. That realization occurs within our hearts, and then we make a conscious decision to go to God in prayers, not only asking Him to forgive us but to change us from inside out because when that happens, then we become cautious of the things we say, think or do which limits our sinfulness.

 In the second reading, Paul is calling us to be ambassadors for Christ, to reconcile ourselves to God for because of us, Christ became sin who knew no sin, that we might become His righteousness. He asked us to not receive the grace of God in vain for God heard us in an acceptable time and helped us in the day of salvation.

Paul calls us to be ambassadors for Christ at all times of our lives but especially during this season. We were made in the image and likeness of God and now we have been called to share the message of Christ's salvation.We have been called to be the medium which God uses to reach out to those in the darkness, to those who are blind in the word and to those who have not experienced His goodness.Lent is the perfect season for us to be these ambassadors because it is the period that Christ endured pain and was crucified for our sins and every body needs to be aware of what freedom we have because of that sacrifice.

In the Gospel, Jesus is basically warning us against false worship. That worship which we do in public such as telling everyone when we are fasting or looking famished because we are fasting, praying in the secrecy of our rooms instead of in public because God hears us from the comfort of those walls, and not doing charity work like helping the sick, needy, widows for others to see but because we are doing it for His kingdom.

Whatever we choose to do to honor God during this season of Lent needs to come from our hearts. Let us not be hypocrites or eye servants who say things but do not practice them or who only practice them when we have an audience. That is not to say we should not live out our faith for again, the Bible tells us that faith without works is dead. We have to be careful and know when and where to draw the line between being a plain show off or genuinely doing what He has called us to do. Jesus in the gospel mentioned fasting, praying and giving alms but the list goes far beyond. Whatever means you choose to honor God during this period, let it be from your heart and not because you have an audience to praise your works. For Jesus tells us that His Father in Heaven who is all-seeing would reward us in the secrecy of our hearts and homes.

Forty days may seem too long a time to set any goals and be able to achieve them. These forty days of Lent represent the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness and got tempted. The spirit of God was with Him and He was able to overcome all temptations that the devil teased Him with. It is always advisable to fast during these days but not all can do it.

Not to worry, there are other ways in which you can try to experience Christ during this period. They include but are not limited to volunteering your time, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing those without, providing shelter, treating our bodies like the temple of God that they are by watching the things we eat and the things we do to it, preaching the good news, making sure that our thoughts, actions and words are all to the glory of His name.

It is a long period of time to do all these but we don't have to do it alone.If we can make resolutions to loose weight and accomplish it in however long it takes us, then we surely can follow through with this. Like Jesus who had the spirit of God guiding Him throughout in the wilderness, we need to ask God to never let His spirit depart from us. That His spirit should guide us like it did Jesus, that His spirit should be with us at all times to give us strength when we feel weak,courage when feel discouraged,passion in our hearts to keep going, lift us up if and when we fall.

It is not going to be an easy forty days but with God, we can do it. I hope that somehow i am able to chronicle mine for you here and hope that it inspires you or encourages you to keep going in yours. May God be with us all during this period of His suffering, when we come to first of all feel the pain He went through, be thankful for the sacrifice He made for us and rejoice when He resurrects on the third day.Let us go out there, be ambassadors for Christ in the way we live our lives these forty days and hopefully beyond.

Good luck to all of you participating in Lent and may God be your strength. Happy Ash Wednesday people and a blessed rest of the week. 

February 11, 2013

Last Sunday's message.

 We Are All Members Of The Body Of Christ.

So I am back with the first Sunday's message in weeks.

Mass yesterday was beautiful and the message couldn't be more timely for the times that we are facing right now.

The first reading came from Nehemiah 8:2-4a,5-6,8-10, the second reading was from 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 and the Gospel was from Luke 1:1-4,4:14-21.

The first reading talked about The Law. The law were a series of rules that Ezra the priest read to men, women and children who could understand and it consisted of the things that God expected from us. The things that we could not do as Christians and all who were present at the reading of the law payed reverence to God by prostrating on the floor with their faces down, and rejoicing in the words He had given to them through the priest Ezra.

The second reading talked about the Body of Christ and its parts. Christ is the head of that body and we are the parts and every single part is important in its own way and none is less honorable than the other, because they all perform different functions that contribute to the well being of the whole.

The Gospel talked about Jesus returning to Galilee and going to Nazareth in the synagogue where He read the words that were inscribed on a scroll by Prophet Isaiah as follows
 'The spirit of the Lord is upon me,
  because he has anointed me
  to bring glad tidings to the poor.
 He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives 
  and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord'.
And Jesus after reading those words said to the people in the synagogue 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'.

There were two poignant messages that were delivered to us in the liturgy yesterday which are: that we are all members of Christ body and that God's spirit through Jesus would free us from any bindings.

What does it mean in today's world to be members of Christ body?  St Teresa of Avila in one of her writings, writes that Christ has no body on earth but ours, He has no hands on earth but ours and has no feet on earth but ours. He remains the head of that body and we are the different parts.

We all have different talents and are unique in our own abilities. Some are writers, some are preachers, some are doctors,some are chefs,some are lawyers, some are volunteers and so on. We all have been called in one way or the other by God to our various careers, hobbies,vocations and professions. We all cannot be lawyers, neither can we all be doctors. But we exist in these different arenas so that we can collaborate and work as one people, a people made by God, a people joined together in the body of Christ.

So we need to use our different talents, vocations and professions to do the service and work of God. This would be especially helpful to the needy, the orphaned and the widows. Because by lending our services and volunteering our time to those in need, we are sending a bigger message of Faith and of a God than we would by mere talk. Not one of us is less honorable than the other just as every single part of our body contributes to the whole function of ourselves.

Jesus was filled with the Spirit of God when he went into the synagogue and read the words of Prophet Isaiah on the scroll, and after reading it, He declared that the scripture was fulfilled to our hearing. He meant that the scripture is fulfilled in our lives as we believe in it.

Jesus was sent to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, sight recovery to the blind, set the oppressed free and proclaim the year acceptable to God.

In our lives, we have been held captive in one way or another, we are blind in certain aspects of our lives and we have been enslaved by different problems. The message of yesterday is to free us from all that has hold over our lives, be it sickness, financial troubles, spirituality, family issues and all.
Jesus is the Son of God who was filled with that Spirit and who declared us free from all bondage. God's Spirit empowers Jesus to proclaim God's presence and release us from whatever kind of prisons we might be held in our  lives.

So as we begin the new week and go about our days, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we are Christ's hands, feet and body of which He is the head, and carry out our duties as members of that Sacred body. Where ever we find ourselves in life, there is a reason why God put us there and we have to make the whole body honorable by first, honoring the part or role we have been given to play in society as members of Christ element.

And Christ is telling us that He has freed from whatever burden we are carrying in life but we need to take it to Him in prayers first, then believe it and it shall be ours. So what do you need Jesus to free you from today? Just ask Him and it will be done.

Have a happy and blessed week people.

February 6, 2013

Jesus is jealous for me.

Love Series: part 2

Part 1 of the Love series i started with focused on the love Jesus tells us to have for one another.We looked at the second commandment and why it was very timely in the Christmas season because we had to show love to one another. In this second part, i want to talk about loving God. Keeping Him as the number one lover in our lives.

Have you ever thought it a coincidence that the Bible as huge as it is, with so many books and passages has John 3:16 as the most famous, most recited and most rehearsed scripture? Even a non-believer and the devil himself can recite John 3:16 at the top of their heads and interpret its full meaning. This should be a challenge to us Christians that if non-believers and the devil know of the greatness of God's love, then we ought to be basking in that Love.

John 3:16 states “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life". It is because of God's love for us that He sent His only son Jesus Christ as Messiah to come deliver us from bondage and enslavement. In the present times we live in, we have been enslaved by so much that goes on the world. Sex, money, power, lies, steals and so on have enslaved us and blinded our eyes from seeing the truth that lies right in front us, and that Truth is JESUS CHRIST.

Romans 5:8 reads "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God loves us and loved us even a sinners. The bible tells us that we by birth have fallen short of the kingdom of God and as human beings, our human nature gets us into trouble every now and then. But despite all that, all of our shortcomings, our failures and our disappointments, God even so loved us more and still gave His son up on that cross for you and me.

So knowing all of that, why not worship Him in spirit and in truth as the Bible clearly tells us to. Mathew 6:24 -25 says" No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"
This message is timeless as it was not just for those whom Jesus was speaking to at the time in the Bible but it also translates to us. If we are going to serve God, we need to do that with everything that we have. It really isn't possible to serve two masters at a time because both require some level of commitment and usually, the most requirement that comes with a lot of work would be from the one other than Jesus. 

Jesus honestly requires just little from us as Mark 12:28- 30 says "And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."  This is the first most important commandment of all times. It is very simplistic in that God needs nothing else from us but that we should love Him as much as He loves us. God is a very jealous God and rightfully so. 

If we could pay just one third of the attention to God as we do to our Facebook profiles, our twitter handles, Google+ accounts and so on, then our lives would be so much different and easier. Because all He wants from us is that we should show Him that much care and concern as He definitely shows to us. He wants us in our entirety, all of us, our soul, body, mind and heart because that much He gave to us in the form of His Son on the cross of Calvary.

John 14:21-24 says "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”  Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him,  “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me." This is plain English in which even the lay man can understand. If we love God, there is absolutely no way in which we would not abide by His word and absolutely no way, He wouldn't in turn bless us.

The world gets too rowdy sometimes and we get caught up in all the chaos but as Children of God, we need to always once in a while, stop and stare at our lives, examine what direction it is taking and reroute ourselves back to God. It is very important  that we find time for God, we find that special place that is meant only for Him in our lives because He has a special place for us, reason why He answers every time when we call on Him no matter what atrocities we have committed.

What matters to Him is our hearts and our spirit; that we genuinely love Him and that we are always willing to serve Him and stay connected with Him. Agreed that we have issues that we need to attend to in our lives, but we cannot let those override the time we spend with Him. Jesus needs to know that we are for Him as He is for us. If you were not in communication with Him, it is never too late and so you are not overwhelmed, five minutes a day like they say is a very good place to start. And if you were already but need to spend more time with Him like myself, then it wise to make a conscious decision and set time aside meant only for Him.
I thank God for this platform He has given me and as i write, you need to know i am not perfect and most of the time, i am writing about my struggles too. The beauty of it for me is that while writing as God inspires me, i get to see a new perspective, i have renewed hope and renewed aspirations and now, more than ever, is to love My God, the creator and mediator of my life, with all that i got, because it is only by His grace that  i am here and i am able to do what i do.

He is jealous for me and guards me as though i were His only care in the world, it is about time i too were jealous for my God and i hope you too. Jesus loves us and is for us, so how about we start showing and according Him the same love He accords us with.