Created for Significance

When we were young we loved to recite the story of Simon Makonde. A man whose life spanned a week. He was born on Monday and he was dead by Sunday. For a simon-makondechild’s mind this story did not mean much. This story elicited a feeling of sadness. Perhaps it is the way it ended. He died.

But  isn’t that how everyone’s life ends? We die? Perhaps it was not that he died, but that his life was ordinary and unremarkable. Clearly, the writer of this story had something in mind. I doubt his intention was that we take it literally as no one goes through all that in a week.

The milestones in the short life of Simon Makonde are similar to what often our lives end up being about. Think about it. Our lives go through the same motions from birth to death. Is that all? Have you ever felt like your life could be more?

Let’s journey back to Monday. Simon Makonde was born: birth gives us a sense of belonging. Our sense of worth is strongly defined by our heritage. Birth gives us identity. In our early years we have dreams of the possible. Nothing we dreamt of seemed out of reach. What did you aspire to achieve when you were young? Think about this for a moment. Journey back to your earliest dreams in your childhood. List the things you believed you would accomplish.

Rick Warren in his book the Purpose Driven Life asks the question.  “What on earth am I here for?” This may be a question many have had from time to time. When responding to this question many are limited to the what of their lives. The question of purpose is not about ‘what’ but a question of ‘why’. Why on earth am I here? When describing yourself to someone, do you find that your identity is limited by what you do or your roles? How often do you describe yourself using your character qualities?

Every person is born with potential. This potential is inscribed in the foundations of being. We are made in the image of God. We were made for a purpose. At the core of realizing our potential is Our Identity. Do you still see the image of God in you? What elements of God’s image for your potential? Can you list those?

This is first instalment of a series we are calling #Unleashed:created for significance. We will explore our identity in the image of God and how to redeem it. It is never too late to live a life of significance.

Colossians 1:6 “…—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.” [MSG]

Finding our purpose must start at the beginning. At the source. Where did you come from? What is your identity? Can you describe your heritage. The gospel of Matthew begins by laying out the genealogy of Jesus. This was important in setting out Jesus’s purpose. It was affirmed at Jesus’ baptism when, “a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

 

Where did I come from? Whatever our story, we must trace our heritage back to the true source. We were created in the Image of God. Tracing back to this place is best described in in worship. Redeeming our purpose begins with redeeming our identity and connection to our true source.

Matt 22: 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The entire revelation of God in Scriptures hangs on our worship to God and relationship with others. We must begin with a love for God with our all. Mind, Heart, Body and Soul. Then we ought to love others as ourselves. Jesus here was referencing all the past revelation of God’s truth as was recorded in the Law of Moses and the writings of the Prophets. The entire existence of religion and instructions of worship summarized into these two laws of love. This is the essence of worship. It would seem that giving our all in worship requires the heart, mind, body and soul. It is in this connection that our potential is unlocked. Today we will explore the mind.

The power of the mind to yield transformation

The mind is a powerful part of who we are. It has great power in unlocking our potential. It is defined as follows.

The mind is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, and memory.

The mind is the faculty of a human being’s reasoning and thoughts. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind)

Paul in his writings recognized the power of the mind in our worship.

Romans 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

It seems here that we have the capability to renew our minds. What has entered our minds is plenty. All throughout our lives we take in new stimulus. Alot of what we take in gets etched in our minds. It is believed that some things are permanently ingrained in parts of our brain as memory. Many of our battles are lost or won in the mind. Things that we have taken in become part of our self identity.

Self Identity: can commonly be described at thoughts I believe to be true about myself. These can be based on personal experiences, what I think others think about me, or based on how I compare myself with others. (Transformational Leadership Training)

The truth is that our identity is defined by God himself. God is He says He is and I am who he says I am.

This is the Potential that is locked in. In me is God defined DNA.

What are some of the things found in God’s DNA? What attributes of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit do we know? Study God’s word and list these.

The image of God in me is musked by the sinful nature. The mind is battle-ground for the enemy. It is a battle of identity. It is also a battle won with truth. Sin has no power in the light. Sin has power only in the dark

Getting Out of The Dark

I propose three steps to get out of the dark. These are simple things we can begin to grow in doing.

 

Unlock your potential:

Everything that God created was good. Sin has masked the goodness in this creation. The first step in redeeming that which is good begins with the work of God himself. We are so deep in sin that it would take the one who is without sin to get us out.

The first step is to receive God’s LIFE in our lives by accepting the Lordship of Christ.

Rom 8: 1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

If you have not accepted Jesus as Lord, start here. Click here if you would like to know more about how to accept Jesus as Lord.

Feed Your Mind Right & Starve yourself of poisons:

The second step is taking charge of what finds access into your mind. What will you let in from this point onways.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

What will you allow into your mind? Does it fit the description above? What kind of company do you keep? Do you surround yourself with people who share your values? People who believe in the God in you?

Tool: Response-ability

Many times you may not have control of what you receive into your mind. Steven Covey proposes though that everyone has control of his/her response. When you receive information or someone tells you something, you can arrest your thoughts about it. Because thoughts result in feelings which result in action. Commit from now on to own your thoughts because we always have a choice.

 

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Arrest it before it enters your mind!

God can redeem your past:

Everyone has a story. While the last two steps address the way forward, you may be wondering what to do with what has already made its way into your past. Can we change the past? I am afraid no. But we can change how the past affects us now. The first step of accepting the Lord is often called redemption. This means, that which is possible becoming still possible. You have been redeemed. Your story is powerful when placed in the Hand of God.

Gen 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

“Life stories make up the thread that connects the human family.  It may well be that we can leave no greater legacy than the story our life” (Robert Atkinson, ‘The Gift of Stories’)

Joseph’s story in the passage above would have been tragic in many ways. Can you imagine what it would do to you if your very own family sold you into slavery? Be God revealed to him a grand plan of turning was sown in tears to reap joy.

Begin to process your past with a view of identifying the Hand of God in every significant occurrence. Click here to find is a tool called for leveraging the power of your story by Gail Seidel. It uses 5 H’s:

  • Your Heritage: family of origin, background, geography
  • Your Heroes: key relationships, characters in your life
  • Your High Points: home, school, community, career
  • Your Hard Times: difficulties, stresses, health, disappointments, losses
  • Notice the Hand of God: How and where was God working in every stage of your life?

As you journey through this series we pray that your potential will be unlocked and your life will be lived with significance.

 

There is something about the season of two weeks we have just experienced. No matter what stage of life you are in there is goodwill in the air. Employers are generous [giving out off days over and above leave days, bonuses are rife, gifts], friends and family want to spend time with you, people travel far to be with their parents, children have the longest break in the year, transitions from one stage to another often happens during this season. We have called these two weeks the festive season. It is fitting that the season begins with a celebration of Christ’s birth. This is important to me as a Christian. It may mean something else to the marketers or non Christians. Soon after that week of Christmas the New Year festivities follow closely. While practically nothing different has happened in the dawn of 1st of January, definitely something happens in our psyche. We have renewed hope, we have gratitude, we have renewed energies. It is this feeling that drives many to set resolutions. We believe anything is possible!

What are your resolutions for this year? What aims will you set your sights on?

I have goals for this year. I have aspirations, just like I did last year. But I have chosen to take a moment and pause. What about this year’s resolution will be different from the last? What will I keep and what must I change? After much processing, I have concluded this…

I will choose to worship, with my goals, my aspirations, my gifts, my all. I will pursue worship. Worship of the Most High God.

Deut 28:2 “You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:”

Villa RosaThis is the day after Valentines Day. There are many legends, myths and accounts relating to this tradition. Reading up on it on the internet one comes across a lot of theories and information. I came across these six surprising facts about Valentine’s Day [I cannot confirm the facts]:

  1. The St. Valentine who inspired the holiday may have been two different men.
  1. In all, there are about a dozen St. Valentines, plus a pope.
  1. Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers and epilepsy, among many other things.
  1. You can find Valentine’s skull in Rome.
  1. Chaucer (a poet) may have invented Valentine’s Day.
  1. You can celebrate Valentine’s Day several times a year.

Desire for Love

One thing is clear though, that this tradition feeds on the desire to be loved and to find love. Of course the marketers have clued in on this and see it as an opportunity to rake in money, literally. An example is the Night of Diamonds by a hotel in Nairobi. One popular business owner advised that you should not spend all your money on a bedroom. Hopefully those who did enjoyed it and got value for their 2.3M Night of Diamonds. We all have a desire for love; to love and be loved.

Created by Love to Love and Be Loved

This is intrinsic in us because we are created by LOVE, for love, to love and to be loved. We respond to love because it is in our nature. The whole Gospel story draws from an understanding by the Creator of the Human race that man is created for love yet he does not always know it.

Love has a value and we have sought to equate it with things. For you perhaps you put a value to it on Valentine’s Day and went all out for it. What is the value of your love? Is it a bar of chocolates, a ring, an expensive dinner? What is it? Can you really place a value to it?

Devalued

While the love we have has great value, life and its experiences erode this value and reduce it to what we have learnt to believe in.

  • Sin: The devil knows that sin separates us from our true source of value. He uses untruths to devalue us. As long as we live in sin, we cannot fully realize the intrinsic value placed in us by God.
  • Experiences: It is likely in life you have experienced rejection [Visa Denied, Job Interview Failure, Exams Failure] and it has slowly define how you view yourself.
  • Relationships: People around you may have treated you in ways that have informed your view of yourself; Parents, Teachers, Lover

Valued by God

A devaluation would presume a valuation. Who placed value on me? God did. When he made his creation it pleased him. He delighted in making me who I am. God made you and put great value in you. It pleased the Maker of all Creation to make his creation as beautiful as it is. You are made so wonderfully complex (Psalm 136)

To know the kind of value God has placed on us, see what he was willing to give in our place. This is what it was worth to God.

“God SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE,

HE GAVE, his one and only son.” John 3:16

His love for us was so much that he could not find anything else to give in its place. If this does not give you a sense of worth, then nothing will. These are the elements of the one who was equated to the love God had for us.

Key Text: Colossians 1:15-25

  • Jesus: The Image of God

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. (Col 1:15)

The verse before Col 1:14 says we who have experienced in ourselves “redemption”, know Christ in the glorious character here described.

image — exact likeness and perfect Representative. His essential character as always “the image of God,” Before, now and for eternity.

No man has seen God at any time; the only Son, who is on the breast of the Father, he has made clear what God is. John 1:18 BBE

  • Jesus: The Creator

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, FOR through him God created EVERYTHING in the heavenly realms and on earth.(Col 1:15,16)

 

  • Jesus: Before all things

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  (Col 1:17 KJV)

 

  • Jesus: The redeemer

Through him uniting all things with himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, uniting all things which are on earth or in heaven. (Col 1:20 BBE)

Propitiation

“Propitiation means the turning away of wrath by an offering. In relation to soteriology, propitiation means placating or satisfying the wrath of God by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.”[1]

Before the Lamb of God was offered as a sacrifice once and for all, other sacrifices would be given to appease the wrath of God and atone for sins. These often needed to be given from time to time with a value attached to it. In comparison, the value of Christ as the atoning sacrifice wiped out sin once and for all.

1 Peter 3:18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

  • Jesus: Head over all and the Church.

And he is the head of the body, the church: the starting point of all things, the first to come again from the dead; so that in all things he might have the chief place. (Col 1:18 BBE)

Eph_1:22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.

How the do we respond to this LOVE?

  • Valued: You are Invaluable/Priceless in the eyes of God
  • Redeemed: You had been devalued by sin and left for dead but God redeemed you to LIFE

Believer: If you are here and a believer stop living in the past, consider ways you are still living in your former past, the shadow of your past is a lie from the enemy, you must break loose. Do not be like the animal who has lived on a leash all its life and on the day he was released, he never ventured far beyond where the leash would let it. List those down and pray that Jesus would breathe LIFE in to every area of your life.

Seeker: If you are yet to accept Christ as Lord over your life, you have an opportunity to unwrap the value that is within you. Do not accept to live a life where your worth is uncertain. Determined by Creation and not the Creator, earned instead of given, experienced instead of being intrinsic. This is how you accept Christ as Lord; accept you are a sinner, repent of your sin and ask Jesus to become Lord over your life.

Salvation is a gift that is given. Because it gave God the pleasure to give it, he is honoured when we accept it. Pray that God will continuously remind you of his love through his Grace.

  • Church: It is said that you are the average of 5 people who are around you. If you surround yourself with people who know the truth, it will be easier to live it out. Connect to the local church, whether for you it is Lifespring Chapel or you are a member somewhere else; this is the Body of Christ. Individuals are connected together locally as well as globally. Get engaged and active in the church.

Behold what manner of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when He shall be revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1Jn 3:1-2 MKJV)

[1] Charles C. Ryrie (1999-01-11). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth(Kindle Locations 5503-5504). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

For years, the payments went out of the woman’s bank account.

Nobody batted an eyelid. Bills were paid. And life went on as normal in the quiet neighborhood of Pontiac, Michigan.

Neighbors didn’t notice anything unusual. The woman traveled a lot, they said, and kept to herself. One of them mowed her grass to keep things looking tidy.

At some point, her bank account ran dry. The bills stopped being paid.

After its warnings went unanswered, the bank holding the mortgage foreclosed on the house, a common occurrence in a region hit hard by economic woes.

Still, nobody noticed what had happened inside the house. Nobody wondered out loud what had become of the owner.

Not until this week, when a worker sent by the bank to repair a hole in the roof made a grisly discovery.

The woman’s mummified body was sitting in the back seat of her car, parked in the garage. The key was halfway in the ignition.

Authorities say they believe the woman died at least five years ago. They’re still trying to figure out what happened.

This Story was reported on CNN last year. This bizarre incident happened in Oakland County, just outside of Detroit, Michigan. The report indicates that she had family elsewhere but the closest was an estranged sister.

The story of the woman can easily happen in the city of Nairobi. We live in neighbourhoods where we can easily keep to ourselves. Our pursuit of independence is subtle yet very strong. We work long hours to make sufficient so that we would not need anyone’s help or be a burden to anyone. We leave in the dark and come back in the dark. We shop in the large all inclusive shopping malls, gone are the times we could me at the neighbourhood kiosk. We can be so far from family or extended relatives and visits are limited to only a handful of times in a year. Call from home can easily get frowned upon because most often they come to us because they need money, or someone is ill or passed on.

I look at the flat where we live. We see each other but we do not know each other. I have never been invited to any of the homes there. We have a neighbour who none of us know what he does. He is quiet elderly man and lives alone. He only says a pleasant hello when he passes by you.

How many of your neighbours do you know and visit?

But the truth is we from time to time will need someone else. In some cases those that we need will be strangers. You have heard stories of people who fall sick in the middle of town and God sends a helper to respond to the need.

We continue to introduce our study of Colossians. We will remain in the portion we read last week. You recall that as was typical with Paul’s letters and perhaps writings of the time, the first section is salutations following by an introduction. This portion of introduction touches on basic facts about the players in the book. It would be those the book is written to, through or by. In this case, Paul was sending a prayer to a church he had not visited. His prayer was that they would be founded in the right principles.

Read Col 1:1-14(Click here to read)

Of particular interest is the reference of Paul’s prayer. He is speaking to a people. He commends them about the GREAT LOVE they have for others given by the HOLY SPIRIT (Take NOTE). His prayer is that God would reveal his knowledge to them. He prays that they would continually do good and kind things to others. There is an indication here of expression of kindness. It would seem their lifestyle spoke for itself already. That they would, “continue” in the same fashion. A distinct verse is 12, here there is a label, “God’s Holy People”. Paul speaks of an inheritance for a people. It is as if there was already people known by that name. They are not known so because what others called them but because God knows them as such. It is he who has apportioned inheritance to these people.

Christians

In the early days, in the first and second century, a people came about that were distinct in their values and practices that they were given a name. They would mostly be known as the people of “The Way”.

“…It was at Antioch that the believers[a] were first called Christians.” Acts 11:26

It is a term used to describe a person belonging to or following Christ.

There are many accounts of these people from leaders, pagans and first hand observers in the first and second century. Here is a contemporary summary of the early church.

“. . . Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery, chaos, fear, and brutality of life in the urban Greco-Roman world. . . . Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachment. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fire, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services. . . . For what they brought was not simply an urban movement, but a new culture capable of making life in Greco-Roman cities more tolerable.” Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity[1]

Interdependence with

God designed this life to be lived in community. It is as though he knew that we are driven to independence.  We are designed to be interdependent. God designed us to need specific relationships to thrive.

God

The primary relationship he gave us is with himself. Man has sought to be independent from God with disastrous results.

Sin brought about isolation from our essential relationship. It has been a tactic of the enemy from early on. Separated from that primary relationship caused us to wither and die.

There are two other relationships that God created us to explore and grow. These are

·         Fellow Humans

·         Creation.

Wholesome reationships involve the three: God, Fellow Humans and Creation

Watch Out For Isolation

Lonely

i·so·late verb ˈīsəˌlāt/
  1. 1.cause (a person or place) to be or remain alone or apart from others.

If you have been keen to watch the Hunting technique of wild cats you will notice that they would rarely attack a herd. They tactfully isolate the weaklings and prey on them.

The Enemy is on the prowl.

Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour; (1Pe 5:8 MKJV)

  • Physical Isolation: Watch out that you are not physically isolated from those who you share common values and beliefs. This exposes you to danger.
  • Emotional Isolation: You may be with others yet isolated. This is often when you have been wounded by others so you choose to protect your hurt from further pain. You may also get emotionally isolated when there is no one you can be vulnerable to.
  • Spiritual Isolation: This is especially true for those who do not see the need to grow spiritually with others. You take your faith as a personal matter. You end up with no one to check your beliefs. I believe that most of the growth I have had as a Christian has been in community. Be careful too that you do not consider yourself too knowledgeable in Spiritual matters than others.

Q: Lord what would you have me be? In the area of LIFE Relationships

Be…there for LIFE

  • Take away and Reflection for Prayer- What can I do more, do less, or do without to be there for (community) LIFE this year.

Objective of Meeting Together

Read Hebrews 10:19-24 (Click here to read)

  • Grow: Spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
  • Know God
  • Socio-Economic Support

[1] Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity, Princeton University Press, 1996, page 161.

I have been watching a following the current events in the global arena. There has been a lot of bloodshed globally following attacks of terror. There has been bloodshed in every continent; Asia & Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australia. These attacks have led to debates that have asked why the International Community is silent when Christians are being targeted in the world.

Are u connectedThis is not a current problem but one that historically has been witnessed. Millions of Jews were executed by the Nazis, there was widespread genocide in Eastern Europe and some parts of Africa. Hunger and Famine has ravaged many in the developing world. It has led some to question where God is when all this is happening. How can he not respond when millions called on him to rescue them from the gas chambers, when rebels attacked, pillaged, raped women and killed whole villages? Where was he when gunmen attack innocent people in the name of religion? These are common questions, especially when faced with difficult times.

If God is good then why is there so much disease, pain, destruction and poverty? Recently, families in the nearby slum lost all their belongings in a fire. How can we visit such families and tell them there is a good God? How can we visit the dying in hospital and talk of a good God? How can God be good to one who has been defiled, robbed, rejected, hungry, grieving, stuck in life?

We begin a new theme for the year labeled, “Rooted in LIFE”. In the first term, starting in January until April we shall be studying the book of Colossians. This book was written by Paul while in prison in Rome. It was written to the church in Colossae, a small trading town, in Greece.  This church is believed to have been started by Epaphras. Paul, apparently, had never been to visit the church.

This study is intended to get us back to the foundations of our Faith. The church in Colossae was established in a context of mixed cultural and religious cultures. There were Jews living there among local Greeks. They were also under Roman rule. This resulted in a mix of religious beliefs and practices that distracted the church from the Truth. There were Judaistic traditions steeped in legalistic following of practices as a means to find God; Greek thought and practice that placed a premium on the pursuit of knowledge, Angel worship and harsh treatment of the body to attain righteousness.

The book of Colossians therefore was written to combat the errors in the church by pointing believers to the Supremacy and Fullness of Christ.

Main Text: Col 1:1-23

  1. Greetings and Introductions Col 1:1-8
  2. First Things Col 1:9-14
  3. Christ Supreme Col 1:15-23

Our Context

When we are faced with life as we know it now, we respond mostly based on what our worldview is. A worldview is a cultural orientation through which everything is seen. We see things through a cultural lens. We therefore respond, often in a mix of ways. This can be complex and not easy to label. Like in Colossae, we have cultural religious practices that inform us in ways we do not always recognize. In a church like this, the way one prays will be distinguished by whether you had a Pentecostal, Charismatic, Baptist, Catholic or Mainline Evangelical Background. So you will see, when Paul speaks here, he is speaking directly to our current situation. He seems to understand that believers will have varied influences. Despite the varies worldviews and practices Paul, therefore, is presenting Truth which is absolute.

The truth Paul presents here is the Supremacy of Christ.

…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 ESV)

Supremacy of Christ

Paul from verse 15 is saying, let us get some basics clear. That Christ is Supreme! That he is God and placed in authority over all. Christ is the perfect example of LIFE in life!

1.      Whom does God say Jesus is?

God determined that Jesus Christ is who he says he is. God’s definition is that Jesus is deity. One cannot declare that of anyone unless it is God himself who does so. His word can be depended upon.

And Jesus, having been given baptism, straight away went up from the water; and, the heavens opening, he saw the Spirit of God coming down on him as a dove; And a voice came out of heaven, saying, This is my dearly loved Son, with whom I am well pleased. (Mat 3:16-17 BBE)

2.      Whom do people say Jesus is?

While God defines who Jesus is, we live in a context that will seek to define Jesus. Most have met him, or perhaps heard of him. They have a definition of who they understand Jesus to be. This is not a recent matter but one that was witnessed during Jesus’ time

Now when Jesus had come into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he said, questioning his disciples, Who do men say that the Son of man is? And they said, Some say, John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. (Mat 16:13-14 BBE)

 3.      Who do I say Jesus is?

While there are opinions from others, the one that matters greatly to myself is my opinion of who I think Jesus is. Jesus asks us the same question he asked Peter

He says to them, But who do you say that I am? And Simon Peter made answer and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Mat 16:15-16 BBE)

 Conclusion

Whose report will you believe? God’s or man’s? Make your choice. Therefore we can believe that

  • Jesus is Deity
  • Jesus is all and in all
  • Jesus is the Head of the Church
  • Jesus has full Authority
  • Jesus reconciled everything to himself through the cross
  • Jesus has brought me to God

Through Jesus, I am connected to LIFE.

Prayer

Help me of Lord to hold on to this Truth and stand on it firmly. Help us to be careful not to allow the appearance of truth take us away from it. Help us to stay Connected to YOU.

We are pretty early in the New Year and as is typical of this season every year we are full of expectations. It is the sense of a new beginning and heightened hope of better things that motivates us to set ambitious resolutions for the New Year. But then December soon gets here and we are worn out and discouraged. It is disappointing to set goals and end the year having not accomplished many of them. If your case is different you will probably have met your target and superseded. You will either have a sense of achievement or beat yourself up for having aimed too low.

I suggest that we stop making resolutions. My observation of resolution and conclusion about resolution making is that it often has me at the centre. Resolutions are mostly about me accomplishing some feat in the year. In some cases, resolutions are informed by what we see. In our limited experience we desire to have what we see someone else having, we desire that which we lack, we desire to advance to a known place, we desire things and accomplishments. This by no means is to say you should have no ambition. On the contrary, I hope today I can challenge you not to limit your ambition to the finite.

Read: Matthew 6

This passage comes early on in Jesus’ ministry. The first 2 chapters of this Gospel according to Matthew pointed on the significance and the events at Jesus’ birth. The 3rd and 4th chapters was the period of preparation for Jesus’ ministry. It is in these chapters that Jesus is baptized and tested in the wilderness. He called his disciples and begun teaching and healing throughout Galilee. The word of his ministry spread far and wide and crowds started gathering around him to hear his teaching.

The pulpit he uses here is a mountain. The common title of the passages between chapter 5 and 7 is the Sermon on the Mount. This was a symbolic start of his ministry. The teachers of the law at the time would teach from the seat of Moses. They would teach from the temple in Jerusalem. Such were places of authority. Here we see the Lord of the law not having a pulpit to use and instead he picks a mountain in Galilee. This was not one of the prominent mountains at the time. Jesus seems as though to be declaring that the Good News is not limited to certain instruments of authority. Up one mountain Moses brought the law to the people and here we see up another Jesus is giving a new law.

As we look at this passage, look at it with new eyes. That Jesus was teaching this to set the foundations of the Kingdom as God desired. He was confronting the ways of the time with a new way.

Take care not to do your good works before men, to be seen by them; or you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Mat 6:1 BBE)

This passage begins with a warning. Jesus understood the context of the people at the time. Their life, and especially religious observance, was informed by an audience. The audience of others. He is warning us here to be careful not to miss out on the original intention, which is the reward from Heaven, by playing to an audience here on earth. Consider the things you have set out to accomplish in this New Year. It is possible that you have a list. Who is the audience of that list? Are you pursuing health goals because it is what God wants you to do or are you doing it because you do not like how you look? Why do you desire career advancement? Is your growth driven by pressure from others? Is it to please your parents? Is it so that when you meet your peers you can flash your business card at them?

Jesus is warning us here to TAKE CARE lest we will miss the reward from heaven.

The rest of the passages deal with key areas of our life. [Pause and read the passages]

Generosity v2-4

As we consider giving in our lives, let it be because we recognize its importance in growing us to be like God and not to please others.

Devotion to God: Prayer v5-15 & Fasting v 16-18
Our devotion to God is driven by our desire to be with him and not so that others may see how devoted we are.
Material Possessions v19-24

Consider how these things given for our use within this life transcend into the after life. Everything we do here has a bearing on eternity. How you treat these determines how interested you are in the matters of eternity. It is either we serve the gift or the giver.

Provision v25-32

The Giver knows what our needs are and is willing to give us good gifts. He provides to all his creation. We will do good to trust in the one who can provide for us instead of being anxious about the provisions.

A New Law

Seeing that we live in cycles of days, months and years, we are limited in the finite. When we plan our goals, we find that our perspective is often limited to the finite divisions of time. But our lives are infinite as defined by our infinite maker. Whatever we do in the finite has a bearing on the infinite. Why then do we limit ourselves? Jesus seems to be upsetting that law that limits us to the here and now. He is setting a new law for us to live by. It is by this law that we ought to test our living.

But let your first care be for his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these other things will be given to you in addition. (Mat 6:33 BBE)

What is the Kingdom of God like? To the Jews as he was speaking at the time, Jesus was introducing a new concept. For centuries the Jews had been waiting for God to establish another Kingdom in Jerusalem. This was in ways they had seen, a Kingdom of Israel that had been destroyed. They perhaps thought that God intended to restore it in that fashion. This same Kingdom was prophesied about in Daniel 2:44.

And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will put up a kingdom which will never come to destruction, and its power will never be given into the hands of another people, and all these kingdoms will be broken and overcome by it, but it will keep its place for ever. (Dan 2:44 BBE)

In preparation for Jesus’ ministry, in Matt 3:1 John the Baptist talked of this Kingdom being at hand. Here Jesus come as tells us to consider seeking this Kingdom first. Put aside everything and seek this Kingdom. It would make sense that we should put our focus not on the outcomes but on the giver. This is the route to success. I propose the following key points as outlined by Kent & Barbara Hughes, in their book, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. They are good pointers to consider as we prepare to face the year.

1. Believing

Prominent people at the time such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were known to have been “waiting for the Kingdom”. Jesus teaches that this kingdom is not of worldly splendor and force but one of Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit. It is received through humility, acknowledging our sinfulness and accepting the Gift of Grace. As you consider goals for the year, may it begin right with accepting “Jesus as Lord.” Accepting the Lordship of Christ is the most basic belief. For those who have been Christians for long, this truth tends to wane off. As we begin this year, reset your belief in God.

Declaration #1: I believe that God is who he says he is, and I am who he says I am

2. Faithfulness

Our primary calling is to obedience.

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. (1Co 4:1-2 ESV)

Obedience follows after understanding what the command is. To understand the command we must hear the commander. To be consistent with what God is saying we must learn his word and spend time listening to him.

I want to invite us this year to join in studying the commands of God through the Scriptures so that we may be faithful followers of Christ. There are many tools we can use to do this. In the months of February to April we shall have a campaign to study the Book of Collossians. I invite you to take all opportunities provided to study God’s word.

Declaration #2: I will do my best to present myself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15 ESV)

3. Serving

This is an area that is very hard to understand and actualize. We live in a culture that will look down on a servant. It is a term that is easy to read about and accept but when it comes to being a servant we often are unable to. In some instances we are not allowed to. However, we are not without good examples

Jesus, being conscious that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he came from God and was going to God, Got up from table, put off his robe and took a cloth and put it round him. Then he put water into a basin and was washing the feet of the disciples and drying them with the cloth which was round him. (Joh 13:3-5 BBE)

The Jewish teaching taught that no Hebrew, even a slave, could be commanded to wash feet. It was a demeaning act. Jesus who, as seen in this passage, had all authority chose to teach this lesson in the most impactful of ways. This is the example for us.

Consider how you may serve this year. Think about being a servant in your workplace, with your friends, at home and at church.

Declaration #3: I will serve God and others with all my heart, will and means.

4. Loving

Once again as Jesus taught about the Kingdom, he gave a summary of all the law. It would seem he was implying that we will find the Kingdom of God if we understand this command:

And he said to him, Have love for the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest rule. And a second like it is this, Have love for your neighbour as for yourself. On these two rules all the law and the prophets are based. (Mat 22:37-40 BBE)

Loving God

From Jesus we hear that nothing is of greater importance than loving God.

· It is impossible to be a great leader and not love God

· It is impossible to accomplish great things in love and not love God

· It is impossible to accomplish your purpose in life and not love God.

Love liberates

It places our lives and work beyond the oppressive judgment and opinions of others. It liberates us from the destructive tendency of comparison with others. Our dignity and accomplishment lies in our relationship with God.

It frees us and motivates us to live our lives with the right priority—because we love God—our conversations, schedules, our ambitions will continually reflect God’s love.

Declaration #4: I will choose to love God and others with all my heart, will and means.

5. Praying

As I have been faced with the demands of my new role, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. I have come to the realization that if I look to my abilities I will be playing short. This is God’s mission, and he has the plan and resources. The best thing I can do is turn to him.

However, prayer has been turned into a time of going to the Lord instead of being with him. I am learning not to always come to God with my “shopping list” but to also go to him to “listen”.

We must pray: because prayer changes us. Being with God is what we need most. Prayer is surrender to the will of God. God’s will is not bent to ours but ours to his.

We must pray: because the church needs it. As a church, we are here to proclaim and expand the Kingdom of God. Church you must join me in praying for the mission of Lifespring chapel.

We must pray: because Jesus prayed.

Because prayer is so important, I am looking for at least 12 men who will join me in earnest prayer for the church here.

I also invite you to consider how we can pray together in every avenue provided. If you struggle praying alone, come let us pray together. Here are some avenues to consider:

· LIFEpower time: Every Sunday Morning before the service we spend time in corporate prayer from 9:00am

· LIFEfriday: Every once a month we have an extended time of prayer. This may eventually become a weekly meeting, but for now we have it once a month on every first Friday of the month.

· Staff Prayer Service: Every Wednesday from 9-10:30am the staff meets to worship and pray.

· Prayer and Fasting: Beginning next week, we invite you all to participate in a prayer movement. We shall he launching 21 days of prayer and fasting. We have designed a guide that will be made available to you. It is a period of dedication for the year. I challenge you to take part in it, whether you have ever done this before or not. Get someone to hold you accountable. You can do this as a LIFEgroup. Do this faithfully and see what God will shape you into.

Other Possibilities: the church leadership has an intention to provide more avenues to encourage personal and corporate prayer.

· We will have a designated Prayer Room within the church compound.

· We are trusting God for men and women who will form the Prayer Counseling Team

· Those with the gift of Intercession are called to pray as services are ongoing as well as for your requests and for the church

Declaration #5: I will seek to grow in the discipline of prayer personally and corporately.

6. Holiness

We have seen that prayer is essential to success in this life. The bible does say that how we live our lives can colour the effectiveness of our prayers.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (Jas 5:16 ESV)

Sensuality is the trap that pulls us down from a life of holiness. Many great people have lost in their exploits when they allowed their morality to be corrupted. They gave in to lust, greed, sexual sin, the love of money, and envy among others.

It is no use to seek God when we are unwilling to surrender the flesh fully to Christ. It is wise to set good physical boundaries; lines that keep you safe. Determine what you will not listen to, what you will not watch, what you will not say and what you will not day. Immorality is a trap that ensnares you subtly.

Declaration #6: I will seek holiness in my thoughts, deeds and speech.

7. Attitude

Life tends to throw things at us. Often what we encounter is negative. We can set out into the year with optimism and soon be discouraged. Because this is to be expected choose what your response will be. Steven Covey says, “your response is your responsibility”. We all have a choice regarding the attitude with which we will embrace every day. Choose today to have a upbeat positive attitude.

Declaration #7: I will develop a positive outlook this year, choosing to see God’s view of my every situation.

As you consider how you will face this year. Whether it is by setting resolutions or just rolling into the year one day at a time, I would like to propose that we do FIRST THINGS FIRST

DECLARATIONS

Declaration #1: I believe that God is who he says he is, and I am who he says I am

Declaration #2: I will do my best to present myself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15 ESV)

Declaration #3: I will serve God and others with all my heart, will and means.

Declaration #4: I will choose to love God and others with all my heart, will and means.

Declaration #5: I will seek to grow in the discipline of prayer personally and corporately.

Declaration #6: I will seek holiness in my thoughts, deeds and speech.

Declaration #7: I will develop a positive outlook this year, choosing to see God’s view of my every situation.

“I consecrate all that I am and all that I have, the faculties of my mind, the members of my body, my worldly possessions, my time and my influence over others, all to be used entirely for thy glory and resolutely employed in obedience to thy commands as long as thou continues me in life.” –Thomas Maclellan, 1957.

IMG_2083-0.JPG

One of the highlights of the Christmas season is the opportunity it accords us of reconnecting back to our roots. There is an unwritten rule that decrees that every 25th December, everyone must travel back up country to be with the extended family. It is at this time that the kids get to visit and spend time with ‘babu’ and ‘shosho’. It is likely that all my siblings will be there with their families. It is a time of great fun with family.

In this season we remember where we come from. That we belong. We spend most of our time in the city often isolated from family. This is literally a breath of fresh air. I look forward to these trips upcountry but one thing I never look forward to is that there is rarely sufficient room to accommodate us all.

Let me put this in perspective; we come from the slopes of Mt. Kenya. At around Christmas time it can get very cold and wet. The mornings are misty and damp. The nights are chilly to the bone. If for some reason you had to step out of the blankets for a night visit to the loo, you would first have serious debates with yourself. If nature wins, your step out of the blankets will feel like you are taking the ‘ice bucket challenge.’ Let us just say, it is so cold that sleeping in the car is not a wise option. Trust me, I have tried it once.

I do not like the thought of travelling home and not having a bed to sleep on.

Many years ago, another family had received a decree to travel. It was not an option. For Mary and Joseph, this was a difficult expedition. Let us read the account.

Luke 2:1-6(NLT)

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The fullness of time was now come, when God would send forth his Son, made of a woman, and made under the law; and it was foretold that he should be born at Bethlehem. Now here we have an account of the time, place, and manner of it.

This text is very familiar to us yet it is often skimmed over. We probably agree on its significance to the story of Christmas. This account is loaded with truth that will amaze you. Look at the facts.

Universal Ruler

During the time of Jesus’ birth, the world was under the ruler ship of Rome. Rome was a superpower! The extents of the Roman empire covered what was known as the world in this days. Verse 1 above in the KJV reads this way

 “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the WORLD should be taxed.”(Luke 2:1 KJV)

The Roman Empire spanned the entire civilized world. Under Ceasar Augustus it grew to the largest it had ever been. The name Augustus was a cognomen (sort of like a nickname) taken by the Roman Emporer. This name implied of his power as the all mighty and revered one.  Augustus also styled himself as Imperator Gaius Julius Caesar divi filius, “Commander Gaius Julius Caesar, son of the deified one”. He ruled the ‘whole world’ and considered himself a son of the gods. I dare say that he believed himself to be a god.

But by this one decree, the August ruler was he himself fulfilling a decree of the Universal Ruler who had a plan revealed many years ago and coming to fulfilment.

(Dan 2:44 KJV) And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people,…

At a time of the greatest Kingdom ever known in history, God set up a Kingdom that will endure for eternity when the king would be born.

The Journey Home

Mary & Joseph, in response to the decree by the all-powerful ruler of the time, undertook a very difficult journey. They had no choice but to travel together with all the kinfolk. The journey between Nazareth and Bethlehem may appear in this passage as a simple journey but it was a journey of 129Km. This, according to Google Maps is the distance between the Lifespring Chapel Embakasi and Karatina, plus one kilometer to spare. This journey was not done in a car, matatu, bus or train. It was done on foot and donkey. I would imagine Mary, ‘who was now obviously pregnant’,  rode on a donkey.

Judaea was for the first time being put under the complete dominion of Rome. Being registered in this census, and subsequently taxed, was a first step towards complete subjugation. They were now to be part of the Kingdom of the world. Yet the happenings at this time were still being ordered by the King of Kings. The prophecy was given most specifically in Micah 5:2 KJV

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Bethlehem was to see the fulfillment of this prophecy at the time of Jesus’ birth. The Kingdom of Israel was, involuntarily gathered from the world over. Remember the Roman Empire spanned from the extreme ends of Britain, North African, the Middle East and part of Asia. Everyone was required to travel to their home country. Once again they were gathered in the tribes of Jacob. Among them their King was born.

  • Bethlehem means the House of Bread. In Bethlehem the Bread of Life was born.
  • Bethlehem was also known as the City of David. It is here that David was born a Shepherd and anointed as King of Israel on the decree of God.
  • Bethlehem was not the seat of Authority like Jerusalem. It is here that the servant and a shepherd was born and it was in Jerusalem, like his ancestor David, that he took the seat of authority by hanging on the cross.

Room fitting a king

Yet Bethlehem was asleep when something of eternal significance was taking place. The entire universe was witnessing a great occurrence. The Heavens must have been waiting with baited breath, knowing was was about to happen. I can imagine the buzz in the heavenly courts as angel Gabriel would go out and come back in the last 9 months. The heavenly hosts having daily music practice to sing the most perfect,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace among men with whom he is well pleased.” (Luk 2:14 BBE)

As Bethlehem slept in the silent night…

Luke 2:6 …the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

In the dark of night, while many were asleep. Friends, Relatives, The rich and the poor, all except a select few were present to receive this King who will become the salvation of all mankind.

He would be born,

not in a palace as man would expect,

but in a feeding trough.

He will be born,

not robed in purple garments

but wrapped in strips of cloth

identifying with the need of mankind.

Sadly. There was no room for the King.

Is there room?

History was made once in Bethlehem, while it was asleep. There was no room for the King who they had waited for eagerly. They were caught up in the moment. Focusing on the oppression and the oppressor, not noticing the liberation had come. They had perhaps given up, yet the one who promised had vowed never to leave them nor forsake them.

Will history be made again in the present day?

Will a King be born in Kenya, in Nairobi, in Embakasi and find us not ready for him?

Will we be too caught up in the daily cares; pursuing careers, businesses, politics, education, relationships and many other concerns of every day yet miss the birth of a King?

Will history be written eternally that the King who was born, and died and rose again and now seated on the right hand of the father and coming to judge the quick and the dead, Will he come and find there was no room in our hearts for him?

The Choice is yours…

We have a choice. The Lord has been revealed to us. The response is in our hands.

See, I am waiting at the door and giving the sign; if my voice comes to any man’s ears and he makes the door open, I will come in to him, and will take food with him and he with me. To him who overcomes I will give a place with me on my high seat, even as I overcame, and am seated with my Father on his high seat. He who has ears, let him give ear to what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev 3:20-22 BBE)

The Messiah born on this Holy Night is now knocking at the door of your heart. Will you have room for him?

1.    To let the King be born in your hearts.

You may be in a dark place, a silent night. Are you asleep? Is it too dark for you to see? Behold there is a light that can shine in that darkness. Sin is that dark place. Refuse to be in darkness and open the door for the Light of the World to come in.

2.    To let others know about the King

Having known this, will be keep it to ourselves? We must tell all. This Christmas we have an opportunity to tell this Christmas story to many in this city and outside. Will we take that chance? The shepherds went and told others of what they had witnessed. Our responsibility is to tell others, their response is their responsibility.

I was at a wedding recently. It was a great time of celebration with friends and family. However, about two days before the wedding I received a call from the officiating minister indicating that the couple will not have their best couple present at the occasion. They had lost a close relative in the Mandera Quarry attack (Northern Part of Kenya). Not too long before that we were shocked to see in the news a similar attack on bus passengers and many lives were lost. News that is trending in the recent past has a thread of death and despair stitched through it.

Prophecies have been given indicating that the worst is yet to come. We are called to cry to the Lord that he would spare this nation. When we cry to the Lord about this nation, it is mostly at times when we are threatened by an external aggressor. By all means, we who bear the Name of God should respond on behalf of our nation and call to him.

During this period, someone said that we need to be careful that what appears like a peripheral attack is a decoy for attacks that will hit from within. There could be a point there and we should be vigilant. We should not go on an offensive against the enemy and leave our gates open. This is very important and we need to work hard to ensure this does not happen.

The enemy is sly, we must realize that as a nation we probably already have our gates open. These are not physical gates, but Spiritual gates. The image of doom and gloom on matters of national security have been many times at the expense of darkness that looms over our society. The demons or tribalism, corruption, gender violence, greed, sexual immorality, the self, injustice, bad governance among others are still looming large. When I walk the streets of our neighborhoods my heart is heavy because of the dark cloud hanging over us and the despair that I see in people’s eyes. As a father of daughters I worry what kind of world they shall inherit. Is there hopelessness?

Key Bible Text: Isaiah 9

Very similar to the times we live in, the Prophet Isaiah brought these words from the Lord. The prophet Isaiah was based in Jerusalem at a very difficult season in the leadership of Israel. He did not set out to be a prophet but was believed to have been established at the royal palace as a scribe. We see from early on, in his writings- in Chapter 6- that he recognized the context within which he lived, “I am doomed, for I am a man of unclean lips living among people of unclean lips.” By the time he was proclaiming hope in chapter 9, he had encountered the Lord and found his calling.

Season of Goodwill

It is interesting that despite the way we live the whole year, at this time in the year, there seems to be goodwill flowing all through. We have a general sense of rest coming up, desire to give to the needy, cheer and fun spread among peoples. It is like temporarily we forget our state and context that we live in. It is in this time that we reflect on the message of Christmas. We love exchanging messages with one another; “Make Jesus the reason for the season,” or my personal favourite, “putting Christ back into Christmas.”

The Christmas story is a personal one as well as a story for the world. This Christmas, we would like to revisit that story. Like any good story we have best tell it from the beginning. This story has an author.

The Beginning

In the beginning there was no form, but there was God. His Spirit was hovering over the earth. The earth was formless, empty and dark. God declared light into being, he formed day and night. He made the first day… He made the sky the waters and the ground. He created the animals that swim the seas, walk and crawl on the ground. All kinds of animals. He made the plants for food. He then said, let us make humans in our image. After all these he said it was excellent.

This is a far cry from what we see now. Compare to his image of creation at the beginning, what we see now is not excellent in summation. This is because, soon after the creation, the perfect state was interrupted by sin; introduced by God’s and man’s sworn enemy. At this point God had the power to destroy everything and start all over afresh. But instead the rest of the Christmas story begins. I pick three features from God’s story written throughout Scriptures. This is a story of Love. A story of God.

1.      Promise of Love

“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever.” Isaiah 9:1

Very early on God’s nature we see his love in response to Adam and Eve. At first glance it appears as though it was harsh. He curses, casts out and prevents a return. But look closely what God does. He begins by calling out for his friend: I can see this as a father. Have you ever come home and found the walls filled with artwork made using permanent markers? My daughters sometimes do that. Of course when I come in I know for certain it cannot be the work of anyone else in the house except the youngest one. I will probably call out her name and ask her who did this. When I am doing that it is not because I am looking to confirm my theory, I am extending my love to her. Our middle child has over the years developed wisdom. God calls out Adam, He then dresses them up, and curses them? No! God curses the serpent directly, he also curses the ground because of Adam. He does not curse his beloved. Of course he punishes them but he is careful not to curse.

  • He destroys the earth in the time of Noah but spares some of his creation, indicating that he had a plan of restoration.
  • He confuses the nations at the tower of Babel scattering them over the earth. Getting them to do what they were commanded to do in the first place.
  • He calls Abram and gives him a promise. This promise is repeated to Isaac and Jacob. A key part of this promise is that the whole world will know God’s blessing through Abraham.

This promise is confirmed in a more specific nature in many prophesies throughout scripture. In Isaiah 9 we see the promise of restoration unpack.

The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!

2.      Proclamation of Love

The proclamation of Love is given to all when the time comes. What Isaiah had prophesied about was fulfilled many years later. The time of promise was long. Some forgot while others despaired. But different from those were those who received the proclamation. There was 400 years of silence before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. His birth was proclaimed to Mary by the Angel, to her betrothed husband, to the wise, to Herod, and to the shepherds. The responses varied from one to another. Some sought him out to embrace him, while others were keen on destroying him.

The proclamation is God’s specific revelation of his promise to mankind. Mary responded with a song of Praise in Luke 1:46-55,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47     How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

The proclamation of love is complete when we receive the atonement of our sins.

3.      Propitiation in Love

1 John 2:2 (KJV) “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

The child came so that he may be the spotless lamb sacrificed for the sins of mankind.

“All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

The CHILD came to fulfil the promise. This was to be through death. This was not to be before the right time. As an infant the authorities tried to kill him but it was not to be. However, when the time was right, Jesus was betrayed, humiliated, mocked and even killed. It was a shameful display. His shame was so as to take our shame. He bore on himself the iniquity of us all. Through the flow of his blood, life flowed once again in those who would believe. He died and was buried…

Many stories end here, when the star is killed. Again, like every good story there is a sequel…

The Story Continues

He rose again! The giver of life would not be overcome by death. He triumphed over death and ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He did not leave without passing on the writing of his story to us. Our response then should be in one of 4 ways…

·Intentionality

God’s story was intentional. Our writing of the story should then be an intentional one. We should not leave anything to chance. If you are there and you have not accepted the Lord as your savoir, may this Christmas be a different one for you. Choose to allow Christ into your heart.

As we plan to travel, to be with family, can we be intentional this season. This story needs to be told to the world. Consider how you will tell the Christmas story this year.

·Reconciliation

We first must believe that we are reconciled to God through Christ. Jesus said that no one can come to the Father except through him. Be reconciled to your Father.

God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. We must live this out and be agents of the same. Are we in relationships that are broken? There is forgiveness in Christ. Appropriate this gift for yourself, give and receive forgiveness.

For some of us, God is calling us to bring restoration around us. If you have hesitated in the past, take this season to be the different one. Step up and minister reconciliation.

· Rest

As is typical at the end of the year, we look forward to this season because it gives us rest. The coming of the child of God is intended to give us rest for now and beyond. We must appropriate this gift. In Luke 2 Simeon had been waiting for the promise to be proclaimed. He was grateful to have withheld the fulfillment of this promise…

28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

·Hope for Eternity

The Story culminates with the image of what is to come. The CHILD who was born will come again to judge those alive and those who died. What he has prepared for us is capture in Revelation 21. The image of the New Jerusalem. The Bible says this

… “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[a] He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

I look forward to that time. Meanwhile there may be sorrow, crying and pain but one day all these things will be gone forever!

It is amazing to note that we are here! She is now 13 years old and in high school. Mercy, our eldest daughter amazes us every day

7 Family (7)with the gifts that God has given her. For those who have known her since she was a baby you will agree with us that the petite, private and quiet little girl has become a lovely lady with amazing gifts that range from academics to stage performances. For this we give thanks to the Lord.

Mercy is now a grade 8 student at Almasi School. The Christian education she is in has great student programs that seek to develop the gifts in our children. In the month of August, she participated in the East African Students’ Convention. Mercy was amazing in her presentations. Her team was nominated to represent East Africa at the All Africa Student’s Convention to be held in South Africa in December of this year. If she qualifies here she will be sent to the International Students Convention planned for early next year.

Towards this she and others have to each mobilise up to KES 200, 000 (Approx US$ 2,400) for the preparation, travel and accommodation. She has put together a short video below to explain this.

watermark_300x1

Click here to complete the pledge form.

She will need at least KES 40,000 (Approx US $ 470) immediately for the preparations, KES 80,000 by 30th September and the final amount of KES 80,000 by the end of October. To raise this amount we are using the following strategies:

  • Parents Contributions

As the parents we already started making contributions towards the preparations. We are trusting God for favour in ways we have not seen yet.

  • Personal Gift Items Sales

Mercy has been knitting items, with the help of her grandmother, for sale to raise money. You can purchase any of these woolen products to support this cause. See the pictures below.

  • Family & Friends appeals for donations

Mercy is appealing for cash pledges from well-wishers. You email her your pledge on Mercy.Mutio (@) gmail. com. You may also contact the parents for ways to give.

  • Collective projects with the school

Together with her team Mercy will be participating in creative fundraising activities such as car washes.

  • Fundraising Concert planned for 4th October 2014

The parents at the school are planning a Fundraising Concert where the students will present their entries to an audience. This will also serve as the place to bring your pledges.

To send cash for this please contact Baba Mercy on maina (@) life.or.ke for suitable options. Please join us in prayers that all will go well. We believe that this experience will serve to grow a young lady to achieve her fullest potential in Christ. Every gift matters!

Baba na Mama Mercy

Donate Using Paypal

Gift Items for Sale

“God is who he says he is and I am who He says I am”

Psalms 139

1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,’
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand –
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Tweegs

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,154 other followers

Past Articles