Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Still a major key

I’m trying to forget the past

But it keeps coming back like a incubus in the night

Africa sitting on the table distributed like a piece of meat

The eaters ate and left the waste for the kids to build

Wanna live for peace but war comes to play

Knocking on my door I tried to tell him to go away

Gotta play by force or else hunger will take me far away

Witnessing my mother die by the hands of a regime’s kind

Now I’m scared to go to sleep my sister singing an unknown English lullaby

Couldn’t understand the interethnic obliteration

My land degraded through mineral exploration

Our wealth Siphoned out

Can’t seem to stop globalization’s greedy hand

An economic scheme, Africa has lost her self-esteem

Now I’m fully grown, I interrogate my own Soul

What is Africa to me? She is still a major key in the Orchestra’s piece.


What is Love

Love. Many use this four letter word emptily, they put upon her body a flesh which is destitute of bones, sinews, blood and heart. She is readily used without meaning - she serves not her true purpose but the purposes of man. But what is Love? what is her nature -  what kind is her likeness? Is she a warm feeling in the stomach of a teenager who has caught the sight of a beautiful over-dressed girl. Is this her, is this her dwelling place? Is she an attitude of acceptance, a despiser of one universal truth - is she the very earth, a Gaia, a memory unforgotten - What is love, where is she whom some poets have slept with in the satin of their beds preferring her to the wives of their youth? Philosophers have chased after her, they have not tarried for a century for they see her mist, they have noticed her trails but yet she transcends their reality - they cannot commit her full reality to thought. They reach the destination where nothing but silence is the only justifiable reception. Socrates could speak no more; Descartes has laid down his pen and the scientist, those prone to the repeatable experiments of the phenomenon have irreversibly euthanize their investigation. What is love, she who had suffered the death of a thousand definitions; she is taking captive by every nation and tribe. Some have imprisoned her, caged her and beaten her but it was not love which they imprisoned for in as much as they have misunderstood her they did not have her. She would not submit herself to such brutes, such beasts. Never will she let herself be caressed by such dogs, never will she let her lips be kissed by those whose breath is as worse as the grave-yard. Her origins are more golding, the diamonds of Africa bow to her majesty, the sun surrendered his chamber for her to use as her footstool. Those who have long held her to be a sentimental being, she slaps into reality. But what is love - who is this mystery who has dominated the pages of history - she has inscribed herself into the imaginations of those who desire the bed of romance. She has become the resentful enemy of the demons; since the beginning she has been a plague to the devil, she has reigned on his parade.

What is love? We cannot say that she is so transcendent therefore it is no good for us to recover her identity - we cannot easily forsake her in the realm of mystery - we cannot let her go as to signify that she is important and yet unimportant. Love, that pillar of majesty, that heaviness and lightness of eternity is to be the chase of a creatures’ soul. Where is she to be found, where is her abode- if one looks under every sundry rock in this unfitting earth will one find her? - is she hidden in the sea - has she gone to play with the squirrels.

I say now that all reason escapes me to define her - all languages born of man will not suffice to do her image justice. Only this I have come to accept will grant me a perfect representation of what love is and where she is to be found, namely, in her own self-revelation to seeking humanity. Where can I find such a revelation, where has she descend, where has she written as to present a surety for my intellect? It is here my friends, it is here. I have found her revelation, I have been given a definition and I have discerned her origins. The perfect revelation of her, it is written, is to be found in the Person of Jesus Christ, her definition had no beginning and possess no end, she is an attribute of an omnipotent being and altogether divine - she is of God and God is love. Love is not God but God is love - it is from him that she proceeds and have her definition. Love belongs to God, she is his possession, and in His own self-revelation, love is revealed as a man’s breath accompanies his speech.

Now suffering humanity you can take a rest from your degradation, you can ascend the hill once more to find love in the Person of Jesus Christ and in God who is love. You who say you have love, if you truly possess her, if you truly have her dwelling in your bosoms, then by this you shall know, namely, that you Love the Lord Jesus Christ and the God, his Father who is love and from whom love proceeds.


Women of the Bible: Leah

There are two kinds of beauty. There is a beauty which God gives at birth, which withers as a flower and there is another kind of beauty, namely, the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. The first beauty is given by grace and so is the second beauty accomplished by God in the hearts of his redeemed. Leah was denied the first beauty as she is specifically reported that her eyes were weak to suggest that her eyes were lacking that lustre which always and everywhere is looked upon as a conspicuous part of female beauty. Compared to her sister Rachel, Leah's appearance had no beauty that we should desire her, or that humanity should boast about the excellences of her feminine frame.

Women who feel the lack of praise for their feminine physique should not feel the urgency to desire such earthly praise from the world, for was not the Lord Jesus himself depicted as a commoner, one who had no majesty in the likeness of Rachel or in the manner of the Hercules of this world that we should desire him. Christ had no Olympian figure, amidst a crowd his features were not to be lauded but yet it was in Him that the fullness of deity was pleased to dwell.

I fear for the women of this age that they have bought into the heresy of the time that beauty is all that matters. Outward appearance has become the crown and gold of the end of their desires. Many feeling themselves to be the Leah's of this world have idolized the Rachel's and thus sought with all of their envying energy to become like the Rachel’s and thus have commenced their own ruins. Leah in wanting her sister's husband conspired with her deceitful Father to engage in an act of great wickedness that she heavily veiled herself to hide her identity in order to gain Jacob in whom he had not worked for. Surely, she could have at any time told poor Jacob that she was not his beloved Rachel and having compassion and love to God she could have told the truth and spared herself the ache of polygamy.

But such is the conduct of omnipotent hands that Leah although entering into the marriage through a deceitful means was to be the most favoured and pitied for it was Leah that bore Jacob six children before beautiful Rachel was given the grace to conceive her Joseph.

God does not look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart and although there was nothing in particular which distinguished Leah's heart from Rachel‘s, yet Sovereign grace according to God's free choice chose Leah to conceive Judah and in Judah, David and in David, Jesus. Leah it can be said was the mother of the Christ.

To the Leah's of this world, do not hate your sister Rachel but praise God for her beauty and thank God for yourselves that he created you in his own image and that which God has called beautiful, do not call ugly.

Awake and sleep with this passage, 1Peter 3:3-4 "Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Women of the Bible: Lois - Timothy's Grandmother

Paul befriended Timothy for his journey whilst he was in Lystra, modern Turkey (Acts 16:1-3) and from then on grew in his love for this man. Paul calls Tim his “co-worker” (Romans 16:21), his “son whom [he loves]” as well as his “true son in the faith” (1 Corinthians 4:17 & 1 Timothy 1:2, respectively), his “brother” (2 Corinthians 1:1) and a “servant of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:1). Paul even displays 360° discipleship as he offers his dear one some apothecary advice out of concern for his health, telling him to take care of his stomach and frequent illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23). Most prominently Timothy is described to the church in Corinth as one who will remind them of Paul’s Christ-like ways. Timothy reflects Paul, who reflects Jesus. As Timothy is discipled by Paul, he imitates not only his earthly Rabbi but also his heavenly one. His life is an example of healthy discipleship, where leaders aren’t afraid for their followers to be like them, trusting that the leader is following the right person too.

But this is a series on women of the Bible. And although the phrase “behind every great man is a great woman” has become a slogan for feminist movements which people can sometimes get angst about, two women in Timothy’s life get a mention and it does seem that behind this great man, there are two great women.

In the opening of Paul’s second letter to Timothy he gives thanks to God, remembers Timothy’s tears, and longs to see his son again in order to be full of joy (v.4). He then refers to his friend’s “sincere faith”. Timothy’s faith was wholehearted, deep, genuine, and honest. But where did he get it from? “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice” (v.5).

There are only 2 grandmothers mentioned in the Bible, and Lois makes the cut for one of them. It is notable that unlike many of the other characters in the Bible who are listed in genealogies by their paternal tracks, Timothy is recounted maternally. For a man of such a high status in Paul’s heart, it is very encouraging to read that Timothy has his faith passed on predominantly by his grandmother. Not only did she do a fantastic job at passing it onto her daughter Eunice, but this faith also reached young Timothy. I wonder if in that household Lois would recite the Torah to the toddling Tim, if as a young boy Timothy could see Lois’ faith at work as she began to grow old and maintain her joy, if when she died Timothy was around to witness her peace. All things to speculate on but the nature of much biblical narration provides space for readers to dream up something of the bits in between and make the journey more lifelike.

The other grandmother mentioned is Maakah who had the privilege of being the grandma of Asa, a king of Judah of the house of David (1 Kings 15). At first she only gets a mention, and Asa reigned as a man who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done.” This was also a good grandmother, who surely must have had some role in raising Asa to follow God. It takes a village to raise a child, and Grandmothers are a key member of this village! Sadly, Asa had to remove Maakah from her office as queen mother after she makes a “repulsive image” and like all but one person in the Bible commits a sin in the midst of greatness. But, the point is that she is the only other grandmother in scripture and can surely take some responsibility for her grandson’s nature which was to follow God. Sure, she had a bad day (or two), but name one Granny who doesn’t!

My Grandma died when I was in year six, just two years before I asked Jesus to come into my life and I put my life in Him. As far as the fruit can tell, my dear Grandma Kath is the only Christian in my family and I can guarantee that as a strong, incredibly loving, and very child-friendly woman she would have prayed for me without ceasing. In the grand scheme of my life my Grandma may get a relatively small mention. I would probably celebrate my favourite memory of her as when I would be ill from school and get to spend a day with her and Granddad. Without fail she would make tuna sandwiches and homemade chips for lunch and we’d watch Neighbours. There would be no grandiose story of the two of us, just the memory of her loving support as I grazed my knee, cried after a hard time on the playground, or sought shelter from my horrid big brother.

Maybe Lois gets such a wee mention because often a Grandmother’s work is behind the scenes, all taking place with years of wisdom advising parenting, smiles, prayers and the obedient passing on of faith to those she loves.

I am encouraged to read the mention of Lois in Paul’s thankfulness to God of his dear friend Timothy, and am thankful myself to my own Grandma for passing the faith on to me in ways I will not fully see for a long time. What a joy for me to know she is in the cloud of witnesses, championing me on, and restored to life like she never knew whilst here on Earth.

To all the Grandmothers out there – keep being you, love with all your heart, and pass on the faith.

Kate Moreton

Holiness Beyond Words


Holiness starts with God. Discussions about holiness get off on the wrong foot when they begin with what we don’t do, rather than with who God is.

This is essential to keep in mind as we talk about sanctification — the process of our becoming holy. Before we get too far down the road with the derivative holiness of the creature, let’s tune into the original holiness of the Creator.

The holiness of God, says R.C. Sproul in his classic book, is “one of the most important ideas that a Christian can ever grapple with. It is basic to our whole understanding of God and of Christianity” (12).

Holiness Carries Us to the Brink

In trying to define the almost indefinable, John Piper draws in an illustration from the end of C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. There Reepicheep, the gallant mouse, sails to the end of the world in his little coracle. Says Piper, “The word ‘holy’ is the little boat in which we reach the world’s end in the ocean of language.”

The possibilities of language to carry the meaning of God eventually run out and spill over the edge of the world into a vast unknown. “Holiness” carries us to the brink, and from there on, the experience of God is beyond words.

The reason I say this is that every effort to define the holiness of God ultimately winds up by saying: God is holy means God is God. . . . The very god-ness of God means that he is separate from all that is not God. There is an infinite qualitative difference between Creator and creature. God is one of a kind. Sui generis. In a class by himself. In that sense he is utterly holy. But then you have said no more than that he is God.

. . . God is the absolute reality beyond which is only more of God. When asked for his name in Exodus 3:14, he said, “I am who I am.” His being and his character are utterly undetermined by anything outside himself. He is not holy because he keeps the rules. He wrote the rules! God is not holy because he keeps the law. The law is holy because it reveals God. God is absolute. Everything else is derivative.

God’s Utterly Unique Divine Essence

Having set the table, Piper then asks, What is the holiness of God? Before venturing a definition, he bids us listen to three texts.

1 Samuel 2:2: “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you”

Isaiah 40:25: “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.”

Hosea 11:9: “I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst.”

He draws it together with this explanation:

In the end, God is holy in that he is God and not man. . . . He is incomparable. His holiness is his utterly unique divine essence. It determines all that he is and does and is determined by no one.

His holiness is what he is as God which no one else is or ever will be. Call it his majesty, his divinity, his greatness, his value as the pearl of great price.

In the end, language runs out. In the word “holy,” we have sailed to the world's end in the utter silence of reverence and wonder and awe. There may yet be more to know of God, but that will be beyond words.

Once we’ve stood in utter silence, captured by his god-ness, speechless with wonder and awe, filled with reverence and unmatched admiration for our Creator and Redeemer, then we’re ready to talk about holiness in the created and redeemed. And only then.

How mind-numbing is it that this holy God not only stoops to pardon our sin, but also empowers us to share in his holiness? True to the word holy, it’s a reality that carries us beyond words.

by David Mathis -

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Pray for a teachable heart

Naturally men are the most unteachable creatures in the world. The prophet Isaiah was sent to preach to a people who keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Perhaps you can relate to Isaiah’s hopeless errand of presenting the gospel of Christ to a people who keep on hearing the truth of Christ but do not understand. Sadly, your message makes their hearts dull and their ears heavy and you hear the refrain once again ‘I just don’t understand how you can believe what you believe,’ and also ‘I’m happy you believe that but it is not for me.’

How will you teach one that can neither see, nor hear, nor understand?

The bible tells us that this is the case of every natural man, that is, every man who doesn’t have the Spirit of God inside them or to put it in old fashion Christian terminology, born again.

1.   Every natural man is blind and cannot see spiritual truths. 2Co 4:4  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

2.   Every natural man is deaf and cannot hear spiritual truths. Psa 58:3-4  The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. They have venom like the venom of a serpent, like the deaf adder that stops its ear.

3.    Every natural man is foolish, and cannot understand spiritual truths. Romans 3:11, There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become useless; there is no one who does good, there is not even one.

Also the natural man cannot accept the things of God and the message of the cross is folly to him.  1Co 2:14  The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 

Matthew Mead writes “a teachable frame of mind is a special mercy of God, it is one of the greatest blessings of the new covenant. "They shall all be taught of God!" John 6:45. "They shall all know Me—from the least to the greatest," Jer. 31:34.”

Mead continues:

An unteachable heart is a great judgment from God. This was Pharaoh's judgment; no counsel, no message, no reproof, no warning, no plague could soften him! When the Lord designs to bring judgment upon a soul, then he gives it up to an unteachable heart! "Tell my people this: 'You will hear my Words, but you will not understand. You will see what I do, but you will not perceive its meaning. Harden the hearts of these people. Close their ears, and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn to me for healing!' Then I said, 'Lord, how long must I do this?' And he replied, 'Until their cities are destroyed, with no one left in them. Until their houses are deserted and the whole country is an utter wasteland!'" Isaiah 6:9-11.

A teachable spirit is a great mercy of God and it is one that we ought to pray for when conversing with those who do not yet believe in the truth of the gospel. With a teachable spirit comes a softened heart, and with a softened heart comes an accepting heart ready to accept God’s truth and thus be saved.


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

"And when must this peace rule in our hearts?"

And his glory is flooding my soul

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts!

"And when must this peace rule in our hearts?"

It must rule when you have sorrows
When you are clothed in anxiety
When you are uncertain about your future
When you are in great danger
When you have no money left to eat
When by your sins you are oppressed
When by this world you are satisfied
When for Christ sake you are persecuted.

It must rule in the winter as well as in the summer
It must rule in the night as well as in the day
It must rule at every passing hour
It must rule when death is nigh. 


The writings of sunny caane (4) - I live but no life to live

 One of my good old friends once presented this rather unkempt poem to me. Although un-styled and weak in prose yet the spirit of the man speaks clearly to any soul who has a taste for this kind of sight.

I never even tried to win her love
 If love could be won by words, or charm or a consistent pursuing,
Suffering myself the potential shame,
Then I never tried at all.
 Too weak in this manly chest
Grieved my heart to only dream and wish
And when one night the passion I no longer could bear
 I took to her rue not a confident man. 
Better in poetry I had written than in speech when I declared my ideal fancy to she - 
Even then I was filled with nerves something of an unusual kind. 
After a hug the last I must say from her received though a year have gone yet I feel it still, 
She uneasy unfeeling for me, I closed the pursue of gaining this treasure chest. 
I saw her often I smiled all brokenly, returning to my first state of dreams and wishes.

I was made alive to my folly in a foreign shore -  
A dream awoke me to my manless heart. 
Is it not for the man to chase, to hold out his hand for the lady to dance?
 Is it not for the man to ask, to work, to play and suffer the loss, 
But nay,
 I had wish she sang all the song and if out of tune this on her the embarrassment would fall,
The disgrace on him must come.
 The matter spoken is of a nature pure, the worse would be an unreturned love. 

Unreturned it was declared in a manner strong - 
At times my frame declining its truth for once she spoke of persistence awe - 
"Chase a woman you might win her all" -
 But I am rigid a low view of myself I have. 
My Rebecca, my Helen, my Juliette and Mary is gone till this day
 I cannot love truly another’s playing drum. 
Yes there are ladies of similar design, pure and chaste 
With a Beautiful heart who looks at me with a similar vein, 
Desiring our union of which I must sigh - for no reason at all except this,
 that my rejected love still hold me still in that land where I often dream, and flee
Imagining us to one day be. 
This I know is hegel’s idealism, combining idea and reality -
 Whatever is imagined, is imagination true but yet my dream remains a dream.

I wish a lovers wand to weave 
but as the subject of an unreturned love I must wish my object of desire well. 
He has won the heart that I could never win
He has kissed the lips that I could never kiss.

O for 20 sorrows will it last for 20 long years,
 I would pay 20 golden sun to forgo this melancholy tears. 
My friends bid me to rise from this grave -
 but how a dead man move unless he is awakened - 
Only her words of acceptance can open my eyes and 
since it will never be I live as best a dead man can- 
Yes my summers never came, stuck in the first light of springs bud
 Where I but hope where no hope remains, where I but live but no life to live.


Friday, 17 August 2012

Painting, a troublesome task

Other than money there is another reward for labour, namely, satisfaction. Yes, agreeing with the famous preacher it is to find enjoyment in one's toil. And so it was for me as the day was handed over to house decoration, namely painting with some lovely Christ centred folks.

Things of this kind I generally find to be troublesome, not because I can't do them but because it requires effort and time that I would rather spent elsewhere. But when I do engage in these troublesome activities I do  it willingly and in a good spirit because it is better to do something alone than to spend time with someone who does a task begrudgingly. And besides all things are to be done to the glory of God.

We put our hands to the plough until it was time to stop. I had the satifastion of painting one wall red which was to my joy and when people come to my new house I can say that I painted that. Understanding that boasting is a sin I'll add a clause to it and say that it was through Jesus Christ who strenghtens me. You can laugh out loud.

It is good for one to work hard without placing the value of our effort in monetary terms. It is true that in our economy you are valued by how much you are worth, how much money you can produce for this or that company, at such terms will company begin to bid for your labour. It's not all bad as it makes sense but when your ultimate value is placed on much your labour is worth. e.g. £7 an hour then we have a problem.


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Psalm 18: An Exposition

This Psalm is a psalm of David. David is a servant of the Lord, that is, He is committed to serving Yahweh. As well as David recognizing Yahweh to be his master and Lord, Yahweh is also His God in whom he takes refuge.

The words contained in this Psalm was addressed to the LORD on the day when the LORD rescued David from the hand of all his enemies and in particular, from the wretched hands of Saul. Saul was a despiser of God's anointed although once anointed himself, yet it pleased the LORD to discard Saul as His anointed because of his awful rebellion against the commandments of God. God rejected Saul as his king and instead established the throne of David which the Lord blessed forevermore by crowning Christ, the King of peace as the inheritor of the throne forever. Saul, upon hearing of his chastisement should have purchased an humble spirit and submitted to the will of Yahweh - he should have uttered the words of Eli, "Let the LORD do whatever is pleasing in His sight", and then Saul should have lingered upon the alter of mercy and plead with ashes and sackcloth for forgiveness. Instead we witnessed the result of a hardened soul, namely, a continual living against the will of God and against his anointed. We who are called the saints of Christ, called according to the purposes of God ought to learn a great deal from the life of Saul - that perhaps if we fall because of our grievous sins and are thus delivered over to Satan for the destruction of our flesh, let us be quick to repent, to turn and love the church of Christ and submit to the will of God, lest we be destroyed and make shipwreck of our faith.

Saul pursued David and God delivered David from the hands of Saul. After such a deliverance David said to God his strength 'I love you'. These words were pronounced with a strong hearty affection like a child very much moved by the love of their parents or a wife to her husband and vice-versa. God was very much in the heart of David, very much in his thinking and contemplation, God was his vision and God was his strength and deliverer. I love you O God, I love you should be our hearts song every day of our existence for behold how God has loved us - He loved us so much that He withheld nothing from us but made us heirs with his precious Son and bruised his beloved Son so that we may be healed. We have every reason to love God and he has none to love us but He does. His disposition towards us is love, it is love and nothing more or less.

David in loving the LORD saw God as his rock, fortress and deliverer. Psa 18:2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. If God is for us who shall be against us? God is the strongest being in existence and nothing can gain a victory over him. Therefore David takes refuge in Him, he hides in God, he runs to his arms for protection as a child flees the terrors of the darkness to his Father's arms.

Psa 18:3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. Those who have eyes to see the glory of God will know in their hearts that God is worthy to be praised. God is not just to be studied and contemplated on with a philosophical mind, but He is to be praised, He is worthy of such a praise because of his exceeding excellencies and worth. He is unequalled, He is unique and the originator of all things. God is to be praised, He is worthy of your highest affection. Your desires were inserted in you so that you may desire God and thus to find your satisfaction in him - He is the end of all pleasures, He is the ocean to whom all the rivers run. Call upon the Lord and you shall be saved. David was delivered from his enemies and although it was not at once yet it was a surety. His deliverance came as a marathon not a sprint - and Christ in all of his loveliness and kindness has delivered us from all of our enemies. He has graciously wounded the enemy on our behalf - He has dealt the deciding blow that the enemies future is not disputed. The devil, sin and death will at last be slain and executed in the deepest parts of hell; mercy has no portion for them, grace has no desire to see them and love is requesting to destroy them. Dear saints, when the cords of death encompasses you and the chains of life begin to strangle you, call upon the name of the LORD, who is worthy to be praised.

Psa 18:4-6 David describes his condition before his deliverance, he tells of his horrible distress of when his godless enemies pursued him - 'the cords of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me, the sanres of death confronted me'. Can you picture dear saint the anguish of David's heart, the restlessness of his evenings, his constant watching over the hills, his lack of comfort, his continual travelling with the bare necessities? Troubling times are times of rapidity and scarcity. In these hours, a man would only dare to take what he needs and nothing more - the immeasurable gold of Egypt in this hour would be a burden for they would weigh down the instinct of survival. Treasures are only good when secure for if they are posses in times of trouble, they can only be useful if they are hidden and buried. David drank the bitter cup of men's hatred and this made him a distressed pilgrim. In his hour of conflict he called upon the name of the LORD - He cried for help with tears of urgency. And God sitting in his temple heard the cry of David. At David's long prayers did God's ears tingle and bid his heart to have mercy on suffering David. God was full of anger at David's enemies and therefore rose to vindicate his servant.

Psalm 18:7-15 David uses poetical language to describe his experience of God's delivering power. Nature has nothing more devastating than its earth splitting earthquakes and volcanic splitting ashes. And it is to these kind of metaphors does David allude to show the omnipotent magnifying terror of Yahweh when he descends to shatter his enemies. God bowed the heavens and came down, he rode on a cherub and flew, and he sent out his arrows and scattered them.

God rescues his anointed with a mighty hand. Psa 18:16 He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters.

Psa 18:17  He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.  David's enemies, possessing superior armies and weapons were superior to him. His enemies were established, they had governments and wealth, the people paid their taxes to them and to David there was but a few loyal friends. This conflict should have been resolved quickly and decisively by his enemies were it not for God and his condescending grace towards David. David should have long drowned in the sea of his enemies but God reached out his hand to draw him out of the raging sea - only God can still the storm and only Christ can calm the wind.

When these two foes, namely, the storm and the sea confronts us in the day of our calamity, God is our support. David found a pillar in God and we have a pillar in Christ. We do assert with a great un-flinching assent that God is three in one. Salvation belongs to the trinity with each working together to accomplish it as a whole. It was not the mere works of the Father or the Son but a Trinitarian triumph. We see with Christ that on the day of his cross, yea on the day of his calamity to some, that God his Father was his support - it was on that tree where he was glorified. It was the love of his father which sustained him.

God supported David in his narrow suffocating street and thus Psa 18:19  He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. God's deliverance is never done with a frowning expression, nay, it is done with great pleasure and joy. It is done in the Spirit of that man who voyages the seven seas in order to free his beloved; and was it done because of a frowning disposition, nay, it was done in love and when one loves, yea truly loves another then there is joy. It is questionable if one says that they love a person but they never have joy towards them. What they have is not love but something else, they have perhaps a form of religion, a sense of duty but not love. Love rejoices, love glows with nature's warmth and when God delivers a soul from hell it is because He loves to do so and because He delights in them. David saw this truth clearly upon his reflection on the merciful deliverance of God from his enemies that God saved him, yea that God rose from his throne because he delighted in him.

This truth is held in question by our hearts for you will say to me that surely I cannot utter with David that I am righteous; and my heart is filled with all kinds of depravity that surely God cannot delight in me. It is true that God doesn’t delight in wickedness, nay, he abhors it as the Jew the touching or eating of pigs; but here is the fountain of truth, that is, that in Jesus Christ you are made righteous, and how righteous are you made? You are made perfectly righteous because Jesus Christ is perfect. Therefore God delights in you, he rejoices over you and sings a song over you because you are found in Christ.

This by no means negate your responsibility to be holy, you are still commanded to live a holy life for this delights the heart of God; and a holy life will save you many sorrows and pitfalls as David's human righteousness earned him his reward as he saw it in vs 20.

God at times may deal with us according to our righteousness as He caused Ananias and Sapphira to fall because of their deceitfulness, as he took away Saul’s kingship because of his disobedient, as he cursed the house of David because of his murder and adultery and as he rewards those with faith because of their faithfulness. Our personal righteousness is something to be accounted for, we are exalted to live holy lives but we must not for one second think that our righteousness could earn us our salvation for who has given a gift to God that he should repay. Your personal righteousness may grant you a safety from the calamity of the law but it is not full proof. For poor Job, despite his exceeding watchfulness was at an instant stricken from heaven with a judgement. It is all of Grace, no merits of our own, it is all of grace for our salvation. And whatever righteousness we may have of our own we may ultimately say that it was by grace that we possess it. David himself acknowledges this in vs. 32 when he says it is God ‘who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.’ David lived a righteous life and received his reward, so too let us be encouraged to live righteous and holy lives so that we may be mature in Christ and not carnal, that we may not fall asleep but grow in holiness and kindness and have our crowns not taking from us.

One way we can live righteous life is by following the example of David. Psa 18:21  For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. Psa 18:22  For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me.  David committed to remembrance the ordinances of God; He had them before him so as to never forget them and to keep them diligently. A sure way to miss an appointment is to forget that you have one and a way to not follow the ordinances of God is to not remember them. Therefore it is with an earnest exaltation that I exhort all the saints of Christ today that we should order our steps and minds in ways that seeks to have all of the rules of Christ before us so as to never forget them but to keep them. And are the laws of Christ burdensome? nay - they are not. The sum of it is summed up in this 'love one another as I have loved you.’ Only do this, only remember this in all of your duties and you shall find yourself to love your enemies, to forsake sexual immorality, to be humble, to be poor in spirit, to be hungry and thirsty for righteousness. By loving, yes, by loving as Christ commanded us to love shall be the means we would be found blameless before God. Thus when Christ comes to visit us as he did the seven churches, he may say unto us that he has found us to be blameless before God his Father; and if your heart condemns you we do have an advocate Jesus Christ himself who cleanses us and makes us whole. His Father himself is committed to complete the good work he started in us; so poor sinner, never despair as to feel yourself eternally damned over your sins but believe and trust in his righteousness which will bring you to eternal life everlasting.

David was blameless before God, there was no sin committed against the Almighty which could have warranted his condemnation. All the charges brought against him by his enemies were untrue therefore Psa 18:24  the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. The reward of David was his vindication, it was God's rising from his sovereign throne to deliver David and to show him mercy for Psa 18:25  With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; Psa 18:26  with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

It is true that to the wicked and sinful man God seems like a harsh taskmaster. He is seen as that unloving head-teacher who loves to punish wayward pupils or those students who are neither good nor bad. The crooked have a mean view of God and accordingly so because to them God has only been a Judge who condemns their vileness and misdirected pleasure. God is a killjoy and this view is prominent in our modern culture. The atheist being deluded in his own understanding is quick to denounce God as a tyrant and malevolent. God’s existence he believes is only for their misery, but how they have misunderstood God - only if they were merciful in heart and blameless then they would begin to see the beauty and awesomeness of God.

But of course God also shows himself merciful to the wicked for David understood this in another Psalm when he wrote that '“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin". Even to the wayward God shows himself to be merciful and how happy they become when they have seen and clashed with the mercy of God. They become like that blessed apostle who after his conversion considers all things as loss for the surpassing pleasure of knowing Christ his Lord. They have now seen the purity of the Lord and know for sure that God is pure and they themselves live to be pure.

 Vs 27-29 describes How God saves a humble people and the method by which he executes it. David writes, for you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. Those who look to God with pride, God will cut out their eyes for such arrogance but those who beat their chest in humility, God will welcome and save from all of their miseries. This here should cause us to have a humble disposition at all times - why dear sinner should you give way to the wrath of God in your prideful arrogance. Be humble.

And to those who are being saved it is God who lights their lamp. The LORD their God lightens their darkness. This is a way of God in saving a person for without light one is lost in the darkness; and all men are naturally in darkness because of their sins and without the light of Christ one will eventually fall from the road into hell. Therefore to the saints, to those who have been redeemed, God is the one who lighted their lamp, it was him who came to them in their distress of the darkness and torched their lamp. The lamp is bright for it lightens the darkness as to extinguish it forever and at once the saved, the redeemed put their feet on the narrow path and follow the way of Christ possessing now a light to see. This undeserved condescension is all of mercy and grace. And when this grace is given there is also a power imparted unto them which makes them believe exceedingly like David that  Psa 18:29  For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. There will not be an enemy or a foe that the child of God will not say if full of faith or perhaps if possessing that mustard faith that they cannot leap over them or run against them even though by their own strength it is impossible but by God it is as effortless as the flattening of an ant.

And then David reflects taking a pause to consider this God who has delivered him and made him feel that with his power nothing can stand against him. Psa 18:30  This God--his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

God is perfect. Jehovah is exceedingly flawless that all of his actions are all done and executed to perfection. A perfect being cannot produce flawed actions or flawed decisions by erring in judgment. All of his deeds and purposes are of the highest orders, they may be scrutinised for a million years and yet each tier is found to be just as the rest, namely, flawless. God is perfect and his words prove true. Has God made you a promise in his words, has he told you that he has begun a good work in you and will complete it? Yes he has and his words will prove true. You have no reason to doubt, you have no shades in the promises, there is no reason to compromise but reason itself will usher you exceedingly to believe this promise and the only conclusion and end of it is this, that it will prove true. Hide yourself in his tower, run quickly like the righteous man into his abode and take refuge in him (God) for he is a shield and a rock. Only God, yes only Yahweh is God, only He is the rock. If you run to take refuge in other towers as in other god's or even in man’s loftiest military defence, then sooner or later your defence will be breached by the men of this world or by the devils or angels and if not by them then God himself will smash your shields in pieces for there is no one stronger than him. But if you take refuge in God Almighty, then no one, devils nor angels can prevail against him. You are forever secured and protected.

Psa 18:31 For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? Here is a challenge for any man, angel or devil to find another God except Yahweh, to find another rock except our God. For Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him? But David has heard that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. 

It is this God, Yahweh who Psa 18:32 equipped David with strength and made his way blameless. Psa 18:33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. Psa 18:34 He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. Psa 18:35 You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.

Only this God, this Yahweh can save. He is the one who equips with strength and makes our way blameless. The blameless man will in the final analysis attribute his blamelessness to God. When the saints at last reach the shores of paradise and the question is asked of them of the ultimate reason of their perseverance and holiness, they would say it is all of God, it is all of grace. It was God Almighty who made our ways blameless, it was his work from the start to the finish. Even all of our spent efforts were all by him, he made our feet like the feet of a deer when it was time to flee sin and he set us secure on the heights of faith and holiness. It was him that trained our hands for war, so that our arms can bend a bow of bronze against sin, the devil, world and flesh. He placed in our hands the shield of salvation and with his Almighty right hand he supported us when we was nearly to faint and his patience and gentleness with us caused us to love him more. He is the reason why we are considered great in his kingdom.

Of course for David his battles were physical and God trained his hands for war. He defeated all of his enemies with supernatural aid from the unstoppable right hand of the majestic and glorious God.

God's provisions and support knows no termination, for after training David’s hands for war he also Psa 18:36  gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip. David pursued his enemies and overtook them and did not turn back till they were consumed. What great lessons we can learn here while we traverse this earthly abode - we can learn a very vital and important lessons in the utter fierceness and focus in killing sin. Let us not turn back until we have killed our sins, until we have buried her in hell's graveyard. Let us slash her neck, let us suffocate her until she has no more breath left to breathe in our lives for she is the misery of the saints, she is the constant thorn in their side if they will not part with her. David consumed all of his enemies, he thrust them through to ensure their deaths that they were unable to rise. They were inept to lift up their heads even if David had desired to offer them a consoling drink in their last hour, they fell under his feet. And such should be sin before us, lying dead and thrust through, having no blood left to bleed, unable to lift her head.

It is God who equips us for such a battle, such endeavour cannot be fought with the common strength as sin is a powerful foe. The aid of the Spirit purchased for us by Christ is our strength - God has equipped us with such a helper that it brings a great misery to my soul when I gaze at the dear saints of Christ take to battle without the Spirit.

Those who hated David he destroyed, Psa 18:41 They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.  David was the Lord's anointed and all who were against him were as if they were against the LORD. God would protect his servant and those who seeks to destroy him were destroyed instead. And does sin not hate you O saint of Christ, does it not abhor you that if it were not for sovereign grace, she would have ruined you to hell. She would have dammed you with a smile, she would have your soul rot in hell forever without pity. And now when she cannot see you in hell's prison she wishes to rend asunder your assurance, she wishes to make your life sorrowful, killing all your dreams for Christ by enticing you. O sinner kill her now, destroy sin with the sword of Christ, when she cries out to you for mercy it is then that you should have no pity - burn her to the fire or she will burn you. Beat her fine as dust before the wind; cast her out like the mire of the streets. Sin is not to be found in your house.

Thanks be to God who rescues and delivers us. Psa 18:43 You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. David praises God for the unity and peace which now dominates his kingdom. Such work of unity was not done merely by his hands and wisdom but by God Almighty. Wherever we may see that pearl called unity in the church we should lift up holy hands giving praises to God.

God excelled the reign of David in making the hearts of the people ready and willing to obey him, Psa 18:44  As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me. Psa 18:45  Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses. David had gained a surmountable victory all because Psa 18:46 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.

David ends his thanksgiving psalm with a praise to God which we would be wise to imitate. Exalted be the Psa 18:47 God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me, Psa 18:48  who delivered me from my enemies; yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. Psa 18:49 For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name.

Psa 18:50  Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.

And has God not bestowed us with a great salvation? Has he not made us priest and kings? Has he not blessed us with riches glorious and incorruptible . David had the heart and inclination to give thanks to God exceedingly for a earthly victory and how much more should we give thanks to God who has rescued us from the jaws of death and hell.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

If I'm happy with my life, why do I need Jesus?

If I'm happy with my life, why do I need Jesus?

I hear that from a lot of folks. They say to me, “I just don’t feel the need for Christ.” As if Christianity were something that were packaged and sold through Madison Avenue! That what we’re trying to communicate to people is “Here’s something that’s going to make you feel good, and everybody needs a little of this in their closet or in their refrigerator,” as if it were some commodity that’s going to add a dash of happiness to our lives.
If the only reason a human being ever needed Jesus was to be happy and a person is already happy without Jesus, then they certainly don’t need Jesus. The New Testament indicates, however, that there’s another reason you or somebody else needs Jesus. There is a God who is altogether holy, who is perfectly just, and who declares that he is going to judge the world and hold every human being accountable for their life. As a perfectly holy and just God, he requires from each one of us a life of perfect obedience and of perfect justness. If there is such a God and if you have lived a life of perfect justness and obedience—that is, if you’re perfect — then you certainly don’t need Jesus. You don’t need a Savior because only unjust people have a problem.
The problem is simply this: If God is just and requires perfection from me and I come short of that perfection and he is going to deal with me according to justice, then I am looking at a future punishment at the hands of a holy God. If the only way I can escape punishment is through a Savior and if I want to escape that, then I need a Savior. Some people will say that we’re just trying to preach Jesus as a ticket out of hell, as a way to escape eternal punishment. That’s not the only reason I would commend Jesus to people, but that is one of the reasons.
I think that many people in today’s culture don’t really believe that God is going to hold them accountable for their lives—that God really does not require righteousness. When we take that view, we don’t feel the weight of the threat of judgment. If you’re not afraid to deal with God’s punishment, then be happy as a clam if you want. I would be living in terrible fear and trembling at the prospect of falling into the hands of a holy God.

Woman of the bible - Rachel

The first we read of beautiful Rachel came from the mouths of Shepherds. They said of her to Jacob with an exquisite delight, as if to be very proud of her; “and see,  Rachel his (Laban’s) daughter is coming with the sheep.” 

Rachel was a shepherdess. We may ask what distinction is there between a shepherd and a shepherdess? None at all, except one be male and the other female. As a shepherdess, Rachel was open to the dangers of the open field from the wild beasts; and if one of her father’s sheep went missing, she was required as a shepherdess, just as a shepherd, to search for them. 

The Lord Jesus once asked the Pharisees; "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?" Rachel does not stay with the ninety-nine, she goes and finds that one sheep. We can also say of Rachel, although much of it is imagination, but fitting, because her father has trusted her with the care of his sheep, namely that she will tend his flock like a shepherdess; her father was sure that Rachel will gather the lambs in her arms; she will carry them in her bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. In short, she will care exceedingly for them, and in doing her duty, that is leading the sheep to be watered by the well, was when she first met Jacob.

Jacob’s immediate sight of Rachel as she drew near, was one of love at first sight. The feeling I say was mutual, for, after the watering of the sheep, they both embraced in a passionate customary greeting kiss; and following in the manner of Rebekah, Rachel ran home to tell her father.

Rachel was the youngest of two daughters. In contrast to her older sister Leah, she was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob would have Rachel as his wages, not money, nor gold from Laban, but Rachel. O Jacob would have laboured for a thousand years if eternity was the time span - for he loved Rachel. 

Jacob agreed with Leban to have Rachel has his bride, and when the hour came after seven long years which seemed to Jacob but seven minutes, he was cheated. Jacob was denied his true love and had to wait another seven years, which I imagine to be perhaps the reason for the later marital strife which developed between Rachel and Leah.

Rachel was the privileged one in the marriage, for Jacob loved Rachel and poor Leah was hated. Leah was the leper of the marriage, and Rachel having command of Jacob’s heart and affection could let Leah have Jacob at her will. For we read in Genesis that, “In the days of wheat harvest, Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes." But she said to her, "Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son's mandrakes also?" Rachel said, "Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son's mandrakes."” Such power did Rachel possess over Jacob’s heart that at her will was Leah only to have Jacob. Did they not possess the same right of Jacob as wives? Absolutely! But this marital affair, since the beginning had Rachel on the upper foot.

The Lord saw that Leah was hated, and therefore opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. The divine favour was withheld from Rachel perhaps as a judgment of her attitude. Rachel grew exceedingly frustrated with her barrenness, and approached Jacob saying, “Give me children or I shall die.” She envied her sister with such intensity that her own barrenness, she loathed and would have death instead of this curse. Jacob’s anger was kindled against her and replied to the vileness of her envy, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?" 

Unable to produce a child of her own, Rachel was not to loose the child battle with her sister, so she gave her servant Bilhah to Jacob. Night and day Rachel must have prayed to God asking him to grant her a child, as all people in desperation do; and when finally Bilhah conceived Rachel said, "God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son." And when Bilhah conceived again, Rachel said, "With mighty wrestlings, I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed."

Marital life became a competition; it was a bitter feud, for the marriage has become a stage to outperform the other through child-bearing. Polygamy, as presented in this unintended marriage, is a sad picture to be burned. It is to be thrown to the wild dogs because of the hostility that arose between the two sisters because of it.

Rachel was not to die without having her day for it was now time for God to remember Rachel, for him to allow her a dove of her own. She conceived and bore a Son and said, "God has taken away my reproach." And she called his name Joseph, saying, "May the LORD add to me another son!" In obtaining her wish, the greatest joy to her, she suffered her sharpest pang; in pain, she conceived Ben-oni ("son of her sorrow"). What had caused her heart to envy her sister was now the very thing that caused her to die. Poor Rachel died, buried in the neighbourhood of Ramah, lamented by Jacob who set a pillar on her grave.

Rachel’s name and tears in her last sorrowful hours were to be remembered by the weeping Prophet who recorded to us what God had said unto him (Jer 31:15-17) to denote God's people mourning under their calamities.  "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children because they are no more." This passage is also quoted by Matthew as fulfilled in the lamentation at Bethlehem on account of the slaughter of the infants at the command of Herod (Mat 2:17, Mat 2:18). Rachel’s weeping traveled through time, heard in the town of Bethlehem where the King of glory and the redeemer of Rachel was born.

As Rachel wept for her children, we ought to lament some of Rachel’s trait. She stole her father’s household gods used for divination when it was time to depart to the land of Jacob’s fathers. The idolatrous ways of her country were engraved in her as she was given to the superstition of her country, the worshiping of the teraphim. The deceitfulness evident in Laban was manifested in her as she sought to hide from Laban the truth of her covetousness. She envied her sister; she forgot that they were both daughters of the same Father. But we can say positively of her that she had given up all her idols before the death stroke fell on her, being influenced by Jacob’s monotheistic devotion who once said to his household; "Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone." 

As God was with Jacob, He was with Rachel. Long after her death, her memory still lives on in the hearts of Israel, being privileged along with her sister Leah as the builder of the nation of Israel. And it was through her offspring by which God saved Jacob and his children. It was Joseph’s devotion and obedience to God which elevated him to the right-hand throne of Egypt and spared the family the fatal blow of famine.


I am empty without you my Lord

I am empty without you my Lord Without you I am nothing.  May I not forget you when I wake May I keep you with me through the day And may I ...