Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Who But My Heavenly Father

(This reading is based on Psalm 146 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)

My biological father died when I was 2 years old. He was survived by a wife who had neither an immediately employable skill nor profession, and eight children - the oldest of which was 14 years. We all by and large grew up together, were never left by our mother, never went to bed hungry (not certain about my mother who for many years suffered from an ulcer in the stomach). After about a decade my mother remarried (to a farmer, so food was always in the house). Although it wasn't exactly paradise, at least my mother did not get ill as often as she used to. So often when we were young we thought she was dying. But God was always there.
So after two husbands my mother now stays with one of my sisters, who lost her husband a few years ago. Things are generally much better now for all of us. And tracing my growing up years, I've never felt as poor in this world's goods as I in fact was... am. And why should I? "My Father is rich in houses and land." Didn't He say that, "The cattle upon a thousand hills are mine?"
It's never about all the things I have that I may somehow think I own
My life is in my Father's hand, Who sits upon the throne
He gives me what I need each day, with always a little bit more
He hopes I'll learn to be like Him by sharing with three or four
I am His child and His servant too and I strive to do His will
I'll trust Him tomorrow as I did yesterday that He'll be caring still
So I will bless the Lord with all my soul, as long as I shall live
I'll scatter His bounties so all will come with praise and worship to give
O Lord You're worthy to receive our praise and our hearts are filled with love
May Your name be honoured in all the earth as it is in Heaven above
Please come dear Lord and dwell with us, make our hearts Thy sweet abode
We'll lay aside all the burden of sin as we carry Your lighter load
And when our Saviour shall come at last in the clouds from Heaven on high
May it be that we all shall gather round Your throne, yes by and by
To read and/or listen to Psalm 146 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Lord, That Our Sons and Daughters

(This reading is based on Psalm 144 that is read  in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)
What goes through your mind when a new born baby is placed in your life? If it has come from your own loins then you'd probably first think, "Wow, how cute!" But it shouldn't be long after that before you drift off into thoughts of concern for the well-being of that child - even if you already have plans laid out. There's just no way of knowing for sure the path a child's life will take - they are their own individuals and will make their own choices that will sometimes bring... undesired consequences. Common concerns for a child usually surround matters of health, always having food, clothing, shelter, having access to a sound education, and depending on your own moral values, you're also concerned about their moral choices, and what path their careers will take. You may even reach the point where they get married, and you're concerned with whom and whether or not they'll be happy and have children of their own. You'll also want to know if they'll live forever or will they die the second death.

Having all of the above and so much more to be responsible for can be quite foreboding. But hallelujah, we have a loving heavenly Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children - which we and our children are. We can be confident in this God Who is:
Our Rock - Who provides shelter and support.
Our Trainer - Who prepares us for life's many battles in this great war against evil.
Our source of lovingkindness - always morale building to know you're loved - more so when it is by someone of consequence.
Our Fortress - the One who surrounds us and provides a launching pad for our assaults on the evil that surrounds us.
Our Hightower - the One on whose shoulders we are able to see far into the distant future, where victory is assured.
Our Deliverer - the One who snatches us out of the enemy's hand as we overcome addictions and sins that easily beset us.
Our Shield - the One whom we may hide behind to escape the darts of the devil.
With this knowledge of the great God we may join with David and pray that our sons in their youth be as full-grown trees - firmly anchored in the teachings of YHWH; and our daughters be as corner pillars - sculptured in palace style with the virtues of decency, dignity, decorum. Father, according to Your will, these be our requests, amen.

To read and/or listen to Psalm 144 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Scripted: Discipline in Captivity

(This reading is based on Psalm 141 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)
As I read through Psalm 141, two things led me to immediately think of Daniel and his three companions in Babylon. This Psalm seemed to have been the script that dictated their actions. Here are some links:
Routined Prayer Life
Psalm 141: 2, " Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."
Daniel 6: 10, "Now ... Daniel... went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime."
The influence of the Sanctuary was very clear in Daniel's prayer life; he did exactly what Solomon hinted should happen whenever the Children of Israel would find themselves in captivity, "Yet if they shall... repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives... and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause," 1 Kings 8: 47-49.
Restricted Diet
Psalm 141: 3, 4, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth... and do not let me eat of their delicacies."
Daniel 1: 8, " But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself."
The consideration of a restricted diet should not be confined merely to food, but should also be considered in reference to the consumption of all forms of evil practices of "men who work iniquity."

Father, we humbly confess that we have not all together been as we ought to have, but thank You for forgiveness, and for second chances. We commit ourselves to You and pray that You would preserve us in all our ways. Amen.

To read and/or listen to Psalm 141 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Although... Yet

(This reading is based on Psalm 139 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)

If I were to tweak Psalm 139 so it accurately applies to me, it'd take two words: "although and yet." "Although" would be inserted at the beginning of verse 1 and would read: "(Although), O Lord, You have searched me, and known me." And then following the litany of woeful revelations of myself up to verse 4 (which would incidentally be a somewhat longer list), I'd begin verse 5 with the word "Yet:" "(Yet) You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me." The opening line of the chorus of the song, "When He Was on the Cross," articulates this idea pointedly, "He knew me, yet He loved...."

I'm happy that in His judgement, God is not looking for a reason to condemn us, but for a reason to save us. To Him we are very highly prized, so much so that He's prepared to descend to the very depths of hell in order to provide us with salvation. In fact, Jesus did go that far; He died our death so we may live His life. The least we can do is seek to live His life.


If I were to add a third word (or a phrase) it'd be (or begin with) "Because. "(Because You have been so good to me, I beg You to) 'Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.'"

To read and/or listen to Psalm 139 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Monday, 23 December 2013

What's in a Name?

)This reading is based on Psalm 138 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)
"For You have magnified Your word above all Your name." Ps 138: 2
Living Up the One's Name
Although names (that often come with predetermined meanings) are usually assigned even before persons develop a reputation, in real terms, what your name symbolizes to people who know you, is based on who you really are (in terms of reputation and character). There are instances where people live up to the meaning of their names. For example, the name Jesus, connotes one who saves (YHWH saves). Did Jesus live up to that implied meaning? To this very day! This is why we can sing the song "We have heard a joyful sound, Jesus saves, Jesus saves...."
                                Image from
New Name
There are however times when one's life becomes radically different from the implication of the name. We look at Jacob, for example. The meaning of the name Jacob is "Supplanter; held by the heel," - a very negative connotation. For a while Jacob lived up to this reputation, but at length God changed him, and when the time was right, God changed his name to mark his character transformation. Jacob became Israel, meaning "God wrestler, God contended, triumphant with God, one who prevails with God." We too are promised that when we ascend to Heaven we will each receive "a white stone, and in the stone a NEW NAME written...." Rev. 2: 17. This will doubtlessly be a name that marks our journey and the change that God will have wrought in us.
Don't Just Take My Name For it, Prove Me
God seems to be saying, 'Don't just take my name for it; test my word, and let your experience determine what you think of Me.' "Prove me now...," says He in Mal 3: 10. In a similar vane the Psalmist declared, "O taste and see that the Lord is good." Ps 34: 8. Polycarp, a Christian martyr who was believed to have been a student of John the Revelator, said these words when asked to defy Christ, "Eighty-six years have I been His servant, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me."
So Father in Heaven, we thank that Your word is "Yeah and Amen." May it be our resolve to live by Your every word. And as You reveal yourself to be a credible God, true to Your every word, may the very mention of Your name bring peace to our hearts, consolation in sorrow, and hope amidst despair. And when You would have completed Your special work of re-creation in us, and we would have triumphed over the enemy, we look forward to that new name You will give us on that day. Till then, keep us faithful and trusting, in Jesus' name, amen.

To read and/or listen to Psalm 138 and to read other related blogs, please click here

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Perpetual Praise for a Merciful....

"This reading is based on Psalm 136 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs).
I recall reflecting on Psalm 103 that praise should not be pointless. Well, here again in Psalm 136 that point is powerfully plain. Here are some more excellent reasons to praise the God of heaven whose mercy endures forever:
Praise our merciful Creator - "Who made the heavens... the earth above the waters... the great lights," (verses 5-7)
Praise our merciful Deliverer - Who "brought out Israel from among them," (verse 11)
Praise our merciful Defender - "Who struck down great kings," (verse 17)
Praise our merciful Benefactor - Who "gave their (the enemies) land as a heritage," (verse 21)
Praise our merciful Sustainer - "Who gives food to all flesh," (verse 25)
"Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever." Verse 26
The phrase, "For His mercy endures forever," does not mean that His mercy will not run out, but that the effect of His mercy will last last forever. It behoves therefore to come to Him while His mercy lasts. Revelation 22 10-12 tells us, "And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Are you ready for Jesus to come?  "Even so come Lord Jesus."

  • Rev. 22: 20.

    To read and/or listen to Psalm 136 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

    Thursday, 19 December 2013

    Working Behind the Scenes

    (This reading is based on Psalm 134 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs)

    "Behold, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord!" Psalm 134: 1

    The night connotes the idea of not being seen, and may refer to those who work mainly behind the scenes/backstage and don't often, if ever, get into the limelight. Interestingly, we often seem to have a way of requiring a higher standard of living from those in the limelight as opposed to those who are not. From a practical point of view it is true that those in the limelight will have a more traceable impact on the image of the Church than those who work behind the scenes. But if you've ever worked on a stage production you know that what you actually see on stage is the easy part; the real work is backstage.  So much depends on who directs, who's in charge of lighting, who writes the script, etc.

    The night could also mean the private time spent in prayerful preparation for the performance or ministry you will later deliver. What you're going to do on stage is what you will do in rehearsal. The secret to the power that Jesus constantly exuded is linked to His practice as recorded in Mark 1: 35, "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."  The power and impact of our Christian witness does not so much depend on that moment spent in the limelight, but in the moments before, when no one is seeing you.  

    So what's happening in the backstage of your life? Who is your director... your lighting manager... your scriptwriter?  Here's a team worth working with:

    God as Director - Prov. 3: 6,  "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall DIRECT thy path."
    Jesus as Lighting Manager - John 8: 12, "I am the light of the world."
    The Holy Spirit as Scriptwriter - 2 Peter 1: 21 "Holy men of God spake (wrote) as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

    I guarantee that if you work with this team yours will be an award winning performance; you will hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant...."  May God so lead us all.

    To read and/or listen to Psalm 134 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

    Wednesday, 18 December 2013

    Beyond Our Differences

    (This reading is based on Psalm 133 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)

    "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." Ps. 133: 1
    Let's get practical:
    1. I find it so much more pleasant when I'm walking down a corridor and coming in the opposite direction is someone with whom I can share a warm, easy greeting - no awkwardness that would make you want to turn off, or quickly get on your phone.
    2. It's so much better when we try work with each other to make challenging projects a success; instead of complaining about why that person had to come up with that "stupid idea."
    3. Why do I always have to be acknowledged, and get upset when I'm not. I might even pull back my support so my importance can be seen. Maybe I need to learn more about the art of selfless service - "not as menpleasers, but as servants of Christ." Eph. 6: 6.
                                                                The King's Heralds
    4. How about walking past a group and not having to worry about what they are thinking or possibly saying about you - especially if they were to share a laugh shortly after you pass.
    5. I wonder about a "friendship" that get's a spouse frantic (bordering becoming impossible to live with) in getting everything "perfect" for a visit.
    6. Then of the first century Church it was said that "they had all things common." Acts 4: 32. Yet today we're so stratified in our Church. What of Jesus' statement, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another." John 13: 35.
    7. A beautiful worship experience is one that is often shared and includes a contribution of different individuals bringing their own flavour to the service. There are the greeters, the singers, the teachers and preachers. All, based on their 'giftings', give their best in the worship of a God they love.
    "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

    To read and/or listen to Psalm 133 and to read other related blogs, please click here

    Tuesday, 17 December 2013

    Righteousness v/s Salvation

    (This reading is based on Psalm 132 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs)
    "Clothe Your priests with righteousness/I will clothe her priests with salvation." Ps. 132: 9, 16
    In verse 9 the Psalmist expresses a desire to the see the priests of God clothed "with righteousness." God however in verse 16 sought to give the assurance that the priests of His chosen dwelling place will be clothed "with salvation." Is there a significant difference?
    1. There really isn't a tension between the two, but instead an importance that both be visible in God's priests/people. You see, an aura of righteousness that is not tempered with a sense of available salvation, could intimidate a lowly sinner (that's all of us actually) - thrusting him/her into a state of hopelessness. So we see Jesus (perfect in righteousness) in John 8: 11 saying to the woman caught in the act of adultery, "Neither do I condemn thee...." That is Salvation!                                
    2. It is possible that God is implying that before we are clothed with His righteousness we firstly need His salvation?
    3. Yet another perspective could be that salvation is a package that includes righteousness. Hence, righteousness is a subset of salvation and will naturally flow, once salvation has reached the individual.
    Lord, however it is that this is to be understood we know that this is nothing for us to accomplish on our own, but by Your divine grace. As you promised, grant us today Your salvation we pray in Jesus' name, amen.

    To read and/or listen to Psalm 132 and to read other related blogs please click here

    Monday, 16 December 2013

    Contentment: Being Resolved

    (This reading is based on Psalm 131 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs)

    "Like a weaned child is my soul within me." Ps 131: 2

    If I were to caption this passage it would very likely be, Contentment. A child that is weaned is one who no longer desires it mother's milk, but is contented to move onto to other stuff

    To be in this place is to reach the point beyond which you require any great, or profound explanation to accept the reality of God, or to require any justification of how you can directly benefit from the struggles in your lives. Being in this place is being like:

    Abraham being willing to offer up his only son of promise without questioning, "Why?"

    Joseph not using the occasion of being seemingly abandoned by God, and not being under the scrutiny of those he knew or who knew him to indulge in inappropriate living.

    Job being resolved to saying, "Though He slay me yet will I trust Him." Job 13: 15

    David though having opportunity to kill his enemy left things to God but was resolved to not stretching his hand "against the Lord's anointed." 1 Sam 26: 11

    Paul declaring, "for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Phil 4: 11

    Jesus who was resolved to making the ultimate sacrifice of Himself to secure our salvation, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt." Matt. 26: 39.

    Oh for the resolve to be and do just what You want of me 
    To be like Jesus, Joseph, and Paul,this is my earnest plea
    See Abraham, though the father of faith, was never always so
    But like Joseph he learned that God was with him withersoever he would go
    And Job, though losing all but his life was faced with a circumstance most grim
    Declared to his wife and accusing friends, "Though slain, I'll keep trusting Him"
    Mighty man of war, after God's own heart, never fought his battles alone
    David never lifted a finger to fight in defense of his earthly throne
    Paul, though brilliant and of glowing prospects, knew well what humility meant
    He learned, in whatever state he was, therewith to be content
    Then Jesus, the Master of them all, hung on a cross, and not for His own guilt
    See, earlier He prayed, "Father not my will, but only as thou wilt."
    So help me today to be willing dear Lord to be and do what You want of me
    To be like Jesus, Joseph and Paul, this is my earnest plea

    To read and/or listen to Psalm 131 and to read other related blogs, please click here

    Sunday, 15 December 2013

    Ringtones and Supplications; Mornings and Hope

    (This reading is based on Psalm 130 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs)

    "Let Your ear be attentive the voice of my supplications." Ps. 130: 2
    I suspect that it is a standard feature of the average phone these days is that you can apply a specific ringtone to a selected number. With this you can know when it's your "sweetie," or any other member of your immediate family that is calling as opposed to your work or everyone else.
    In a similar fashion God is able to interpret our various utterances to Him, so much so that our supplications have a voice - or ringtone. This is not a far-fetched idea, because by experience we know when something is wrong when a person uses a certain tone with us. Ever notice that even with dogs, or animals in the wild that there is a certain way they seem to make sounds that sets off their fellow animals around? God has designed it that way, and He stands ready to respond to our cries for help.
    "My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning." Ps 130: 6
    I've gone through entire (endless) nights, being in constant pain, and I have been there when I searched the windows for the first indications of breaking of dawn. Somehow mornings seem to bear the tidings of hope for release from whatever it is that would haunt us (especially during the night). In fact, being in certain situations is tantamount to being in an unending night. We often describe it as going through a nightmare. No wonder we sing this song with such hope and expectation, "O it must be the breaking of the day, O it must be the breaking of the day, the night is almost gone, the day is coming on, O it must be the breaking of the day." Yes, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."
    "And in His word do I hope... O Israel, hope in the Lord," (Ps 130: 5, 7)
    The Word of God reinforces our hope in God as it reassures us that in Him we find:
    Forgiveness - "But there is forgiveness with You," (verse 4)
    Mercy - "For with the Lord there is mercy," (verse 7)
    Redemption - "And with Him is abundant redemption," (verse 7)
    What a rich passage this is. Thank you Lord.

    To read and/or listen to Psalm 130 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

    Friday, 13 December 2013

    Whew! Reaping What the Thieves Missed

    (This reading is based on Psalm 128 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)"When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you."
    There are multiple ways to look at this passage.
    Protection Against Praedial Larceny
    Eating the labour of your hand could be significant from the perspective that you were not cheated/robbed of the fruits of your labour. Praedial larceny is the single most significant factor that threatens to cripple the agriculture industry in our country; many a would-be farmer steers clear of making such investments because of the many horror stories of the carryings-on of criminal elements. But for those who brave it and manage to actually reap the benefits, happy indeed they are - with much thanksgiving and a massive sigh of relief. What is true for farming is true for all other industries - it's a blessing to not be cheated!
    My First Crop of Corn
    Albeit a bit unhealthy with the gaudy use of margarine, I can still recall the first time I reaped, and ate from a crop of corn I had planted. I was young and excited, and I stuffed myself silly. And although I would do things a bit differently now, my mouth nevertheless salivates at the thought of that special moment. I ate the labour of my hands, and I was happy.
    Being able to work and afford to address certain personal needs and to also be able to extend a helping hand to others is a tremendous morale building, self-defining experience. Some take it to an excessive level and are smug about it. But being able to earn and to help others is really a humbling experience. After all, to whom much is given, much is expected. We're servants.
    The Joy of Seeing Your Children/Mentees Succeed
    Similar in principle to the above corn cultivation concept, although of a higher quality, is the joy and satisfaction experienced by parents or mentors who see their children/mentees making wise decisions and reaping the requisite rewards. You get a very distinct sense that this is the satisfaction Jesus will at length experience when the saved are brought home, "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." Isa 53: 11.
    Lord, more than any other experience do I desire to be among those saved at last; to be among the trophies that Jesus will present to His Father on that great day. I invite You to do what You must in order to make this a reality in my life, I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

  • To read and/or listen to Psalm 128 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

    Thursday, 12 December 2013

    "Puff"-Proof Assets and Safety

    (This reading is based on Psalm 127 and is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)
    "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it." Ps. 127: 1 (first part)
    "Puff"-Proof Acquisitions: The Wise Little Pig
    Remember the story of the three little pigs? To two of the pigs a house was a house, and it didn't matter the material that was used to make it. For the smart little pig however, a house was only a house worth building if it were made of bricks (not sticks and straws). It wouldn't be surprising to discover that the author was inspired by the parable taught by Jesus about the the wise man who build his house upon a rock instead of the sand, as did the foolish man. Of course, the house here represents anything of value that we would acquire, and the bricks represent the principles upon which the acquisitions are based (honesty, integrity, holiness... the fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5: 22, 23). The big, bad wolf I believe represents major destructive forces in our lives: Satan, sinful addictions, and death. Now the way to measure the value of our acquisitions is to measure the extent to which they safeguard us against these forces, or simply how puff-proof they are. 

    "Unless the Lord keeps the city, the watchman waketh, but in vain." Ps 127: 1 (second part).
    Blind Watchmen and Rusting Treasures
    We employ watchmen to protect life and property. But have we thought about the fact that although security forces may prevent murder, they really can't stop us from dying. And although their efforts may delay the first death, where it matters most (the second death) they are useless. - hence Jesus' advise in Matt 10: 28 about whom to be afraid of. Jesus also advises us to lay our treasures in Heaven where thieves can't break in, and where it won't lose value through rusting and being corrupted by moth. Matt. 6: 19, 20. So to depend on carnal possessions and systems for protection against the real dangers we face is really like employing a blind man to ensure that only the folk wearing the correct attire are admitted into a black tie event.
    Father, with Jesus as our Chief Cornerstone, please grant that we would, " Trust in (You) with all (our) hearts; and lean not unto (our) own understanding.  In all (our) ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct (our) paths," amen.

    To read and/or listen to Psalm 127 and to read other related blogs please click here.