Friday, 27 February 2015

Caution: Know the Limitations of our Mission

This blog thought is based on Romans 1 that is read in association with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.
"Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations" Rom. 1: 5
Romans 1 is an exposition of God's authority and power to judge and to save. It is in this capacity that He offers us salvation.
We should know and understand our mission:
1. It is to highlight that God has an unapologetic and legitimate claim on all peoples of the world.
2. It is to show God as a benevolent Judge (Saviour) whose desire is to deliver a judgment of life and not of death; 
3. It is not to be executioners of His judgments, but announcers of His plan to save us 
4. It is not just what we do openly, but in what we find pleasure that we accomplish, or fail to accomplish God's will
I don't own a firearm; and I doubt I ever will - 'cause of all things I'll want to do, not one of them is to kill. Persons who've handled firearms however, have told me though that once it is in their possession, they feel a certain power and invincibility. I suppose that is why a precocious boy would have the nerve to walk into someone's home or place of business and make demands - while wielding a loaded threat in his hand. Sadly, there are "Christians" who exhibit a similar trigger happy mentality - all the time "acting on the authority of Scripture," as they intimidate people with the threat of God's impending judgment on sinners.  Well, that's not our mission. "Obedience of faith" does not come from driving fear into people; it comes from an awakening of love.
Instead of trying to "steal" people's right to choose, why not give them something worthwhile to choose instead? Let's point them to our God of love.

To read and/or listen to Romans 1 and to read other related blogs please click here.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Immunity to the Serpent's Venom

This devotional is based on Acts 28 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.

"He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm." Acts 28: 5

when the people saw paul get bit by the snake they started talking ...
What a symbolic defiance of the Serpent's most threatening weapon. I recall watching a movie some years ago. The main characters were hunting treasure in some long lost, boobie-trapped cave. These were supposed to be very scary, life-threatening traps, but as real as they appeared, they were only an illusion and were overpowered only by mental defiance. But sure enough every new scene seemed scarier than the one before, and it didn't seem so easy to resist. How true a picture of us fighting with the Devil. His power lies not in what he may be able to do to us physically, but in how he might impact our MINDS. Didn't Jesus say, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell?" Matt. 10: 28.

Although facing a sealed destiny no sooner than his rebellion began, Satan's defeat was all but finalized at Calvary, where he exposed his best hand, which wasn't good enough, because three days later Jesus would rise from the dead, snatching the "keys of hell and death," Rev. 1: 18.

The final phase of Lucifer's case in Heaven's courts is that he'll end up in the fire: "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Rev. 20: 10.

So isn't it clear that - ALL THE DEVIL WOULD THROW AT US NOW (as ever was the case) IS BUT AN ILLUSION? Therefore, when he hisses, let's stand our ground, and if he bites; just shake him off, in Jesus' name.

To read and/or listen to Acts 28, and to read other related blogs, please click here.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Prophet Ignored Becomes the Prophet Protected

This devotional is based on Acts 27 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.
What a gripping drama at sea! This is so symbolic of the course of sin; starts out innocently, but will soon develop into a life-threatening storm. Satan means us no good; his only agenda is to destroy us. Don't board that ship of adultery, revenge, political rivalry, selfish indulgence over biblical conformity and love for God and our neighbours, etc.

An interesting element of this story is how at first Paul's warnings were flatly ignored, "But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said," (Acts 27: 11). Doesn't that happen a lot in our day too? Note:
1. Paul didn't become disgusting and pestering; he spoke clearly and directly, and waited. In time God's servant's words would come to pass. All God's words will come to pass.
2. Paul did not become upbraiding, but sought to help. How easy it is at times to abandon people when they get into trouble after flatly ignoring our warnings (sometimes we want to laugh them to scorn). But until it is really too late, we should always labour for the salvation of men's souls.
3. Paul was vindicated:“Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss," (Acts 27: 21 lp). “When all this comes true - and it surely will - then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezek. 33:33). God will not hang us out to dry, what He says will happen, will happen. Let us stand a declare with confidence.
4. Even if at first we're not liked (ignored), if we remain true to the mission, and maintain a genuine interest in the well-being of those we seek to reach, we'll more often than not be respected... protected even at times: "But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan." Acts 27: 43. The prophet ignored did become the prophet protected (note that respect will not always translate to protection: Herod liked John, but still had him beheaded; Pilate liked Jesus too, but...).

To read and/or listen to Acts 27 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Art of Convincing: Getting People to THINK

This reading is based on Acts 26 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defence today against all the accusations of the Jews." Acts 26: 2

In this story there are at least two ways that we can get people to give sincere consideration to what we have to say: 1. Give affirmation; further empower them by seeking their help. Even if this is done with insincerity many persons have successfully used this method of getting people on their side and eventually get what they desire.

While I am certain Paul was not insincere and patronizing in expressing pleasure with the fact that King Agrippa was the one before whom his matter was to be tried, his was a time-proven method of breaking down defences and reaching the inner chambers of ones most earnest attention and consideration. Paul's sincere affirmation of King Agrippa's knowledge and understanding of Jewish customs made it virtually impossible for him not to seek to confirm Paul's words - but more than that - conviction was actually brought to his soul. For this king, Paul's work was done; his blood was on his own shoulders, not Paul's.  Satan manipulated and used this principle insincerely with Eve as he deviously implied that she would become like God - a place worthy of affirmation.

Also, we would learn well not to be dogmatic when presenting the gospel to a non-believer (and even a believer as well). Pull the persons being reached out to into the centre of the story; have their attention, then present Jesus to them. Paul's preamble in essence asked Agrippa for help and actually 'forced' him to think about the matter.

Telling people, "I need your help," is a powerful way of getting them on your side. Once you get them on your side, they then are more disposed to listen to your story in order to help you. It is then that conviction can occur - depending on how credible your story is. Jesus used this method with the woman at the well. He started out asking her for water to drink (He 'needed' her help) and - you know the rest of the story.

Let us in our interactions avoid that condescending manner, which will in effect say, "You poor ignorant one, here, let me help you." Let us instead start at each one's point of strength, then connect to Jesus.

To read and/or listen to Acts 26, and to read other related blogs, please click here.

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Monday, 16 February 2015

Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos: Inspiring Trio

This devotional is based on Acts 18 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

I was drawn to trio of Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos in this text; intrigued at how with Apollos' great potential he was taken under the wings of Aquila and Priscilla and groomed for a more fulsome ministry in the Church. Having laboured over the thought that this sort of mentorship is so needed today - not excluding aiding young ones of promise to access the benefit of our formal educational offerings - I am the more convinced that we need emulate the example of this committed couple in ministry.

The name Apollos is of Greek origin and means "destroyer, or one that destroys." It seems to be a variation of Apollo, who in Greek (and Roman) mythology is the god of prophecy, medicine, music, art, law, beauty, poetry, light and wisdom. Apollos' profile seems to more so fit this bill - contrary to what his name actually means. Context would however aid us in extracting some sense from this seeming conflict of terms.


Imagine that being filled with the Holy Spirit, competent in Scripture, and endowed with eloquence of speech (in line with the meaning of Apollo) that Apollos is equipped as terrible destroyer of Satan's kingdom as he tears down the bars and fenced walls of ignorance that have held people captive to the vices of the Devil.

As we look in our local churches today we should seek to reach individuals where they are and do our best to aid in their empowerment for ministry. Is there a vibrant education fund in your local church? How seriously do we take this matter of mentorship. Mind you, it's not just about money; it's also about modeling appropriate behaviour, befriending the young, and just simply loving everyone into the Kingdom. The existence of such a fund however is a key indicator of how seriously we take supporting the mission of the Church.

Father, thank you for the inspiration of Priscilla and Aquila who were willing to support young Apollos. Thank for the demonstration of humility of Apollos who didn't think he knew it all, but allowed himself to be helped. Today I ask that that situation be repeated many times over in our experience we pray, in Jesus' name, amen.

To read and/or listen to Acts 18 and to read other related blogs, please click here.
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