How to really be forgiven.

Recently I have come across some people dealing with anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. In most cases we may even consider that these people are justified to feel the way they do.

However to overcome the feelings of anger, hatred, vengeance, bitterness, etc. we have to look at the example that Jesus set for us. Firstly we have to ask ourselves what would become of us if God decided to not forgive our sins? Let’s consider Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” If God has to forgive us as we forgive others we will never be forgiven! We have the audacity to ask God to forgive us as we forgive those that sin against us knowing full well that we are lying to God!

While the Romans were driving the nails through His hands Jesus cried to God to forgive them Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Although they were killing Him innocently Jesus begged for their forgiveness.

Feelings of hatred, anger, disappointment, etc. can only be overcome through complete forgiveness. The person carrying it becomes the victim and satan uses it to keep them in bondage. Once we let go and forgive we free ourselves and what is more open ourselves up to God’s forgiveness and His blessings.

In order to qualify for God’s forgiveness and blessings we have to forgive and bless our neighbours. We have to live our faith and only then can we expect God to bless us.

What is happening to the world?

It isn’t strange to hear news of conflicts these days. Just in the last month we heard of the sarin gas attack near Damascus and America’s intention to take military action against Syria. More recently we heard of the horrific attack on the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Everyday we read of suicide bombings and threats of attacks. The sad thing is that this kind news has become so common place we don’t even seem affected by it anymore. Sure the attack in Kenya had everyone sit up and take notice, but generally speaking, news of conflict has become the norm.

The bible tells us that we will hear of war and rumours of war. We will hear of natural disasters that take place and all of this will simply be the beginning of the tribulation before Christ returns.

Sadly very few of especially the younger generation, read or even watch the news. Very few people seem to realise that events taking place in the world today were foretold by prophets in the Old Testament of the bible.

Jesus warned of events that will be a sign of His return. If we don’t watch out for the signs chances are that we may not be ready, because He said He will return like a thief in the night.

We need to be ready and we need to be aware of what is happening in the world around us. It is depressing to see what man is doing to fellow man but, we were told this would take place. We need to pray that those that don’t know God will seek him and those that do know Him will grow stronger in Him.

Thankfully Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 that it will be cut short in order to save the elect. The fact is that only Jesus’ return will stop the madness and save the believers. Those that don’t believe in Jesus and know Him will be lost.

America’s questionable logic in their war on terror.

A few days ago the USA paid homage to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Whether you reading this, are a christian or not, we possibly agree that those events forever changed not only the USA but the world in general.

More recently we saw the “Arab Spring” in which people rose up in mainly Arabian countries to unseat dictators that had been terrorizing their own citizens for many years.

In Syria the uprising has become a fully fledged civil war. On the 21st of August, Bashar Al Asaad, the Syrian president, reportedly used Sarin Gas on a rebel stronghold near Damascus, killing more than 1400 people which included more than 400 children.

Following this attack the world was horrified that something like this could take place. The USA demanded an attack on Syria while China and Russia sided with the Syrian government. The UN sent investigators to Syria to look for evidence, and the entire world held its breath in anticipation of the US’s reaction.

Now herein lies the irony and what may be seen as America’s double standards. A huge number of the Syrian rebels are affiliated to Al Queda, yes the very same terrorist organization that was behind the 9/11 attack! The USA is prepared to arm those very same people to overthrow the Syrian government, while they should know that those weapons can and possibly will be used against them in future.

Barrack Obama criticized his predecessor for going into war with Iraq and Afghanistan, and vowed to end those conflicts. However he is more than prepared to arm the very same terrorists that attacked his nation on September the 11th 2001 killing close to 3000 people.

I am of the opinion that Mr. Obama owes the Americans and the world at large an explanation as to why he is prepared to back the very same terrorists responsible for 9/11 and why he is prepared to arm them.

I in no way support the Al Asaad government, but their is also no way that I can side with terrorists that have no problem sowing mass destruction.

I believe the USA should do some introspection and tell the world who on earth made them the rest of the world’s caretaker. Isn’t that a function of the United Nations?

Tribute to Johan Luus

Last week a very close friend of mine passed away. I was very upset at the loss of my friend, but also calm in the knowledge that he was with the Lord.

The fact is that Johan had an intimate relationship with the Lord. He was a living testimony for God. His entire life was lived to honour the Lord.

I met Johan while we both stayed in a boarding house. He lived there while he was doing some construction work away from home. We spent a lot of time sharing God’s word, and at the time I was dealing with some personal problems. Johan would listen while I told him what I was dealing with, never criticizing, and never getting irritated. Once I had finished telling him what my problems were he would say that we needed to pray, and he would pray with me.

We shared God’s word daily and I looked forward to seeing my friend after work. He also had challenges that he told me about, but he never complained because he knew that God would show him the solutions, and God always did.

The last time I saw my friend was when he had completed his contract. I remember feeling sad because I shared my deepest secrets with him, and he never judged, he would give me sound advice based on biblical principles. He gladly prayed with me, and at that time God had already started answering our prayers in a mighty way. I said good-bye to my friend hoping to visit him soon.

We kept contact and I am happy that I could share the good news that God had done wonderful work and had more than answered our prayers.

Sadly Johan’s daughter informed me that he had a major stroke and that he had passed away. As I write this I can still see my friend and hear his calm voice. I can’t help feeling sad, because there is so much I would like to tell him. I would have liked to thank the Lord with him for answering our prayers.

Johan was more than a friend, he truly was a brother in Christ. I am sad to have lost my friend, but I am happy because I know he is with our Lord who was and still is, his first love.

I will miss you my friend, I will always cherish the memories.

How are we winning the lost for God?

Something that has been bothering me is that as God’s church we seem to be giving our christianity a lot of lip service and very little activity. At the beginning of a new year preachers stand in front of their churches and proclaim that this is the year that they are going to win their towns or cities for Christ. They will back their statements up with scriptures and by the time they are finished their congregations will be fired up and excited to go and win their cities or towns for Christ. Sadly a month or two later it is back to the same routine of going to church on a Sunday and simply sitting there and listening to what the preacher has to say.

Reading this you may think that I have a very negative view of churches. To a degree I agree but, I feel strongly that as members of God’s church, regardless of your denomination, we have a God-given instruction to go out and to preach the gospel. It is all good and well preaching to the converted, but what are we doing to reach the lost?

Not too long ago a gentleman asked his church leader to assist in a problem that he was having in his marriage. The church leader answered that he could not get involved in the matter. Thankfully the man and his wife managed to solve the problem with God’s help. However I feel strongly that the church leader neglected his duty when he told the man that he wasn’t prepared to or couldn’t get involved. This same leader will stand up and proclaim that he wants to change hearts and minds and win his city for God, but when the chips were down he failed a church member dismally! As a leader of God’s flock it was his God-given duty to intervene, and to do whatever was necessary to resolve the problem in that marriage. He should have prayed and ministered to the couple, but sadly he turned and looked the other way.

Church leaders have a responsibility to be leaders of God’s flock. They have to watch over their flock and, they have to be prepared to discipline, and praise, when it is called for. The bible says that God rejoices for every lost soul that is won for him. Simply preaching in church is equal to preaching to the converted. It is important, because we need to be reminded and, may I add, recharged, but I believe we need to be out there actively reaching out to the lost. This is the only way we will ever begin to win our towns and cities for God.

Our lives have to reflect our love for God. This means living accordingly and working for God. It means that we have to be ready to get involved when called to. It means touching lives, and more importantly changing lives. I am a member of a church, however I feel strongly that as God’s church we have become lazy and we have neglected the instruction Jesus gave us before ascending to heaven. Jesus called on the church to preach the gospel (the Good News) to every corner in the world, not only in church. I am the first to say that the leaders can’t be expected to do it alone, however they have to provide leadership and guidance, and they can and have to involve their congregation. Simply firing people up with words isn’t enough, there has to be action.

Nelson Mandela

If you live in South Africa, or follow the news you will know that Nelson Mandela is in hospital. At 94 years of age he is battling a recurring lung infection.

In South Africa and all over the world, he is an icon. He spent 27 years of his life in prison after his death sentence was commuted to a life sentence, for opposing a regime that oppressed the black majority in South Africa.

Upon his release after the African National Congress (ANC) was unbanned by then President FW de Klerk, Mandela took part in negotiations that ultimately led to South Africa’s first democratic elections. The ANC won and Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected President.

What many people forget is that South Africa was at a cross road, and faced a very real threat of spiraling into a civil war. Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk knew that without a negotiated settlement and, constitution, peace would virtually be impossible. These two men had to be brave in trusting each other as their supporters relied heavily on them to negotiate the best possible deal.

For achieving a peaceful transition FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Many of us will remember the images of long rows of people waiting to cast their vote in 1994. Some people in their late 60’s, 70’s and even older cast their vote for the first time in their lives on the 27th of April 1994.

The fact is that South Africa became an example of what peaceful negotiation can achieve through people like Nelson Mandela. He was willing and happy to forgive his oppressors, even willing to shake their hands and, to discuss a future for all South African, both black and white.

Sadly many South African, both black and white have not embraced this example. Crime has escalated, and South Africa rates as one of the countries with the highest violent crime rates in the world. Corruption is rife, and the poor seem to have been forgotten.

I write about South Africa, but South Africa is only one country. There are many other countries that face the same challenges. Our world leaders seem powerless or even uninterested to do something about it. However, as citizens of these countries we have an obligation to stop complaining and to start doing something ourselves.

Even while he was a prisoner on Robben Island Nelson Mandela worked at his dream for a free and democratic South Africa. He would rather have died in prison than denounce his beliefs. Imagine if everyone worked together peacefully what South Africa could achieve.

Many may say impossible but then many believed peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa was impossible. Many believed that a black person would never be President in South Africa, and yet it came to be.

We pray for Nelson Mandela to get well, yet I believe we should take it a step further and pray that his legacy will be an example of what forgiveness and love for one’s neighbour can achieve and how love can conquer hate.

Fathers Day

If we take the time to look at everyday we will be able to see that we learn new lessons daily.

Today is fathers day. I woke up early and my wife went out her way to make me feel special. Our children are grown up and live far from us, but Angie made up for it. She showered me with love and gratitude, and made feel like the best father on earth.

In church the sermon was based on fatherhood and the responsibility God has given every father. But what struck me was how God, our Heavenly Father, has always been there for me. How he has provided for me, listened to my cries when I messed up and begged for help, all the advice and guidance He continuously gives me, and not to mention the miracles He does daily.

I am ashamed to admit how I neglect to look at what my Heavenly does for me daily, and I apologise for taking Him for granted.

I think of my earthly dad today. Unfortunately the Lord came to fetch him almost seven years ago, and I miss him terribly. However I thank God for my dad, the lessons he taught me, and the example he was to all of his children. He loved my mom and his children without reserve, and whenever I think of him my first thought is of his love.
Thank you dad for the memories and thank you Lord for my wonderful dad.

Revenge

Recently I had a problem dealing with bitterness. If I am totally honest I have to admit that I even had thoughts of taking revenge for what I had to suffer at the hands of someone who was bent on destroying me.

On a human level no one will blame me for these thoughts and feelings. We very easily dismiss them as being human. After all these things were done and the consequences that I had to suffer were severe to say the least. However what we don’t say and what we seem to forget is that through it all God never neglected me.

He was there every step of the way guiding me, showing me the lessons in everything I had to experience. I learned to rely on Him for everything! And He revealed Himself in supernatural ways that I could never imagine. He poured His love out over me daily, He fed me, He provided for every need I had, and most of all He taught me His way.

God teaches us that vengeance is not ours, and that He will deal with those that sin against us, in His time and on His terms. Through allowing these thoughts and emotions into my heart I simply prevented God’s love and peace to live in me. I prevented God’s blessings in my life, and I simply became a victim again.

Yet by forgiving and moving on I have become a victor, and he that did all those vile things and who meant me harm has, now become a victim. He has become the victim of his own hate, and God has exposed him. All I had to do was pray and submit to God’s will.

Thank you God for your love and justice, and for never giving up on those who love you!

God Hears our Prayers.

Isaiah 43:16-19

16 This is what the LORD says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,

17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:

18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

I have prayed and prayed, for 3 years. I admit that there were times that I felt it was in vain, but God wouldn’t let me quit. You may be wondering what it is that I’ve been praying for, all I can say is that it is for someone very close to my heart.

Recently I noticed very positive signs that my prayers are being transformed into a miracle. Yet after some disheartening disappointments in the past I was afraid to get excited.

Yesterday I had a long conversation with the person and I couldn’t but be excited. Praise the Lord my miracle has arrived! And to crown the miracle, God gave me the message in Isaiah 43:16-19 as confirmation and a promise that all is well from here onwards.

God hears our prayers and cries to Him. Persistent prayer is rewarded. I thank you Lord, when I felt alone You were my company, when I fell you picked me up, when I cried you dried my tears. O Lord I praise you, and I thank you, in Jesus Mighty Name, Amen.

Easter what is the hype about?

I really don’t have to walk anyone through Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection. Whether you’re a believer or not, at sometime in your life someone would have told you that a man named Jesus was tortured, humiliated and crucified in order for mankind to be saved.

Sadly as true as the above is, I have to say that the meaning of Easter, as is the case with Christmas, has been lost. Easter has been commercialized, and has become just another long weekend.

The fact is Easter is also the time of the original passover. The passover celebrates Israel’s liberation from Egypt when the Israelites slaughtered a lamb and used its blood to mark their door posts in order for, the Angel of Death to pass them over when all Egypt’s 1st born males were killed.

With this in mind, Jesus thus became the ultimate pass over lamb. His blood is now on every believers door post (heart). Jesus was the perfect sacrificial lamb, he was without blemish (sin). His blood is on the door post (heart) of every believer so that the Angel of Death passes over the believers in order for believers to have EVERLASTING LIFE.

The difference between the original passover lambs and Jesus is this: The original passover lambs were chosen by Israel whereas Jesus chose to become our passover lamb. He chose to lay down His life, so that we would be guaranteed freedom from the stronghold of sin.

God loved us so much, that He gave His Son Jesus, who in turn CHOSE to lay down His life, in order for us to have forgiveness from sin and thus qualify for everlasting life, free from sin and condemnation.

God and Jesus’ love for us is wrapped up in Easter. Our salvation was secured on the cross.

Thank you Jesus, for loving and sacrificing yourself for me more than 2000 years ago.

A Paul Moment

Looking at the heading you may be wondering what on earth a “Paul moment” is.

Its a phrase I coined based on Paul’s experience while he was on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus.

You see I had a “Paul moment”. It was the moment when God touched me in a way that I couldn’t ignore Him anymore. What’s more is that I couldn’t reject Him anymore. My “Paul moment” changed my entire life forever.

A “Paul moment” is that moment when God touches one in such a way that your life changes drastically. Its the moment when you realise that what you thought was important is in actual fact meaningless without God.

A “Paul moment” is when you are transformed on the inside to such a degree that you can admire God’s creation, when you actually can hear the birds, when you notice a butterfly, when you stop to smell the earth after a rain shower, and actually see the beauty in it.

A “Paul moment” is when we realise that life without God, isn’t life at all.

Wisdom

Following my reading plan, I have been privileged to read passages that I would never have in the past. I have come to realise that reading the bible can be a real adventure, a journey of discovery.

Proverbs is a book based on the meaning of true wisdom. What I learn as I read Proverbs is that the wisdom in Proverbs comes from an intimate relationship with the Lord.

I realise that the wisdom in this book is available to everyone that seeks God, and that this wisdom is grounded in love. The love I refer to is heavenly love, love that seeks good.

If we love as God commands us to, we will be filled with His spirit. We will see beauty, and we will appreciate His creation. We will seek fairness, and appreciate justice. We will be willing to forgive, and even more willing to acknowledge and correct our own mistakes.

This is only an example of the wisdom God wants to share with those who seek Him. This is the wisdom He imparted to Solomon when Solomon asked for it. This is the wisdom Solomon used during his reign as king of Israel, and which ensured that he was a just and fair king.

We can have the answers we seek, all we have to do ask for it and, trust in God. Too often we look to people, and when we fail we lose heart. We pay a price and repeat mistakes over and over, wondering why our lives seem unable to progress.

We need to ask ourselves whether we are willing to trust God fully, and whether we are willing to accept the answers He will give us. Even more we have to ask ourselves whether we are willing to walk in the path He wants us to walk in. Lastly, we have to ask ourselves whether we believe that God has our best interest at heart?

I know that if we answer yes to these questions, God will share His wisdom with us and then life will have meaning and purpose.

Real Wealth….

If you’re like me you probably find yourself always looking at ways to increase your efficiency. Always looking at ways to be more productive, and inevitably always ending up with more and more work.

You are driven, you want to be the best, you want to earn more money so that you can provide a better living for your family.

You’re up early, and work hard taking work home or possibly you work well into the night. You think that its what you have to do because you have to provide for your loved ones.

3 years ago I became a grand father. I remember the first time I laid eyes on my grand daughter. My son-in-law held her up so that I could look at the most beautiful baby girl I had seen. Looking at her memories of her mom as baby came to me and I remember fighting back the tears.

Three years have passed, and Mia has grown into a little girl with a personality of her own. Every time I see her I see her mom at the same age and the memories never end. The similarities never seize to amaze me.

More than the memories, I feel so very blessed. Recently I have also realised the true meaning of wealth and prosperity.

God blessed me with children that thankfully have grown into fine adults. My children adore me, they want to spend time with me. Mia, my grand daughter, wants to be with her oupa, and wants to play with me, and laugh with me.

I look at my daughter, my son-in-law and there daughter. I see the love in their little family, and I realise how wealthy I truly am.

Real wealth isn’t the size of a bank balance. Real wealth is the blessings God has given you. To know the love of your spouse, children and grand children is priceless. To be able to see and share in their lives is a privilege.

This wealth can’t be had by working hours and hours. It can’t be bought with money. This comes from God, and is His reward to those that love Him.

South Africa….what has happened?

I am a born and raised South African and I used to be proud of my country.

The first successful heart transplant was carried out by Christiaan Barnard a South African. We proved that apartheid could be overcome by peaceful means and negociation and, that people from diverse cultures could live together and become a nation.

South Africans proved that we could be world beaters on the sport field. Who can ever forget the icon Nelson Mandela dressed in a Springbok jersey holding the rugby World Cup trophy in 1995. What is more is that we achieved the feat with our first attempt, and we beat the favourites, New Zealand in the final. We repeated the feat in 2007.

Currently our National Cricket team is ranked the no 1 test nation in the world, and is close to achieving the same status in the limited overs format of the game as well.

We hosted what has to be one of the most successful Soccer World Cup competitions ever in 2010.

I can continue boasting about how great my country is, but sadly today we are making international headlines for all the wrong reasons.

My beautiful country is rated amongst the most corrupt in the world. The people elected to lead us don’t seem capable of clamping down on those busy enriching themselves at our expense.

We rate as one of the nations with the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world.

Our standard of education has dropped from being amongst the highest to one of lowest in the world.

Our crime rate is amongst the top in the world. Here I’m talking about rape, murder and, other violent crime.

In short, we have managed to go from being the worlds darling in 1994 to being an example of democracy gone wrong today.

The Maricana mine strike last year in which many people lost their lives, the Oscar Pistorius murder case, and the recent case where 9 policemen were arrested for dragging a taxi driver behind a police van, has raised many questions about our country’s safety and security. Is the South African government capable of governing and, enforcing the law, is a question that many are rightfully asking.

I am a South African, but not proud anymore. I read articles about my country that appear in international publications, and I want to weep.

One has to wonder whether anything can be learnt from South Africa and, the answer is a loud and emphatic YES!

A country can only prosper if its laws are in sync with God’s law. A country can only prosper if its rulers are God fearing and, a country can only be blessed if its people know God and serve Him.

I pray for my beautiful South Africa. It has the ability to shine and to prosper. We have the people that have proven we can rise up and achieve against virtually impossible odds.

But the impossible can only be achieved when God’s blessings are on His people and, to be blessed we have to know God, and we have to accept His authority over our lives. In most countries citizens have given the authority I refer to, to people and the result of this is plain to see in the news and on television.

No God equals chaos. God equals peace, prosperity and love.

The World we live in….

Today is Sunday and like many other people I like reading the Sunday paper.

As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts I’m busy following a reading plan that is taking me through the entire bible over the period of a year.

While paging through the Sunday paper and, reflecting on the past week I started thinking and I came to a conclusion.

We humans seem not to be able to learn from past mistakes. Even after two devastating global wars we still read of wars. Even though we see the effects of drunk driving, people still do it. Although people know and see the penalties for crime, some still choose to commit crime. I was left wondering why this is the case.

Reading the bible I realised we are not unique. Israel experienced slavery first hand, and they saw the Lords power in their deliverance. Yet the old testament is full of examples where they turned their backs on God and paid the penalty for doing so.

Once they suffered they would call on God and eventually repeat the mistake (Idolatry) again. This cycle would repeat itself again and again.

Today many Christians repeat a similar cycle. When times are good we tend to forget God, yet when we find ourselves in difficulty we cry out to Him. Once He has delivered us we often forget to even thank Him, let alone give Him credit!

Let’s break the cycle. Let us learn from history rather than repeat it. Let us keep our eyes on Lord in good times as well as in times of challenge and, let us remember to thank God for every blessing He bestows on us.

Oscar Pistorius

I doubt that there is a person any where in the world who hasn’t read or heard of Oscar Pistorius being charged with the murder of his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp.

I am not going to go into the detail of what happened nor, am I going to give an opinion of the case. It is up to the prosecution and the attorneys to fight what will undoubtedly be a highly publicised trial.

What has struck me is the emotional reaction to this event. People can not believe that this global icon could be charged with premeditated murder! He is idolised the world over. In a knee jerk reaction many of his sponsors have distanced themselves from him canceling their sponsorships.

The reaction to this sad event must serve as a reminder that we should be careful of idolising people. We can admire talent and achievement, but we need to remember that in the end we are all human, and humans are capable of failing and making mistakes.

Oscar is a human being. His talent and achievements speak for themselves. But in the end he is merely a man. He overcame his disability and participated in both the Paralympic and Olympic Games, but in the end he is human and humans are subject to errors and failure. By this I am not saying Oscar is guilty or not, I am merely trying to make a point.

God alone is above sin, mistakes and, failure. He alone is God and His Son, Jesus, alone should be our role model. If we realise this we won’t be disappointed if or when the fail.

The facts of this case are that a beautiful young woman lost her life in a tragic and horrific manner. A mother and father have lost their child. A talented athlete has been charged in her death. His family friends have understandably surrounded him with their support.

The media and the world’s reaction to this tragedy have denied Reeva Steenkamp’s family and friends their time to mourn their loss. I feel compelled to ask whether press freedom includes denying a father and mother their right to mourn the loss of a child in peace?

Sadly this isn’t an isolated case. OJ Simpson, Hansie Cronje and, Michael Jackson are but a few examples of celebrities who have also be charged and/oe accused of crimes.

Is Oscar guilty? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that God knows the truth, and therefore justice will be served.

Our laws and God

Ezekiel 9:9-10

9 He answered me, “The sin of the people of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land; the LORD does not see.’ 10 So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.”

We seem to forget that God is the same yesterday, today and, tomorrow. Everyone will say they know it but, how often do we hear people say times have changed, it’s the 21st century, we have to adapt.

Today laws are passed that are directly in opposition with God. Examples are same sex marriages, the sale of pornography, in some countries prostitution is legal, and in many countries abortion is legal, to name just a few examples.

Many of the law makers who are responsible for these laws will profess their love of God, and yet they pass laws that are in direct opposition to the Lord’s word. When asked why, the argument that we don’t live in the Middle Ages anymore will come up, and that times change and that people have to get with the times. The most persuasive one must be that everyone has a right to choose how they want to live their lives.

On the surface the right to choose how you want to live your life seems fair. However Israel disobeyed God and allowed idolatry in their land. The result was that the practice spread, corrupting the Israelites and ultimately it cost them their land.

I am sure that at the time the Israelites thought that it was harmless as long as they didn’t serve the foreign Gods. But then they inter married and the practice spread. Eventually their were alters and Asharah poles in most of the high places and even their kings started serving and praying to the idols.

The same is happening today. Our laws condone what is unacceptable to God, and these practices are spreading and what is worse is that more and more churches are condoning it too.

If we agree that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, surely then it stands to reason that He doesn’t approve of these laws, and that they are unacceptable, and that He will release His wrath because of it.

Hearing God’s Voice

Numbers 7:89

89 When Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law. In this way the LORD spoke to him.

We are at the beginning of a brand new year. Some of us may be filled with anticipation to start what may be a year filled with promise while others may be filled with negativity because they feel that the year will be nothing but a continuation of last year which may have been filled with sadness, financial stress, personal problems, etc.

In my previous post I spoke about New Years resolutions. Today someone told me they don’t have any because in short they have nothing to look forward too.

In my opinion we need God in our lives for our lives to have any real meaning. Without God our lives become a mad chase after meaningless things simply to feel that we are alive. Eventually we come to a point where we reflect on our lives and realise that what we chased never filled the void we have been trying to fill.

The truth is that the void can only be filled by God. Nothing can fill or replace what belongs to Him. No amount of chasing, seeking, money can take what rightfully belongs to God.

The emptiness exists because it is God calling out to us. The lack of progress in our lives is God showing us that we need Him in our lives. Our failures are God’s signs telling us to turn our lives around.

In Numbers 7:89 God spoke to Moses. Today He speaks to each and everyone of us just as He spoke to the prophets and apostles in the bible. If we would only be prepared to recognize the signs we WILL start hearing His voice and we WILL see what He wants us to see.

The most obvious sign is the feeling that our lives are a waste. We may even feel as though there isn’t any meaning to our existence. We may look at the mistakes we have made and conclude that we are useless and that we don’t deserve any better. This is God telling us that He wants to fill the void. It is God calling out to us and begging, yes you read right, God begging us to respond to Him.

God is calling out to us, asking us to allow Him to take His rightful place in our lives and to fill the void left by His absence. If we allow Him to, He will gradually manifest Himself through His spirit and guide us in order to fulfill His will for us, and in doing so bless us in the process.

We WILL hear His voice, and we will SEE through His eyes. We will feel His love, and see His justice along with His mercy.

If we allow God to have His rightful place we will still encounter the challenges that life throws at us. The difference is that God will be on our side and if God is for me, who or what can stand against me? And then the true meaning of our existence will be manifested to us, and we will look forward to every new day.

New Years Resolutions

On the eve of another New Year we find ourselves reflecting of the year that was. Did we achieve what we set out to achieve at the beginning of the year? We may invariably think of friends and family we lost during 2012, and be happy and thankful for new friends and family we gained. But like me you may be looking back on the year and have your opinion of the year that was.

As you may know I recently joined twitter. Now I have formed some valuable friendships on twitter, but I have seen some tweets by believers that ruffled my feathers. The latest tweets, yes plural, questioning whether christians should make new years resolutions. Although, as mentioned the question ruffled my feathers, and got my tail up, I could not actually really answer the question for myself. Then as I was reading some Happy New Year messages I have received God gave me the answer.

In Genesis 15:5 (He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”) we read that God promised Abraham who, was an old man and childless at the time, that he would make Abraham’s seed a nation and that he would give them a land to live in (Genesis 15:7 He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”). Abraham passed the blessing on to Isaac, Isaac passed it on to Jacob, and Jacob passed it on to his 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel. As you know Israel stayed in Egypt for 400 years and were subsequently enslaved until Moses eventually led them through the wilderness for 40 years before they set foot in the Promised Land. The fact is that Israel only took possession of the land about 600-800 years after God had promised it to Abraham. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob looked forward to God fulfilling His promise, they resolved (made a resolution) to look forward to a better and blessed future Although they never lived to see it.

More recently, in the New Testament Jesus promises us that he will return to come and fetch His church, thus He promises believers a heavenly future (Matthew 24:30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory). Isn’t this something for us to look forward to?

From the above portions of biblical history it is clear that the Lord wants His people to look forward to the future. This entails making resolutions to be better people, to take better care of ourselves, to spend our money more wisely, to service or debts in order to free ourselves from our debt burden, etc. This helps us to set goals to work to, and goal setting is what enables us to move forward.

However our main resolution should be to have a stronger relationship with our Lord. This should entail welcoming His Spirit to live in us and us submitting to Him. This will enable us to hear His voice and see with His eyes, and most importantly we will have access to His wisdom and power of discernment. Thus we will be able to recognize truth where it is hidden, through the Holy Spirit that lives in us.

My New Years resolution is to do everything in my power to strengthen my relationship with the Lord, in order to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell freely in me, so that I can have access to all the Spiritual Gifts that God has in store for me.

Happy New Year and may the Lord Bless us with His never ending love in 2013!!.

Do we tithe like hypocrites?

Matthew 23:23 & 25.

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

Looking at the title of this post you may be forgiven for wondering what tithing has to do with being hypocritical. But tithing is only a small part of our relationship with God. I can write pages and pages of reasons why we should tithe but it will mean nothing unless tithes are given for the right reasons.

I’m following a reading plan that is taking me through the bible from Genesis to Revelation. To get more value and, a better and clearer understanding I am using a book written by David Pawson called “Unlocking the Bible”. In it he makes a statement that tithing isn’t compulsory anymore. When I read it I was shocked to say the least. Here is a man that has so much knowledge of the bible, and of biblical history, and he makes what I perceived to be a stupid and reckless statement when I read it.

I say perceived, because David Pawson is correct! Tithing is not compulsory! It is a personal choice whether you want to tithe or not, as much as, it is a personal choice whether you believe in God or not.

Personally I have to tithe. I committed to the Lord that He will receive a tithe of the first fruits of my labour if He blessed me with work. He did His part and now I have to do mine. I have no choice, and I am honoured to do so because apart from giving me a job, God has blessed me by having me promoted to senior management within the first two months I was employed, and He continues to bless the work that I do everyday!

Today many churches preach that if you tithe God WILL bless you and you will receive your tithe back with interest! I am sorry to have to say this, but this kind of preaching is reckless and not based on anything remotely biblical! Many people are in financial dire straits and hear this kind of preaching and then give their tithe with the expectation of being blessed in return, and then aren’t blessed, and end up being worse off than before they tithed.

Why would this be the case you may ask? Simply because someone in authority in church read a peace in the bible and omitted to tell the congregation the entire truth about giving to God. Giving to God should be a privilege not a chore. That is what God wants!

The reason this happens is the attitude that the tithe was given with in the first place. It was given with the expectation of receiving something (God’s blessing) in return, thus It was given almost as a business deal. It wasn’t given to bless God, it was given to “buy” a blessing from God! God doesn’t sell His blessings, He gives them freely to those who are faithful.

Tithes should be given because we want to bless God and His work. Our tithes should serve as blessings from God to others, not us. What I am saying is our tithes are meant to bless those who benefit from it because, God uses what we give Him for that very purpose. We should remember that God doesn’t need anything from us. He is almighty, nothing we have will benefit Him in any shape or form. However He can use what we give Him as tithes or offerings to bless people that are in need.

In order for our tithes to translate in to blessings for having tithed, the tithes have to be given because we want to give to God, and not because we want something in return. Once we want something back, the spirit with which we give is soiled, and then our tithes aren’t spotless.

In the Old Testament an offering was to be spotless, without blemish, and the same applies to our tithes and offerings today. We have to tithe and offer JOYFULLY and because we want to bless our Lord and Saviour.

Don’t offer or tithe if you are going to expect anything back in return for it, because you WILL BE DISAPPOINTED. However if you give joyfully and with a heart to bless the Lord, the Lord will bless you because He wants to. He blesses those who love Him because He wants to and not on merit or because of what we do Had this been the case no one would ever be blessed.

We need to be focused on God. Our lives have to reflect Him, because we Love Him. To often we merely give our faith lip service and our lives don’t reflect what our mouths say, thus we are nothing but clanging cymbals. This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 23:23 & 25. The pharisees tithed and they knew the bible inside out, yet their lives didn’t reflect God, and in Jesus’ words “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”

Do you tithe, or are you considering to tithe? And if so, what is your reason? Do you expect something in return, or do you do so because you want to thank God for all His blessings in your life? Remember God knows us inside out, and He knows the spirit with which we give to Him. If we give freely, He will bless us freely, but He will also withhold blessings if we have agendas.

I have become a laughingstock…..

Job 2:4“I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called on God and he answered— a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!

5Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune
as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
Since really meeting the Lord and having invited the Holy  Spirit to dwell within me, the Lord has blessed me by speaking to me, and showing me the things He needs me to see.
When speaking to someone I would often say I know this and that and I will see a look on the person’s face that says “yeah right” or “he is lieing” or even “they are right…he has lost his mind.” I have heard of people people gossiping and even making fun of me because of my faith.
My reason for writing this post isn’t to boast about my faith, or to whine because people are poking fun at me, it is to show that this kind of reaction is to be expected.
As my previous post highlighted Jesus warned us that the persecution of believers would intensify. Noah was mocked for building an ark in the desert even though he was obeying God. The apostles were flogged, imprissoned, stoned, beheaded, etc for their faith. As mentioned in Matthew 24 Jesus predicted that this would happen.
I have said things that the Lord told and showed me to people and people have reacted differently to what I have told them. Some accept what I tell them, but very often their reaction is “well why would God tell you this but not me, what makes you so special?” The fact is that maybe God has been trying to speak to them and they haven’t been listening. In many instances I simply can’t answer the question because I don’t know either. All we can do is to be obedient and do what God tells us to do.
We agree that the God we serve has been the same since the beginning of time, that He hasn’t changed. Yet in the bible times He spoke to His people. He dwelled amongst Israel while they were in the wilderness. He communicated with and through the various prophets. But if someone says that God told him something today we become sceptical, why? Why won’t God speak to us today?
God speaks to us today, I can testify to it. People will be sceptical, or even call you a liar to your face if you said that God has spoken to you. We were warned that would happen. Job says that he became a laughingstock to his friends, so did Noah. However it didn’t stop them from doing what God told them, and in the end God justified them.

Have goverments learnt anything from the Sandy Hook tragedy?

I have deliberately not written about the shooting that killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, USA. The reason being the senselessness of the entire event.

In total 28 people lost their lives, the gunman, his mother, 6 teachers, and 20 children aged between 6 and 7 years. This incident rates as the 2nd worst mass killing in the. USA.

Now for fear of being judgmental I have to ask, if this rates as the 2nd worst mass killing in US history, what is the reason for the US governments failure to have learnt lessons from the previous incidents, Columbine springs to mind? What is the reason for the US government’s inability to draft stricter laws regarding weapon and especially gun control and ownership. Why haven’t they placed armed guards at schools to protect children from such violence which clearly has proven to be more than a threat? Is it cost, and if so, what is the cost they place on a child’s life.?

From the above it may appear that I am just another blogger bashing the USA. I am not, because the questions I ask above have to be asked from every government in the world today. I have simply singled the US out due to their record of mass shootings at schools, universities, and colleges.

Our children have a right to be safe at schools and other educational institutions. Our governments owe it to their citizens to guarantee the children’s safety, and the only effective way to do this is to have armed and well trained security officials at places of learning. The cost of this cannot and must not be a factor. It is a well known fact that governments throughout the world waste money on useless events, unnecessary traveling and accommodation, weapons, etc. They can surely spend less on rubbish and rather spend money on protecting the youth!

Do we honour God when we celebrate Christmas?

Its Christmas. All of us have suffered through the masses of people in the malls, and the rows of people at the check outs. And if we are honest, we have worked our way through spending that hard earned bonus and we have possibly done a better job of over spending.

Now I have spent a lot of time looking at what I can only describe as the insanity we call Christmas. It has become a time when most of us lose any semblance of self control. Restaurants do a roaring trade, bottle stores have difficulty keeping up , and retailers are forced to work extended hours to meet the demand.

We race to our holiday destinations and pay ridiculous prices for accommodation. We battle for decent spots on the beach, in restaurants, and other attractions, etc. And yet, come Christmas the churches are empty.

Christmas is the time when Christmas carols are sung, and when we supposedly commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, yet it isn’t reflected. We don’t see any reference to this wondrous event anywhere, or hear it mentioned on television or the radio. I am sorry to say that very few parents share the true christmas story with their children.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t buy gifts, or have special gatherings with friends or family. What I am saying is that we should use this occasion to remember and remind people that we celebrate the greatest gift of all on this day. God send His Son, to become man in order to eventually save mankind by becoming a sacrifice for us.

However we have resorted to celebrating this original pagan holiday, the same way they did, and we have allowed it to became another opportunity to over spend, over indulge, and in many cases drink too much, and in the process we have lost the true meaning of Christmas.

Let us who love God, celebrate Christmas, and let’s do so joyfully, while reflecting on our Heavenly Father’s love for us. Let’s reflect the real meaning of Christmas. Let us put Christ at the centre of our celebrations, and let us do so joyfully!Merry Christmas!!

So the world didn’t end, now what?

December 21st 2012 came and went just like any other day. Nothing happened, and the Mayan’s we proven wrong, like so many before them.  So what can be deduced from the nonevent of the 21st of December? Like someone pointed out on Twitter it was a clear case of the boy who cried wolf. Herein lays the danger of us not being ready when the Lord decides to come and fetch His church, and this will be prior to the end of the age.

Read it and decide for yourself where you stand on this topic. This is one of those topics where you decide what you believe or not.

To really get to grips with the question we need to know what Jesus said about it. Matthew 24 is dedicated to the question of when Jesus will return, and how we will know that it’s time for His return. If we look at what Jesus said, and at the signs He mentioned we cannot but realize that events that have taken, and are still taking place, are signs that the time is for His return is closer than ever. Let’s look at Matthew 24 in more detail, and while we do so make up your own mind where you stand.

1Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings

. 2“Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you

.5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.

 

The temple of David was destroyed as Jesus said it would be in verse 2, and to this day has not been rebuilt. Keep in mind that this conversation took place 2000 years ago, and during this conversation Jesus told His disciples what the signs would be, and that certain events would have to take place prior to his return.

The second thing Jesus says is that we have to watch out for false Messiahs. Names like Jim Jones and David Koresh, sect leaders, spring to mind. These people lead many to their death as a result of mass suicide and the standoff with the FBI in Waco Texas. There are many more examples, thus another sign Jesus spoke off has been proven accurate.

6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

8All these are the beginning of birth pains.

 

To date we have witnessed more wars than we care to mention. My late grand-father was a child during the First World War and he fought in Italy during the Second World War. After the second world war there was the Korean war, Vietnam, numerous wars in Africa, the 6 day war between Israel and Egypt, and more recently 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are but a few wars that spring to mind, and to this day Israel is at war with Palestine, and there is no end in sight. All attempts to broker numerous peace deals have come to nothing.

When I read the word famine, Ethiopia in the 1980’s springs to mind. Babies with bloated tummies in the arms of their weeping mothers. Most recently I read reports of a famine in war ravaged Somalia. These are but only two examples. There are many more that can be searched on the internet. But, read verse 8, Jesus says this is only the beginning of birth pains; there are events that have to take place afterwards!

9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.

10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,

11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,

13but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

 

We read more and more of people being imprisoned, persecuted and even being executed for simply being Christians. Religious teaching is being outlawed in most countries, and in the USA the government is are being sued regularly to remove religious symbols because they are perceived to infringe on non-believers basic human rights. In a recent survey it was found that only about 45% of Americans proclaim that they are Christian (I posted this survey in a blog post titled “Protestants no longer the majority in US, study says”).

The number of false prophets has increased drastically. I see more and more people calling themselves prophets, and prophesying and people accepting these prophesies over them to their own peril. History has never had more prophets than we have today, and sadly history has never had more false prophets than we have today. Jesus warned us, and yet, sadly we have failed dismally in heeding His warnings regarding this matter.

In my own life I have had to witness loved ones turning from their faith, and the result this decision has had in their lives, and every one of us has felt the pain of betrayal at some time in our lives. This was predicted by Jesus more than 2000 years ago, and sadly this will continue, and increase in severity. Look at the increase in adultery, homosexuality, incest, etc. How many marriages end as a result of this? And yet, people don’t take cognizance of the fact that these are the very reasons that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorra.

However Jesus tells us that those who stand strong will be saved, although He warns us, He promises those that stand firm in their faith will be saved. Maybe you are reading this and feel Him calling you. It isn’t too late yet, heed His call, and tell Jesus that you need Him, ask His forgiveness, and accept Him into your life. It isn’t too late to correct the wrongs that we have done, but time is running out fast, and tomorrow may be too late. Ask Him to help you correct your mistakes, and ask Him to fill you with His spirit in order to have the strength to follow His way, and His light. He will hear you, and He will not turn from you.

In verse 14 Jesus said that only when the gospel had been preached throughout the entire will would He return. As I write this I doubt that there are many places left that has not heard the gospel, thus no one will have an excuse if He were to return at this very moment. Internet, email. Social media, radio, television, printed media, etc. has made information to most, if not virtually everyone, and thus, ignorance will not be an excuse if He returned at this very moment.

15“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation, (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—

16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

Daniel 9:27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’(Or ‘week’) In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple (Septuagint and Theodotion; Hebrew wing) he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him (Or it).

 

Daniel 11: 31“His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.

 

Daniel 12: 11“From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.

 

I am still trying to determine what Daniel was referring to in his prophecy, but I can safely say that much is happening today that is an abomination in the sight of God. However whatever Daniel is referring to will start a countdown of 1290 day or 3.5 years if it hasn’t started yet! Because Jesus predicts that it will be bad enough to encourage people to flee into the mountains.

17Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house.

18Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.

19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!

20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.

21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

22“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

23At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.

24For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

25See, I have told you ahead of time.

26“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.

27For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

28Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

29“Immediately after the distress of those days

“ ‘the sun will be darkened,

and the moon will not give its light;

the stars will fall from the sky,

and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’(Isaiah 13:10; 34:4)

Isaiah 13: 10The stars of heaven and their constellations

will not show their light.

The rising sun will be darkened

and the moon will not give its light.

 

Isaiah 34: 4All the stars in the sky will be dissolved

and the heavens rolled up like a scroll;

all the starry host will fall

like withered leaves from the vine,

like shriveled figs from the fig tree.

 

From the verses above you can see that those days will be terrible. I can’t imagine the suffering, persecution, wars, crimes, natural disasters, that will possibly be occurring. The world’s economy will possibly have collapsed with unemployment of almost 100% and people fighting to survive from day to day. Those who have never been unemployed will never really understand the stress of not knowing where you next meal will come from, how you’ll make you rent payment, en when you’ll at last find work. Now imagine the scenario Jesus is explaining in the verses above.

See how Jesus refers to the prophesies made by Daniel and Isaiah, I have deliberately included the verses Jesus was referring to, so that we can get a clearer picture of what He meant.

30“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth#

Or the tribes of the land

will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.#

See Daniel 7:13-14.

31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

32“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.33Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it (Or he)

is near, right at the door.

34Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Daniel 7:13-14

 

13“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, (The Aramaic phrase bar enash means human being. The phrase son of man is retained here because of its use in the New Testament as a title of Jesus, probably based largely on this verse.) coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.

14He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

 

Jesus went to great lengths to warn us, to give us events that we could look at and see that He was not lying, events that would prove His claims, but that would be useful to believers as signs. He told us of the things that would happen prior to His return, and now He tells us what the return would be like, but He also tells us that He will return because His Kingdom cannot and will not be destroyed. Herein is a warning, and the warning is that everyone will be held accountable, both believers and non-believers. Ignorance will not be an excuse because Jesus said He will only return once everyone had heard the gospel. Those that know Him and deliberately live in sin will be held accountable, and they will be judged accordingly.

The Day and Hour Unknown

 

36“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son.

but only the Father.

37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;

39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.

41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.

44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?

46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.

47Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’

49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.

50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In the above verse we learn that no one but God knows when Jesus will return, not even Jesus Himself. This explains the reason for the non-event of the 21st of December. Jesus is going to return when we least expect it.

Jesus points to Noah who was mocked for building an ark in some of the driest land and not remotely near the sea. Yet Noah believed God and was being obedient, and Jesus says that believers will be mocked, persecuted, murdered, etc. for being faithful and obedient. Then Jesus makes a statement, and herein also lays a promise, a promise of believers being spared the worst. He promises to rapture His church verses 40-41 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

 

But Jesus warns His church to be working when He returns. He tells us to be active witnesses, not merely people that give their religion lip service. Those who merely sit waiting for Him will be disappointed, but those who are actively living their life for Him will be saved, and spared. We have to be actively be living witnesses so that our lives and not only our words lead those who have not accepted Him to Him. If we don’t we will be judged according to our lack of service and we will be left to face the penalty of hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Second Chances

A close friend and fellow Christian phoned me today. I hadn’t had any contact with him for a long time, but I recognised his voice immediately. During our converstaion he told me of a book, the first in a trilogy, that the Lord inspired him to write. The series of books each contain 12 stories of people who had received second chances in their lives. Below, in his own words, is an email that I received from Louis Braun telling us about the book and, how He came to write it.

I have included his details at the end for those of you who may want a copy of the book.

SECOND CHANCES

I have always wanted to write a book of some sort. I ended up writing a five chapter book about my son’s life to date called, “There’s a stranger in my house and they say he’s my son.”

This booklet was not long enough to publish and still needs to be finalized. I hope to complete it soon.

On Friday 20 July 2012, at a business group prayer meeting, the group leader, Hugo, shared a story involving what I like to call ‘Second Chances.’ He told of a person who was at Ground Zero on 9/11 in New York who had a Second Chance.

This story inspired me to such an extent that I started writing my first two chapters the following Saturday morning.

image001 image002

This book is the result of that first inspirational story. It is my attempt at documenting many stories of people’s experiences where God has given them a Second Chance in life.

I asked my friends and family from all over the world who had a story for me of their own Second Chance experience, to share it with me. I was amazed how God led me to the most awesome stories. As these stories came in, everything just fell into place. Within days I had stories from all over the world.

Every story was an experience I would not forget. Somehow these stories touched my soul and I felt the Spirit of God was with me every step of the way.

These are real testimonies to encourage those who can relate each specific story to challenges that they are currently facing, or have dealt with in the past. They serve as a reminder and an assurance that God is watching over us, often without us even knowing. There are stories of heart attacks, blindness, accidents – all life changing experiences.

My prayer is that this little book will serve as an inspiration for those who read it.

May it be an encouragement to always look to the Father in times of need, knowing for sure that He holds everything in His hands and will work all things out for the good of those who love Him.

Contents

1. My own story in the Kruger National Park – My encounter with lions.

2 Jannie Putter’s journey from being a hero, to feeling like a loser, and then glorifying God.

3 Steve Rose’s story about falling in love with a South African woman, leading to a divorce, a stressed life and a heart attack.

4 Angus Buchan’s heart attack at the Mighty Men Conference in 2009 (first published in the MMC coffee table book in 2009, as told by paramedic Hans Hartmann).

5 The story of one man’s life, of how he was reborn and then went to prison eight months later for two years. He tells how God took him to places he otherwise would never have been and restored his life completely.

6 Nico Swart who was involved in a serious accident, but survived without any memory of it.

7 Fred Baker who almost gave up on his heart and then God gave him another.

8 Nicolaas Olivier, who was blinded for sixteen weeks and then had his sight restored.

9 Marc Braun who was preparing himself for a night on the town, but found that God had a different plan in store for him.

10 Dr Thinus van Dyk who contracted Cerebal Malaria and how God saved him from the clutches of death.

11 Bryan Aab’s motor cycle accident where a collision with a taxi left his bike in pieces while he escaped unharmed.

12 Annetjie’s and Rita’s survival in a train wreck in which four passengers were killed. 45

Author

Louis Braun
Tel: +27 12 664 1500 (Switchboard)

Fax: +27 86 632 6984

Cell: +27 82 450 3211

Email louisb@interconnect.co.za

Why do bad thing happen to Christians?

Recently someone asked me why it seemed that so much bad things were happening to me? I was taken aback because in all honesty I asked God that very same question!

One evening shortly after the person asked me the question God answered me. The answer was so simple that it actually shocked me that I couldn’t see it. Satan attacks the souls that belong to God. He attacks those souls in an attempt to draw them from God. Satan has no interest in souls that he has already conquered, and therefore it will seem that those people don’t have problems.

Thus God pointed out to me that while satan is attacking me it should be an indication that he has failed in his attempts to win me. I should in actual fact be happy that he is attacking me because it serves as proof that my relationship with God is strong, or else satan would not have bothered.

God’s Covenants – are they still relevant today?

Many years ago God made a covenant with Abram that he would make Abraham’s seed a vast nation that would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. God made this promise to Abram although he was about 90, and his wife Sarai was about 80 and unable to conceive. He also promised Abram that He would give Abram’s decendants a land that overflowed with milk and honey.

As you know Abram and Sarai became the proud parents of Isaac, and Isaac became the father of Jacob and Esau. Jacob had twelve sons, one of whom was Joseph who would become prime minister of Egypt. God kept the promise He made to Abram (who was later known as Abraham) and after 400 years of living in Egypt Israel numbered more than 2 million.

You may wonder why I am going down this road, and what the relevance may be to us in 2012. God made promises, and He made a covenant with His people when freed them from Egypt and lead them through the wilderness to Canaan for forty years. We may believe that we aren’t bound by the laws and decrees that were made to Israel, and that since we live under a new despensation (New Testament), the old is irrelavent.

The truth is that the God we serve today is the very same God that Abrham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, etc. served. He doesn’t change His moods, and He isn’t subject to the emotions we experience. We may be under a new despensation, but all that means in reality is that the Laws He gave Moses on the stones, has now be written in our hearts. Instead of offering a goat or a sheep as compensation for sin, Jesus became our sacrifice. Instead of going to a preast to confess our sins, we are able to go directly to God.

But the New despensation however does not make any of the laws and covenants that God made with His people (which includes all believers) redundant. The covenants were made with the view to bless obedience, but it also included curses for disobedience. These appear throughout the entire bible, and yet we seem to think it isn’t binding on us. We cannot want to have God in our lives but not accept His decrees. A relationship with God only exists if we accept His rules and His will for our lives, and when we accept His rules and will, we accept the covenants that He made with His people dating back to the original covenant He made with Abraham.

Thus although we are not under the law, but under grace, this simply means that by grace, God wrote His law on our hearts. If we break these laws our conscience forces us to repent and by grace we do so directly to the Lord. No sin commited wittingly will go unpunished, God will act, and God is just.

Your Ministry

2 Corinthians 10

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

8 So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it.

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

When we are born again, we become members of God’s family. We become part of His body, His church. As with the human body, this body consists of many parts, and each part has a vital function that it has to perform. Our legs allow us to walk, our eyes allow us to see, our mouths enable us to communicate, etc.

God’s body, His church, functions in much the same way. Each member of God’s church has a vital function to perform.

If we profess our love for the Lord, we have an obligation to live accordingly. We can’t say we love Him and yet blatantly live in opposition to His word. That is almost worse than not loving God at all!

We have to oppose sin in every shape or form. We have to do everything within our power to oppose sin. A lie, regardless of the circumstances is a lie and a sin. Theft is a sin, murder is a sin, adultery is a sin, etc. God is clear on this, and if we commit sin wittingly, we are in opposition to God whether we are born again or not, and if we want to remain under His grace we have to repent, and remove ourselves from the sin we have committed. If we don’t we have no right to expect anything from God, and God will ignore us.

We as His body have an obligation to be His light. It isn’t just up to ordained ministers to preach His word, and lead the lost to Him. Each member of God’s body has a function that he/she has to perform, and if we ignore it, we are neglecting our duty, and that in itself is a sin.

God has given each and every one of us a ministry. If we allow Him to He will show each of us what our ministry is, and empower us to perform our ministry. It may be teaching, preaching, discipleship, prophecy, deaconship, etc. Simply going to church,the cell group, reading the bible and praying isn’t ministering. We have to live as His light, avoid sin at all cost, minister to our families, the lost, and perform our function in His body.

Too often we look at our lives and think of what a mess it may be. We ask why God has deserted us, and never look at the role we are playing to create the turmoil we may be in. We profess our love for Him, yet live in opposition to His word. We don’t perform the role He has in mind for us, and yet we expect Him to hear our cries, even though we ignore Him.

On a personal note, if those that know me look at my life over the past three years, they may wonder by what authority I speak, or write, or minister to people.

I speak, write, and minister by God’s authority. I was one of those I describe above. It took hard lessons for me to see what the price of living in opposition to Christ is. I speak boldly, I write boldly, and I endeavor to walk in His will. Satan does attack me, I am not immune, but I stand firm, and if I stumble I confess, and pray for God’s forgiveness.

Power of Prayer

Psalm 81:6

6 “I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.

About three years ago I was given a message by the Lord to warn a person that they had to make amends because they were living in direct opposition to the Lord.

I spoke to this person and this person turned to the Lord. However it didn’t last and this person’s life started spiraling out of control. This person would realise it and try to make amends, only to turn back.

I continued to try to get through to this person because it was breaking my heart to see what was happening. I cried out to the Lord for help constantly, day after day.

Every time I felt like giving up God wouldn’t allow it. I would phone, send emails, and text messages. But the pattern would remain the same. And God would push me to persist in prayer. Through this entire period this situation affected me as much as the person concerned, and my life revolved around prayer, reading the bible, and waiting on God to hear from Him.

Recently God manifested Himself in a majestic way. This person started hearing God’s voice, and has turned away from satan and redicated their life to God. This person has taken a mighty stand against satan and has prayed God’s blessing over them, and I have had the privilege to witness this miracle.

I look forward to seeing more of this miracle, and being there to hear this person’s mighty testimony. God has proven that His love and dedication cannot be stopped, and His mercy transcends any and, all obstacles. The faithful and dedicated prayer of believers must not be underestimated as this is the most important and powerful weapon we have against the enemy.

God’s Love

If I look with human eyes at the last three years of my life, I would have to say that they have been the worst years I have ever had.

Personally and professionally it could not have been worse. Without elaborating, I have been through the ringer!

However during this period I was forced to turn to the Lord. There honestly wasn’t anyone who could help even if they wanted to. As time went by I started noticing the work that the Lord was doing in my life. I started noticing that stuff that used to important didn’t really matter anymore, while others started meaning more.

As these changes were taking place, I started appreciating the “small” things in life, I became a happier person, and someone I could like.

On New Years day I said that this year would be the YEAR when everything would work out. I was right, not in the way I thought, however, but in the way God intended.

I now look back at the last three years of my life as the best years of my life. These are the years in which the Lord manifested Himself in supernatural ways. He changed me completely for the better of everyone that comes into contact with me. I look at myself differently, and at those around me.

I notice God now in everything I see, and thus I see beauty constantly. And because this is the case I am more receptive to His voice. I can now obey Him, and I can truly have a relationship with Him.

Most of all, I am humbled by the last three years, because God loves me so much that He invested three years of His time to save me.

Thank you Lord for manifesting your undying love to me. In Jesus Name, Amen

The reason we don’t hear God

About three years ago a person and I had a disagreement. I told this person that God had showed me something that this person didn’t want to hear. This person retaliated by asking me why God would show me and not her, and went further by asking me how I knew it was God showing it to me?

For three years I couldn’t effectively answer that question, and it bothered me. In my mind not being able to answer that question, pointed adversely to my claim that I can “hear” God when He speaks to me. I believed that if I could just answer that question, I could help the person to see that she was heading for a serious disaster in her life.

Recently God started answering the question and these are some of the reasons we don’t “hear” Him.

Firstly, we don’t want to hear Him. This usually is because we are committing a sin, and don’t want to acknowledge it. Usually we will have a guilty, conscience, my second point, but ignore it. A guilty conscience is God speaking to us.

Thirdly, we may be so far removed from God that we simply can’t hear Him. This is when sin has taken a complete hold of our lives, and owns us. The sad reality of this is that it may require a disaster to force us to take stock and, to decide to look to God.

Forth, we may not be listening to hear Him at all.

Fifth, we hear God, and then satan convinces us that it wasn’t really God. Usually this is the result of not having liked what God has said, so we allow satan to create doubt by contradicting what God told us.

These are only some of the reasons that God has pointed out to me. God speaks to us in many ways, and if we subject ourselves to Him we will know His voice without reservation.

Lastly, remember to pray, and to read your bible, and then to meditate (wait on God) on the word, and you WILL hear Him.

The American Election

I joined Twitter recently. The reason for my joining was curiosity. I wanted to see what the hype was all about, and to meet other Christians.

I started slowly, and gradually more and more people started to follow me as I started following them. I made a decision not to follow those that may be offensive in any way. Thus I currently have about 350 followers, and I follow about 650 people, the majority being Christian.

Now, to get to the topic at hand.

We all have the right to have our own opinion, and to air it. However I don’t believe anyone has the right to be offensive, use crude language, post sexually explicit articles, attack another’s character, etc. In my opinion, my right of freedom of expression, should not infringe on others rights to respect.

As I mentioned earlier about 99% of my followers, and of those that I follow, on Twitter are Christian. However some of the tweets that I read regarding the American election shocked me! Many of the tweets regarding President Obama and his challenger Gov. Mitt Romney were aimed at there characters.

One person referred to Mitt Romney as the anti-christ and this person even used scripture in an attempt to back his claim up. This same person went on to say that the Lord sent Hurricane Sandy so that Mitt Romney’s speech that, he was scheduled to take make in New York would be cancelled! When I asked if God would potentially kill thousands of people to shut one person up, he simply unfollowed and blocked me. This is but one example.

Trust me that President Obama wasn’t better off. He was attacked for being endorsed by muslims, gay rights activists, pro life campaigners, etc and these attacks were hateful to describe it lightly.

I reiterate that we should have the freedom to express our points of view. But having said so I firmly believe that we as Christians, have an obligation to practice what we preach. False and dangerous doctrine is not on. To call a person the anti christ is dangerous, if not reckless! To say that God is prepared to kill any number of people to shut one person up is absurd to say the least. The God I serve isn’t a murderer!

To attack peoples character, especially on a public forum, is not Christian, and goes against scripture. The Bible is clear that we should not judge, lest we be judged by the same measure. It also tells us to remove the plank from our own eye so that we can see clearly to remove the spec from another’s eye. The Bible especially preaches tolerance. Shockingly all of these precepts were lacking.

I have to point out that it is a small minority that I am referring to. Having said this, their messages are dangerous, lack tolerance, and in my opinion, is an embarrassment to the faith I hold so dear.

The cornerstone of Christianity is rooted in love for God and your neighbor and, is tolerant, does not judge, respects government (even when we disagree) and always shines with love!

Brotherly Love

Genesis 33:3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.

Genesis33:4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.

Jacob not only forced Esau to sell him his birthright, he also stole his blessing approximately twenty years earlier. At the time Esau swore that he would kill Jacob and Rebecca, Jacob and Esau’s mother, helped him to flee. Now Jacob was about to meet Esau, and he didn’t know what to expect.

We read that when Esau saw Jacob he ran to him and embraced him, and they wept with joy. Every sin that Jacob had committed against his elder brother (although they were twins) had been forgiven.

Today many families quarrel and never get over it. I recently heard of two brothers that had a disagreement and that never spoke to each other for years afterwards. Sadly the one brother died before they could, and many years later the remaining brother is still wrapped up in guilt.

We shouldn’t wait for tomorrow because tomorrow may be to late. Jesus forgave those who nailed Him to the cross. Surely we can forgive our brother, sister, mother, or father, for whatever they may have done to us.

In the end, God can only forgive us if we forgive those who have sinned against us. I sincerely pray that family members make peace, and that they truly love each other.

Praying for Everyone

1 Timothy 2:1-3

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—

2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

When we pray we seem to focus on what we need, especially in times of crisis. We get so wrapped up in what is wrong in our lives, that we seem to lose the ability to see what’s happening to anyone else.

God says we should look at our friends and family, and at the struggles that they may be facing. He says we should pray for the person that is going to sleep on an empty stomach, the widow who buried her only child, the orphan who lost his/her parents to HIV/AIDS, the Christian languishing in prison simply for reading the bible, etc.

God says we have to pray for our world leaders to govern as per His decrees. We complain daily about the state of affairs in the world, but instead of complaining, God says we should be praying!

In short God doesn’t say that we shouldn’t pray for our needs, He’s saying that we shouldn’t get so caught up in our own circumstances that we forget to pray for those in greater need than ourselves.

Let’s do what pleases God, and if we do, He will reward us! His reward….abundant Blessings!

Understanding what you read in the Bible

Luke 18:34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

How often do we read the bible and fail to understand what we have read? Or end up asking ourselves what it is that God wants to tell us?

The revelation of God’s word, can only be imparted to us through the Holy Spirit. If we don’t pray and ask God for the revelation, we may end up spending hours and hours reading, and gaining nothing.

In my experience, one has to pray prior to reading the bible. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal what it is he wants to tell you through His word, and to do so through the Holy Spirit. Then read, and meditate on what you have read. The revelation will come, and the message will be powerful!

Once we do this, the Bible comes alive in a supernatural way, and then reading the bible becomes an adventure instead of an exercise in obedience.

The secret to really enjoying wealth.

Ecclesiastes 6:3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.

What a strong statement! I had to read it twice!

I know of very wealthy people that are really unhappy. They are always chasing after bigger and more lucrative deals, wining and dining prospective customers, and bargaining.

They usually get home after everyone has gone to bed, and miss out on the ball games, concerts, matric fairwells (proms), etc. that their children partake in. They do realise what they are missing, but they will tell you that there is nothing they can do to change it, its the price they have to pay for success.

If you ask them, chances are that you will learn the price of their wealth. Broken homes, non existent relationships with their children, heart break, alcohol abuse, substance addiction, etc.

Many don’t have a relationship with God, because they never have the time to meet Him. They are too busy working. Many wealthy people proudly say that they generally work twelve to eighteen hours seven days a week. When they do have free time they generally party, or sleep.

The question I am asking is whether the price they pay is worth it? And if they spend all that time working, when do they have the time to enjoy the fruits of their labor?

Its a known fact that when we die, rich or poor, we go as we came into this world. Is wealth worth losing our loved ones? Is wealth worth a marriage? Most importantly, is wealth worth our relationship with God?

I am not writing this as an attack on wealthy people. Many wealthy people have found a balance and have wonderful, loving and caring relationships with their families, and with the Lord. These people will tell you that they are able to enjoy their prosperity, as a result of a loving relationship with the Lord, who guides them through His Spirit, to lead happy and balanced lives.

We cannot truly enjoy the fruits of our labor unless it has the Lord’s Blessing. If we do it any other way we are destined to fail.

Love

1 Corinthians 13

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Orderly Worship

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

In 1 Corinthians 14 we receive instruction for orderly worship. I have been to churches where I as a believer, have felt out of place. There would be praise and worship and people praying in tongues, and some prophesying, and this would all be happening at once.

God says no, if people are going to speak in tongues, then one at a time, and only if there is someone to interpret. If people are going to prophesy, then also they must do so one at a time.

The reason is that these spiritual gifts were given to us to edify the church, and therefore it has to be done in an orderly manner. Only then can the gifts and messages be given to everyone in the congregation.

Standing up for Christ

John 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Jesus never flinched while He was being questioned by Pilate because He knew the truth. He knew He was the Messiah, and He knew what He was to endure, and the reason why He had to.

Jesus paid the ultimate price! The trial must go down as the biggest miscarriage of justice in history! But He didn’t bear any grudges. Quite the contrary, He prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him.

We know the truth. Yet, how many times have we failed to stand up for Him when we were called to? It may be for any number of reasons, fear of making fools of ourselves, or we don’t know how those around us may react, or maybe we are scared that we will be teased, etc.

Isn’t it the same as what the Jews did when they had Him crucified? How many of those that had witnessed His teaching and miracles failed to stand up for Him? Even His own disciples hid, and as you know Peter denied Him, three times.

Are we prepared to stand up and be counted for Him?

True wealth

Have you ever thought about the meaning of true wealth? I thought I knew the answer when I fell in love for the first time.

Then when my first child, Kathy, was born I thought I finally had the answer. Three and a half years later my son, JC, was born, and I felt like a million bucks.

Unfortunately my children’s mom and I got divorced in 2002. To say it was a tough time in our lives would be an understatement. However by mutual consent I had custody of the children. My children got me through that chapter of my life, and we have a strong bond to this very day.

In 2009 my daughter and her husband were blessed with a beautiful baby girl they named Mia. However she was born with three kidneys, none of which functioned properly. At six months she had to undergo surgery in an attempt to improve the situation. Many people prayed for Mia, and she recovered beyond the doctors expectations, and to this day her kidney function remains to improve beyond what the doctors expected. Mia is a happy child who will be turning three on November 6.

Looking at my original question of what true wealth really means? My answer has to be: “Knowing the Lord and having His Spirit in me, so that through His wisdom, I am able to see the blessings He has bestowed upon me. I am blessed with beautiful children who love me as much as I love them, and my son-in-law who is a wonderful husband to my daughter and a wonderful father to Mia.”

True wealth is the ability to see our Lords love in the blessings He bestows upon us. Our loved ones, our children, our grand children, being able to see the beauty in every day, and having the opportunity to thank God for loving us so much that He blessed us with these wonderful gifts….

Persecution

2Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

2Timothy 3:13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Looking at the world around me, I cannot but agree with the above scripture.

The news is full of stories about crimes. Armed robbery, car jacking, murder, rape, drug smuggling and dealing, fraud, corruption, etc.

The persecution of Christianity is increasing. In many countries state and church has been separated, and religious teaching has been removed and outlawed in many countries. We are aware that in some countries people are actually tried and sent to prison for owning a bible, and in some countries people are actually killed for being Christian. In many western countries all religious emblems is either in the process of being or has been removed from government institutions, and in the name of religious freedom.

In these countries crime has increased as 2Tim 3:13 warns. To say anything else will be a lie. Christianity is criticized publically. Foul language, explicit sex, and violence is made to look “cool” , not to mention taking the Lord’s name in vain, in movies. Christians and Christianity is attacked under the guise of freedom of speech.

However we have to take heart in the knowledge that the Lord in us, will give us strength to withstand these attacks. We simply have to call on Him, and He will respond to our calls. The bible warns us that it is going to get harder, but it also tells us that the Lord will never desert us, He will always be there with us.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Having a relationship with the Lord

Matthew 6:8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Looking at the heading and the scripture that I am using for this post, you may be wondering what the relevance is?

Matthew 6:8 tells us that the Lord knows what we need even before we ask for it in prayer. We may then wonder why we need to pray in the first place?

The answer is that the Lord wants to have a personal relationship with us. To have a relationship we need to love the one we are going to have a relationship with. We can only really love someone if we really know that person. To know that person we need to know what they like and don’t like. What they approve and disapprove of, their personality, etc.

To get to REALLY know the Lord we have to:

1. Read the bible.
2. Pray.
3. Wait on the Lord.
4. Spend time in the company of other believers and share with them, maybe in a cell group.
5. Go to church.

By doing the above we will get to know the Lord, and we WILL fall in love with Him.

Furthermore we need to realise that the Lord will never force or impose Himself on us. We have a choice. That is one of the reasons we need to pray. Even though He knows what we need, it is only through prayer that we “allow” Him to get involved.

I always jokingly say that the Lord isn’t a mother-in-law, He doesn’t poke His nose in our business unless we ask Him to.

While writing this the Lord has laid it on my heart that we shouldn’t just pray for what we need. God wants us to have a conversation with Him. He wants to hear us talk to Him, praise Him, yes, He wants to hear us say that we LOVE Him.

How often don’t we tell our loved ones that we love them? Now think about this….How often do we tell the Lord that we love HIM? He may know it, but just like us, He wants to HEAR it. Isn’t that what a relationship is all about?

As we get to know the Lord more, our love for Him will grow. As our love for Him grows we will want to know more about Him, and so reading the bible, praying, going to church, etc. won’t feel like chores anymore.

Are we saved by faith or by observance to the law?

In Galatians 3:2 Paul asks a very important question. Have we been saved because of our faith or because of our works? Galatians 3:2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?

In Galatians 3:8-9 Paul tells us: “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

In Galatians 3:11 Paul continues: “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The reason for Paul’s statement is found in Habakkuk 2:4 “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness—”

In Galatians 3:12 Paul points out that: “The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” and he re minds us that Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.“(Deuteronomy 21:23 you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.)

In Galatians 3:16 Paul continues ” The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.”

We see the point that Paul is making in Galatians 3:16 in the following scriptures:

Genesis 12:7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 13:15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.

Genesis 24:7 “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.

From the above it becomes clear that obeying the law that the Lord gave Moses isn’t a guarantee that we will go to heaven. Neither is good works. Paul goes to great length to point out that only faith in the Lord can save us: Galatians 3:22 “But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”

If we believe in the Lord and love Him, it stands to reason that we will obey Him as a result. Thus we will then obey His laws as a result of our faith! We will then also help those who are in need, thus good works will follow as a result of our faith!

Immorality and Impurity

Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Ephesians 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

Ephesians 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolatry—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Ephesians 5:7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light

Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

Ephesians 5:10 and find out what pleases the Lord.

We can’t claim to be Christians if our lives don’t reflect it. We can go to church on Sundays, read our bibles, and even lead people to the Lord, but if we deliberately commit sin seek revenge, commit adultery, gossip, etc. It means nothing.

What Paul tells us is that every part of our life has to be a testimony to God. What people see and what they don’t see has to reflect God’s Spirit in us.

We can’t be someone in church on Sunday, and then be someone else on Monday. Jesus didn’t change to suite those around Him, or to be “in”. He reflected His Father in everything He said and did. He reflected love, compassion, patience, forgiveness, etc.

Christianity isn’t a statement, it is a lifestyle. It is a reflection of our relationship with God. If we live our faith, our lives will reflect the Lord, and then our lives will be a testimony to the Lord. What we preach has to be reflected in how we live, and this is only possible if the Holy Spirit lives in us.

Humility

Eph 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

On reading Eph 4:2. I couldn’t help but to see Jesus’ character. He was humble, to the degree that He even washed His disciples feet. He was patient, always making time to teach, heal, and share, and He personified His Father’s love.

But how do we do it? We live in a real world where we have to compete in order to get ahead. We have to be the best if we want that promotion, or increase in salary. We are forced to stand in queues in the bank and supermarket, and then we still have to deal with incompetence. It isn’t easy to not lose it.

Paul gives us the answer in Eph 4:24 “and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” He takes it a step further in Eph 4:31-32 by telling us to “31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

When we were born again we did so because we wanted to be like Christ. But just wanting to be like Him isn’t enough, and we cannot do it by ourselves. Therefore we have to invite the Holy Spirit to live in us.

Once we receive the Holy Spirit we have to give Him total authority over our lives. This will enable Him to make us humble, calm, compassionate, gentle, patient, etc. We also have to spend time daily reading the bible, praying, and waiting on God. Doing this will calm our spirits and enable the Lord to speak to us through His Spirit.

This is the only way we can emulate Jesus and reflect Him in our daily lives..

What God says about immorality

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Romans 1:22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

Romans 1:26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.

Romans 1:27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,

Romans1:30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;

Romans 1:31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

Romans 1:32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Reading the above scriptures one may be forgiven for thinking that Paul was describing the world we live in today.

We hear and read of children assaulting their parents. Everyday we read of murders, robberies, and rapes that have been committed. Homosexuality has become acceptable, and in many countries same sex marriages have become legal.

Christianity and Christians are attacked, belittled and mocked daily. It isn’t strange to see movies and plays poking fun or insulting Christ and, what amazes me is the number of Christians that buy tickets to go and watch these shows.

I have heard it said that Christians have to “get with the times” and that we don’t live in the dark ages anymore. I have even heard that the rules preached in the bible aren’t relevant in the 21st century.

I am of the opinion that the bible is more relevant today than when the books in it were written. The more I read the bible, the more I see the relevance to the times we live in. I see the warnings and signs the prophets, Jesus and the apostles spoke of.

God is the same as he was in the beginning. He hasn’t changed His mind on anything and, what was unacceptable in the old testament is unacceptable today. What was immoral then is immoral today. If we accept Christ we have to accept His laws and decrees. If we accept them, we have an obligation to live by them. If we reject His laws and decrees we reject Christ. We can’t have the one without the other.

The reasons for the Crucifixion

Luke 24

Can you imagine what the women must have thought when they got to Jesus’ tomb and found it open and empty. A hundred thoughts must have crossed their minds. Then two angels appear. See what Luke 24:5-7 tells us the angels had to say:

5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'”

What this tells me is that although Jesus had told them what was going to happen, the reality evaded them. What I’m saying is, it was easy to believe it while it hadn’t happened. It was a complete different story when they witnessed the horrendous torture He was subjected to before and during the crucifixion. They saw Him suffer and die. There wasn’t a way that they could begin to imagine that He would actually be raised from the grave on the third day.

Once the angels had confirmed that Jesus had kept His word, and had risen, the women run to tell the eleven remaining disciples the news. Now look at what the disciples’ reaction is in verse 11: “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.”

They would only be able to believe that He had risen once they saw Him, verse 36: “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”,
There was still some disbelief as we see in verse 38-39: “38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

Jesus tells them that He had risen in the flesh. He wasn’t a ghost or spirit, He was flesh and blood. They could touch Him, eat with Him, and speak to Him.

Jesus then proceeds to explain the reason for the crucifixion, and His resurrection in verse 44-49: “44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Jesus died and rose from the dead so that as per verse 47 we could be saved and forgiven through repentance, and so that the gospel may be preached not only in Jerusalem, but throughout the entire world.

Jesus died to give Jew and Gentile the opportunity to be saved. He made it possible through the Holy Spirit that came at Pentecost (Acts 2).

The disciples were witnesses to Jesus’ teaching, His miracles, His suffering and death, His resurrection, and ascension to heaven. They were filled with the Holy Spirit at pentecost, Acts 2:4: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Jesus died so that we could be saved and forgiven through repentance and, be filled with the Holy Spirit, in order for the gospel to be preached throughout the world.

Thank you Jesus for loving not only the Jew, but also the gentile, and for laying Your life down so that we could receive Your forgiveness Your word, Your teaching, and Your Spirit. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Do angels speak to us?

This is an article that appears on the Fox News website.

Do angels speak to us?

Oct 13, 2012 5:00 AM EDT

The current issue of Newsweek features a cover story by the neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, who endured a seven-day coma after bacterial meningitis attacked his brain. 

Contrary to the assumptions of medical science, Alexander claims to have been fully conscious during this period-but conscious of another place. He says he visited heaven and reports several things from the experience, including hearing angels sing and speak. 

Do angels speak with us? Leaving aside those who disbelieve, the Judeo-Christian tradition resounds with a loud yes. As I discovered while researching my book “Lifted by Angels,” the point is deeply ingrained in the thinking of the early church. 

Take, for instance, these words from the monk and theologian, John Damascene. Angels, he said, “take different forms at the bidding of their master, God, and thus reveal themselves to men and unveil the divine mysteries to them.” 

And these from Isaac the Syrian: “Angels are our teachers,” he said, adding that our “development and illumination cannot come to pass without the divine vision received of angels.” 

Using words like reveal, unveil, teachers, and divine vision cast the angels in the job of messengers. This is fitting, since that’s exactly what the word angel means. 

According to the tradition, angels have other functions as well, but their primary task is to reflect the knowledge and glory of God upon creation and point us to the source of that knowledge and glory. And so we find the biblical stories of angels mostly concern passing news, explaining mysteries, giving warning, or encouraging the fearful. 

Many of these stories are familiar to us: 

*Abraham hears from an angel about the unlikely birth of his son, Isaac, just as Manoah and his wife hear from an angel about their boy, Samson. 

*Jacob hears from an angel in a dream that he should return to his family. 

*Moses hears from an angel speaking in a burning bush. 

*Gideon hears from an angel who promises that God will deliver his people. 

*And jump ahead to the greatest of all revelations, when Mary hears from the archangel Gabriel about the coming of Christ. 

What does it mean to hear from an angel? 

Angels are bodiless and spiritual, so how do they deliver their messages to people of flesh and blood? One answer is noetically-that is, through our thoughts. Angels can in a sense whisper, maybe even shout, to our spirits, minds, and hearts. That’s why in several biblical stories angels speak through dreams. 

It can and does happen in waking hours, too. People talk about having certain passing impressions, moods, and imaginations. The early Christians knew that some of these thoughts were in fact angelic suggestions. 

“The angel of righteousness is sensitive, modest, meek, and mild,” according to “The Shepherd of Hermas,” an early second-century book. “When he rises up in your heart, he immediately speaks with you about righteousness, purity, reverence, contentment, every upright deed, and every glorious virtue. When all these things rise up in your heart, realize that the angel of righteousness is with you.” 

Similarly, Clement of Alexandria dwelled on this a bit in his “Miscellanies.” “The thoughts of virtuous men are produced through the inspiration of God,” he said, adding that “particular divine ministers” contribute to “the divine will being conveyed to human souls.” By “divine ministers” he meant angels. 

These are all examples of noetic communication, angels speaking directly to the soul of a person. 

But angels are not limited to noetic communication or speaking directly to our souls. While bodiless and invisible, angels can condescend and make their presence palpably and tangibly known. They, said Basil the Great, become “visible, appearing to those who are worthy in the form of bodies proper to them.” 

And so in Genesis we see Abraham and Lot offering water for angelic visitors to wash their feet while also carrying on conversation-and Jacob not only talking but physically wrestling with an angel. 

How is this? It’s a mystery. 

Augustine admitted difficulty in understanding how angels can speak inside us intellectually and spiritually and also to us audibly and bodily. But he nonetheless believed it. Scripture records too many moments in which angels have visibly, physically interrupted human life. 

It’s impossible to speak to all of Alexander’s vision, but Christians should know that angels speak to us. As messengers of God, it’s one of their primary tasks, and the scripture and teaching tradition of the early Christian church testify to the fact.

Settling disputes within the Church

Acts 23:6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”

Acts 23:7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.

Acts 23:8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)

Acts 23:9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”

Acts 23:10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.

In the Acts 23:6-10 Paul used a disagreement between the Pharisees and Sadducees to his advantage Acts 23:8 8″ (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)”, and it saved him.

Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees believed in God, they simply disagreed on some points as can be seen in verse 8. When tested in the Sanhedrin, this disagreement very quickly evolved into a dispute that threatened to get out of control. It got so bad that the soldiers had to take Paul away because they feared that he may be torn to pieces.

We have to remember that each and every Christian is a member of God’s church. There may be different denominations eg. Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Dutch Reformed, etc, etc, and they may differ on some aspects regarding doctrine. However the simple fact remains that each and everyone is, an integral part of God’s Church, who God refers to as His bride.

What saddens me, and I would imagine Christians everywhere, is that it has almost become common to see well known church leaders argue vigorously using the printed and electronic media. In some cases they take it to the extreme of getting personal. What they fail to realise is that their behaviour doesn’t solve anything and, only serves to sow division within the church. Many of their members grow disillusioned and leave the church completely, and in some cases lose their faith as a result.

Surely Christians can settle their differences with the Lord’s help, and do so privately. Isn’t it more important to focus on God and what unites us, rather than on differences regarding doctrine?

Church leaders have a responsibility to serve their members, as Jesus served people and, to realise that a calling by God is a calling to a life of servitude. If they keep this in mind, petty differences regarding doctrine and practices will amount to nothing.

Within the Christian faith there is more that unites us than what divides us. We ought to keep our focus on the Lord, and the sacrifice He made for us. If we do so we won’t see petty differences, and then we will experience the complete joy of being part of God’s family and, of being citizens of His Kingdom.

The News and the Bible

If you are anything like me, you may call yourself a news junky.

My average day usually starts off with me reading my reading plan (www.youversion.com). If you are a believer I strongly recommend that you join if you haven’t yet.

Afterwards I’ll browse the web for news, Fox News, CNN, Sky News, News 24, Beeld (Afrikaans publication), Citizen (South Africa), etc.

Scrolling through these sites it is evident that we live in a very dangerous world. I read articles of wars, unrest, murder, rape, child abuse, corruption, earth quakes, tsunamis, etc. Once in while, and may I add, if I’m lucky, I may stumble on a feel good article, but they are few and far between..

I’m not writing this to vent or complain about the world we live in, no not at all. On the contrary, Jesus told us that all of these things will happen before He returns.

In Matthew 24:3 Jesus disciples asked Him for the signs of His return. ” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

In Matthew 24:6-14 Jesus answers them: “6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

As Jesus had told His disciples, many who believed previously now openly deny God, questioning how people can believe in a loving God if we look at what’s happening in the world today. All I can answer to this charge is that more than 2000 years ago, Jesus warned us that these things would happen, even saying that people would desert Him.

Today many people openly attack christianity, and many even blame christianity for the state of affairs in the world. In many countries religious teaching has been banned from schools. Those who break these laws are charged and in some countries even sent to prison. As you read this numerous christians are being persecuted and even killed simply because they are christians and refuse to deny God, just as Jesus said.

Now looking at the news on TV and reading the papers, I cannot but conclude that we are seeing Jesus’ prophesy being fulfilled.

We were warned, what we do about it is up to us,do we accept or reject Christ?

The USA’s double standards on terrorism

I have just read an article on CNN’s website. This article hints at the possibility of the US considering training Syrian rebels.

The irony is that there is another article on CNN’s website that reports that an Al Qaeda supported group of rebels have taken a town that borders with Turkey.

I think that President Obama owes the US citizens and the rest of the world an explanation. Personally I would like to know how the US will screen the rebels they plan to train, and how they plan to ensure that the rebels they train don’t become future enemies of the USA?

As per my previous post I am of the opinion that the USA and in particular President Obama has become arrogant and considers the USA above the UN. In doing so they are trying to force the rest of the world to take sides, and have the attitude that if you are not for the US, you are against the US.

I am a christian and proudly so. It is for this reason that I feel strongly that the USA needs to take stock and really consider their position in the world. Their track record during and after the 2nd World War is questionable. The two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq raise more questions than answers.

How does the USA justify their position and holier than thou attitude with their track record?

I have always had a special place in my heart for the American people, but sadly their leaders are disappointing.