Soul Food 4 U

It addresses itself to every day issues of life from a Christian perspective. You'll be challenged. You'll be rebuked. You'll be encouraged. You'll grow.

Friday, April 28, 2006

IT IS NOT A HUNDRED METRE DASH BUT A MARATHON; ARE YOU BECOMING CYNICAL OR MORE FAITHFUL?

April 21, 2006

REFLECTIONS

As long as I am thinking of where I could be, I am making myself absent from where I am now which means I am nowhere.

It has been rightly said that before any fence is removed, one should always pause long enough to find out why it was placed there in the first place.

Never cut what can be untied.

TEXT

Ezek 3:20 "Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself."

Ezek 18:24 "But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. NIV

Rev 2:26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations- 27'He will rule them with an iron sceptre; he will dash them to pieces like pottery'-just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give him the morning star.

One of the things that give me pleasure is to say that I am a Kenyan, to a person who responds, "the country where there are runners?" Yes, we are the runners! (Even though am not a runner). To hear that beautiful national anthem as the whole world watches when our runners are getting the gold, silver or bronze medal during Olympic games, makes me a proud member of the winning team- Kenya.

Just visualise the feeling of watching a leading Kenyan runner losing strength and being overtaken by people who were behind. That is our devotion this week.

Severally the bible refers to our living as Christians as a race. Every decision we make keeps us either faster on the race or reduces our speed. There are several aspects of the race we could focus on, but let us look at a man who started so well yet had a very disappointing end.

The story of King Asa is very scaring as recorded in 2 Chronicles chapter 14, 15, 16. Asa was a man who knew what it means to depend on God's strength. He removed foreign altars, built fortified cities for Judah and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. King Asa was not a peace keeper but a peace maker who was not bound by family traditions and practises that did not honour the Lord. Many Christians would not bother with grandmother's practises for fear of offending and risking a curse. Asa was fully committed to the Lord and would not hesitate doing what he knew was God�s expectation of him. In his reign he created an environment that made God's people productive.

In the face of real threat and danger, Asa did not count on his strength, position or friends; he knew the sources of his strength. 2 Chron 14:11 Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, "LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you�.

What happened that a man that knew the power of God started having confidence in himself? How could Asa seek allies in King Ben Hadad when he had personal testimony of God's presence and abilities? Why did Asa not call upon God when he got the foot disease?

Do you remember those days when you depended on the Lord to pass your CPE/K CPE, or get a job, a congregation of a few people? Do you remember praying to the Lord for spouse/children, and now you are turning to neighbours, counsellors, organizations, etc? How is your dependence on the Lord now? Might you now be counting on your popularity, experience, and organisational arrangement such as insurance, health diets and medical schemes with no reference to the one who took care of you when you did not know such arrangements existed?

Do you know anyone who had a walk with God and now has put his /her trust in man and products of man's hands? According to the word of God through Ezekiel, you are not safe if you do nothing about your slowing down brother of sister. The blood of those who used to be righteous is upon your head if you do nothing regarding their dependence on the grace of God.

If this devotion is making you uncomfortable considering that today you are man of class, even Asa got very angry when attention was called to him. 2 Chron 16:10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.

Anger, denial, and failure to respond to God does not stop destruction of a righteous man who turns to depend on organisations and systems. Excluding out of your group those who say what you do not want to hear may be a sign of a person that is no longer aware of the Lord who has put you in the position you are currently enjoying.

Our race is dependent on the grace of God. It is total dependence on God all the way. That is what one brother who has been on the race for the last 56 years reminded us recently (March 11, 2006). Professor George Kinoti, who got saved in his early teenage, talking to a group called "The Flame from the 70s" (Christians who were in Nairobi University in the decade of the 70s). Addressing the group on the topic, "Does longevity in the faith cause you to be more cynical or more faithful?" He said through the varying seasons of life, we need to;

1. Have a daily walk with the Lord. Have the word of God renew our thoughts so that we may know the pleasing perfect will of God. That which gives God pleasure is good for us.

2. Avoid extremes. Be balanced and fully biblical. Do not take one idea and run away with it thus risking being cultic. He shared an experience with a brother who was very active I the fellowship but lacked financial plan for his family. He only boiled "malenge" (pumpkin) late at night.

3. Read and study the word. Read good Christian literature. Prof shared of a time when he chose to do science in Makerere University. Some leaders of the fellowship at home were of the opinion that no Christian should do science and wanted him to do medicine. The brethren felt they had knowledge of what was best but he was convinced that God was leading him to do science. The issue was so serious that he was excommunicated from the only fellowship that existed those days. Christian race is not about conformity but transformation by the word of God.

4. Know whom you believe. Distinguish between systems and Christianity. George chose to remain in fellowship even though he was not welcome. He did not do anything offensive like sharing, arguing, but continued identifying with believers. Many years later the leaders of the fellowship realised that they were not fully informed of the courses and their implications.

5. Avoid compromise. Do not stay on the fence. You cannot be salt of the earth if you do not know where the earth is. Be knowledgeable.

6. Be an active witness of Jesus Christ. Learn to use scripture such as "love your enemies".

7. Keep your eyes on the Lord and pursue righteousness.

As we build our memory of God�s goodness to us, we need to remind ourselves of our vulnerability. To start entertaining the idea of outgrowing the bible study in our neighbourhoods or college, or reducing our time with the Lord in prayer because of duty such as examination pressure may be the start of your downward journey. Beware of the danger of becoming "god-man" in those colourful introductions of man/ woman of God that leaves one wondering who is man and who is God. Do not use shortcuts that make you read the heading of daily devotion rather than reading scripture. Do not remove those old landmarks that showed you the away in the past. Hold on, and we are going to rule nations with Christ. Far , far better than hearing the Kenya national anthem as the world watches ,is to hear "Well done good and faithful servant. . ." and the to receive the morning star.

Do not give in to the cultural discounts that seek to push people down by making them feel too old or too young. Like Caleb of old, ask for another mountain to conger. We have a responsibility over our neighbour. It is until the grave that we shall stop depending on the grace, forgiveness and the mercies of the Lord.

A stanza of one of those old time hymns that blesses me

O boundless grace divine, How shall this tongue of mine,

To wondering mortals tell, Of matchless grace divine,

That I a child of hell, should in his image shine.

The Comforter has come

Further reading:

Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.NIV

1 Cor 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. NIV

Reading: Excerpts of life of Asa

2 Chron 14: 2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. 5 He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. 6 He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the LORD gave him rest.

2 Chron 15:1 The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, "Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4 But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. 5 In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. 6 One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. 7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."

2 Chron 15:16 King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa's heart was fully committed [to the LORD] all his life. 18 He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.

2 Chron 16:7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: "Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 8 Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war."

2 Chron 16:12-13

12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. NIV