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.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

SOURCE OF STRENGTH FOR BLEEDING ENCOURAGERS

June 30, 2006

REFELECTIONS:
� Keep a green bough in thy heart and God will surely send thee a
singing
bird. Chinese proverb.

� Because I looked to the world only through rose-coloured words I
became
rose coloured myself.

� Stop speaking peace to your situation and start speaking peace in you
situation

� How important it is, while doing the very best we can, to accept
ourselves, and to be ourselves.

TEXT:
1 Sam 30:3 When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it
destroyed
by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So
David
and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5
David's
two wives had been captured-Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow
of
Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were
talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his
sons
and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. NIV

2 Corinthians 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these
surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh,
a
messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the
Lord
to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient
for
you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast
all
the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on
me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in
insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am
weak, then I am strong. NIV

Gen 20:17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his
wife
and his slave girls so they could have children again, 18 for the LORD
had
closed up every womb in Abimelech's household because of Abraham's wife
Sarah.
Genesis 21: 1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and
the
LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and
bore
a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.
NIV

A Christian psychologist, Lawrence Crabb says that �when
Christians
begin to experience the thrill of true acceptance, and taste
possibilities of deep fellowship both with the Lord and with each
other, it often happens long and deeply hidden problems begin to
surface�. As you come back from serving the Lord in the field, you
find your house where you hoped to rest is on fire and that which
is significant to you has been taken away. The fire may be in form
of financial needs escalating farther than your known resources,
assignments/proposal deadlines that are over due, failing health,
ungrateful neighbours and family/relatives who are not amused by
your achievements and multitude of other requirements that just
pull you from your mountain top experience to some kind of
underground. In your time of ache you look up to your brothers and
sisters in the faith, who may then respond by showing doubt
regarding the quality of your spirituality.
Disillusionment can set in as one wonders whether Christ is the
answer to spiritual issues only or he also answers the social
economic and interpersonal relationship challenges as well. Is it
not oppressive to inform a down in the dumps believer /Christian,
who is disheartened that he has to stop living sinfully? David
came back home to find his wives, sons and daughters taken away
and those with whom he was in the fields blamed threatened him as
they felt he was the one to blame for their losses. What is the
meaning of life to a man who has lost his family, shelter and
friends?
Who encourages the encourager who finds the structures that formed the
moral fibre that held his valuables taken away by the enemy while he
faithfully and diligently was serving in the field? To add insult to
injury, the colleagues with whom you have been in fellowship and
service
from whom you expected understanding, do not empathise but assign and
project their anger to you and blame you for their own calamities.
Are there times when you find yourself encouraging
people
that promotion does not come from east or west but from
the Lord while you have been stuck at the point of
entrance in your own work station or you are encouraging
people on how to cultivate a bible based attitude that
makes them rely on the Lord as they study or do business
while the report cards or return on investment that you
are getting is lacking?
Another challenge that faces us Christians as we serve
the Lord is that of having unmet needs while we are
helping others get that which we do not have and long to
have. Do we have to wait until our needs are met before
we proclaim the goodness of the Lord? Can we confess
genuinely and honestly that God is good all the time even
when we have some gaping �holes�? Think of Abraham who
was called by God, given very clear promise of becoming
father of nations and then his wife does not conceive. In
the meantime he is called upon to pray for the opening up
of the wombs of the women in Abimelech�s household while
his own wife�s womb remains closed up.
Christians who are diligent in their faith and have determined to love
the
Lord with all the heart, mind, and soul, and extend the same love to
their
neighbours, do experience moments when a thorn remains in the flesh and
will not go in spite of prayer. Paul�s preaching and teaching was
bringing healing and miraculous move of God among the people yet he had
to
nurse his pain from whatever was the thorn in his flesh. There are deep
longings that do not seem to be getting fulfilled in spite of honest
and
genuine life of obedience and prayer.
I believe these are some of the issues that slow our speed
and
if not addressed can reduce our joy in our walk of faith. At
times desire to look good and consistent while masking deep
aches often lead to disillusionment that corrodes people from
inside as they struggle to deal with guilt, resentment, anger,
self pity, envy, lust, and as they tolerate insensitive system
of hard to keep rules. The problem becomes more intensified
for those who are placed in high ranked positions who feel
that they must safe the face of the whole group (and of God)
by bearing their pain in silence.
Who counsels the counsellor who is nose diving?
What can we learn from a few of those who loved and obeyed
God and had kept trusting in him against all odds?

7. Do not try to see God from your culturally coloured glasses � Know
that
you cannot visualise God. Isaiah 55:8 �For my thoughts are not your
thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,� declares the LORD. 9 "As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts�. Let God be God. That is what
Abraham, Job, Paul and many others had to accept.
8. Do what seems right each day. Incline your heart to obey whatever he
tells you to do. When the spirit of the Lord impresses upon you to pray
for a friend to get that which you are longing for but do not have, go
ahead and obey. Following Jesus Christ calls for total self
abandonment
and surrender to his will even when that may not be very clear. The
servant of Abraham confessed that,� I being on the way the Lord led me
(Genesis 24:27c KJV). Keep doing what you know best how to do. Be sure
that you have heard God�s promise or word not just your own feeling
based
on cultural values. Abraham called himself a wanderer that God had set
on
pace. If you are on God�s journey then have confidence that he knows
what
is happening. Your barrenness is fully known to him and that should be
comforting. The visionary proactive well to do woman of Shunem built a
house for God�s servant while she had no child of her own and her
husband
was old (2Kings 4:8- 37).
9. Do not assume that God is limited in any way. Isaiah 59:1 �Surely
the
arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to
hear.�
Assuming that the events in the bible are chronological, Abraham�s wife
conceived soon after Abraham prayed for the women in Abimelech�s house.
The Shunemite woman got a son that she had not asked for though she had
the need. It seemed like she had accepted her condition and was
looking
out for opportunities to serve others. God who knows, cares and loves
you
will not with hold anything good from you. God also knows what is
urgent
for our times are in his hands (Psalm 31:15a).
10. Do not attempt to assist God in order to safe his face before the
people. The temptation to feign the miracle in order to make God
credible
is there but must be resisted. Do not light your own fires, bribing
your
way and assuming that no one will get to know as you testify of how God
helped you. That can be disastrous. The word of God says that those who
light their fires will lie down in torment (Isaiah 50:10-11). Sober up
and know that God is able to protect his name and just do what you can
do.
A God who needs you to support him so that he can be believed is not
Jehovah but your own self made image of God.
11. Be honest with yourself and let God know. David wept until he could
cry no more. Admit that the mismatch between your expectations and the
reality hurts and then move on. Abraham was concerned about his
continued
childless ness and he let God know it and he moved on. Gen 15:2-3 But
Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain
childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of
Damascus?"
3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my
household will be my heir." Let God know your need and your feelings.
Do
not make the mistake that God fearing Asa made �Though his disease was
severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but
only
from the physicians� (2 Chronicles 16:12). Asa who had devoted himself
to
the service of the Lord for many years died without talking about his
sickness to God whom he had relied on for many battles. Anything that
pulls you down and steals your joy in the Lord should not be considered
too awkward to be told to him and do not take the grace of God for
granted.
12. Determine to remain a prisoner of God�s promise. Do not allow your
mind to wander to alternatives that make you lose your focus and doubts
start coming in. Do not start shaping God in your image by giving him
ultimatum such as �If you do not give me a spouse, job, promotion, a
million dollars by a given date I will not serve you�. To allow such a
thought to rest in your mind is a very serious sign of being lost. Let
God
be God and know that outside of him you have no place. Job 13:15
�Though
he slay me, yet will I hope in him�; John 6:68 Simon Peter answered
him,
�Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life�. Paul
got
the assurance of the knowledge of God of his problem and that it was
necessary to keep him conscious of his dependence on God�s grace. Some
of
those issues whose resolve does not seem to come when and how we expect
may be God�s message that reminds us to remain conscious of our need
for
him. Zechariah 9:12 Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even
now
I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.


Like the servants of God who have gone ahead of us, we need to find our
strength in the Lord so that we can strengthen others. The time we are
in
and the need of our witness as servants of the Most High God demand
that
we keep connected to the never failing source of hope that Abraham and
David depended on. As leaders (light) of our world we cannot afford to
give up, or turn inward to self pity or seek who to blame, or be
subservient waiting for others to take notice of us. Like Abraham, we
pray
for those whose wombs need opening even when ours remain closed and
then
look up to that same God who knows our need. From David we learn of the
need to be honest and express ourselves, strengthen ourselves in the
Lord,
then inquire of the him of the next move. The Lord in whom we hope
promises to restore twice as much, to Abraham he gave the promised son,
led David to where his family was and gave Paul sufficient grace for
his
need. Our people in Africa are looking for ways out of the milliard
unexplainable challenges that are at every level of the society and we
are
the ones to ask the Lord for direction. We cannot light the world with
our own light but we have to go to Christ Jesus who says �I am the
light
of the world�. It is from Christ that we receive our healing,
replenishment, hope, and encouragement. However dark our path may be,
we
have to remind ourselves that there is no darkness to the one whose
hand
is holding our hand. Your self encouragement is a source of strength to
many that are lame and looking up to you.

Hebrews 12:12-13
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 "Make
level
paths for your feet," so that the
lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.