If It is Not Alright, Then It Is Not the End

There is a line in the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: ‘Everything will be all right in the end… If it’s not all right, then it is not the end.’ Way beyond its context in the film, these words convey a profound theological truth.

This truth can be seen when studying Psalm 119:105-112. The Psalmist encourages us to run the race to the end. Let us be determined, like the psalmist, to stay faithful to the Lord to the very end of our lives. Say, ‘My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end’ (v.112).

In some ways, our lives can be like to an obstacle race. There are snares along the path (v.110a). There is a temptation to stray (v.110b), and there is suffering (v.107).

How are you to avoid stumbling or making a mess of life? Wandering around in the dark is frightening and dangerous. The psalmist’s answer is that, in the darkness of the world around, the word of God provides:

1 Guidance: The word of God sheds light in the darkness: ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (v.105). It enables you to see the obstacles in your path, and hopefully to avoid stumbling over them. Study God’s word regularly and he will guide you one step at a time: ‘By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path’ (v.105, MSG).

2. Sustenance: You need spiritual sustenance to keep going and God’s word is ‘sweeter than honey to my mouth’ (v.103).

3. Wisdom: You need wisdom when you face stressful situations and decisions, and God’s word provides ‘understanding from your precepts’ (v.104).

4. Encouragement: It is not easy. He writes, ‘I constantly take my life in my hands’ (v.109). You need encouragement to keep going and God’s word is ‘my heritage forever’ and ‘the joy of my heart’ (v.111).

God is faithful and will help you. The psalmist writes, ‘Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth’ (v.108). He is determined with God’s help to keep going ‘to the very end’ (v.112b).

THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER: if it is not alright, then it is not the end because in the end God won for you.

PRAYER: Lord there is so much to praise you for. Accept the willing praise for all you have done and will do. Your words are the joy of my heart. Give me the grace to keep them to the end.

Is Anything Too Hard for the Lord?

Are you facing a seemingly impossible situation in your life? Is there an apparently irretrievable breakdown in a relationship? A serious health issue? An almost impossible challenge in your job? Is there a habit or addiction that you are finding hard to break?

Whatever challenges you may be facing right now, I need you to remember and declare nothing is too hard for the Lord. I know he will come through for me.

Abraham was a hundred years old. His wife Sarah was ninety. God promised them a son. They said, in effect, ‘That is impossible’. This is the context of the great rhetorical question: ‘Is anything too hard for the Lord?’ (Genesis 18:14). The answer is ‘no’. If Sarah could conceive when ‘already very old, and… past the age of childbearing’ (v.11), then nothing is too hard for the Lord. If Sarah could conceive at her age, then know God is ready to do for you what no man can do.

As today unfolds, let us be reminded in the face of challenges and setbacks, God still remains God without a beginning and end and that with him everything is possible. Let us not grow weary of asking knowing that in time our good Lord will meet us at the point of our needs.

THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER: with God every thing is possible.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you that whatever the issues I am facing in my life, nothing is too hard for you. Help me dear Lord I pray. Amen.

Choose wisely

One thing we all must remember about life is good will always triumph over evil no matter how long it takes. The night will always run out of darkness eventually giving way to day and light. You now know which to choose if you were asked. But come to think of it, we are asked everyday because we have to keep making choices. Life will ask you to choose. Friends and family will require that you choose. Circumstances will make you choose. In choosing, choose wisely.

Love God’s words

Without God, our lives make no sense. You would understand better the story of how man was created yet lifeless until God blew his breath in man and he became a living being. Our hearts are restless until they rest in God and that is because we came from him and only in him will we fine rest, grace and peace.

If God created the universe by the power of his word, then we are so blessed and greatly privileged to have access to his word. We can read his word and internalize it. We can read his word and tell others about it. We can read his word and say those words back to him. How blessed we are. Ps 119 is an exposè of the word of God we read. In reading and studying his word, we gain understanding, we find meaning and purpose of our lives: ‘With your instruction I understand life’ (v.104, MSG). Nothing could be more important or more valuable than this.

At the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on Tuesday, the second day of June, 1953, the Queen was handed a copy of the Bible with these words, ‘We present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.’ When all else fails, his word will never fail. When all else lets you down his words will lift you up. The psalmist writes, ‘Oh, how I love your law!’ (v.97a). He says, ‘I reverently ponder it all the day long’ (v.97b, MSG). He writes, ‘Your words are so choice, so tasty; I prefer them to the best home cooking’ (v.103, MSG).

The effect of loving God’s word, and meditating on it, is to give you wisdom (v.98), insight (v.99) and understanding (vv.100,104): ‘I’ve even become smarter than my teachers’ (v.99, MSG). It makes you determined to keep your feet from every evil and wrong path (vv.101,104).

THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER: without God, our lives make no sense.

PRAYER: Loving father, I thank you for the words you have spoken over my life today. May your words continually give me wisdom, insight and understanding. Help me to love them, to meditate on them and to obey them. Amen

The Danger of Pride

In English, the word ‘pride’ can have a good sense. For example, we would not say it is wrong for a person to be proud of their children, or to take pride in their work. However, when the Bible talks about pride it means something different from this and has very negative connotations.

It means to have an excessively high opinion of one’s own worth or importance; it suggests arrogant or overbearing conduct. It is the independent spirit that says, ‘I have no need of God.’ Arguably, therefore, it is at the root of all sin. How should we respond to the temptation and dangers of pride?

If, for example, you have anyone working for you, or if you are a parent, or if you are in any position of leading as a volunteer, you are in a position of power and one of the things you have to be on the look out for, is pride. Pride is a particular temptation for anyone in a position of power – whether that power comes from status, success, fame or wealth. If not careful and pride gets the best of you, then failure is sure. A proud person is simply one waiting for his downfall and destruction. The question you should be asking is why destroy yourself? There is no need to complicate things. Pride puts people off. Pride is irritating. Learn to ask questions when not sure. Remember no matter how good your ideas may be, they might just be a better one. Be open to see things from the other persons point of view. No matter who you are, you will do something wrong and when that happens, admit it and be sorry. No one ever did choke to death from swallowing his/ her pride.

The history of the kings of Israel and Judah demonstrates that it is extremely difficult to become powerful and resist the temptation of pride. During this period, the kings of Judah are doing rather better than the kings of Israel. King after king in Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord (14:24; 15:18,24,28), while in Judah, Azariah and his son Jotham both ‘did what was right in the eyes of the Lord’ (15:3,34).

Azariah is also known as Uzziah (v.32). We know something more about him from other parts of the Old Testament (for example, Amos 1:1, Isaiah 6:1f. and 2 Chronicles 26:16–23).

Here we read that although he ‘did what was right in the eyes of the Lord… the high places… were not removed… The Lord afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died’ (2 Kings 15:3–5). Why did his life end in such a mess?

The book of Chronicles gives the answer: ‘His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful. But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God’ (2 Chronicles 26:15–16).

THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER: you learn nothing from life if you think you are right all the time. When God has blessed us with success there is always a temptation to become proud.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for all the warnings and encouragement. Help me take heed of these warnings. Help me to keep my eyes always on your son Christ Jesus the humble king, who was powerful yet took the nature of a servant.

Divine Connection

May people boast about their connection. They brag about the people they know, the people they have met and whose numbers they have, stored on their phones. I was in a discussion and to show how important one of the discussant was, he brought a name card belonging to a senator just to let us know that he knows someone big.

Well, first things first. If you don’t know God, then you know nobody at all. If you cannot boast of your relationship with God, then you can boast about nothing. The greatest connection one can ever have is God-connection because it connection with the divine. God has divine connections lined up for your life. There is power in connection. Connections lead to life. When a husband and a wife come together, babies are born. When the spirit of a person and the Spirit of God come together, new birth takes place. When brothers and sisters come together in unity, God commands his blessing (Psalm 133). When the disciples came together on the day of Pentecost, there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The devil fears connection. His ultimate aim is to cut you off from God. He tries to split marriages, to split friendships, to divide churches, to divide denominations and to isolate people. Although our culture is more connected than ever before through Facebook and so on, people are more isolated and lonely than ever.

In 586 BC, Ezekiel had a vision of a battle scene; he saw Death Valley. The valley was full of bones, bones that were very dry because they had separated. They were scattered, fragmented, divided, cut-off, ‘abandoned’ and therefore dried up. The people of God were in exile and had been scattered by the enemy. They were saying, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off’ (Ezekiel 37:11). God asks Ezekiel, ‘Can these bones live?’ (v.3). The answer is yes, yes, yes. Yes because of divine connection. God divinely connected all the bones together and they lived.

This week, God will connect you to something great. God will connect you to a helper. God will connect you to the person to bring about the big break you have been searching for. This is your week of connection. But for all of these to take place, make sure you seek connection with God.

When Life is Difficult

He was arrested for preaching the gospel. His wife died leaving him with four children, one of whom was blind. Yet he refused to give up telling people the good news about Jesus.

He wrote his greatest work in a prison cell. It has been a source of spiritual inspiration and help to countless readers. Translated into over 200 languages, it has never been out of print since the day it was first published in 1678.

Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory written by John Bunyan. It tells the story of a person called ‘Christian’ on a journey from his hometown to the Celestial City. On the way he faces many difficulties, challenges and obstacles, yet he perseveres faithfully to the end.

A Christian life is not easy. You will face many difficulties, setbacks and betrayal along the way. But these need not derail you. In fact, as you go through difficult times staying close to Jesus will be a problem especially when he does not act when you expect him to. It is at such times many Christians derail all in search of greener pastures and the need to get things done immediately. If is always easy to preach about patience but when life needs one to be patient it could be one of the most difficult times ever. But if you stick to Christ and let him stand by you, you will emerge stronger, wiser and more Christ-like. You will climb every and any mountain and the waters will not drown you.

In Ps 77:1-7, the word of God shows us how to respond in distress. Having a relationship with God does not protect us from ‘distress’ (v.2). The psalmist was ‘awake all night – not a wink of sleep’ (v.4a,). He feels as if God has rejected him and that he will never experience God’s favour again (vv.7–9).

In this, the first half of Psalm 77, we begin to see how to respond to distress. You can be assured that:

• God listens to your cry

• Tell God exactly what you’re feeling: ‘I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens. I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord’ (vv.1–2a)

• God likes your honesty

• There is a therapeutic effect in asking honest questions. God’s people bring their doubts, difficulties and distress to God and question him. Even Jesus, on the cross, asked a question, quoting Psalm 22:1: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46).

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for hearing the cry of my heart. Thank you for not rejecting me. I thank you because your Promise will never fail.

In

Have you ever felt like a failure, or of no use to God, or thought that God wouldn’t want to answer your prayers because your prayers are a waste of time and words?

Until I first read Colin Urquhart’s book, In Christ Jesus, I had never realised how significant that little word ‘in’ is in the New Testament. Coming to the Understanding that, as a Christian, a real Christian, you are ‘in’ Christ Jesus revolutionizes and changes the way you feel, the way you react, the way you see yourself, your self-image, your identity and how you understand the value God has for you.

Write your name on a piece of paper. Take hold of your Bible to represent Christ. Place the paper in the book and close it. You are in Christ. Where the book goes you go. Where the paper is, he too is. You are not part of the book, but you are now identified totally with the book.

Paul uses this expression, ‘in Christ Jesus’, over and over again. God has taken hold of you and placed you in Christ and that means your security system can never be breached. It means Christ alone is your help and shield. You are protected and covered. It further expresses the fact that man can do you no harm without Christ allowing it. It means you are safe because for anything to happen to you, it will have to happen to Christ.

In Christ, you have received ‘every spiritual blessing’ (Ephesians 1:3). All of the blessings, including those that the Old Testament speaks about, are yours in Christ. If you want to be a Christian, just be a Christian. If you don’t want to be one, then don’t. But to enjoy the in-Christ’s benefit, you have to become one.

PRAYER: Lord make me more like Christ.

God Wants to Surprise You

Ps 54:1-7

God is the God of surprises. Jesus constantly surprised his followers and he wants to continue to surprise you.

Even if the attacks are justified or partly justified, it is always surprising when we come under attack either from people we know or people we don’t . David says, ‘strangers are attacking me’ (v.3a). I remember how surprised I was when I first started to read articles by people attacking other people and, sometimes those who were attacking didn’t even know those they were attacking. Surprise attacks can come from family, neighbours, work colleagues or other sources.

But what I have found even more surprising is how God intervenes when we face attack. He helps us: ‘Oh, look! God is right here helping!’ (v.4a), ‘God is my helper and ally’ (v.4a,); he sustains us (v.4b) and he brings deliverance from our troubles (v.7).

As I look back over my own experience, deliverance has not always been instantaneous; it has sometimes taken months or even years. Yet I am challenged by David’s response. In the midst of the attacks, he says, ‘I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good’ (v.6). The point of a ‘freewill offering’ was that there was no condition placed on the sacrifice. David did not say that he would only offer a sacrifice if God rescued him. Regardless of the outcome of the attack, he praised the Lord for his goodness.

You may be facing an attack right now, but do not let the attack stop you from trusting in God. Believe that he wants to help you. Believe that he will help you and praise him in advance.

PRAYER: Lord I praise you for all the attacks that you have already delivered me from. Thank you that you have delivered me. Lord I know I can trust you and I know one day I will be able to look back and see that you delivered me from all my troubles.

God uses the humble

“Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel” (Daniel 1:9 NLT).

God uses humble people. When Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar he would not eat Babylonian food, the young Hebrew could have acted with defiance and vitriol.

Instead, Daniel chose to act with respect. When he couldn’t do what the king asked him to do, he simply said so. It is against my values. It is morally wrong for me to do so. He displayed great tact with authority and showed great humility in the process.

Daniel realized that God had allowed this pagan leader to have authority over him. He knew King Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t a God-fearing man, but he also knew God allowed him to be his boss.

Some of you have bad bosses, too. Pray for them and remain humble still. Understand this, though: God has allowed them in your life. At some point in your life, you’ll have a time when a bad boss will ask you to do something unethical or immoral. You’ll need to know how to make a respectful appeal.

Daniel provides us with a great model.

The Bible says of Daniel, “He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods” (Daniel 1:8b)

Daniel didn’t demand. He didn’t rebel. He sought permission. He asked, “Can I be exempted from this?”

The Bible says, “Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel” (Daniel 1:9) because Daniel was humble and respectful. The world urges us to show bluster when we are wronged. God urges us to show respect even when people have wronged us. God urges us to be humble even when people have wronged us. And we can always know that God is looking out for our best interests.

REMEMBER THIS: Even in your appeals, be humble and respectful.

PRAYERS: Heavenly Father. Thank you for where you have placed me. Please give me the wisdom to to display the needed humility at all times through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen