A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him since Jesus was coming that way. Luke 19:2-4
For a couple of months now, the story of Zacchaeus has been lingering on my mind. I had planned to write on it sometime in early October last year, but I kept pushing it aside. But the Holy Spirit kept at it and hence I had to surrender.
For the most part, his story might seem far removed from our own reality. But looking closer… you realize that in so many ways than one his story is mostly like your story! Lets face it, Zacchaeus had much going against him than for him. He was public enemy number one; a tax collector. He was short; everyone around him had a better view…meaning he had to do with the second-hand eyewitness account of what was happening around him. He was a curious man; he wanted to see who Jesus was…not so much as to know him as a friend but rather as the new kid on the block. And above all, he was a wealthy man.
Let’s face it. In life, you and I will encounter difficult situations. Like Zacchaeus, you may suffer from many shortcomings not of your own making…but others which are self-made. You may be limited by a physical, emotional or mental disability which continually hinder your progress. But God is saying to you and I today… GO THE EXTRA MILE and I will meet you along the way. Use what is at your disposal to gain what you are missing. Like Zacchaeus… there is a sycamore tree for each and everyone of us. Climb yours… STAND TALL AND BE COUNTED. Jesus is coming your way!
Count off seven sabbaths of years – seven times seven years – so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpets sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a JUBILEE FOR YOU;- Leviticus 25:8-11a
I started the New Year with one thing in mind: REST. Yes… rest! Why does God demand of His children a time fo rest? Why doesn’t He want us to be on the move on a constant basis? If anything, the world we are living in, is obviously in a RUSH PANDEMIC. Everyone seems to be busy caught up with something… be it important or insignificant. The point is the world is busy…and that includes my world.
For a long while, I have lacked that space and time for rest… rest for my soul. Rest for soul-searching and seeking the mind of Christ. But while I have been busy filling my time with other things, my soul has being yearning for something else altogether. Then, the Lord spoke into my year. 2013 will be a year of Jubilee for me. In other words, its will not only be a time for REST for me, but it will be my time of REST seven times multiplied!
For me, the Year of Jubilee means family, home, love and friendship. It means laughter and merrymaking. It means the sound of children playing and music and dance. Its means that my HANDS ARE NO LONGER TIED. I don’t know about you… but I will enjoy my time out and embrace the goodness that comes with the package.
A voice is heard in Rama, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. Matthew 2:18
Two days ago, I happened to stumble through the above passages twice in one reading. First, I read them from Jeremiah 31:15, then moments later, I read them again from Matthew. Of course with Christmas round the corner, we all need to remind ourselves of Christ, Our Saviour’s birth from scripture.
But while the birth of Jesus brought so much joy for some, for others it brought pain and great loss… the demise of little boys. Boys who could probably have been Jesus’ neighbours and playmates. Just imagine… when Jesus came back from hiding in Egypt, most of his agemates were all dead and gone. Yes… killed by Herod in the hope that Jesus was among them.
Just like during Christ’s birth, today STOP TO REMEMBER those mothers whose pain and loss will only be magnified this Christmas as they miss their sons and daughters… especially those who are out in war or the fallen heros. STOP AND SAY a prayer and remember…Christmas just like in the actual Christ’ birth will not necessarily bring joy to everyone.
STOP TO REMEMBER…those voices weeping in the land.
The people walking in darknesss have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
My Advent candlelight is on. As we countdown to Christmas so many lights of all shapes and colours will or are already on. But more than the light we see with our natural eyes… there is another LIGHT. The LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
You see, unlike the lights on our Christmas trees and streets, the LIGHT OF THE WORLD is always on. He knows His light has nothing to do with a festive season marked somewhere in our earthly calender. His light shines the most in our darkest moments, through our hurts, pain and disappointment. Let the light beacon on your heart this Christmas…and may it take over and lead you as you move forward into a new season.
For once you were darkness, but now you are LIGHT in the LORD. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, rightneousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was RAHAB, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was RUTH, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David. Matthew 1:5-6
The Gospel of Matthew begins the life of Jesus with his geneology. It introduces Jesus backwards by way of showing us his lineage. And while some women are mentioned along with their husbands in his geneology, two of them particularly stands out. RAHAB and RUTH. They are part of Our Lord’s earthly lineage not by accident, but AGAINST THE ODDS.
You see, both of them were foreigners; one a prostitute and the other, a widow. In the natural, where they were in life seemed prove enough of the future they were likely to face. Rahab must have already given up hope of ever finding a man who could love her for who she really was. She knew that she was no husband material. Ruth on the other hand, had clung to her mother-in-law, Naomi out of a deep loyalty as a way of honoring what she had with her son. No, another marriage was nowhere near her mind.
But AGAINST THE ODDS, the Lord brought opportunity in both their lives which needed a RADICAL OBEDIENCE. And although as foreigners God was as much removed from their everyday reality as can possibly be, when opportunity came knocking they both obeyed without a second thought.
Maybe that you today….God is asking you to do something AGAINST THE ODDS. There are no promises of a grand future….but that might just be what you might miss by not OBEYING. It might be someone in your lineage…they laid the foundation against the odds and now you are reaping the harvest. God wants you and I to look backwards and be thankful for those against the odds moments and He is also calling us to go ahead and do the right thing against the odds to give the future generation something to look back as Our Lord Jesus did and hence move forward with a grateful heart, against the odds.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. Matthew 25:13
I missed the weather forecast yesterday. Hence, I did my washing today only to be confronted by a heavy downpour. I mean….CATS & DOGS! To begin with, I hate tracking the weather forecast. My husband on the other hand is a vivid tracker… which is understandable. Having grown up in Africa myself where the weather is almost always predictable and without the disadvantage of the four seasons in a year, I didn’t quite appreciate the importance of the weatherman till I came to Europe.
Hang on, what I am trying to say here? As a child of God… I have another different kind of weatherman. Is he accurate in his prediction? Is he reliable to the letter? Long before Jesus walked on the face of this earth, God had spoken of him through the ages. His forecast of the coming of His ONE AND ONLY BELOVED SON came true 2000 years ago.
While my heart looks forward to the forecast of his soon return, sometimes I miss out on the signs written all over when my heart becomes preoccupied with my today. Like the 5 foolish virgins, I have enough supply for today, and I lack the wisdom to stock up for the long haul. I constantly miss the forecast.
May the Lord help you and I to keep watch…. because the BRIDEGROOM is surely coming and at an hour we expect him not!
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. But the tax collect stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’ Luke 18:10-13
We are all guilty of it. An assumed sense of INNOCENCE…even before God who in actual fact knows more than we are willing to give or acknowledge. It all started in the Garden of Eden. Adam was so over the moon when God brought him the most beautiful thing he had ever seen – Eve, his wife. For the first time in his existence, he had found someone who truly resembled and complimented him in many ways. His appreciation of her is fully seen in his words:
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man.” Genenis 2:23
But its not long after those words are declared do we see a sudden change of heart. Eve is not all she seems to be, Adam tries his best to convince God. Of course, she is quilty and he can only be GUILTY OF INNOCENCE …. “This woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Gen 3:12
Just like Adam, it is so easy to full into that trap of the guilt of innocence. We look at ourselves with a less critical eye but we are quick to judge others and pass on a deadly sentence. We are the first to pick the stone of condemnation … yet in reality we are guilt of a greater sin than the guilt one. As Jesus reminds us in the above parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, it is always safe to stand before God as the GUILTY ONE and find mercy than play safe with the GUILT OF INNOCENCE and find only condemnation.
John 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hands and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
It is with no doubt the most overly used phrase when referring to a person who needs the convincing before they jump into the boat. Yes…doubting Thomas of course. But this last Easter, I was once again reminded that doubting Thomas needed not be the one who met Jesus in flesh and blood. Countless of times, I have needed the convincing and persuading that HIS SCARS are for real. Like Thomas, I realised that when Jesus had asked him to reach out and TOUCH HIS SCARS…it wasn’t to condemn him or call him unfaithful. But rather He was asking Thomas to believe inspite of…what He had witness a few days earlier.
Maybe thats you…Jesus is asking you to TOUCH HIS SCARS. Jesus is giving you the access to see the evidence of His pain, His passion, His love, His forgiveness and His lovingkindness which He gave willing at the Cross of Calvary. I needed to TOUCH HIS SCARS today. What about you?
Psalm 112:1 Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds GREAT DELIGHT in his commands.
Every man on the face of the earth wants or desires to be successful. And while..its right to desire to be successful, there are only two ways to get there. SUCCESS can either by FEAR-DRIVEN or FAITH-DRIVEN.
FEAR-DRIVEN SUCCESS says:
Blessed is the man who wakes up early and stays up late; the man who has a life insurance; the man who has savings for a rainy day; the man who exercises and eat health; the man who knows the rules of the game etc.
Psalm 127:2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat_ for he grants sleep to those he loves.
But…something goes missing for this man….HIS HEART! No matter how sure or secure he is at his present or perceived future….HIS HEART IS ALWAYS FEARFUL. Why? Because he has no fear of the Lord in his heart.
On the other hand…the man who has the fear of the Lord in his heart walks securely. His present or future is sure…as he walks by faith.
Matthew 14:25-29 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, WALKING ON the lake. When th disciples saw him WALKING ON the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them. “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” ‘Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.” ‘COME,” he said. Then Peter got DOWN OUT of the boat, WALKED ON the water and came towards Jesus.
WALK OUT…means: to leave suddenly without explanation, flounce out, get up and go, storm out; abandon; go on strike etc.
WALK ON...means: move forward, pace up; move your feet along on a solid base etc.
We might be all familiar with the story of Peter walking on the water. But…let us look again from a different perspective. Jesus has just appeared to his disciples in the middle of the night. And oh no…its not what you might want to hear. How I wish…it was in the middle of a good dream to reassure them that he is there for them. But no…it wasn’t. In fact, it was DARK; and yes, it was ALL WATER around; and what more; the WAVES were high and the WIND was against them. Talk about a grim scenario… and you have it right here.
Is Jesus aware of where you are at the moment? My friend…I bet He does!!!
Is Jesus aware of the dangers that surround you at every turn? My friend…I am persuaded He does!!!
Is Jesus indifferent to your journey of life? My friend…I ask you, please read again Matthew 14:25.
…Jesus went out to them….is self-explanatory. Jesus is coming out to you today! Continue reading →