When God does not show up…

This week I have been thinking a lot about unanswered prayer. For the past 14 years, I have prayed for something that remains unanswered and it’s a real bummer. Month after month, it gets more and more difficult to stay positive about getting the answer I hoped to get. Not only have I been thinking about unanswered prayer but more especially how I have reacted over the years to those answered prayers.

As I get older, I have discovered that people disappoint and its easier to not trust people than to be disappointed. Unfortunately, I have also taken the same posture with God when it comes to certain areas of my life. This week I caught myself saying out loud about something I have been praying for: “well, if it happens, it happens. If not then I have nothing to lose!” This was not an affirmation of God’s sovereignty over my life. It was more of an “I don’t want to get too excited only to be disappointed….again” speech. Today I want to explore my posture when it seems like God has not and maybe will not show up. Particularly I want to examine my attitudes and self-talk.

Zacharias and Elizabeth are a perfect demonstration of attitude.

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Luke 1:5-7 NIV

In modern-day parlance, we can say Zacharias and Elizabeth were PKs just like me! I am sure they had prayed for years for a child and God did not show up! And now their infertility had been compounded by the fact that they were too old and the plumbing had probably stopped working. But see their attitude: Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. They never stopped being godly, obeying God to the letter, or serving God with the same gusto as they did probably the first time they prayed for kids. Were they ever disappointed? Very likely! Did they ever doubt that God will come through? Maybe (we know that Zacharias ended up unable to speak for 9 months because he doubted the angel’s good tidings that he will have a son in his old age)! The lesson here is that their situation never changed how they felt about God: who He was and what He was capable of. That is why their attitude towards God never changed. Has unanswered prayer changed how you feel about what God is capable of doing in your life? Has your attitude towards God’s abilities shifted ever so slightly because you have had a very long disappointment or a series of disappointments in receiving answers to prayer?

My encouragement to you is to go back to God and get an attitude adjustment. God always shows up. He is never late! He is always on time. Sounds cliche…I know but think about it… God was preparing Zacharias and Elizabeth to be the parents of the one who was to baptize the Christ! the one who was to prepare the way for the revolution that Jesus was about to bring. John the Baptist was the bridge between the old and the new dispensations. This means he had to be born at a specific time… not a moment too early or a moment too late. What seemed like God not showing up was in hindsight a case of perfect timing!

In the meanwhile, what if Zacharias and Elizabeth had compromised on their love for God just a little? What if they had decided to be spiteful and stop serving? What if their attitude changed ever so slightly? I doubt the outcome of their story would have been the same!

I know years of disappointment have made me jaded and I don’t pray with the same level of expectation and faith anymore! I still pray for that one thing I have been hoping for for years but I  just pray out of habit not because I am expectant. I make statements like God knows I need it and when he’s ready he’ll do it!  And although that statement is fundamentally true it is said with major attitude! Only you know if you need an attitude adjustment. I know I desperately need one.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:1-3 NIV

Stay tuned for my reflections on self-talk.

Yours truly.

Our Covenant Relationship

Referencing We are Covenant People

So let’s continue from where we left off, shall we? To recap:

Abraham was the mediator of a covenant with God sealed with blood. The terms of reference of this covenant were that all that entered into it would love, obey, fear God, serve God, and keep the commandments. This covenant was meant to be an everlasting covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants, never to be broken by either party. But guess what? the children of Israel fell into a cycle of breaking the covenant, repenting and asking God to take them back only to break it all over again. Enter Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ became the mediator of a new and better covenant the new covenant which promised three things:

  • to be inclusive, not just for the descendants of Abraham but for all
  • to give access to an eternal inheritance
  • to set people free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant

Therefore Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, now that He has died to redeem them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Heb 9:15 BSB

Just like the old covenant, the new covenant was ratified with the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. And all who are willing to partake of this covenant enter into it by the circumcision of  the heart

For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart—by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God. Romans 8: 28-29 HCSB

And how does one circumcise the heart you ask? You are to have put off, concerning the former way of life, the old man, which is being corrupted according to its desires of deceit (Ephesians 4:22 BLB) and you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Colossians 3:8)

But you know the best part of all of this. Jesus did not come to invalidate the old covenant ratified by God or nullify its associated promises. He came to offer this opportunity to all.

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:29 NLT

This means that all the blessings of the old covenant are available to me a non-Jew through the new covenant. this also means all the stipulations of the old covenant are also enforceable: the covenant is a blood covenant that can never be broken and the parties involved are blood partners and everything one has is placed at the disposal of the other.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 ESV

Pentecostal Christians know how to claim the blessings under Abraham’s covenant. We sing … “Abraham’s blessings are mine!”…perhaps too often… and rightly so because everything God has is placed at our disposal. we have full access but is the flip side true? Can God count on our everything to be placed at His disposal? Abraham, of whom we sing placed everything at God’s disposal even to the point that when God said “give me your beloved son”, he was prepared to give up Isaac! Are you prepared to lay it all down?

Secondly, the terms of reference remain the same:

What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God by walking in [obedience to] all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am giving you this day for your own good? Deuteronomy 10: 12-13 BSB

So I ask you: Do you love God? Do you fear God? Do you obey God in all things? Are you serving God with all your heart and with your soul? and Do you keep the statutes and commandments of the Lord? I know I fall short of these most days and if you are like me and you fall short too, then I pray this day that God will help us   to be intentional in our covenant relationship with Him, to keep our part of the covenant so we can fully experience and enjoy the blessings of Abraham.

Yours truly.

We are Covenant People

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of listening to my Dad preach a sermon in church. It had been ages and for those of you who know Pastor Tee, I was not disappointed! His message was about our covenant relationship with God and this is a synopsis of the sermon and my interpretations of it.

All of God’s dealings with mankind have revolved around two major covenants: the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Both of these covenants were entered into by God with a person and were ratified by blood. Within these blood bound covenants were stipulations which both parties abided by. These included the fact that covenants sealed in blood should never be broken. The parties involved in the covenant become blood partners and everything one had was placed at the disposal of the other. And finally, there were terms of reference that had to be fulfilled. Enter Abraham:

The Old Covenant was established between Abraham and God and ratified on both sides by blood- Abraham through circumcision (Gen 17:10-14) and God through the blood of sacrificial animals (Gen 15:1-10). These were the terms of the covenant:

What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God by walking in [obedience to] all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am giving you this day for your own good? Deuteronomy 10: 12-13 BSB

To shake hands on this covenant, animals were cut up in halves and put on either side with a path between them that the parties had to walk through. This signified that whoever broke the covenant was worthy of death just like those animals.

Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. Jeremiah 34:18 NIV

So Abraham and God shook hands on their covenant (Gen 15: 1 -21). Abraham had everything he wanted by virtue of the covenant. In his old age, he even had a son! Everything that belonged to God was at Abraham’s disposal and everything that belonged to Abraham was at God’s disposal. For the covenant to remain unbroken, Abraham had to meet the terms of reference: Love, Obey, Fear God, Serve God, and Keep the commandments. The day Abraham took Isaac to Moriah to sacrifice him, he proved to God that in as much as God would not break the covenant neither would he!

Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Gen 22:12, 16-17 NIV

The descendants of Abraham got to partake of the blessings of this covenant which they entered into by circumcision- circumcision of the foreskin and whenever they strayed away and broke the covenant (the Israelites broke the covenant a lot! Hosea 6:) they were brought back into covenant with circumcision of the heart.

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

So what has this got to do with me? I am not a direct descendant of Abraham!… oh but it’s got everything to do with me […and Jesus Christ]!

Stay tuned for the second part of We are Covenant People. In the meanwhile be intentional in living out your faith.

Yours truly.


The worthless Christian

This week I was reading Matthew 5 and I decided to linger in a few verses I have read many times:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13 NIV

Let’s take a minute to unpack this. The very essence of salt; what gives it its name and its very inherent properties is its saltiness. We can go on to talk about the functions of salt such as flavouring, preservation etc. But what I want to dwell on for a minute is on salt losing its essence as salt. If salt does not have salt then it is just worthless crystalline “stuff”. I am at a loss as to what to even call it because we all know salt as salt… saltiness and all!

As I pondered on that I thought about the many people who call themselves Christians today but have no essence of a Christ-like life. They are Christians without the Christ; they are just “-ians” and like salt without its saltiness,  that is just something worthless. Reflect on your life, are you living a life that is worthy of using the title Christian? Is Christ the essence of your life? Do you live a life that reflects the properties of a Christ-like, Christ-filled, Christ-centred life? Are you a  Christian or an “-ian” (No offence to the those who are legally called Ian 🙂 ) Think about that!

I am going to leave you with some food for thought and next time we will talk about this at length:

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way,  [I emphasize in the same way] let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 14-16 NIV

Be intentional about living out your life worthy of the calling to be a CHRISTIAN. Don’t be an -IAN!

Yours truly.

New Beginnings

The new year is a time of resolutions, an opportunity for a fresh start. Many people, myself included, make plans for what they hope to accomplish in the new year.  However, according to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. This is very depressing considering that resolutions are a fantastic way to make positive changes in one’s life.

One of my resolutions for the new year was to be consistent in posting on this blog. In fact, I made a commitment to post at least once a week for the entire year. Last night I went to bed disappointed because the whole week had gone by and I had not been inspired to write. I was feeling forlorn because the year had just begun and it appeared that this resolution will not even make it to February. In my despair, I asked God for inspiration and it came today in church. Shout out to Pastor Kirk Cowman.

One of the lessons from the sermon today was that my new beginning is only found in Jesus Christ. As I pondered the significance of this for my blog and for all my other resolutions, I realized how true this statement is and I was reminded of one of Jesus greatest advice:

Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15: 4-5 BSB

It is only in Christ that we get true and lasting results. Of myself, I am doomed to fail. Apart from Christ, I can do nothing. The odds are against me.  80% is a high number to beat. But in Christ, my resolutions will not fail before the end of January. Like a branch, if I tap into the source of my strength, of my joy, of my health, of my knowledge, of my wealth, then I am confident that my resolutions for a healthy lifestyle, to be more joyful, concerning my education, my finances, my children, and my job etc. will bear fruits.

God in His infinite mercy answered my prayer for inspiration for this post. But he did not stop there… He has shown me the path to a successful 2019  so I do not become a statistic: He says, “Remain in Me”! The next verse is a perfect description of what will become of my resolutions (and more importantly, my soul) If I do not heed this advice:

If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned. John 15:6 BSB

My resolutions will wither away and become all but a distant memory, wishful thinking, as has been my resolutions almost every year.  My prayer for you as you begin 2019 is that you remain in Christ and everything will be possible for you. Your new beginning is possible. Apart from Him, you can do nothing!

Welcome to 2019,

Yours Truly.

P.S. I am still on track with my resolution if we agree that today is the last day of the week 😉