Sunday, December 31, 2017

Reading: Romans 8:1-17

Last week, we discussed those who had it rough in 2017, those who could be described as having suffered pains. We said "those who do not know God waste their pains" We now visit those for whom 2017 were all gains. To them 2017 was a year of blessings, God's favour, all things falling into place, rejoicing and celebration, success upon success. We rejoice with them!

The end will depend on how well they manage success or "gains".

Related: How do we manage success?

There are a few people who mismanaged their gains in the Scripture. Our first example is Noah. It is hard to find another person more favoured than Noah. While the rest of the world perished in a flood, Noah had his wife and children and their wives - eight of them - saved and blessed by God. After months of boat cruising, they alighted and were further blessed by God. Noah planted a vineyard, had a very rich harvest but unfortunately had a less than stellar end. His blessing became a curse for his son. (Genesis 9:18-24)

We look at another man who mismanaged his gains - Hezekiah, king of Judah. He was a very successful king and served God with all his strength. One day, he fell sick and God sent a prophet to tell him "Put your affairs in order, for you are about to die,you will not recover" Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to God for more time. God answered his prayer and extended his life by fifteen years.

How did Hezekiah manage those fifteen years of grace? His heart was lifted up. His first folly was his welcoming the delegation from Babylon who came to congratulate him on his gains. His second folly was his answer to Prophet Isaiah who came to correct him. The crown of his folly was the birth of Manasseh who succeeded him as king at age 12. Manasseh turned out to be the worst king to ever rule Judah (2 Kings 20:1 -21:18)

The Bible is filled with such stories - Lot is another noteworthy example - but we will stop with these two today.

Gains can turn to pains if they are not managed well. 

How do we manage gains well? Let us turn to James for a word of caution and advice:

"Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you. Your wealth is ruined; your clothes are moth eaten; your silver and gold are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire You stored up treasure in the last days! Look the pay that you withheld from the workers who reaped your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived luxuriously on the land and have indulged yourselves. You have fattened fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned - you have murdered/ the righteous man; he does not resist you" (James 5:1-6)

Watch-out for the characteristics of those who have had life as all "gains". Avoid them otherwise you will also, like the heathens, waste all your gains.

May God bless you and give you the wisdom to manage your gains or pains well and the discernment to know the difference. Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Reading: Jeremiah 51: 58 - 64

In less than 100 hours the year 2017 will become part of history. There are those who - if possible - would like the year to extend its stay because for them, it was a year of joy, happiness, success and all things good. I will take their wish in my next write-up. But today, let us talk with those who think that 2017 is slow in going. To this group it is a year of anger, pain, suffering, loss and everything evil and sad. Is there a way to turn all the anger and pain to success and joy?

Related: Turning Your Weaknesses into Strengths

Jeremiah the prophet made a very strong statement when he said; "Pagans waste their pains" 

What does this mean? The point he is making is that those who live without a God don't know what to do with their pains and this is a waste of them. Their pain ends in fruitless and meaningless suffering. It gets them nowhere.

So much of the world's pain is being wasted, as politicians and other leaders try to deal with issues on their own, and do not ask for God's help in prayers or bow to the wisdom of God that is to be found in Scripture. They apply their worldly remedies and find after a while that they are back where they started and compelled to go through the whole miserable business of pain and bitterness all over gain.

What is my suggestion to all this day? There is a God who invites all suffering humanity "Come to Me all who are oppressed and heavily burdened and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and my burden light". The same God also says; " All things together work for good to all who trust God and are the called of His love". If you turn all the pain and suffering to God, 2018 will be to you as the woman who has just gone through the pain of childbirth. Pain. if turned over to God will bring forth a new life and the joy of the new birth will overshadow the pain.

God bless you as you go into joyful 2018 with God.