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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A Win-Win Victory Is Inevitable When You Love Rather Than Hate

Romans 12:14-21
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge, I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

My past few days have been so occupied with many activities like having two of my children breaking out with measles and having to spend three days in the hospital and still having to keep awake now to watch over one of them still burning up with fever. Then I have needing to watch my own health due to stress and fatigue. But I thank God that in all Jesus has the final say and my family will be back on their feet to the glory of God alone.
I have not shared a post on this site in about 14days and the work on my books have been halted. So I started to pray and trust God for a word a share that will make an impact on the lives of those who read it. Many passages came to mind as I began to search the word of God, I was blank as to what to write but the Lord will never let His work be left undone and on this site the word of God will not be scarce in Jesus Name.
The passage above is one that when my spirit decided to write on it, I must confess I didn’t know what exactly to write as the passage is self explanatory. But one of the first things that the Lord dropped on my mind when I began to type is found in verse 15 and it says “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” But Paul did not give the category of those to rejoice with or mourn with. The thought that first came to mind is that "what if those who rejoice are not in the circle of believers, are we still to rejoice with them? Then what if the category of those who mourn are not in the circle of believers, are we still to mourn with them? "
Answering this question is not far fetched at all. If the Lord in verse 14 which is the preceding verse says we should bless those who persecute us and not curse them, then we need to understand that those to rejoice or mourn with and in fact pray for are not just those within the circle of believers, but even those who though are consumed in their own ignorance still need a touch of Jesus in their lives.
For quite a number of people, it's appears like hard teaching when the God says do not take revenge. It feels satisfying to the flesh when someone hurts you and you are able to see that person experience in same measure or more of the level of pain they have inflicted on you. But in truth what happens next after you have watched your adversary or persecutor go through any measure of pain. You experience a moment of satisfaction and that ends it.
When God says do not revenge, He does not mean to allow your persecutor to go unpunished, but first there is a level of grace made available to him/her to make room for repentance. The grace that was extended to you through the perfect finished work of Jesus on the Cross at Calvary is in fact open to all to take hold of and benefit from.
Once I read in the news of a head of a Christian Movement in Nigeria advocating for Christians to be allowed to carry arms and fight back against the insurgents that are slaughtering Christians in the name of religion. And although this might sound fair, but is that the God approach to such a matter? I have learned that nothing draws the attention of a man’s heart as much as the fervent and continuous display of love even in the wake of terrible persecution. The devil behind the problem gets confused when you are being persecuted, but rather than hate and fight back you choose the path of love.
The truth is that your labour of love is not an empty effort. It will either cause a change of heart for your persecutor and draw him/her to the source of your strength which is God, therefore causing a repentance of heart for him/her and you would have gained a soul for the Kingdom of God, not with the preaching of mouth but with your actions of love and forgiveness, or it will heap burning coals on his/her head making the wrath of God inevitable. Which ever way it goes, it is win-win situation.
The last thing that caught my attention is what Paul said in verse 18 of the passage, it reads, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” From what we are seeing here, it is understandable when you want to make peace with an adversary and the person isn’t forth coming or not ready for a reconciliation. But the broken peace should not be by your own doing as a child of God, and even in the event that such a thing happens, giving this so called adversary some space is understandable, but not to further aggravate the situation is what I believe the Lord is saying through Paul. As a child of God you need to make every effort to be at peace with all men not withstanding the provocation.
At times when I have to write on an issue such as this, my mind is always quick to go to the story of David and Saul his master who hated him for no reason at all. Instead of David been confrontational and fight for his defense, in 1 Samuel chapters 24 and 26, we read of how David had the golden opportunities to avenge himself and kill Saul, but rather than doing that he let God handle the matter for him and deal with His anointed Himself. But his labour of love and self restrain was not in vain. Saul was eventually dealt with by God and David was anointed king over all Israel.  
For as long as it depends on you, the Lord wants you to be at peace with everyone. God requires that you make every effort towards leaving at peace with those around you. When you have this as a focus in your daily relationships with people, it will always be a win-win situation for you.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

In Marriage, Who Should Do The Proposing?

Ruth 3:1-5
One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be provided for? Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing-floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.

Yet another interesting lesson to learn from the book of Ruth. I bless the living God for always opening His word unto us. Today’s post will again come with a message for the intending couples and the singles who are looking up to God for the man or woman whom the Lord has made for them and made them for. The message today touches on the issue of marriage proposal. Who is the ideal of the two to propose marriage to the other? Is it the man to propose marriage to the woman as the tradition has it now, or the woman can also propose marriage to the man without the feeling of shame or worthlessness?
Although based on the traditional norms, it is the right thing that the man who wishes to marry a woman proposes marriage to her. If a woman is seen proposing marriage to a man there is this idea that such a woman is desperate for marriage or probably lacks shame or self-worth. But the truth is that a lot of woman have missed out on the man of their dreams or their God ordained husband because they waited endlessly for the man to propose and he didn’t and they eventually took that as a sign that he is not interested as they could not wait any longer and thus ended the relationship.
Ruth was made to propose marriage to Boaz on the leading her Naomi her mother-in-law and God did not condemn this act, rather Ruth the woman with the noble character found rest in the house of Boaz and she became the great-grandmother of that wonderful king David and was thus in the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so this tells me that heaven in not particular about who amongst the two intending couples proposes to the other as long as they are working in accordance to the will for God for their lives and they have the approval of God on the covenant they are about to commit themselves into.
This is not to say that women have been given the go ahead to run after every man they lust after and propose marriage to them because Ruth proposed to Boaz. But if the Lord has ordered your steps to that man to be his wife and you are so sure of this, He will prepare the heart of that man ahead of your arrival and both of you will know that the meeting of you two is ordained by the Lord. God had prepared the heart of Adam before the arrival of Eve, and in the same manner He had prepared the heart of Boaz before Ruth was led to lie at his feet by the instruction of Naomi. You cannot just go ahead chasing every man on the road because you feel you are getting over-aged for marriage and its time to propose if the man will not.
Ruth’s proposal did not come in words but actions, and based on the customs of their times Boaz understood the meaning of her actions and responded accordingly. So if as a woman you are led to that man  by the Lord and you feel you cannot get the words out, then use the actions that by the grace of God he will understand and act on. But this must be with the express approval of the living God. If the man is not getting the message of your action and not responding favourably, please don't push any further, go back to your kneels and start to pray. It could be that the Lord has not prepared the heart of that man ahead of you. At this point you need to throw out all emotions and get a clear word from God. Maybe the Lord has not led you to that man but rather your emotions have taken the best of you.
Solomon advised in the book of Song of songs 8:4 that “Daughter of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” The emotion called love should not come into your heart concerning any man or woman for the purpose of marriage before you have prayed well and sought the face and consent of God concerning that man or woman before releasing your love to them. But if you have prayed well and you are sure the Lord has led you to that man, then as a woman heaven does not forbid you to propose marriage to him in whatever way you find convenient to do it. And also for the man, if you have prayed well and you are sure that the woman you have invested your desires in is the woman God has designed and prepared for your life’s journey, then feel free to propose marriage to her in a way and manner that you find convenient for you to communication the message and the leave the rest in the hands of God.
The person who does the proposing is not a matter that is of major importance as long as the will of God is carried out in your lives.    

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Beauty Is Not Enough

Ruth 2:4-12
Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”
“The Lord bless you!” they called back.
Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, “Whose young woman is that?”
The foreman replied, “She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She went into the field and worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don't go and glean in another field and don't go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, “Why have I found favour in your eyes that you notice me  - a foreigner?”
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of her husband - how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

Again I thank God for the grace to glean from His words and be richly blessed by the abundance of wisdom found in the truth of the word of God. By the grace of God this post will be a continuation of lessons from the book of Ruth and will benefit especially intending couple and those trusting God for the gift of a spouse. I am trusting God that those who carry out marriage counseling in organizations and churches will also find the content of this post useful for them. But in all, it is the word of God for us all to learn and be blessed from to the glory and praise of the living God.
When I did a series of posts on the book of Esther, one of the lessons that was shared was the importance of physical appearance and beauty in marriage. It was an interesting discovery that no matter in what little proportion, it is necessary that a woman pays attention to her looks and takes care of her physical appearance. Although it is also important to emphasize that the physical beauty is not a sustaining factor in marriage but a pleasant spice in the union. It must also be done within the context of moderation. In fact, it should be done in agreement with God. Esther we see in the book of Esther chapter 2, did not take any extra beauty treatment save of what was recommended for her (Esther 2:15), yet by the grace of the God of the Jews, she won the favour of everyone who saw her and won the favour and approval of the king. So in as much as beauty is a very nice spice in marriage, we need to work at it in agreement with God.
But what we are learning today is a bit different from the story of Esther, Ruth in her own case did not get noticed by Boaz on account of beauty but of deeds. So more important a factor than beauty in marriage is that word called CHARACTER. From the passage before us, we will notice first the testimony of the harvester's foreman concerning Ruth the Moabitess. He said she had worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter. This I believe is good enough a reason for any man to seek to want to know more about a woman. No man wants to marry a lazy wife, no man wants to be husband to a liability of a wife. When a wife is lazy, then how will she be able to fulfill her God given assignment of a help-meet (suitable help) in the life of her husband. Boaz saw the dedication with which Ruth was carrying on her duty, she was a face he had not seen before on his field and so he inquired about her, and the report he got was something interesting to him - she had worked steadily from morning till now was the report Boaz got of Ruth.
When Boaz eventually spoke to Ruth and she noticed his kindness, she asked him why he took notice of her, and the response she got from him is another lesson that we need to consider. He said “he had heard of all she has done for her mother-in-law,” but what I love about Boaz response was the issue of Ruth leaving her father and mother to take refuge under the wings of the God of Israel. As I have said in my last post, that was the distinguishing factor between Ruth and Orpah. Orpah just as Ruth took care of her mother-in-law while in Moab, but she returned to her gods while Ruth decided to take refuge under the wings of the God of Israel and was rewarded for it.
Beauty might attract a woman to a man’s heart, but it cannot sustain her there. Beauty, good as it may be, is irrelevant for a woman in fulfilling her God given assignment as a suitable help to her husband. Physical beauty is good, and for me as a person I really love to look good. In fact it’s one of the things I pray to God about. I always tell Him that He made and I will appreciate if He helps me retain my beauty, and when I hear people tell me I look younger than my age at 40, it gladdens my heart. Most especially when my husband remembers to tell me I look good, I smile within me and never forget to tell God how grateful I am for my looks. But my beauty is not what my marriage is built on, neither is it a sustaining factor for my marriage. If I look even more beautiful than this but lack good character, then my beauty amounts to nothing. A beautiful woman who lacks good character is a zero wife.
Ruth did not just work hard, she took care of her mother-in-law. One other thing we need to note is that Ruth showed respect when she spoke to Boaz. When she was going to speak to Boaz in Ruth 2:10, the Bible said she bowed with her face to the ground, which is a sign of respect in those days. All these are the tiny details that must have amounted to Boaz's attraction to Ruth. The testimony he heard about her, her attitude towards work and her respect for people are all tiny details that make a whole of impression about how much of a wife Ruth is capable of being.
So as you prepare to be a wife, I pray the Lord will build in you the virtues and qualities of a good wife that supersedes outward beauty. And as you prepare to take a wife, do not limit your decision to what you see in the looks of that lady, a blend of good looks and good character is most suitable for you. With the help of God take hold of the best.

Monday, 7 October 2013

On A Bunch Of Sour Grapes, It Is Still Possible To Find A Few Sweet Ones

Ruth 1:3-5, 11-17
Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabites women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

But Noami said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me - even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons - would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has gone out against me !”
At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth clung to her.
“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” 

I bless the Lord for another wonderful opportunity to share the truth of His word on this blog site. I pray continually that the word of God will never be scare on this blog site in Jesus Name. It appears the Lord wants us to continue on the issue of marriage, because as I was trusting God for a word to share, the Holy Spirit laid on my heart to read the book of Ruth in the Bible. And just as was the case when the Lord opened up the book of Esther to me, I had thought I didn’t see what to share in the story of Ruth until God opened my heart to some hidden truth in that story. The message today will focus on intending couples and those who carry out marriage counseling in any organization, be it in their churches or otherwise.
Noami was a woman who moved to Moab with her husband and sons on account of the famine in Judah. After the death of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, her sons decided to marry Moabite women. The tribe of Moab happens to be those who waged war against King Jehoshaphat in the book of 2 Chronicles 20. They can be regarded as an enemy of Judah and so in that respect they can be seen as a tribe that Judah should not intermarry with. But the young women who took care of Naomi when she was old and grey and grieved where the women from this alien tribes to whom her sons were married. These two women where themselves grieving the loss of their husbands, but didn’t focus on their own grieve, but rather took care of the old woman who was their mother-in-law, who had lost husband and sons while on self-exile.
In our own generation we still have tribal differences seen as genuine reasons why parents and guardians disallow their children and wards marry their God ordained husbands or wives. And from the story of Ruth we see a truth that in the midst of the negativity of Moab still resides a virtuous Ruth who was willing to go all the length for her late husband. And so I ask this question, is tribal differences good enough reason not to marry that man or woman whom you have prayed to God about and you are sure that God had given His nod of approval to your union? As a parent or guardian I wish to ask that is tribal difference any obstacle in a marriage that has the approval of God in it? Is the plan and purpose of God for the child or ward worth distorting for reason of tribal difference?
I have once written in one of my previous post that LOVE as what exist between two opposite genders is not enough reason for a man to take a woman to be his wife, or for a woman to accept the marriage proposal of a man. But that a genuine consultation with God and ascertaining that God approves of your union is the only assuring reason for a man to go ahead to marry the woman he desires and for a woman to accept the marriage proposal of a man he desires. In today’s discussion we seeing that tribal differences and/or ethnic differences is not enough reason for a man not to marry a woman if the Lord has so permit.
When we read on about the woman named Ruth, we will find her in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus, yet she was the same woman of the tribe of Moab.
We will notice that both Orpah and Ruth were good women. They were both dedicated to their mother-in-law, but what distinguished Ruth from Orpah was Ruth’s willingness to accept and cling to the God of Noami. Orpah went back to her gods, but Ruth was willing to stay on to the God of Noami and she never regretted the decision. From the moment Orpah turned back and returned to her gods, her name phased out from the Bible and nothing was heard of her again. But when you look through the lineage of Jesus, the name of Ruth will always be mentioned. In fact a whole book in the Bible was written to give account of Ruth.
As a man, if you have received the consent from the Lord to marry that woman who though is from another tribe, then it is important that such a woman is willing to leave all else to serve the God you serve. She is to move along with you and worship the God of heaven and earth, the one and only true God if she has not been doing so before, and not you backsliding on account of you taking a wife. Although tribe or ethnicity is not enough reason to marry or not to marry, but the woman is to move along with you to worship the living God, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As a woman the story is slightly different. Though tribe and ethnic differences are not good enough reason to marry or not to marry that man, but because you need to submit to him and worship the God he worships, then you need to be careful. You need to run from a man who will not allow you worship freely the Lord God Almighty. Your marriage should strengthen your worship of the Lord and not weaken it. You cannot afford to loose heaven on account of marriage, so this matter needs a lot of care and prayers.