The Daniel Fast – Day 8 & 9

After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” – Acts 27:21-26 (NIV)

In this passage from the book of Acts we read of the account of Paul’s journey on the way to Rome by sea. Paul had already known of the potential danger ahead and had warned the sailors that there would be great loss ahead, but they refused to listen to him. Even as the storm they were in got worse, Paul was still at peace, because he was still listening to God. As long as there is one man with a divine connection in any situation, God will be there in it. Paul’s purpose in God’s eyes was more important and God graciously spared the lives of those on the ship in order to see it come to pass. Our being connected to God is not only important for us but can affect the destiny of others. Paul must have been in prayer throughout the storm as the angel declares that God ‘graciously’ gave him the lives of all those on board the ship. He is then able to boldly tell them that not one life will be lost.

As we continue in our walk with God let us take our priestly role seriously and understand that we can petition God for the lives of others. It takes a closer walk with Him to get to the point where He can respond to such requests knowing that we serve him. Since beginning this fast I have observed prayers being answered even to requests from people thousands of miles away. Prayer knows only as many boundaries or limits as those that God has. The good news is He has none!

Be blessed!

Prayer point: Pray that God will give you the faith to stand in the gap for others even when you are also in the midst of the storm.

The Daniel Fast – Day 4

‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountain fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.’ -Psalm 46:1-3(NIV)

As I enter into the fourth day of this fast, my attention is drawn to the many difficulties people will face or are facing this year. Some have already had issues with health, finances, loved ones. Reports of hospitalizations, stories of fire accidents and robberies are already beginning to surface. Like Meshack, Shadrack and Abedneggo, we may be cast into the fiery furnace but we have the assurance the our Father in Heaven is an ever present help in trouble. As I continue to seek His face, my attention is drawn to His protective nature. He does not promise us to avoid trouble, rather to get us through to the other side.

I am reminded of the words of the song that say ‘ When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with you above the storm, Father you are King over the floods, I will be still know you are God!’.

Prayer point: Father teach me to know that you are above every circumstance and are able to see me through every issue. Pray that God will reveal His loving kindness and mercy to you in every circumstance.

Be blessed!

The Daniel Fast – Day 3

“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:13,14(NIV)

In this Psalm David begins in verse 1 by declaring that the LORD is his light and his salvation – whom should he fear or be afraid of. As I look back on the events of the day I have seen God’s mighty hand begin a good work in a wondeful person I was counselling today. Burdened by many problems and issues that would make the toughest of us break the person made a decision to be set free by the love of God.

I encouraged the person to take heart and that the Father’s love was far stronger than any mistakes they had made or any problem they were in. When ministering to others we also get the benefit of God ministering to us and this psalm is a wonderful reminder as we seek His face that he will keep us safe in his dwelling and hide us in the shelter of his sacred tent, setting us high on the rock! (Psalm 27:5). Many of us are beset by past issues, hurts and fears and we often get overwhelmed by our bad experiences.

Take heart, for God is not interested in what you were but rather in what he can make you become. In verse 6 David says: “Then my head will be exalted above the enemy who surrounds me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.”

How wonderful it is to know that our Father in Heaven can turn our mourning into gladness, our despair into hope, our mess into a message and our test into a testimony! He never promised us to be free of trials. He did however promise that He would never leave us nor forsake us! What a wonderful thing to know!

Be blessed! Be strong! Believe!

Prayer points: Pray that like David in Psalm 27:4, you may seek the one thing from the Lord; to dwell in His presence all the days of your life and gaze upon His beauty and love and mercy. Pray that you will have the will to wait upon Him. Pray that He will reveal himself to you as you continue on your journey in life. Pray that those who are hurting with deep wounds inside may receive healing and be free from the chains of depression and self-pity. Pray that you can become an instrument of healing and love.

The Daniel Fast – Day 2

‘Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” ‘ – Daniel 10:12

The scripture here encorages us to set our minds to gain understanding and to humble ourselves before God. This determination to seek wisdom and the Lord’s face evokes a certain response from God to our prayers. Let us seek throughout these next 20 days to press on in our pursuit of a response to our prayers.

Prayer points: Pray that you will have the perseverance of Daniel, who continued in prayer for 21 days until he heard from the Lord. Pray for humility and a thirst for wisdom and understanding.

Praise report: On the eve of beginning this fast a friend of mine sent an urgent message on Facebook regarding a young lady who texted her intent to end her life. The message showed her despair and despondency and when he tried to call her she was unreachable. A few of us began interceding that night on her behalf and I am glad to say my friend gave a report that she was finally reachable the next day and testified that she had heard a loud stern voice telling her not to kill herself! She has now given her life to the Lord and is filled with new hope. We give praise to a God who answers prayers! Feel free to share and encourage others if you are blessed with answers to your prayers during this fast. Be blessed!

Thanksgiving pleases God more than sacrifices!

As we enter into this season of Thanksgiving and reflect on what we are thankful for, we may easily be confined to thinking that this is a ritual that we must perform out of some pious duty. Tradition is hard to shake off and many are grateful for what they have and will express it in various ways. In some places, this weekend becomes an opportunity to spend time with family, rekindling and strengthening family ties and to have a wonderful meal in the presence of friends and relatives.

The Psalmist, David recognizes something deeper in the act of giving thanks. In Psalm 69 verses 30 and 31, he declares: “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves.” (NIV). It seems that he has come to the revelation that God is glorified when we give thanks and the combination of praise and thanksgiving pleases God more than any other kind of sacrifice.

At this time many may be going through difficulties, lack or other forms of discomfort or discouragement. David realizes in this Psalm that no matter what the situation, he will give thanks to the creator, our Father in heaven. As he lifts up praise and glorifies God with thanksgiving, it turns into a pleasant fragrance to God, even more pleasant than any physical sacrifice. Those of us who have been fortunate to have good fathers will know how they would react or act when they were pleased with us! We therefore even give thanks in anticipation for the good that our Father will do in our lives.

Make thanksgiving a daily part of your life, and do not limit it to thanks for meals or other periodic gifts that our Father in heaven has given us. As you make this a habit, God will also be in the habit of bestowing you with His abundant love and provision, for a grateful heart is one that attracts him.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be blessed! Be thankful! Believe!

There’s more to The Power of Love than we realise!

In 1993 the popular Canadian singer Celine Dion released a cover version of a song originally performed by by Jennifer Rush called “The Power of Love”. Featured as a single from her album, The Colour of My Love, it followed the release of another single of a cover of “When I Fall in Love” from the same album. It was subsequently nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop and Vocal performance and an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single in 1995.

As a single it became an international smash hit, rising to the top of the charts in the United states, australia and Canada, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks and becoming the first Celine Dion single to do so. It fast became a certified platinum hit in the US and achieved gold sales in other markets worldwide. Much as the lyrics allude to the relationship between two lovers it strikes me that the reference to the power in love is actually quite relevant to our relationship with our Father in heaven.

Many of us would like to see God’s power at work in our lives and we often go to great lengths to seek this power. Long periods of fasting and prayer can often be found in our quest for this Holy grail of the anointing and often that does yield results in some form or another. I do not consider myself to be much of a book writer but this theme has of late been kindled inside me as I seek His face, that I am considering delving into the potential benefits of love in our lives, apart form the apparent feel good side of it. The lyrics from the song have a chorus that includes these words:

‘Even though there may be times
It seems I’m far away
Never wonder where I am
‘Cause I am always by your side’

(The Power Of Love lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, EMI Music Publishing)

In a similar fashion, Hebrews 13:5 tells us that we should be content with what we have ‘because God has said, “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”’ This is indeed a comforting promise from our Father but it still does not address the issue of why so many of us today bear only the promise of God’s power in our lives but do not see its manifestation. Reading the Acts of the Apostles we clearly see the manifestation of both God’s love and His power in the daily lives of the believers, especially after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. I am sorely tempted to write everything in one blog post but the more I meditate upon the power of love, the more I realise that it is an untapped resource that we have yet to fully understand and probably requires a deeper look into than meets the eye. For this first blog post lets dwell on some foundational things. Find some time and look up the word love in the  Bible and you will see it mentioned over six hundred times. A quick look up on the word hate and you will find it mentioned only around 120 times. It is even mentioned more times than the word worship (around 240). It seems therefore that love has a great deal of importance in Gods Word.

John writes in 1 John 4:11-12 (NIV) ‘Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’ These verses clearly indicate that God desires to inhabit our beings with His presence and in doing so manifest himself. The obvious requirement is that we should love one another since He has himself loved us first. In John 13: 34,35 Jesus tells his disciples the following: “A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We are often so keen to have people ‘know’ that we are believers not realising that the best demonstration of our faith in God is the way we treat one another and others. I shall continue with this thread on the power of love and see where it leads. Let us end with the foundation for love which is God the father’s love for us in John 3:16: ‘ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (NIV). There is no greater love than that which God has for us!

Be blessed! Be loved! Believe!

When others helpers fail and comforts flee…Abide With Me.

At the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics the Scottish singer, Emeli Sandé , sang a song in memory of the London 7/7 bombings that has been popular at various different events throughout history having its origins in the church. The hymn, ‘Abide With Me’, is a prayer asking God to remain with the speaker throughout life, through trial and through death. The lyrics are as follows:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Still sung in the old English style that it was originally written in 1847, the song was originally a poem  written by the Scottish Anglican, Henry Francis Lyte. He finished the poem and set it to music as he lay dying from tuberculosis and managed to live on three weeks longer after its completion. As Emeli sang the song at the London Olympics I am certain that many of the listeners and those moved by its stirring lyrics and melody probably had no idea of the origin of the song. As the writer lies dying in his deathbed, he reaches out to God, obviously not in an expression of desperation, but with a conviction that he needs to be close to his maker and creator, no matter what the circumstance. He recognizes that God has given him joys on earth that are now growing dim and that change and decay are creeping in on him, but still recognizes that God ‘changes not’.

He understands that God is awesome and terrifying but is also kind and good and a friend of sinners. The amazing depth of the revelation of God’s supreme nature yet gentle loving personality is in itself a marvel. Many of us tend to only focus on our Father’s strict nature, emphasizing His holiness and pointing out each others sins as though that will make us closer to God if we somehow go on a fear-fest. The incredible balance seen in the writers poem can only be understood as a person who knew our Fathers nature in its totality. What father would not discipline his children if they went out of line? Yet a loving father will also welcome back the prodigal child! That same loving father also has healing in His wings and through the cross has a promise of eternal life.

As people sing this song at the FA cup final, at the Rugby League Challenge Cup finals and at other sporting events, the song may have different meanings to those singing it, some just grateful to be at those events and fueling their sense of nostalgia. There may be the hope that their team will win and they sing this prayer song. I hope that this song will sow the seed of the desire for Gods presence in our lives on a daily basis so that we do not wait to be on our deathbeds to seek His love and grace. He longs to abide with us through every situation, good or bad.

Be blessed! Be encouraged! Be-lieve!

Show and Tell

In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John we are given the account of the Samaritan woman at the well. We often quote verses twenty three and twenty four where Jesus talks of the time when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth.  Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah to this woman who clearly understands that the Messiah (or the Christ) is coming.
As soon as this revelation hits her, something amazing happens to her. She leaves her water jar and the task at hand and immediately goes back to the town and tells the people in it to come and see this man who knew so much about her. In her excitement she leaves the task at hand as being less important than telling everyone to come and see this man whom she has discovered to be the Messiah. Many in that town came and believed because of her.
I’d like to call this the principle of ‘Show and tell’. It is something commonly found in our early school years in some schooling systems, where children are encouraged to bring something that they have from home and show it to everyone. For those of us who did this we can recall how we overcame our inhibitions as we proudly told everyone else about the item we brought. For some it would have been a favourite toy. Others would bring a pet. Some may have even brought a parent who had some exciting job.
The key thing is you did not just show; you also told. You did not just tell; you had to show. The two went hand in hand. In the book of James Chapter 2 verse 14 -20, James comes down hard on believers who claim to have faith but they show no evidence of it in their deeds. I had one of those moments today as I was coming back home here in Dar es Salaam from a quick trip to the bank. As I passed our National Service Headquarters at Mlalakuwa, on the road to Kawe, I noticed a woman with a crutch standing by the road waiting for the bus. As I drove by I looked at her face and noticed her discomfort and could not help wondering what was going on in her mind. I felt like stopping to give her a lift, if she was heading in my direction, but drove on. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit kicked in and every scripture that you and I would not want to have confront our inaction popped into my head, not least of all the story of the good Samaritan. Up ahead was the Kawe roundabout and I turned and headed back to where she still stood. I asked her where she was going and found out that she was actually waiting for public transportation heading pretty much in the opposite direction. Due to the difficulty of actually getting a seat in the mini-buses we call ‘Dala dala’s’ she was hoping to find one fairly empty that would stop and pick her up to the last three stops before they turned back to a suburb of Dar es Salaam called Tandika. I also found out that she had recently broken her leg in an accident where she slipped in her home. I offered to take her to the bus stop at the end of the route, since she was not having any luck at her stop. Once she was in I then offered to get her a three wheeler scooter taxi that would take her home and paid for it, watching her gratefully get into the ‘bajaj’.
To cut a long story short, I had to show my faith by my deeds. It is not only very gratifying to see the impact of what might be seen to be a random act of kindness, but it is also a way to show how much we are like our Father in heaven. James says in Chapter two verse 17 that ‘In the same way, faith by itself, if is not accompanied by action, is dead’. (NIV). I am no more special than any other believer, but I would hate to think that God considers that my faith is dead because of my not responding to His word.
We live in a world where we are quick to call ourselves something or the other but our actions, or lack thereof, speak louder than our words. The time has come to show and tell of our Father’s love. Let us not be quick to tell and slow to show.
Be blessed. Be-lieve! Be a blessing to someone!