Friday, 30 March 2012

Faithfulness Part 2: Faithful with unrighteous money the key to being entrusted with true riches

This is the second in this series on faithfulness as the Lord Jesus taught in Luke 16: 10-13. See Part 1 here.

Many of us may not believe that the way we handle money has a connection to what our spiritual life looks like. The way we see money and the way we handle it tells a lot about our Christian life regardless of what we say or claim.

The Lord taught a lot about money both in His expositions and parables. Almost in all of them, He emphasized faithfulness.

Many people are on God’s waiting list for empowerment because of their attitude to money. Truly, many have stayed on the list for a long time. Why? The answer is because their attitude has not changed. Many want to be great in God’s hand but He has postponed His plans because of what they have done with the little money that He allowed to enter their hands. They never knew that the little mammon God allowed them to handle was part of their test for a higher opportunity, an exam for bigger stewardship. They never knew, so they blew it. They wonder why God has kept them one place for a long time.

Money has the capacity to become an idol.
Money has a powerful influence. Money is capable to change the message of a preacher. Money is able to change the commitment of a child of God. Money is able to remove our trust from God. Money has a false security. Many people’s character change once they see money. The Lord Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon”. Money is capable of being a master to the extent that it can compete with God in our lives. Remember, the Semitic word, mammon, can refer not only to money but also to riches and wealth generally. Now note that the issue is not necessarily the quantity or amount of riches you have but your attitude to it. Are you ruling over what you have or is what you have ruling over you? What is the position of money in your life? Is it your master or your slave? Does money determine how you live? Does it determine your values and your view about life? Does it determine how you relate to the next person? Does the desire for money drive you? Money is good. It is not an evil in itself. It is a tool for living. It is used for solving problems. But anytime money becomes anything more than a tool, it creates problems for us, especially in our relationship with God.

He wants us to be faithful to Him in money matters. Instead of money using us, we are to use money to serve and glorify Him. He wants us to surrender our lives and possessions to Him and allow Him to direct us. God wants us to see our money as His gift to us and our attitude should be that of a grateful and faithful steward; that guarantees that we will be relevant to the kingdom agenda.

love of money has already killed many people. It has changed the character of many. Many churches have changed their doctrine because of love of money and consequently lost their true riches. Many preachers are already captives to money. Many are in the battle as we speak. One thing is clear in all of these, the battle with money for control is a battle of your life. You must win it if you are to be a container for eternal riches. Your heart does not have the capacity to hold the love for God and love of money together at the same time. One must give way for the other.

Remember, the Lord is not saying that it is wrong to have or acquire riches. He is saying that we have to be faithful stewards as it concerns money and being faithful qualifies us to handle true riches. It is a lie for somebody to be unfaithful in money matters and still claim to be a carrier of spiritual wealth. The two do not go together. It is a deception for a Christian to refuse to be accountable in money matters and still think he is as spiritual as ever.

Please, in your offices, in your market places, in all the areas of your life that concerns money, do not separate them as being secular. The life you live daily both in and outside the Church walls put together make up your worship life. Your attitude to money determines whether God will entrust you with true riches. Be faithful in money matters if you want God to use you.

God bless you!

See part 1 here.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Faithfulness Part 1: Faithfulness in very little things


"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? "And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? "No servant can serve two masters; ... You cannot serve God and wealth." Luke 16:10-13 NASU

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” Luke 16:10 NASU

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10-11 NIV

There are three critical issues the Lord raised concerning faithfulness which we will be sharing in three parts starting from this part 1.

The first point is that if a man is faithful when he is entrusted with a little responsibility, he will equally be faithful when he is entrusted with a bigger responsibility. In the same vein, if someone is not faithful with little responsibility, he will not be faithful in a bigger responsibility. Faithfulness is a virtue of keeping trust and staying true to what you believe. It means being reliable, loyal and trustworthy.

There are a lot of young people who desire to do “big things” for God. They want to suddenly become ‘great men of God’ but do not want to be under anybody’s instructions. They do not see any link between what they are doing today and what they believe God has called them to do tomorrow. They do not see what is presently in their hands as having anything to do with what God wants to place in their hands tomorrow. Hence, they handle what is in their hands now with levity. They behave anyhow now because they have the mindset, “this is not what I am cut out for. This is not where I am going to be anyway”. This makes them to be careless in what they are doing today.

They are waiting for when God will announce them. They are looking up to when God will make them great and lift them above their fellows. They believe that God has promised them a worldwide ministry though right now, they are in one obscure environment under an administrator they even feel they are better than. Because of the vision they have, they tend to be rebellious and despiteful toward their superiors. The truth is that they have failed to understand the principles of the kingdom the Lord Jesus is teaching us in the passage above. Many of us today wish that these principles sank into our hearts when we were very much younger.

In the kingdom, there are no short cuts, except you choose to remove yourself away from the covenant. As long as you are in the kingdom, these principles stand. When God begins to look for people to be saddled with greater responsibilities, He looks for those who have been faithful in the little things. This is because the kingdom believes that he who is faithful in very little things is faithful in much. Please note that He did not say that the person WILL BE. Instead HE IS faithful in much.

The little choices you make today impacts your destiny. What you are doing today defines what you will ultimately become. What you are doing today defines where you are going. Where you will be tomorrow is determined by the direction you are headed today. Never you think that circumstances will interrupt your life and suddenly you are lifted to be in charge of much when you are not faithful in the very little that is in your hand today. You are the one to interrupt yourself and begin to be faithful now.

What is in your hands today?
It may be much or little in your own eyes but what you do with it is what matters. What happens is that many a times people do not value what is already in their hands. They despise it and refuse to commit themselves to it. Greed, envy, jealousy and pride are the killers in this area. Why is it that you cannot concentrate and finish well what you are doing now? Why is it that you are neglecting what you are doing now meanwhile you want a higher place? What is that in your hands? It may be a position, a ministry or a job. Do not misbehave in it.

Now, it does not matter what people think about where you are right now. It does not matter their opinion about how lowly what you are doing now is. What matters is what you do with it. There are people who are running some businesses who are not eligible for promotion no matter how hard they pray or fast. God cannot give you a promotion that is bigger than your character. Each time God wants to lift their business and wants to start with moulding their character, they resist Him or bolt out of training half way. They want to remain the way they are. You cannot remain the way you are and walk with God at the same time. God cannot give a kingdom to a child to run. The few times He did it in the Old Testament, He placed them under some tutelage and guidance.

God orders the steps of the righteous.
This is a biblical truth every child of God has to believe. In most cases it is a bitter pill to swallow. Firstly, if you have been in a position whereby it is as if your mates have left you behind and moved on with life and you are faced with the challenge of either following the short cuts of unrighteousness and meeting up with them or obeying God and remaining where you are, you will understand how bitter the pills can be. The truth is that you cannot do righteousness and remain where you are. But already there is a big problem here. We are never encouraged to compare ourselves with ourselves. Secondly, if you are in an employment where obviously you are being paid lower than you think you are supposed to earn and you believe you should be somewhere else better, you may understand what I am sharing. However, the truth is that that seemingly lowly place is a stepping stone. God brought you there.

All I am doing is to make you see the connection between where you are now and where you are going. Even if you cannot see it with your physical eyes, see it with your spiritual eyes. Faith has eyes and can see. In fact, what faith sees is more of a reality than what the physical eyes see.

One who compromises in one area will most likely compromise in other areas. It will be very much easier for one who is firm against sin in one area of his life to have victory against sin in other areas of his life. Please never you play or despise what you are doing today. Humble yourself. Be faithful and committed to it. God will lift you up in due time.

Watch out for part 2.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Please continue to pray for our brother Bishop Umar Mulinde of Gospel Life Church International

"Doctors at Sheba Hospital in Tel-Aviv, Israel, are still not sure what kind of chemicals Muslim extremists cast on Bishop Umar Mulinde of Gospel Life Church International outside of Kampala last Christmas Eve, but they know that the acid is threatening the vision in his remaining eye.

“I am regaining my sight, though the healing progress is a bit slow,” Mulinde told Compass by phone. “Doctors are still looking for ways to save it, but it seems a complicated case. The chemical was very strong, and each day it was going deeper, with pain increasing day by day; even the doctors are interested to know which type of acid it was, because it really did great damage to me.

"Mulinde, a former sheikh (Islamic teacher) who became the target of Islamic extremists after converting to Christianity in 1993, said his left eye has been getting better under the specialized treatment he has been able to receive..."

Remember the story we shared here some months ago.

"Mulinde said he was encouraged that ministry is continuing at his church in Namasuba, about 10 kilometers (six miles) outside of Kampala, though his friend Zachariah Serwadda, a pastor with an Evangel Church congregation, was ambushed on Feb. 4 after an evangelistic outreach in the predominantly Muslim town of Mbale."

Pray that Mulinde will retain his sight. Thank the Lord for the faithfulness of Mulinde and his friend Serwadda. Pray that the Lord will bless their efforts to spread the gospel. Pray that the perpetrators of these attacks will repent and come to know Jesus Christ. Please pray that increased persecution in Uganda will result in increased boldness among believers (Acts 4:29-31).

See the whole story here at Compass Direct. You can get more information on how to pray and participate in the ministries to the persecuted by going to VOM website. Please pray, pray and pray.

The Pastoral challenge from the life of Steve Jobs.

In this age when most people are career preachers and pastors instead of being men and women really called by God to serve His Church; highly conscious of their positions in the organizations they work instead of serving the people God has put into their charge, many have driven men away from the Light instead of drawing them closer. Many fight whatever they do not understand and try to bring down whatever seems to intimidate them. If you do something the pastor may not be able to do, you will be seen as a threat instead of a complement. If you ask a difficult question, you will be branded and brought low and nobody will care to address your concerns. If you behave differently (Not sinful anyway) or raise biblical issues that are not ‘comfortable’ to the denomination or issues they consider ‘no go areas’, you will be seen as a non-conformist and a trouble maker. All these put together have affected our attitudes in leadership and the way we treat people. They have equally hindered us from training the men that God brings around us. We see the power plays within the pulpits, between the pulpits and the pews and within the pews and ask ourselves, “what would the Lord Jesus do if He were to be around today in the Church?”

My heart was broken when I read a write up on the life of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, by Gordon MacDonald, the editor at large of Leadership Journal and chancellor of Denver Seminary, The Soul of Steve Jobs. Gordon just finished reading Steve’s biography written by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs. I admired Steve Jobs and his accomplishments and have listened to one or two of his motivational messages but that is not the focus of my discourse here. What really moved me to write this piece is the comparison Gordon made on the three major influences Steve had early growing up as a young boy:

“"(My father) loved doing things right," Jobs reflected. "He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn't see." Decades later this principle learned in boyhood would shape the development of Apple devices. Jobs always insisted that the inner parts of anything bearing the Apple name be as perfectly designed and built as the outer parts, even though a customer would never see them…

When Jobs began school, his parents and teachers soon discovered that he was a "problem child." It showed in his rebelliousness, in his boredom with the curriculum, in his unwillingness to fit into ordinary classroom regimens. He resisted learning in the traditional cookie-cutter ways.
It's startling to realize that Steve Jobs might have ended up a social discard—a delinquent—had it not been for an observant teacher who suspected that she had an exceptional child in her classroom. Under her guidance Jobs quickly accelerated in his learning experiences. "I just wanted to learn and to please her," Jobs said, looking back on her efforts.
Unfortunately the same did not happen in his church experience. When Jobs was 13, he asked his pastor a simple (yet not so simple) question.

Isaacson writes: "In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church's pastor, 'If I raise my finger, will God know which one I'm going to raise even before I do it?'

"The pastor answers, 'Yes, God knows everything.'

"Jobs then pulled out the Life cover and asked, 'Well, does God know about this and what's going to happen to those children?'

"'Steve, I know you don't understand, but yes, God knows about that.'"

The pastor's answer badly underestimated the young teen's intellect and left him unsatisfied. According to Isaacson, Jobs walked away from the church that day and never returned.”

Gordon MacDonald now made a prayer which I will encourage every reader, who is a leader to pray:

"Lord, make me aware of the implications of any (any!) word I say to people during the course of the day. Who can know when a spoken word directs someone toward the right path … or the wrong one?"

As I read this, I wondered how many young people we must have not listened to, how many yearning hearts we may have carelessly by-passed without noticing what God was doing in their lives, how many souls we have not paid attention to in their struggles. Externally, we only saw a ‘rebellious person’ who refused to agree with us, but we couldn’t see the needy person inside. We saw a church member ‘fighting’ us but couldn’t see the struggling man inside. We saw a man that must be condemned but couldn’t see the man inside that is crying for freedom. The list can go on and on. Today, there are some things I taught years ago that I wish time will rewind so that I give better explanations. Imagine what would have happened if Steve’s pastor in 1968 saw in him a needy inquisitive young boy that needed discipleship and took time to address his questions and not just telling him ‘'Steve, I know you don't understand…”.

The hard working and detailed father did his lot on Steve Jobs. His observant teacher in school did her part. It was the pastor that failed in his own contribution to his life. Maybe as he left church, the pastor felt a relief that the issue of the ‘problem child’ has finally been solved and no one bothered to look for him. My pain is not that it happened in 1968 and Steve Jobs walked away from the church that day and never returned. My pain is that such and related stories seem to be repeating themselves in our churches today.

May God help us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to raise men for Him setting aside all these distractions driven by fear and competitions.

Please make sure you pray that prayer in your own words. The next time a church member or a participant in your Bible Class asks a question, concentrate and listen, no matter how ‘silly’. You may never know when someone is on a brink of a defining moment, an important turn in his life. Your answer may be what will determine the direction of the turn – right or wrong.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Boko Haram's Plot to end Christian Presence in Northern Nigeria

The al-Qaeda linked Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has declared it is plotting to "end the Christian presence" in much of northern Nigeria. According to a spokesman, the group is preparing to launch a campaign of terror against Christians through kidnapping Christian women and coordinated bombings. The women reportedly will be held for ransom and returned only to Christian families who leave the region.

The goal is to eradicate Christians completely so that a "proper Islamic state" might be established. The authorities say Boko Haram is well armed with sophisticated weaponry and munitions.

This new threat against Christians is very direct and indicates very dangerous days lie ahead.

Christians need to be watchful and work together prayerfully to see this plot of the devil brought to naught. Our God frustrates the tokens of liars and makes their diviners mad.

Please pray the Lord will protect and deliver believers in northern Nigeria. Pray He will frustrate the plans of the enemy and through His mercy bring many to repentance. Pray that Christians in Nigeria will not be fearful but trust God (Revelation 2:10).

(Source: VOM as reported by Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission)