Thursday, 2 June 2022

Treasures in Secret Places


 

Every child can relate to these words "let's go on a treasure hunt." The excitement and curiosity it evokes in the young mind is half the thrill of the game. Likewise, the words 'adventure' and 'treasure' will make any child leap because they look forward to the find and the joy from the hunt itself. The mystery, the surprise, the failures, and the anticipation all build up into one big, incredible adventure. That's why themed games around treasure, pirates or even the Easter egg hunt are always a big hit with kids. 

 

As someone who works hard to preserve my inner child, you can imagine why Isaiah 45 struck a cord. My inner child leaped with excitement and said, "yes, I'm going on a treasure hunt with God." Isaiah 45, verses 2 and 3 put a new spin on my life on earth as I think about my walk with God; It's one big adventure. 

 

"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."

 

 

Woohoo! Exciting right?

 

As with any adventure, you need a good guide. So reading the beginning of Isaiah 45 sets the stage for who the focus on this adventure will be. Like an excellent guide, God goes ahead of us in life. 

 

Imagine with me for a moment, will you? 

 

We are on a great adventure and have arrived in a forest. The thick trees are so tall their leaves create a canopy and block out the lights. As we embark on our hunt, we notice signs that indicate that others have been here before us. Overgrown bushes and dead leaves have obscured the trail to the treasures. However, that will not stop our hunt because we have a great guide; he knows the way. He steps up and immediately cuts down some branches and clears the bushes, creating a path through the thick forest. 

 

Moving ahead, we arrive at this massive barricade of iron bars obstructing our way. Our guide smiles as he uses his sheer strength and pulls the bars apart so we have room to pass through. We proceed on our quest and arrive at a massive rock pile. Huge boulders of stones piled on top of each other, creating a mountain standing right in our walking path. My heart skips as we stand in awe of the obstacle, almost bringing the hunt to a halt. But our guide is unravelled; he tells us to stand aside as he levels the pile - taking down the mountain, stone by stone, until we can see a way through. 

 

Oh yeah, our guide rocks! Confident, we press on until we get to the trail's end, where we find the treasures we sort out to recover. Finally, we dropped to the ground, exhausted but appreciative of the excellent guide that helped us navigate challenging paths and bring us safely to the trail's end.

 

Back to reality, if I ever really needed to go on a treasure hunt, I would want this powerful force guiding me, wouldn't you? Technically we already have a fantastic guide far more potent than the one in my story. We are on life's adventure here on earth, and God is that powerful force going ahead of us.

Our adventure is a treasure hunt with God; To find treasures – creativity, experiences, moments, innovation, opportunities to serve, blessings and lots more. 

 

For this hunt to be successful, God has to lead, and as he does, he will level the mountains and break the iron bars on bronze gates of cities to give us access to all the treasure hidden in secret places. 

 

Do you know why God is the best guide for this? Read Colossians 1: 16 "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."

 

If all things were created by him – invisible and visible, I would think it makes sense to have him be the ultimate guide to the adventure of your life. Technically he knows where all the treasures are hidden.

 

So I'm asking you today to find your inner child, activate your curious mind and reset your mindset to adventure mode with God. As you do, you'd discover a new zest and joy in life, one that the momentary setback can't quickly quench because you know that the one that leads you created all things and all things were made for him.

 

 

God leads; we follow.

 

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Your labour of love is not in vain.

 

“He said to me, “You are my servant,

Israel, in whom I will display my splendour.”

But I said, “I have laboured in vain;

I have spent my strength for nothing at all.

Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,

 And my reward is with my God.”

Isaiah 49: 2-4 (NIV)

 

Let’s talk about a common term, Labour of love. Sounds Familiar in any way? It’s an expression we use to signify sacrifice – something you do without the expectation of getting a reciprocated response—an act of goodwill.

 

In a world where goodness is often taken advantage of, it’s harder to continue doing good or being good. But as Christians’ we have been called to live a life of love even when it is not reciprocated. And though we know that, we sometimes rationalize and wonder why?

 

The question of why often arise when you review your actions retrospectively. You think about the sacrifices you’ve made and how you have stayed on the path of truth. “Was it truly worth it?” your mind questions. To have lived in the pursuit of God’s righteousness and have been dedicated to God’s works or service to humanity. “Was it truly worth it? "

 

You ask yourself these questions because as you look around, you see people who have lived by double standards, and they seem to be doing fine, excelling in all life endeavours. The same people who have disregarded God’s commands are not falling into any form of judgment as feared but seem to be the gold standard of living the dream life. They seem fine, have everything they want, and nothing seems to go wrong. So, it’s only natural, even rational, to question your decision to stay on the straight and narrow path, living a life that honours God, one filled with love.

 

Maybe you’re one of the people born and raised in the church and have given your entire youth to God. Now you question your faith and the decision to believe in a God you can’t see. Before you throw in the towel and cast off your confidence, allow me to emphasize a fact and encourage you today. The success yardstick of this world is different from God’s. The value system of the world we live in today does not always align with what God desires from us.

 

In the earlier verses, this same question comes to light when another man like you and I questioned his commitment to God’s work. He wondered at the value that his life of righteousness brought and the impact he had made. And when he asked if his service to God was worth it, he received a gracious response from a loving God who understands the fragility of man. God said to him graciously, “You are my servant in whom I will be glorified.”

 

In the same grace, God is saying this to you today. If you question some of the decisions you’ve made to serve God or wonder if those sacrifices given to God were just a waste of time, listen, it is not. God’s response to Isaiah is the same to you today, “You are my servant, and I will be glorified in you.”

 

These words should give you comfort.

 

It might seem that you’re wasting your time. It might seem that God doesn’t see what you’re doing, but that’s not true. God sees, knows, and shows up at the right time. So, yes, it seems people who do wrong sometimes get away with it. Sometimes the cheat goes on to amass wealth, and the inhumane disruptive people move up to become leaders of society. Take heart. It’s only a matter of time; God will reveal his loyalty to you.

 

As we read in verses 3 and 4 of Isaiah 49, “I have said I live all in vain, I spent my strength for nothing and in vain, YET…” 

 

I love that word “YET. “

 

It reminds us that things may go in a particular direction until something turns it around. “Yet” is a reminder that God will glorify himself in us.

 

“Yet surely my reward is with the Lord; my work is with my God.” 

 

Case closed.

Your Labour of love is for God, and your reward is with him and not in the hands of any other human.

 

Therefore, everything you do, every path of righteousness you take, every good decision you make, every kind act, every love you have shown – everything you do in honour of God, though forgotten by man, will be rewarded by God.

 

So, don’t give in to the fears of this world; Every act of kindness and commitment to a holy life will be rewarded. If you go through the bible and read about men and women who have lived righteous lives, you will discover that their lives may have looked like it was all for nothing for some time, but in the end, God did bless them and generations after them.

 

Your reward is with God; if you feel discouraged today about your relationship with God or your service to him, reread Isaiah 49.

 

“Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

 

Be encouraged; indeed, your reward is with the Lord, and he will show up in his own time to reward you. Whether here on earth or in life eternal, God will surely reward every labour of love. Therefore, stay on the path of righteousness, continue to do the work of God – be kind, show compassion, forgive, and continue to live a life that honours God.

 

My entire life is a testament to this fact - Your Labour of love will never be in vain.

 

 

Blog post photo by cottonbro from Pexels

 

Sunday, 3 April 2022

April's Divine Visitor


 

April is one of my favorite months, not just because it is my birth month but because it ushers in the lovely weather months. It signifies the end of the cold, dreary months and the beginning of bright sunny days. I love the month of April, which is why when I read through the verses of Jeremiah 29:10 and mediated on the part when God talked about a point on the time scale of destiny when he was going to visit his people, my heart leaped for joy. These words resonated with my expectation for April, A time when God checks in on his people to fulfill his promises.

 

 "For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." Jeremiah 29: 10 (KJV)

 

A divine visitor is coming your way this month. God is not just passing by; he is coming to perform his goodness in your life. You may have had to wait in uncomfortable situations, hoping and praying. This month signifies your arrival at the change point, and God will visit you. If you read on from Jeremiah 29 verse 10 onwards, God says that he has good thoughts towards us to bring us to where we expect to be.

 

Great news! Your dream is becoming a reality, and that plan will work out. Keep your hope alive; don't let it get squashed. Sometimes, that's hard to believe as you look at your situation. Allow me to encourage you and strengthen your faith at this time. You're closer to your expectations and dreams than you can imagine, so don't give up now.

 

In Verses 12 to 14 of Jeremiah 29, there are two asks as we prepare for God's visitation:

o   The first is to Call on God; simply put, keep praying. Now more than ever, you need to stay in the place of prayer and keep asking for God's help in your situation. God promises that as we pray, he will answer.

 

o   Secondly, seek God through his word. Open up your hearts to the spirit's voice and listen to the prompting of God. Spend some time reading the word of God and seeking out his direction. God promises that as we search for him with all our hearts, he will reveal himself to us.

 

April comes with a promise - God will visit you. Spend time this month in the presence of God. Search for him through his word. Commune with your heavenly father through prayers. God is set to visit those who seek him this month and perform his good works towards us. Don't allow this moment of impact to pass by you without transforming your life. Seek God this month with all your heart, and you will find him, and he will perform his great acts in your life.

 

 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, not evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. Jeremiah 29: 11-14 (KJV)

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

"Try Everything" - A Timely Secret Sauce for Success

Picture of lemon basil natural spice abd Bowl

At every stage of life, sometimes you'd look around and feel the puzzles of life, leaving you stumped. You may feel like you are in a maze sometimes. The endless twists and turns of everyday obstacles could seem like you constantly run into walls and dead ends. And since we can't predict the future, we sometimes have to stumble along with our hands trailing the walls as we search for the clues to exit the maze.

The endless possibilities and outcomes of life's choices make you sometimes wonder which road to take. Without a sure roadmap to guide us, I choose to follow a simple concept that has helped my success in many areas of my life; and that is: Try everything. Every thought, every idea, every teeny skill, every tiny dream, every seemingly irrelevant opportunity - Try it!

My secret sauce, try everything, comes from Ecclesiastes 11:6, "in the morning sow your seed and in the evening do not withhold your hands, For you do not know which will prosper either this or that or whether both alike will be good."

The writer invites us to value diligence and embrace all our abilities and the opportunities we get throughout our lives. If our capabilities are like seeds, I would like you to evaluate what you are doing with those seeds in your hands. Are you planting them? – building, developing, or investing in your seeds, or are you letting them rot?

If you are not sure where to start, here are a few tips:

  1. Take a skill assessment to help you identify some of the natural capabilities and some ideas of how to use them. A superb one to start with is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter - it helps you to discover your personality/temperament type and careers you will find satisfaction in as well as excel. You can also try the 16personalities Test

  2. Next, invest in your development. There are many free training courses online today; you should be using your internet access for a lot more than just social media. Take lessons in the areas you crave to develop. It can be through podcasts like TedTalk, free courses on Edx, or YouTube videos, which every way you learn best, start your development today. 

  3. Try getting some first-hand experience either through volunteering or shadowing someone already doing well in the area you yearn to develop. UN volunteer portal is a remarkable place to start finding projects that you can volunteer.

  4. Finally, get scrappy - This is another of my favorite words. Look around you, and you'd find something you can use today to explore your skills and bring them to life. If you can't get that book deal, self-publish. If you can't get the record label just yet, release your single on YouTube. Don't wait until all the stars align and you have the perfect opportunity; get scrappy and DIY your way to where you desire to be. 

"The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.' "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Matthew 25: 20-21 (NIV)

God finds joy when we take all he has given us, and we use it to honor him. You never know which of your paths will drive you to success, so be diligent, invest in your whole self - every single bit of you.

Keep going; something will work out!

 

Recommended Reading

  1. Good Times 

  2. Making better decisions for successful outcomes

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

The Amazing Truth about The Awesome Tribe of God

African Women Carrying Baskets
 

"That is where the tribes go up— the tribes of the Lord— to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel." Psalm 122: 4 (NIV)

 

Recently I had the privilege of facilitating a culture workshop with my team at work. The workshop's goal was to define as a team what we wanted the culture of our work environment to be. We talked about culture regarding what norms will be accepted, our value system, work styles, common goals, social activities, and ways we celebrate together. These values would be the baseline of culture, the core identity of our Tribe. 

 

As I started to think through some of the things we discussed, I wondered at the polarity and division that this same sense of culture and belonging had brought to the world we live in. Culture, Tribe, the very thing that aimed to unite us, somehow found a way to divide us. But, good news, despite our different races, cultures, and norms, we are connected by a new one. That's amazing truth, number one.

 

In Psalm 122, David talks about a Tribe, God's people who go up to worship him. The curious cat in me wondered, "who are these Tribe of God? Is it a particular nation? What defines them? In John 1: 12-13, I found a definition of who belongs in the Tribe of God, and no, it has nothing to do with your country or color. 

 

"But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God." John 1: 12-13

 

 

Excellent news! As long as we believe in God, by believing in his son Jesus, we now belong to a new Tribe -The Tribe of God. That's the amazing truth, number two. Galatians 3:28 goes on to further buttress this "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

 

What a joyful and liberating truth that we are all one in Christ, all the same belonging to The Tribe of God. So as members of this Tribe, what are the governing norms and traditions that we all should live by? Our culture is defined by one phrase" love God and to love one another."

 

"He answered, "' Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:24 (NIV). 

 

The acceptable behavior from the Tribe of God is one laced with Love. You don't have to live defined by your natural looks, culture or language; you can choose to live life fully in line with this new Tribe that you belong to in God. That's the amazing truth, number three.

 

Let's get practical, shall we? As members of God's Tribe of Love, I Corinthians 13: 4-7 defines our value system: "Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

 

Do you know anyone that sounds like the above? Chances are they belong to the Tribe of God. And if you haven't met anyone like this, you should be that person. The only way we can unite the world we live in today is to live as members of the Tribe of God. So live in Love, living to pull everyone else in to be a member of this Tribe.

 

This month is black history month. All around the world, black men and women, mainly of African -American heritage, are celebrated. This month remembers the struggle of the black race to claim freedom and equality for all. But, as we celebrate, let's remember we have another equally vital tribe to align to – one that takes no account of our skins' color but the state of our hearts. 

 

I pray that one day the world will see clearly, that it's not what's outside that counts but what's on the inside. That's all that God, our new Tribe leader, cares about, and that's all we should care about too.