The Apostle John of the Bible is one of the most blessed men to ever walk the face of the earth. Jesus met him when he was a young man, and immediately took him as an object of love. He walks besides Jesus and grows in knowledge and character. He builds experience to the point that he becomes a veteran of the Gospel. In his ministry, he becomes a pastor of the Church of Ephesus, which was founded by the Apostle Paul. He also becomes a prisoner of Christ when he gets banished to the terrible and isolated isle of Patmos, which was reserved for dangerous and desperate rejects of the Roman society. John sees it all.
In the end, he gets to write one of the four cornerstones of the Gospel. Then while at the Isle of Patmos, he receives a series of the most spiritual visions ever recorded by man, and he as a faithful scribe writes the Book of Revelation, the last of the New Testament. And when John gets old, he writes the three beautiful books, I John, II John and III John. He gets to experience every facet of a Christian life first as a young disciple, then as a young Apostle, then as a pastor and as a prisoner of Christ.
So when he says that which he has seen, he’s reflecting across the entire spectrum of his Christian life. He identifies Eternal Life from the beginning and mentions it in all the three groups of his books. But he doesn’t stop there. He emphasizes that he has seen Eternal Life with his eyes, he has looked upon it, he has handled it with his hands. He calls it the Word of Life.
Read 1 John again. When he says he is a witness and that he shows us the Eternal Life, which is the Father, we better listen. Of all the people that ever walked on earth, he is the definitely the right candidate to make such a statement.
This is our second week in the weekly series on the Book of Psalms where David introduces the Lord Jesus Christ as the all powerful, wise King of kings. Last week we saw David, the king of Israel open the Praise and Worship songs with a powerful statement. As a true leader, he set down the principles for his people to be blessed and remain prosperous.
This week, he turns his attention to the entire world and admonishes them to be wise, listen and learn. Let’s dig in:
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
Psalms 2:1-12 KJV
David the Wise King
It must be great to serve under a spiritual king, especially one who is well rounded like King David. David was a humble man, but he was also very shrewd. He could quickly read situations, seek solutions and bring about tremendous results. Let’s just say David was very wise since sometimes the word shrewd is seen in the negative light.
David the great composer and inspired musician
His exploits inspired others to express conquest with flourish like the time he defeated Goliath, the Philistine Commando. His act inspired women to compose a song that exposed the hate that Saul had for David. But on top of this David himself was a prolific composer. His works are still a masterpiece across the world many generations later.
David the educator
David brought life and meaning to the Law of Moses. Whatever he knew he shared. The more he shared, the more he was inspired with insights on the Word of God. He was responsible for teaching his court, his army, the temple and the citizenry. He was an amazing man.
David the deeper worshipper
He believed in the Supreme Authority of his maker, Jehovah, the God of Israel. And for that reason the spirit of prophecy would fall on him and make him prophesy about the future. Like the case with this Psalm.
Jesus, the all wise anointed King
When David declared this Psalm, most people thought he was talking about himself. After all, prophet Samuel had anointed him as the king of Israel.
It must have been a very difficult position for a humble king to declare this prophecy. It is a big statement to say that the entire world is heathen and that it will be an inheritance to Israel. I can see the envoys from neighboring kingdoms raising their eyebrows very, very high. And diplomats from big and prosperous kingdoms like Egypt must have laughed it off as a wishful statement from a new, young king.
But the spiritual knew different. In the New Testament, the apostles took the same Scripture from Psalms. They said Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophesy. You find this in a moving story in the Book of Acts chapter four. I believe it too.
So what does that mean?
Reading the chapter again, King David introduces Jesus in the most powerful way as an effective leader. He is the One that will take over all the kingdoms of the world. He is not coming back to be a partner to the Republic of Malawi, or any other country as we know them today.
He’s not coming back to understand our way of life, and strike a compromise with modernity. This is one chapter that speaks of complete takeover, and forcing every knee to bow down. Not even King David could achieve that status. No one else can.
But before we become engrossed with a picture of power and unbending rule, look at the chapter again. There’s a way out. David instructs all the wise kings and judges to follow and serve the Lord. This has nothing to do with religion, race, or politics. He invites them to submit to God. What’s more? He promises those that do so blessings from heaven.
But are the kings of the world wise? Can he instruct the judges? Are the composers, musicians, educators and worshippers listening? At least, David the humble, wise king did.
There is nothing better than the sense of achievement. When you accomplish a difficult task, it feels like you have conquered the world. Nothing, and I mean, nothing can stand in your way.
I’m all too familiar with the deeply intoxicating feeling nowadays especially when I have successfully completed a difficult hike. I can sense my levels of confidence rising up, and more often than not I find myself staring in the face of what used to make me tremble.
This must be a good thing, right? Well, it depends. There’s nothing wrong in gaining confidence and having a sense of accomplishment. However, it is also easy to let the spirit of pride take ahold of you.
In the book of Proverbs it says man’s pride shall bring him low, but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
So this is to me. I need to understand 1 Peter 5:6, which says “humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time”. The act of humility has to be done by me, no one else can do for me.
Therefore, I need to read it again. I must have a humble spirit as I conquer one summit after the other. You should do the same. For it is very pleasing to the Lord.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
Psalms 1:1-6 KJV
A Little Bible Challenge for You and Me
The Holy Bible is a work of beauty. It has so many moving parts and will satisfy the driest thirst known to man. Apart from containing Holy Scriptures, it offers instructions for a fulfilling life, it offers questions that allow us to discover the beauty of this life, and contains promises for the life to come. Now, that’s what I would call a wholesome package.
Nothing stands out as inspiring and gorgeously beautiful than the book of Psalms. I can’t show the depth and height of it, as I will remain its student for life. But I can surely share the parts I love.
So for that reason, I want to challenge myself to nibble at a chapter from Psalms per week. I’ll pick a point of interest and share a small part from it. Let’s go.
Listen oh Man!
I love the way Psalms opens. It speaks to the heart. It appeals to our deepest longing. But I also love about what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say blessed is a Malawian. It doesn’t say blessed is a black man. It doesn’t say blessed is an African. It doesn’t say blessed is that tribe, profession, or qualification. No. It says it just as it is. Blessed is the man. Blessed is THE Man.
Why doesn’t it say blessed is the woman? Well, that’s for you to find out. But you can be assured the answer will be lovely. For there is no hate, harm or bad with our God.
Stay Away from the Ungodly, Sinners and Scorners
I remember when I was growing up, those that seemed to understand about life and started enjoying the power of knowledge and wisdom looked amazingly advanced. And one of their demonstrations of that new found power was poking jokes and jabs at the Bible stories. They looked so cool contradicting the stories with flourish. Oh foolish man. Don’t you know God cannot be mocked?
Nothing has changed much. Each time I shrink from the spiritual life because of their worldly wisdom, I lose my connection with God. I drift away. I become a boat without a Sail, without an Anchor. But when I gather courage to declare the beauty of the Holy One Of Israel, something in me wakes up. I’m alive. I’m strong. I can do ALL things in Christ which strengthens me. Ah yes! This is the life. This is what I should be everyday.
So stay away from the ungodly, sinners and scorners. It will pay off in the end.
Blessed and Prosperous
Isolation is painful. When others are enjoying the pleasures of life, here you are being asked to deny yourself and pick up the Cross and follow the Savior.
So God doesn’t want us to enjoy life?
No, no, no! Look at the promises in this chapter. First of all, we are being called blessed. If God says I’m blessed, nothing can exceed that. The Creator Of Heaven and Earth, the Provider of All things, the Healer Of our body, spirit and soul, calls us blessed. Hey! Don’t rush it. Soak it in. Let it tenderize in your heart. Think about it. It’s an answer to everything. Call me blessed, and I know everything will be alright.
Mary, the mother of Jesus called herself blessed, for bringing the Savior into the world. I wonder what she must have felt that day when inspiration from Heaven struck her. Today, we have the Saviour living in our hearts. It’s better, bigger and deeply spiritual. We are blessed beyond measure.
But here is my challenge. Until today I didn’t notice the following passage: Psalms 1:3b. It says whatsoever the blessed man doeth shall prosper. What? Everything shall prosper? Everything as in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g? My health, my family, my friends, my work, my projects, my adventures, my praise and worship, my school, my country, my church, my world, my prayers? Everything? I’m in. No hesitation there. I’m all in.
Food for Thought
It’s convenient for lazy minds to declare God mysterious and incomprehensible. Ah c’mon! You can do better than that. The psalmist has laid down a plan to follow to unlock those blessings. To make anything you do prosperous.
Now, that is for you to find out. Read the chapter again. Meditate on it. Meaning think about it. Pray about it. Chew on it. Follow the way of the righteous. It says so. I wish I had done it all the days of my life. But what’s done is done, and the past is gone. Today is ours and tomorrow could take a different direction.
Choose today to be a blessed man and prosper in EVERYTHING you do.
One of the toughest activities in the wild is rock climbing. At first sight, a rock may seem bare with no place for a foothold. Upon careful study a path appears and a pattern will reveal itself to take you to the top.
This is one craft I want to master. It will take years to perfect my skill but in the end it will be worth it. Which brings us to the topic of the day. In Psalms 61: 1 – 2, King David is in deep trouble. His heart is overwhelmed and he’s crying to God and he’s praying to God.
Then he asks for an impossible request. Instead of asking God to remove his problems, or to be taken to a soft bed of roses, he asks for a bigger challenge. He tells God “lead me to a Rock that is higher than I”. Neither does he ask God, fly me to the Rock, nor pull me to the Rock. Lead me he says. It means he’s ready to FOLLOW.
When he gets to the Rock, there will be the part of climbing it to get to the top. That is not a small matter. If this is a solution to solving problems when our hearts have been overwhelmed then help me Dear Lord.
So read it again. God wants to toughen us through the challenges we face. When we face problems God does not help us escape by running in the opposite direction. No, he leads us to a Rock that is higher than us. I want to learn from such a God. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
One of the joys of hiking is getting to see all the amazing trees nature has to offer. For instance, on Mulanje Mountain you get to see Mulanje Cedar, a coniferous species endemic to this massif. When fully grown, the cedar has a wide girth it would take two teenagers to encircle it by holding hands to each other. And while being still on Mulanje, the tallest mountain in Malawi, you also get to see protea, a supple tree with brilliant blossom. It has a bulbous flower, with silky tendrils that wrap around the petals when the flower is closed. And when the bulb opens, it exposes beautifully arranged petals in white, or mixed colors of white and pink or soft red. And I think I have seen some with traces of yellow. Whatever the color combo, the exquisite flower is a beauty. A species called King protea is the national flower of South Africa.
Around many rivers and at the bottom of several mountains in Malawi, you get to see the mighty m’bawa tree also known as mahogany in English. It is a towering giant with strong roots that have been known to upheave foundations of structures that are built near it. Most people still mistakenly plant it near schools, hospitals and churches. M’bawa will weigh the foundation of these buildings and will find them wanting. In other words, it will destroy anything it will catch its in radial root architecture. Other than its underground adventures, mighty m’bawa offers plenty of shade in summer, and unfortunately, it is also susceptible to illegal harvesting due to its sought-after hardwood. M’bawa gets to live for hundreds of years, and when fully grown, it will take several grown up men to ring it by holding each other’s hands.
On Kilimanjaro, you get to see another towering giant at the bottom of the mountain, and a strange looking tree towards the top. The latter has a jacket of old leaves, which it uses to cover itself when the temperatures drop low.
Another wonder that comes to mind is the baobab tree. A giant of immense proportions, this fruit tree is a darling to many children due to its sweet and sour summer treats. The fruit is covered in a hard shell, decorated by a thin layer of short velvet hair. Once you break the shell with a help of stone, you are treated to rows of white, compact powder wrapped around a black seed. The rows are separated by coils of fibre that protect the seeds. You eat the fruit by letting it dissolve in your mouth, or if you are impatient, by sucking it just like sweets. To the more aggressive souls, you can break the seed by biting hard into its black shell to reveal a soft white paste, more like the meat of groundnuts. The baobab tree prefers hot weather and it is found in abundance in districts along the lakeshore, Nkhotakota, Salima and Mangochi. You can also find it in Mwanza, a district in the Southern Region. The tree is also found beyond the borders seeking refuge in many parts of Southern Africa.
By the way, despite its immense size, the baobab is hollow inside acting like a giant reservoir. It will absorb the scarce rainfall whenever the patched grounds it prefers to grow on receive any rains. And sometimes, when it has drunk more than it can handle, it gets compromised and will fall down to its side due to its relatively weak root system. It is not uncommon to see the octopus like roots sticking in the air, next to the fallen hero after drinking one to many a raindrop. Such is the beauty and diversity of trees one gets to see in the wild.
But then the Bible introduces another type of a tree. It is called The Tree of Life, and it is first mentioned in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. We are told it was in the midst of the Garden of Eden, next to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The latter had a fruit that was pleasant to look at, and would make one wise. Now, that’s some tree.
But before going for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Let’s look at the Tree of Life. It appears in the last book of the Bible, at the end of the New Testament. In the book of Revelation, it is mentioned three times. Access to the tree had a special clause in Genesis. It could only be taken if and only if man would not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And in the Book of Revelation, its fruit will only be eaten to him that overcomes (Rev 2:7). This special tree will only grow along the pure river of life, clear as a crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in New Jerusalem, that will rest upon a great and high mountain (Revelation 21 & 22).
It does not stop there. It says the Tree of Life will bear twelve manner of fruits, and will yield her fruit every month. And its leaves will be for the healing of the nations.
So read the passages again. Of all the trees that are in the world, of all the wonders that they offer in terms of fruit, flower and other potent uses, none can compare to the Tree of Life. This is the only tree that was protected by the flaming fire of a cherub. And in the new world to come, it will only be found in one location, and enjoyed by one group of people – those that overcome. Now, that sounds to me like a motivation to face life’s challenges not as cowards but those that are determined to rise above the limitations of fallen humanity to celestial beauty of a saved life. All thanks to the precious works of our only Redeemer and Provider, Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to see the Tree of Life, enjoy its joys perched high above the world on the greatest and highest mountain in the world while sipping the cool waters of Life flowing from the Throne of God and of the Lamb. This is not just another good story. It is the Good Story for mankind.
This natural world is amazing. When you see the photos of the natural wonders of the world, and if you are privileged to go and visit them, you get to know earth is an incredibly beautiful part of the universe. Yet despite all these splendid displays, there’s a yearning for something more. Something better.
The Bible provides for another avenue of awe – an introduction into the spiritual world. And for our story today, Jesus invites three of his trusted disciples to ascend a high mountain. What a great outing! I cannot imagine a better day to spend with our Lord than to go out in the wild and hike. I would be watching how He would be placing His feet, how He would breathe. We would discuss the flowers, trees, insects, birds and anything of interest.
He would know where the best brooks would be. And if the water was not as fresh, I would know a water transforming miracle would be within reach. And on a day like this, there would be no pesky flies getting in our way. Snakes, spiders, centipedes would keep their distance. There would be no fear of injury or death, seeing that the One with the keys to hell and death is in our midst. This would be a hike with the Holy One who said He was Resurrection Himself.
What a special hike it must have been for Peter, James and John. Peter was later to refer to it (2 Peter 1: 16 – 18). This is one hike you would not want to come to an end. But it did. They reached the top and settled in for a private praise and worship session. Our Lord, in His tradition, must have shared great insights from the Scriptures. He must have taught them about prophets, God and His death. The first two topics must have been very thrilling to the disciples, but the last one must have been a horrible subject. Peter, in particular, did not want to hear about Jesus facing death, and hanging on the Cross. Humans, up until this day, do not see victory through suffering. But then, how can you have victory without a fight? How do you become a victor without facing your challenges?
Then something better than a natural hike takes place. As Jesus begins to pray, He transforms before them into one exceedingly beautiful celestial form. They break into the Heavenly dimension and witnessed the Father grant authority to Jesus. This was the first time for mankind to witness a heavenly occasion. Jesus was being made the mouthpiece of God. Mankind would now have to listen to Jesus, and understand Him. And the disciples were privileged to see people that had crossed the river of death. There was Moses and Elijah, speaking to Jesus about His decease. And a heavenly cloud shrouded them all.
But read it again. The face of Jesus did shine as the sun, his raiment was white as the light. That is power, endless power of Life. That is divine. That’s the same description like the Burning Bush that Moses saw, only that this time the same Glory was on a human face. That’s the same Light that struck Paul down on the way to Damascus. The same Light that said was Jesus, when Paul asked for Its Name. To witness this, to behold such beauty was, is and will always be better than the plumage of the most exotic bird, or the sight of cascading water falling into a picture-perfect pool of the most crystal clear waters. This is better than any adventure ever devised by mankind.
Peter, James and John, as earthly witnesses had a single experience, and it lasted them a lifetime. Moses and Elijah, as heavenly witnesses had prior experience with the Pillar of Fire, but never anything like this.
Now, that’s what we are all yearning for. Just to behold the Lord’s beauty, in its celestial form, is better than anything life can give. I’m searching for my Mount Transfiguration hike, and I hope to witness it in its strength one of these days.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything was smooth, and there was no single problem in our lives? I have often heard others say that life would be boring. I’m not sure I share similar sentiments. I do not like having problems. And I know a lot of people who do not like having any trouble.
Things get complicated however, when we put God in the midst of our problems. Most people expect that by virtue of being the Children of God, they will get exempted from earthly troubles. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Bible in the Book of Corinthians says God comforts us in all our tribulation. The Bible does not say that God will avert all troubles from us. No. It does not say that we will never know how to spell the word problems because we will be floating on the clouds of Angels, surrounded by Heavenly Anthems and Blessings.
Let me quote the entire verse. 2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 4
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
What is that comfort then? Well, I would say it is the knowledge that God is not oblivious to our pain. It is the power of knowing that God is the Father of mercies, and that even in the darkest moments He is not very far from us. It is truly comforting to know that God is in control. But it does not stop there. The Bible then says that we should in turn comfort others in the same manner God comforts us.
So read it again. Find meaning in your problems by offering words of comfort to others as you get rest assured God, who is full of mercy, loves and comforts you. It will take the sting of your troubles away. And once you get to this level, you will bless God as Paul did in the passage we just shared above.
The Bible has some outstanding statements that simply will blow your mind. That is, if we only read them correctly. For instance, when the Bible mentions eternal, or eternity, we often interchange the meaning with forever, or long lasting. Forever is a long, long, long, long time (pardon the stretch on Grammar here). But it is still time-based.
However, eternal means never had a beginning, so certainly, there will never ever be an end. It is from everlasting to everlasting, and beyond. That is mind-blowing.
Paul in 1 Timothy 1: 17 says we have a King eternal, immortal, and invisible. So read it again.
There are certain attributes of God that have a beginning. For instance, Jesus cannot be an eternal son. Simply because all sons must have a beginning. They must come from a father. Jesus, was begotten of the Heavenly Father.
But God says He’s an Eternal King. Meaning, He always was a King. And He will always be King. Even when other kings come in the future to reign with Him (Revelation 5:10) He will remain KINGS OF KINGS (Revelation 19:16).
He was always The King. No wonder all kingdoms must fall. All kingdoms must have an end, so that He can establish His Kingdom, that will not have an end.
Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. It only has four chapters but contains a powerful end-time message. It closes off with a prophesy on the First Coming and the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It also prophesies about each coming being preceded by Elijah the prophet.
But today’s reflection is on the passage that is found in Chapter 3. God declares that He’s the Lord and He changes not. What does that mean? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Modern thinking says that if someone does not change, he or she would be regarded as being rigid, perhaps old-fashioned, unreasonable and so on and so forth.
In the case of our Lord, is that statement restricting or liberating? Well, let’s consider the following:
What if I presented a battery that changes not? It would run forever.
What if you packed food that never changes? It would never go bad. There would be no expiry date on it.
What if you had a bank account that changed not? It would never run out of funds.
Do you now get the idea?
So read again Malachi 3: 6.
And the God that changes not?
He will always be All-Powerful (Omnipotent).
He will always be All-Knowing (Omniscient).
He will always be Ever-Present (Omnipresent).
He will always be the Only Healer (Jehovah-Rapha).
He will always be The Only Provider (Jehovah-Jireh).
He will always be Our Peace (Jehovah-Shalom).
He will always be Our Shepherd (Jehovah-Raah).
He will always be Our Guide (The Holy Spirit).
He will always be Our Teacher (The Holy Spirit).
He will always be The Prophet (The Son of Man).
He will always be The Way (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
He will always be The Truth (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
He will always be The Life (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
He will always be The Light of Men (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
He will always be The Lamb of God (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
He will always be The High Priest (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
He will always be The Author and Finisher of Our Faith (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
He will always be The Christ (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
He will always be The Eternal, Immortal, Invisible King (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
He will always be The Creator (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
I could go on extolling His Wonderful Name. But you get the idea.
With all these great attributes, why should He ever change? This is our Assurance. This is our Comfort.
The fact that He changes not, it’s the best thing that ever happened to us. And being such a versatile Creator (just look around), He is not rigid at all. On the contrary, He is simply Amazing.
Now, that’s a God I can freely worship with all my heart, all my strength, and all soul!