Read It Again: The Tree of Life

Amazing views from nature.
Amazing views from nature.

 

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.

 

Jacket-wearing trees on Kilimanjaro
Jacket-wearing trees on Kilimanjaro

 

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.

See you at the top.

Read It Again: Mount Transfiguration

A view from a mountain
A view from a mountain

 

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.

 

 

Read It Again: Heavenly Comfort

Heavenly Comfort
Heavenly Comfort

 

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.

Child of God, be comforted from above.

Read it Again: Eternal King, Immortal, Invisible

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.

It makes everlasting sense to me.

Read It Again: I Change Not

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?

  1. He will always be All-Powerful (Omnipotent).
  2. He will always be All-Knowing (Omniscient).
  3. He will always be Ever-Present (Omnipresent).
  4. He will always be the Only Healer (Jehovah-Rapha).
  5. He will always be The Only Provider (Jehovah-Jireh).
  6. He will always be Our Peace (Jehovah-Shalom).
  7. He will always be Our Shepherd (Jehovah-Raah).
  8. He will always be Our Guide (The Holy Spirit).
  9. He will always be Our Teacher (The Holy Spirit).
  10. He will always be The Prophet (The Son of Man).
  11. He will always be The Way (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
  12. He will always be The Truth (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
  13. He will always be The Life (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
  14. He will always be The Light of Men (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
  15. He will always be The Lamb of God (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
  16. He will always be The High Priest (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
  17. He will always be The Author and Finisher of Our Faith (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
  18. He will always be The Christ (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
  19. He will always be The Eternal, Immortal, Invisible King (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
  20. 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!

Read it again: I am Alpha and Omega

Kilimanjaro, the alpha and omega of all mountains in Africa. Just as an example of that expression.
Kilimanjaro, the alpha and omega of all mountains in Africa. Just as an example of that expression.

Here comes our weekly reflection on the Word of God. As stated before the Bible contains Scriptures that act like seed. Once planted in our hearts, as we meditate on the meaning of these wonderful words, something changes within us.

One such Scripture is found in the Book of Revelation, my personal favourite, where our Lord Jesus Christ declared Himself, more than once that He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8; Revelation 21:6 and Revelation 22:13). He says it three times, in case you missed it. Those are greek characters standing for the first letter of the alphabet and the last letter. In other words, He is saying He is the Beginning and He is the end. He is everything.

What exactly does that mean? He is not saying He knows the Beginning and He knows the End, which He does. But He is the Beginning itself. And He is the End. That is one outstanding statement to make.

What if there was a mountain that was the alpha and omega? (Notice the use of small letters in this case.) Wouldn’t it have it all? Couldn’t we say Kilimanjaro is the alpha and omega of Africa? Standing at 5,895 metres above the mean sea level, it sure is the alpha being the largest and and omega, being the tallest mountain in Africa. It has it all. Everest Mountain dwarfs Kilimanjaro by over 2,000 m so it could claim to be the alpha and omega of all the mountains on land. The New Jerusalem lands on the mightiest mountain ever. That will be bigger and taller than mount Everest. It will claim rulership over the other mountains. You get the idea?

So read it again.

  1. Is He King of Kings? (Revelation 19:16) Yes, He is.
  2. Has He conquered death and defeated the devil? (Revelation 1:18) Sure.
  3. Is He the High Priest over the Living Oracles of God? (Hebrews 10:21) Oh yes.
  4. Is He the Prophet of the prophets? In other words, is He the Living Word itself, the Son of Man? (Revelation 1:1; John 1:1 – 3, 14). A big resounding yes.
  5. Is He Omniscient? Meaning He knows all things? Of course. How could the Eternal One not know? He spans Eternity mind you.
  6. Is He Omnipresent? Meaning He is everywhere? Knowing everything, He really is everywhere for He hears our prayers from any corner of the world.
  7. Is He Omnipotent? Meaning He is all powerful? What do you think? Who can defeat Him when He conquered death itself?
  8. He is above all. He is mighty. He is the Best of the Best. He is the Chief of the Chiefest. He is above Heaven and bigger than the universe.

My heart is filled with joy just to think of our Lord Jesus in this way. Now, I bow my knee and worship Him as the Alpha and Omega. So what are you afraid of? If He calls you a son or daughter, and reigns in your heart, you can overcome anything through His precious Name. Does the Scripture say “I can do ALL things through Christ, who (which) strengthens me?” For He is truly the Beginning and End of everything.

Amen!

Read It Again: I am the way, the truth and the life

Not a bad spot for a walk with God.
Not a bad spot for a walk with God.

The Bible contains some of the greatest stories ever recorded in human history. One such story is the narration of Abraham having a physical and visible visitation from God. It happened on this wise. One hot afternoon, Abraham was enjoying the shade under a big tree in his compound. He saw three men approach his tent and it looked like they were going to go past his home. He ran quickly to them and addressed to one of them as Lord. He asked them to stop by his house for refreshments. In the course of their fellowship, the Lord revealed His plan for Sodom, the metropolitan city for that day. He also told Abraham about the promised son who was just a year away.

Then there is the story of Jacob who wrestled with an Angel for the whole night before getting his blessings from above. Not much talk was recorded for our benefit but I do not think the overnight tussle was muted. There must have been some exchange worth transforming a life and name from Jacob to Israel. Talk about having an animated talk!

Hundreds of years pass by. Then Moses appears on the scene. He gets to see the Pillar of Fire in action at the burning bush. He gets to talk to God directly. Not in a dream. Not in a vision. But in the same way you and I talk to our family and friends. And these are not just one-liners. No. It is a comprehensive conversation. And part of the recorded conversation shows that the issues being tackled were wide ranging from strategic planning to destroy the biggest gentile kingdom of that day in order to free people that were in bondage to curing fear and unbelief engulfing the heart of Moses.

Which takes me to my thought for today. Have you ever had a priviledge to talk to someone who has discovered something big in our times? Or talking to someone who has accomplished a great achievement? It is always very refreshing. I have had such a privilege and one thing is for sure. Great achievers do not like idle talk. Every conversation has to be worth the time and attention it deserves.

So what about having a conversation with God? I mean not just praying to God or worshipping God, but having a direct talk with God? Wouldn’t that be the greatest achievement of all time? Just imagine the impact that talk would have on your life.

Some 2000 years ago, the disciples were walking and talking to the Son of God. The book of John says He said He was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He did not say He knew the Truth. That goes without saying. And He did not say that He knew the way, which would be impressive in itself. And He did not say He would take them to life, or show them the way to Life, which He did. But He said He was the actual Truth. This is beyond someone who has discovered something, say, atoms. To discover something, it means it was there to begin with. This is not inventing something, which in our times relies on using preexisting material or medium. This is the same as saying I am the maker of atoms, or the electromagnetic spectrum. I am the designer of the mountains, the soil, the air, and you.

So read it again. Who knew the Truth was a person? And who knew the way and Life were a person? Not three people, no. Just a single person. Did the disciples know they were talking to God? Or they all thought they were talking to The Son of Man, as Jesus liked to call Himself? Who can ever say I am the Truth but God?  Oh! What I would give to have a conversation with Him. I would want to know how He created the world. How He designed it. I would want to know how big the universe is. (I also want to visit every corner of the visible universe – like, literally. To climb mountains on Mars, or get to the cold deserts of Pluto, now that’s an adventure worth its name. But shhh! Don’t tell anyone. They might think I have lost it. This is my secret longing.).

But first things first. Get saved first. Submit to His current program. Then everything else will follow. Just like Abraham, Jacob and Moses, God’s conversation has a transforming power. He wants to bring out something out of us that will make us achieve our widest dreams. Of all promises in the Bible, I want the most to walk with Him and have a long conversation with God. But I can wait. After all, we have the whole eternity ahead. What’s the rush?

Read it again: Give us this day our daily bread

Bro. Blessings Nanguwo on Michiru Mountain to ask for Daily Bread.
Bro. Blessings Nanguwo on Michiru Mountain to ask for Daily Bread.

One of my favourite Scriptures in the Bible is the prayer that our Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples. I have been told that perhaps there is no better prayer than this. It encompasses everything, it is on point, and being condensed, it is able to be expanded in any manner of possible variations.

I have been studying it for the last three years, and came to the realisation that I was not reading it correctly. Especially where it said “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Since we attribute all the creation we see to God, and Jesus being the Son of God, He knew that God never created bread. He created wheat instead, which is used to make bread. So why didn’t our Lord ask us to pray for wheat?

In order to have daily bread, you must have wheat for that day. And in order to have wheat in abundance, you must have grown it in its season(s). So the question is what should you have done prior to getting your daily bread? What does your daily bread constitute? Our Heavenly Father must, of needs, provide that essential ingredient in its season. Otherwise, no wheat no bread. No wheat in its due season, no daily bread.

And of late, I have also been thinking that Jesus was inviting us to Himself as Our Sacrifice. He had to be crucified in order to become Bread to us. Let us pray to consume Him (His Word) on daily basis, as we seek provision of whatever is our daily bread. So next time you are up on your favourite mountain praying, just know that in order for you to have that daily prayer, it is simply because He had already arranged, billions of years ago, the atoms, that combined with other atoms, to form molecules that formed into chemical compounds. These became rocks and soil and trees and grass, and everything that makes it possible to say that prayer, while enjoying the cool breeze around you. Asking for daily bread simplifies a complex process behind the scene, and makes you appreciate the power of simplicity of child-like faith.

So read it again.

Prepping on Michiru Mountain to ask for Daily Bread.
Prepping on Michiru Mountain to ask for Daily Bread.

Read it again: do not worry about tomorrow

Don't Worry. Smile.
Don’t Worry. Smile.

One of the most embraced statements by our Lord Jesus Christ says do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. This has been seen as if it means that you do not have to take care of affairs, especially if the outcome will not be seen today. So just lay back, relax and enjoy the Lord’s goodness.

But read it again. The statement does not say do not plan for tomorrow. It does not say do not prepare for tomorrow. In fact, the bulk of prophecy and visions in the Bible does just exactly that – preparing us for the future.

Enjoy Life Today. Act.
Enjoy Life Today. Act.

So get down to plan for tomorrow, prepare for it. Start doing today what you want to see tomorrow as a positive outcome. And commit everything into the Hands of the Lord. Surely, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Instead, just act today and smile at life.

No Worries About Tomorrow. Living Fully Today.
No Worries About Tomorrow. Living Fully Today.

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Read it again: bodily exercise profiteth little

Paul in the first book of Timothy admonishes the young preacher on things he must incorporate in his ministry. One of them was encouraging Timothy to focus on exercising unto godliness. “For the bodily exercise profiteth little:”, he says. (1 Timothy 4:8)

Bodily exercise profiteth little.

This seems to discourage Timothy from taking physical exercise. But read it again. Paul is not saying workouts lead to a loss. No, on the contrary it is profitable. However, when that profit is compared against spiritual godliness, the latter offers benefit in this world and the world to come.

When you consider the levels of profitability mentioned in the Bible, you have the increase recorded as 5 fold or ten fold. That is something like 500% and 1,000% in modern terms. That is a huge profit. So it is easy to see that a little profit is not a near zero phenomenon.

So read it again. And start to exercise today. Of course, do not forget to include the exceedingly more profitable workout: exercising unto godliness.

Physical exercise is profitable.