“ … the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
(Nehemiah 8:10, King James Version)
What does it mean to have the joy of the Lord as your strength? To have the joy of the Lord as your strength means to draw power, courage or might from God. How? By having the awareness that he is your helper, your source, your life and your everything. In the book of of John 15:5, Jesus uses the analogy of the vine and its branches to explain what it means to have God as one’s strength. He said,
“I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me.”
(John 15:5, God’s Word Translation)
That is to say, the ability to do anything remotely productive comes from God and that includes the strength he gives us daily. Because, when we believe in God, his Holy Spirit comes upon us and starts to live within us. Through his Holy Spirit, he begins to empower us to do all the things he has called us to do. Things that could be straightforward or challenging. A good example is someone like Paul the Apostle, whose calling was quite challenging that it prompted him to say,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
(James1:2, New International Version)
In human terms, joy and trials are polar opposites. That is why, it is difficult to imagine being joyful when facing hardships. But here’s the thing, having gone through a very harrowing experience in his ministry that left Paul despairing for life (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-31), he was able to say this:
“I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.”
(Philippians 4:13, New Century Version)
Paul, in the midst of his trials came to the realisation that, it was God who strengthened him to overcome his ordeal. And that knowledge was what brought him joy. His joy came from knowing that God’s Holy Spirit was in him (and with him), supporting him through all the things he had experienced.
So, what does it mean to have the joy of the Lord as your strength? Having the joy of the Lord means to have an awareness of who God is. That is, seeing him as the creator of the universe and the Sovereign God that he is. Then shifting the focus from one’s self to God, by acknowledging his supreme ability to handle all things. In the midst of that process is where strength emerges. Giving you the confidence that God is in control, no matter what and that confidence, makes you joyful (in the Lord) knowing that you are not alone. That was why Jesus, when facing crucifixion and abandonment could say to his disciples:
“…You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”
(John:16:32, New International Version)
The joy of the Lord Jesus (at that time) was that, God was with him. Why not follow in the footsteps of Jesus or Paul and let the joy of the Lord be your strength. I leave you with the song 'Another in the fire', reminding us that we are never really alone when God is with us.
Stay blessed and keep on going!
A recent stroll down the West End gave me a glimpse into the life of a modern missionary. Whilst walking, I heard a resounding voice echoing through the streets. It turned out to be the passionate voice of a Christian missionary preaching the gospel.
Whilst I won't attempt to quote the actual phrase she used, something caught my attention from the scene her presence created. In fact, the moment she mentioned the name 'JESUS' the atmosphere turned hostile. From getting bewildered glares, to people blatantly pointing in her direction, to resentful comments being made about her, she got the whole works. I mean if looks could kill, that missionary would not be standing!
As the scene unfolded before our eyes, my companion and I, observed the scene. The missionary explained she was from India. Meaning that she travelled all the way from India to preach the gospel to a lost world in the West. A world which used to have Christ as it's foundation, but is now so far removed from it's Christian roots that they resented her presence. Or the 'Christ' she came to represent.
Standing next to her was a man of alternative faith, who was also sharing his faith by approaching people on the streets. He didn't receive the same hostility they dished out to her, yet he mockingly shrugged her off, smiling mischievously at her. As if to say, he was winning but she was losing. It felt like watching a battlefield for the souls. The man proceeded with his task, by approaching people in the street and sharing his faith with them. Surprisingly, the faith he was professing was one of peace. But the actions he had displayed was one of discord.
Thing is, inspite of the hostility, the Missionary remained resolute in her deliverance of the gospel and I fully understand why. Because let's face it , all the negative reactions she experienced were nothing but distractions. Had she reacted to the hostility, the same people could have turned around and pointed an accusing finger at her for not being a genuine Christian. That's why it was a valuable waste of her time to respond. Her time was better spent winning souls for God's kingdom. Even when it looked like no one was listening, the point was that the gospel was being preached. And those who heard her preach the gospel can't say to God on the day of judgement that they never heard the gospel.
This reminded me of John Allen Chau's story. To find out more about him see link on John Allen Chau.
Though John' s case was slightly different to the incident I just narrated, their mission remained the same. That is, to share the gospel with all nations, not just with the selected few we deem appropriate to share it with. This was what Jesus commissioned his disciples to do. In the the book of Mark 16:15 after Jesus' resurrection, he recommissioned his disciples to:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel
to every creature." Mark 16:15 (NKJV)
He also spoke about what could happen whenever the gospel is preached. He said that some would hear the gospel and believe, whilst others would hear, but fail to believe what they have heard. Jesus already knew his disciples would face resistance to the gospel they preached and was preparing them for the resistance that was to come. That was why Jesus said in the book of Mark 16:16 that,
He who believes... will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16, NKJV)
It was Jesus' way of reminding his disciples that their mission, however difficult, was to save lives by preaching the gospel. Lives that would go on to live eternally with God. But to those who heard the gospel, and refused to believe it, the result would be eternal damnation. Meaning they would be eternally seperated from God.
Is it any wonder that Christian missionaries would go to the ends of the earth to share the gospel? Because it's the love they have for God and others that propels them to share the gospel, as they don't want anyone to face eternal damnation.
So, however challenging the resistance, a true missionary for Christ keeps their eyes focused on eternity and for that, they will give their all to save lost souls. I pray the Lord will keep raising faithful misssionaries like those mentioned above, to win souls for his kingdom against all odds. And to help those who lack the courage to share the gospel, the grace to stand up and be counted for Christ.
Here are some encouraging words for my fellow believers in Christ:
You don't have to be a missionary to share the gospel of Christ with others. The bible says in Romans 12:6-8 that,
'We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us (by God). If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
(Romans 12:6-8, NIV)
As mentioned earlier, when I narrated the story of the Christian missionary from india, I stood in the background and observed what was happening. Though, we weren't called to minister to people in the streets, my companion and I still had some God-given gifts we could share with her. So, we said a prayer for her and left her some encouraging words before we departed.
Why did I mention this? It's because, as followers of Christ, there is always something we can do to support the furtherance of the gospel however little.
Truth is, to echo the words of the song 'When I Pray' by Christian artist 'Doe',
" I don't always know what to say...I'm not very eloquent in speech...all I know is something happens when I pray".
And that was all I and my companion did. We said a simple prayer for the missionary and gave what we had, eventhough it wasn't much. And any fellow believer can do the same. All you need to do, is to use whatever you have at your disposal to help others and leave the rest in God's capable hands.
Reading about the death of John Allen Chau, a young Christian missionary got me thinking. He reportedly died whilst preaching the gospel to a remote tribe off the Indian coast. He was only 26. Seeing negative, insensitive remarks made about him struck a deep chord within me. Some questioned why he went to such a remote place and should have left the inhabitants alone in peace.
For a disciple on a mission for Christ, visiting remote places and telling them about the gospel is part of the great commission. To quote the words of Jesus in the book of Mark 16:15, he told his disciples to:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
(Mark 16:15, NKJV)
Jesus never said to preach the gospel to a selected few, he instructed them to preach to all nations. And all nations, includes all the remote places in the world. Going by the instruction Jesus gave his disciples, I am of the mindset that this young man's death was not in vain.
From the journal entry he made before his demise, it appeared the young man wanted nothing more than to live. Instead, he chose to follow the strong conviction he had in his heart to preach the gospel.
An article in The Guardian for 22nd November 2018, shared an excerpt from his journal where he engaged in a heart felt conversation with God concerning his mission. He told God:
“If you want me to get ... shot or even killed with an arrow, then so be it, I think I could be more useful alive though. “I don’t want to die. Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else continue? No. I don’t think so. I still could make it back to the US somehow, as it almost seems like certain death to stay here.”
Then he went on to say that he, “ …felt some fear but... was disappointed.” Because, they didn’t accept him right away.
Despite the fears and the disappointment he experienced, he didn't give up. He kept a log of events in his journal, which tells me his decision to embark on the mission wasn't a rash one. I came to this conclusion as a result of the notes he made in his journal.
In one of his journal entries he noted that his Bible was struck by an arrow fired by a child. This incident reminded me of the story of Stephen. When he was being stoned to death for preaching the gospel. There was a young man called Saul who was part of the instigators of Stephen’s death. Saul had persecuted the church, but later became someone who won souls for Christ.
What I find puzzling in John's case is that, the arrow could have landed on any part of his body, but it caught his Bible instead. Could it be that the child was fascinated by the Bible John was carrying or was it just a coincidence? I would never know, but it just seems interesting that John thought to record that incident in his journal. We may never know how John died, (or know if he survived, as his body hasn't been recovered), but I don’t think for a second that his mission was in vain.
The second thing that gave me the conviction that John's mission was not in vain, was in the departure letter he wrote to his loved ones. According to the guardian, he wrote them a letter saying:
“This is not a pointless thing. The eternal lives of this tribe is at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshipping in their own language, as Revelations 7:9-10 states.”
And he signed off with the phrase: “Soli deo gloria” (glory to God alone).
Clearly, this young man only wanted to share the gospel of Christ by taking it to the ends of the earth. Isn’t that what Jesus instructed his disciples to do? More importantly, it appears that he did it in obedience to God. Why would I say this? Because the clue was in his journal entry, when he told God that he didn’t want to die. He said this:
“If you want me to get ... shot or even killed with an arrow, then so be it, I think I could be more useful alive though. “I don’t want to die.”
But despite his reservations, he chose to continue with his mission, knowing that it could lead to death.
The third thing that makes me feel strongly that John’s mission was by no means pointless, was that his mission was reminiscent of those believers who came before him. Though John’s mission was different to that of Stephen’s, there is a similar thread running through the two events. That is, they both interceded on behalf of their perpetrators, so that their perpetrators were not held accountable for their actions. Stephen pleaded to God on behalf of the people who stoned him to death and John pleaded to his loved ones on behalf of his killers.
It was stephen’s prayers that set the foundation for Saul’s conversion and I strongly feel that John’s plea have planted seeds that would one day flourish into bouyant plants for God’s Kingdom. Because in his final letter to his loved ones, he said this,
“Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed. Rather, please live your lives in obedience to whatever he has called you to and I’ll see you again when you pass through the veil.”
Though, we may never get to fully understand the reason why John made the trip to that remote island to preach the gospel, something tells me the foundation John laid would eventually bear fruit for God’s Kingdom. I also believe that the mission he started would one day bring “Soli deo gloria” that is, glory to God alone.
The full guardian article can be seen here: John Allen Chau guardian article
If this post resonates with you, the post 'Hats off to Christian Missionaries' could also give you something to think about.
Following Christ is a truly narrow path. One that Jesus himself describes as a 'Cross' that must be 'Taken Up' by the individuals who want to follow him (Mark 10:2, KJV). By 'Cross' he means there are challenges that comes with being identified as someone who belongs to Jesus. Challenges such as persecutions, being hated or being falsely accused (Matthew 5:10-12, KJV). But despite these earthly challenges, Jesus called everyone who genuinely follows him 'Blessed'. Because he's promised to reward those who faithfully follow him with eternal life (Mark 10:28-30, KJV). Here, we look at what it means to reject Jesus in a simple to understand manner. So that when someone decides not to follow Jesus, they are fully aware of what that means. Both here on earth and in eternity.
Will leave you with the song 'Can't Let Go Even When It Hurts' from Madison Ward. It's in celebration of what it means to choose Jesus.
We all have good and not so great days, it's what makes us human. But I'm yet to hear anyone complain about the good days. That's why I'm sharing ways to manage those awkward, not so great days and hope it encourages you to keep on going. Stay Blessed!
Meditation is an important part of the Christian walk. To a follower of Christ, meditation doesn't mean to empty your thoughts. Rather, it means to fully immerse yourself in the written word of God (The Bible). Simply put, it means to study God's word to gain better understanding, thoughtfully process what you've read and allow those words to impact your way of life. Hope this post sheds some light on what it means for a Christian to meditate on God's word.
I’ll also leave you with a song below, which serves as a reminder of what to do, before engaging in meditation. That is, to pray to God for wisdom, knowledge and understanding of his word. As well as having an open heart to receive the things he reveals through his word.
Living in a world obsessed with numbers, performance and aquisition of material things; It's hard not to be dragged into the rat race of wanting to belong, without meaning to. That's because our world and the things around us, has a way of influencing our lives. But when you serve God (through Christ), you will begin to see life differently (from God's perspective). Here is an example of how our views differs from God's and how thinking in a Godly way could result in a better way of living for us all.
Stay Blessed and take care!
One key thing the Coronation highlighted for me was this: we are all called to a life of service in one way or another. Watching the Coronation live on my friend's TV, as it rained outside, on a day that happened to be of great significance for the nation, was nothing short of insightful. My eyes darted to some of the workers behind the scenes in the cold rain, helping to put their stamp on this historic moment in time. From the uniformed officials parading the streets, to the people lined up across the streets looking to get a glimpse of the King's Golden carriage as it drove past, to the reporter in trainers who shuffled back and forth amongst the crowd in a bid to get good coverage as events unfolded. I started to realise that this day, was a significant one indeed. Because, it demonstrated what it means to be called to service and to honour that role to the best of one's ability with utmost humility.
Even though the coronation and all the glorious trappings of the star-studded events that followed it is now over, it has left us an indelible lesson to take forward. And that is, that God is still very much in control. Seeing that the ceremony was a religious one, where the King had to make a vow of service to God, it showed that despite the world becoming increasingly Godless, that we are still (very much) accountable to God. And we will have to give account to God, on how we did the things he has called us to do, during our time on earth.
Another lesson that couldn't be ignored was this: just like a King is called to serve his people and his people are there to serve him, no role is too obscure when it comes to doing God's work. Because what God requires is for everyone of us to play our part with diligence, humility and less sense of entitlement, so that he can be the judge of how well we carried out our calling. In the book of 1 Peter 2:17 the Bible reminds us of what it means to have a sense of duty and accountability to God, ourselves and others when it says,
"Respect everyone, and love the family of believers, fear God, and respect the king."
Meaning, firstly, everyone of us is worthy of respect and respect is something we should also give to others. Secondly, having a fearful reverence for God, to serve and obey him is paramount to our success in life. By success, I don't mean money, I mean the success of achieving God's will and purposes for our lives. Lastly, having respect for those in authority. This is not just for the sake of being law abiding citizens, but is a God ordained instruction.
So, though the Coronation is over, let us learn from the experience. How? By holding fast to the calling God has given us. That is, if we know what they are, or better yet, ask him to show us his calling for our lives, if we don't know what they are. But most importantly, let us aim to do works that will be pleasing to God. Works that would make us boldy declare, like Paul in the Bible, that we too "have fought the good fight, have finished the race and have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 2:7)
As humans we are fallible. Infact, more often than not, we easily make mistakes that can sometimes hurt ourselves or others. I guess that is why they say " To err is human and to forgive is divine." Forgiving someone, especially when they've caused you undue pain, is not easy to do. Which is why Jesus taught us to forgive and demonstrated what it means to forgive through his death on the cross. Hope this encourages you to address the issue of forgiveness where you find yourself struggling to forgive others. Stay blessed and keep on going!
I leave you with this encouraging song by Madison Ryann Ward entitled 'Keep Forgiving'. Something to remind us to let go of past hurt and keep on forgiving.
I'm Kemi West. A simple Christian, learning to live life, through the teachings of Jesus Christ according to the scriptures. I’m looking to share the gift of Christ with others.