Moses and Scrabble; lessons learnt along the way

I have a couple of fond memories as a kid but I think one of my fondest was playing Scrabble with my dad and sister. He was obviously better than the two of us but he would always give us an additional fifty (50) points at the beginning of the game to place us ahead of him. But I guess you know who always won… yes you were right – My Dad. Regardless of the numerous losses as a kid, he increased my capacity to know lots of word. I would often and still do it now, try to form words from a word I see from bill boards, to car stickers (the thought just makes me smile). I can say some sort of confidence was built over time in playing Scrabble. I took that confidence to the National Youth Service Corps  (NYSC) orientation camp. Initially I was really humble watching the guys play the game and boy! they were so good. The first time I played with them, I won after the elimination stage, they were all shocked.

And that was how our little group of Scrabble players started to increase. I went on to win more games and soon represented my platoon in the camp games competition. I did well at the elimination stage, my all male squad was there to cheer me on. Oh it felt really cool but there was another player in the female category who was also very good. My platoon and her platoon made it to the final stage but something happened. The day of the finals she wasn’t available and it was a game of two (2) people each for a team. The coordinators had insisted we play 2 against 1 which would have been unfair so we decided to have a level playing ground for the two teams. But the other lady was scared of playing with me and insisted on us waiting for her partner, time was running out, I was feeling myself as “she who is the greatest champion”. She eventually agreed to play against me, in a turn of events we were at a tie midway into the game and then she started to have some more points ahead of mine. Men and brethren she won, one of my cheerleaders whispered to me later “you know you were better than her” and in retrospect I think I was too confident and that for me was a life’s lesson.

Incidentally many of us have passed through such scenarios, which may have had dire consequences, thankfully mine was just a game. I’m currently studying the life of Moses in the Bible and I’m amazed at how a regular child turned out to do extra-ordinary things cos’ God chose him. He probably wasn’t the best child at that time, but he sure had the best as a child. From been listed by Pharaoh to be killed to moving into Pharaoh’s palace as a royal child and then getting his mother to nurse him while she was been paid. Let’s applaud God’s huge sense of humor.  His’ was surely a fairy tale but the story doesn’t end there. God started working with Moses with his rod to save the Israelite, from the rod changing into a python, to using that same rod to divide the Red Sea. In most cases he didn’t speak, the rod did the speaking but you know, you can never fully understand God’s ways. We can never get used to His way of doing things neither can we let familiarity creep in on us.

The Israelite had complained again against God and Moses that they had no water, God instructed Moses and Aaron “Take the rod, and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock in front of them…Moses said to them listen now, you rebels must we bring water out of this rock? Then he raised his hand in anger and with his rod he struck the rock twice… and the water poured out abundantly” Numbers 20 : 8 – 11. Did you notice any similarity with Moses’ previous works – the rod was always in his hand. But while in other cases God asked him to stretch forth the rod in this case he was instructed by God to speak even while holding the rod. Is it convenient to say Moses assumed it was business as usual, he had applied the same principle in the past and it always worked therefore this particular one wasn’t any different. Can we also assume I had always won previous Scrabble games and didn’t pay attention to really see how my opponent played to predict the best moves?

How often have we missed out opportunities cos’ of assumption or familiarity, for the Bible scholars you remember this singular act of Moses prevented him from entering the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. God is a good God but His methods of expressing His goodness changes. At some point He’s mixing spit and clay to open blind eyes, at another point He’s speaking. Imagine if Abraham’s ears were closed to God, he would have sacrificed his son Isaac and still tell his wife that was God’s instruction but God said something after the first instruction. The issue isn’t if God is speaking rather are we listening or do we go to God with our already pre-conceived familiar idea and act upon it. I pray our ears and hearts are really open to hear that still small voice direct us.

Loads of Love

JMAD

 

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#Day 1 ; Unearthing my beliefs

It’s amazing how God’s word is really new and refreshing, I had read Romans 1 before but I got a different insight this time around. If you’re just visiting the blog for the first time, you can read up what led to this study here. The study will take the following format, a central theme for each chapter, analysis of the verses and a reflection.

Romans 1 – Good News and the Truth

Verse 1 – 4 : – This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News (Gospel). God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.  The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. [NLT]

Reflections: – Paul can be likened to our present day Pastor, Priest etc while we can’t all verify who commissioned them to carry out the message they bring to the world, Paul was chosen by God and his sole purpose was to speak of Good News. In order not to keep us guessing or getting into an argument of what Good News meant the next verse explained it as the Son of God. Simply put the Good News/Gospel is all about Jesus Christ. This is the crux of Christianity.

Verse 7 – 8 : – To all who are in Rome beloved of God called to be saints, grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.[NLT]

Reflections: – Paul writes to the Romans about Jesus Christ as well as God the Father, for every time he mentions Jesus we read about God the Father. For he knows his only access to God the Father is through the Son Jesus Christ, even while he prayed he adopted the same procedure. How often have we sought help from the Father through other means?

Verse 9 – 12 : – For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,  making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.  For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established  that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. [NKJV]

Reflections: – He serves God in his spirit… but what of those who serve in the Church, the Choristers, Protocol, Evangelists etc. Don’t they serve God through their various works? Why didn’t Paul say God whom I serve with my body? Remember the conversation Jesus had with the woman at the well, He ended by saying they that worship God, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Our service/worship stems from the spirit. Without that we are just displaying works of flesh, and remember the flesh is always in competition with the spirit. Sooner or later we will wear out if our service is from the flesh, it all becomes about us, rivalry and pride sets in. He went further to say he desires to be with them to impart some spiritual gift note he didn’t say gifts (just like the fruit of the spirit Eph 5:9), that they may be established. The spiritual gift from God is all encompassing, how much of it have we desired, just like in the harvests of 30’s, 60’s, 100’s. Do you have anyone writing letters to you? Have you become an Island? What kind of impartation are you receiving? While you may think the Romans only needed the impartation for their good, Paul says it was of mutual benefit. Iron sharpens iron. Have you been imparted with spiritual gift? If you have, what are you doing with it?

Verse 16 – 17: –  For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith [NLT]. As the Scriptures say,  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith “ [NKJV].

Reflections: – Why would anyone be ashamed of this Good News? If you’ve ever been ashamed, it’s time to analyze what you believe. For this is what makes us right in God’s sight, it transforms us. Notice he didn’t say the works you do rather the Good News which is Jesus Christ. Just when you’re wondering how, he says it is by faith. Hold on, I thought faith was only applicable to receiving great and mighty miracles from God, that mountain moving testimony but here Paul is saying our righteousness, right standing is by faith. Let’s hold that thought a bit

Verse 18 – 20: – But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.  For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God [NLT]

Reflections: – This verse wasn’t written to the ignorant or unbelievers rather to those who already know God. Could this be written to Christians? Or better still those who have experienced the truth about God and probably given the mandate to share that truth with others. Are you a minister, apostle or preacher in the Lord’s house? Have you withheld the truth God Himself revealed to you from your congregation? You may not be heading a Church but you are putting an end, concealing the truth from people. What exactly is that truth? The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Nothing was created without God, and all that was created was made for His pleasure and to bring Him glory. The entire world we see points to God, therefore we really have no excuse not to know Him.

Verse 21 – 24: – Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.  So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies.

Reflections: – The first verse reveals pride; they knew God but wouldn’t worship Him and were equally unthankful. Once again these are people who know God. They are the self-sufficient ones, the wise ones, maybe I could be one of them. When you think your wisdom has gotten you to the place you are now, and in that assumed wisdom you start to create a God that best suits your imagination. These imaginations lead to the creation of idols which can be in any form, career, spouse, accolades, wealth, fame etc. As a result of this God abandoned them, I think this is the worst state to live in. Gen 20 gave an account of how Abraham lied to Abimelech that Sarah was his sister that resulted in Abimelech taking her as his wife vs 6 says ‘’In the dream God responded to Abimelech, yes I know you are innocent that’s why I kept you from sinning against me and why I didn’t let you touch her’’. Imagine if God had abandoned Abimelech to fulfill his desires, it’s like a hedge around us, once it is removed the true evil intents of our heart gets to work.

Verse 25 – 28: – They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.  Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done [NLT].

Reflections: – Paul mentions the truth again; in this case idol worship was practiced. Remember idol worship isn’t just carved images. Whenever the issue of same-sex relationship is mentioned, most Christians refer to this verse and maybe while reading this, you are saying please tell them but a careful look at the verse above reveals these actions came from their inner lustful desires. When God abandoned them they practiced it. Question is, what is your own inner lustful desire and for a second imagine if God abandons you now, what act will you display?

Verse 29 – 32: – Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.  They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Reflections: – As a result of the shameful things practiced their lives became filled with terrible things, and they started to invent new ways of sinning. But the terrible things they did are not too far from us, they are within us every day. Is there a correlation to out hidden lustful desires? To crown it all vs 32 says they know God’s justice for those engaging in it, they don’t just do them but give their seal of approval to those who practice them.

***End***

I didn’t think it would have been this long, but then again remember I said I wasn’t sure of what to expect. I hope you have started questioning yourself and your beliefs. Chapter 2 will be explored tomorrow by God’s grace.

Loads of Love

JMAD

 

 

Mum always says…

There’s something about mothers and proverbs. You’ll probably relate to this if you were raised by a Nigerian mother. While growing up we had the family tradition of morning devotion – a time set aside usually around 6 – 7 a.m to sing praises, study the Bible and pray together. Some days were not particularly funny especially when your sleep had to be interrupted. Most times it had a routine, you know we were close to the end when we get to Bible study… But it’s not always the case cos’ my mum will start a sermon and 8 out of 10 times she will end with these words ‘you have a name to protect’. In other words whatever you decide to do, remember the name you’re representing. Some how those six words have stuck with me even when I’m miles away from home.

As children we memorised a few Bible verses; Prov. 22:6 ‘train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he won’t depart from it‘ and the famous Psalm 23 ‘The Lord is my shepherd’. Many of us can recite the entire chapter off by heart. While studying it a while ago something struck me in the 3rd verse ‘… for His Name’s sake‘. That verse changed my perception of the Psalm and reminded me of how often we talk about God’s word and it profits us nothing cos we either fail to realise the power in it or it’s not mixed with faith.

When the psalmist says for His name sake he is simply referring to my mum’s six words ‘you have a name to protect’. Once you profess Jesus Christ as Lord, God has a name to protect. His name is on the line and He’s not in the habit of seeing His own experience shame. Ask the three Hebrew boys who were thrown in the furnace or Joseph who was put in prison. These people chose to honour God above any other thing. A sermon was preached some years ago ‘If you don’t bow, you won’t burn‘. You might have forsaken somethings in the past for the sake of the name of Jesus and you’re wondering if it was the right thing; seeing most of your peers who chose the ‘other’ path have moved on.

While i may never know what you had to let go but I’m definitely sure God knows and He’s reminding you today He hasn’t forgotten about you. He’s very proud of you, life is in phases and we were all created individually with distinct purposes. He makes all things beautiful in His time. Do not use the time zone of the world especially the time expectations of your family or friends. He has His reward with Him and what He gives is lasting. In a bid to get that promotion, contract, job, marriage partner (insert yours if it was omitted) don’t push for what you want and miss out on what you truly deserve. Wait for it, He’s too faithful to leave you all by yourself. When it comes you’ll be a display of God’s glory cos ifechukwunyediche (what God gives is different).

I hope this puts a smile on your face and gives you another reason to tag along with Jesus Christ. His team is the winning side. You might be reading this and saying you haven’t been associated with Jesus, well this is a good time to come to Him by saying this prayer. Dear Father i come to you in the name of Jesus and i ask for your forgiveness for not acknowledging Jesus as my saviour. I thank You for loving me so much that You let Your Son Jesus die on the cross for me and i now have eternal life through His resurrection. I belong to You and i surrender my life to You. Welcome to the family, join a community of Bible based believers to continue the fellowship. See you on the other side.

Loads of love
JMAD

N/B Ifechukwunyediche is an Igbo word

It’s time to hear Him

 love

I am more careful in my interaction with people these days, I don’t assume to know them, their culture or religion. I wanted to invite a course-mate to a Christmas party in Church and somehow I ended up asking if she was a Christian, she said yes but said everything about it is complicated. She’s not the only one in that line of thought; I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and he said he gets a bit confused when he goes to different churches and sees the different modes of operation/worship. Some churches choose to kill their enemies by calling down fire from heaven while others may just say a simple prayer of forgiveness over them which some may think, it’s not enough. Question is – is there any right method or doctrine?

A time came when the people of a certain village didn’t come out to acknowledge or receive Jesus, His disciples; James and John after observing it, got angry and asked Jesus if they could command fire from heaven to consume them just like Elijah did but Jesus rebuked them and said you don’t know the kind of Spirit you are, the Son of Man did not come to destroy lives but to save them Luke 9 vs 54 – 56. In Matthew 17, Jesus took 3 disciples – Peter, James and John to a high mountain and they witnessed the Transfiguration but something note-worthy happened. In vs 4 ‘Peter after witnessing the appearance of Moses and Elijah, asked Jesus if he could build 3 tents for the 3 of them (Jesus, Moses and Elijah) but while he was still speaking vs 5 said ‘A shining cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said This is my beloved Son, HEAR HIM’.

I’m sure you are wondering what this is all about, just stay with me. Moses and Elijah were powerful prophets in the Old Testament, the law and all the commandments came through Moses and he spoke to God like a friend while Elijah challenged 400 prophets of Baal and God showed Himself by letting down fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice and let’s not forget he didn’t see death but was caught up in heaven. Peter had forgotten who Jesus was and wanted to place Him on the same level as Moses (law-giver) and Elijah but God had to remind him of something very important; Hear what Jesus has to say and in Luke Jesus said He came not to condemn but to save.

Somehow Christianity is divided on the lines of doctrines hence the difference in worship and operation. It gets really difficult to tell what’s right and acceptable these days. There’s a lot of confusion and it hampers the Christians from reaching out cos some of them are not too sure of what they believe and may get scared if they are confronted with questions about their belief. I am one of them but I am constantly reminded to take up the message of Jesus Christ. Moses gave the law and it proved how incapable we are to keep all of it but Jesus came and through His death we have victory over the law, does it mean we have the liberty to abuse the law. NO, rather we even go above the law to live a life that is considerate for our next-door neighbour, in essence we love them and think good thoughts towards them.

In this era of bloodshed in Paris, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan and the rest of the world, what will Jesus say? In this era of gay rights and the justice system, what will Jesus say? In this era of man’s inhumanity to man, killing of school children, incessant rape, what will Jesus say? After Jesus had gone through excruciating pain and humiliation on the cross, He asked God to forgive them. As Christians can we take a step further from our individual church doctrines and listen to what Jesus has to say. The message of Jesus is centred on love and that’s who we are; anything short of that, is contrary to His message. You want to make disciples of nations, that’s a good project but people will listen more to your actions than what you say. May we step out and become CHRIST-like.

LOADS OF LOVE

JMAD

N/B : – Photo Credit : – www.leadershipethicsonline.com