Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Perfect Father :the fther of Mercies

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,”- 2 Corinthians 1:3
"I will be a Father to you,and you shall be my sons and daughter says the Lord Almighty."2 Corinthians 6:18  New King James Version

I sometimes babysit a five year old girl whose parents are divorced. She is quite chatty and so recently, I enquired about her day at her mother’s place. She informed me that her mother’s car broke down and her father had driven down to give her mum a lift. Now I know most divorced people do not act like that so I commented on how nice her father is. Her response was quite intriguing. She said “yes I know and I have asked him if I can marry him when I am older”. I laughed and explained to her that she would need to find another man with the good qualities her dad had.

Everyone of us can relate to the mercy that father showed  to his former partner. According to Oxford dictionary, it is a disposition to be kind and forgiving, compassionate or simply put, it means not getting what we deserve. Mercy is such an integral quality of God that the first time He reveals his glory to a man, Moses “as he passed…..he shouted…..the Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).The first characteristic mentioned of God here is  that he is merciful. Jeremiah also says about this mercies that they are manufactured new every morning and that his mercy stops us from being destroyed (Lamentations 3:23). The mercy of God also leads to forgiveness of sins (Psalms 51:5), deliverance from death (Psalms 9:13), restoration (Jeremiah 42:12), direction (Isaiah 49:10), healing (Psalms 6:2), answers to prayer (Psalms 4:1) to mention a few.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he gives a beautiful description of God. He called him the “father of mercies”. When we say father, we usually mean the originator or the source. This means that all the acts or forms of mercy I have ever received or will ever receive have ultimately come from him .I do not know about you but I have come to the conclusion that I cannot go a day without mercy, hence this father’s day meets me with a new sense of gratitude and obligation. If our father is the father of mercies, then as his children we should also show mercy. In short God requires us to show mercy (Micah 6:8, Matthew 23:23) and showing mercy qualifies us to be recipients of mercy (Matthew 5:7)
 Perhaps your own memories of your father are far from favourable .He may have been absent, too stern or worse still, abusive and Father’s day celebration brings memories you would prefer not to revisit. But this Father’s day, regardless of how our “earthly fathers” or “father figures” may have acted, I implore us to choose to celebrate a father who is the “Father of mercies” and the source of our sustenance.

Happy Father's Day.
Grace Tom-Lawyer

Friday, 2 June 2017

Lessons from Balak (Feasting at the Table edition)

Numbers 22:15-17

They came to Balaam, and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor, ‘Please let nothing hinder you from coming to me.
for I will promote thee unto very great honor, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me. Come therefore, I pray thee, curse for me this people.’”
I will reward you very well, and whatever you say to me I will do. So please come, and curse this people for me.’”
They came to Balaam with this message: “King Balak pleads with you to come. He promises you great honors plus any payment you ask. Name your own figure! Only come and curse these people for us.”

Balak sent more honourable and prestigious men to Balaam and  also promised Balaam promotion but it is only God that can truly  promote us (Psalms 75:6). Rather than the fee of divination which he sent the first time, Balak asks Balaam to name his price. He refused to take no for an answer.As a king , he may have encountered so many religious people and his experience might be that everyman had a price .He may have also thought to himself that Balaam said No because the price was not right.

We see the persistence of the enemy and sometimes we could learn from this to just keep on keeping on. It was persistence that made the man who came tio his friend at night that his friend got up to ask for bread or the widow who went to see the unjust judge . this woman kept persisting till the unjust judge decided to give the woman justice so that he is no more disturbed

But why was Balak so persistent? It was because he knew that this was a battle he needed to win ,that the stakes were very high , hence he could swallow his pride, repackage himself more for what he really wanted.

Is it possible  that we are not really getting what we want because we have failed to persist long enough, Unlike Balak, are we really ready to revamp, to put in more energy to that goal that seems further away from us, Balak did more for him to get what he wanted, he persisted at it. If we are going to get to our destination, we may as well learn from Balak and not take no as an answer sometimes.

Remember that time was crucial for this man, right in his front were his perceived enemies who could take out he and his people at any time and to stop this, he was ready to double his efforts , he sent more numerous men, more prestigious, he increased his price and did all in his power to ensure that the solution to his problem came. I see in him not just a stubbornness but a rigid doggedness that refuses to take no for an answer and child of God maybe it is time to ask ourselves it, is there need for me to double my efforts or use all I how bad do I want it, what I am asking God, am I putting my all to get have got ,not only in terms of money but even in terms of relationships, Balak throws all into the battle,in order to secure victory.

I see the leadership of Balak shown  actively for the protection of his people and his persistence. I know we are dealing with the errors of Balaam but this King Balak teaches us a lesson in persistence which is worth emulating.
In His Service,

Grace Tom-Lawyer

“The Error of Balaam” is being run now as the current Bible Study series on “Feasting at the Table” on Peace &Joy Radio @11am every Saturday with a Rebroadcast on Tuesday@7pm

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Error of Balaam 4b-Feasting at the Table edition

AMP Numbers 22:15

Then Balak again sent leaders, more numerous and [men who were] more distinguished than the first ones. Numbers 22:15 AMP Amplified Version  

Balak again sent princes, more of them and of higher status than the first group.

CEV Numbers 22:15

Then Balak sent a larger group of officials, who were even more important than the first ones.

ESV  Numbers 22:15

Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these.

VOICE  Numbers 22:15

But Balak wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. He sent another, bigger contingent of even more highly esteemed men to solicit Balaam’s help.

We still continue to reiterate the fact that Balaam was being tempted and did not handle it very well.The  more numerous and more prestigious men  that were sent the second time  posed a greater temptation to Balaam. It is important to realize that these men came back and it was not just coming back the next day. Considering where they were coming from, it must have taken a minimum of another 30 days before they went back to Balaam if we take into cognizance  the  journey  from  Pethor and  a return  to Moab before Balak sent another contingent. Maybe this next contingent left almost immediately but  it definitely would have taken some time for them to have prepared and set out on another journey, armed greatly. This is actually the way and manner that temptations  come to us .There is never a time we are left alone for a long while without being tempted.

And we may not really know  what happened in Balaam’s mind when these men initially left the first time.Did he have further financial pressures when they left ? Was it possible that his children’s school fees were waiting to be paid , that his wife quarrelled with him for not making use of the opportunity that came along the way and perhaps while he was regretting his decision, behold these men come again and Balaam is not about to miss his chance.
They came to Balaam with this message: “King Balak pleads with you to come. He promises you great honors plus any payment you ask. Name your own figure! Only come and curse these people for us.”
Balak sent another group of nobles, higher ranking and more distinguished. They came to Balaam and said, “Balak son of Zippor says, ‘Please, don’t refuse to come to me. I will honor and reward you lavishly—anything you tell me to do, I’ll do; I’ll pay anything—only come and curse this people.’”

18 And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.
19 Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more.

The very thing Balak is asking for is the very thing God has asked Balaam not to do and we will see who he really calls God because the person who he eventually obeys is the one that is really his god. Obeying another voice is to put it before it before  God which in itself is idolatry.

Balak raises the stakes higher and gives Balaam a blank cheque this time. In essence, he tells Balaam to name his price and that temptation is too much for Balaam   and so he decides to renegotiate with God. Rather than asking the men to go back or using this opportunity to correct the wrong he previously did by not declaring the whole truth, he takes another detour and ask the men to spend yet another night so he can enquire further .

This in itself is another error. Although clearly stated and informed by God what to do , Balaam is still asking again and we all do this , I call it the error of checking again. The word of God is extremely clear on some matters but rather, we love to apply it to ourselves with a reason or several reasons for it not to apply or be applicable in our lives. We try to justify why we shouldn’t obey something to the latter, giving reasons why it is possibly best for us not to heed strictly or perhaps feel that certain aspects of the scriptures are not for us.

We need to be wary of hearing the Word of God and using it as a camera which just takes us as we are, with no view to a change .Rather we should use the Word as a mirror ,to correct our defects so we can reflect more of the glory of God.

In His Service,
Grace Tom-Lawyer

“The Error of Balaam” is being run now as the current Bible Study series on “Feasting at the Table” on Peace &Joy Radio @11am every Saturday with a Rebroadcast on Tuesday@7pm.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Error of Balaam 4a - Feasting at the Table edition

"Then Balak sent a larger group of officials, who were even more important than the first ones"- Numbers 22:16 . CEV

"Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these."- Numbers 22:16 ESV
"But Balak wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. He sent another, bigger contingent of even more highly esteemed men to solicit Balaam’s help. "-Numbers 22:16 VOICE

Last week we looked at the two other errors of Balaam  where we saw Balaam answering why instead of who and the fact that we all sometimes do this in one way or the other  and the second error we found was the fact that Balaam did not deliver the whole counsel of God. We see Balaam refusing to tell Balak’s emissaries what God had said to him, hiding  the fact that the mission was impossible and that the Israelites cannot be cursed. He refused to tell the whole truth and simply told them that the Lord refused him to go with them .

Just in the same way that Balaam did not give all of the message, the messengers  who returned to Balak  also gave  an incomplete message.This boomeranged and Balak somehow got the message that Balaam could be bought and that somehow there was a need to change the price. It was perhaps just a case of raising the stakes higher and seeing that there could be a compromise.
We look at the life of Balaam and wonder, what was the price ?.This was a man who had already been told by God “not to go”. Balak decided to do what the enemy usually does.-he raised the stakes higher and it worked.

Let us remember that it was the previous error of Balaam when he  didn’t deliver the whole counsel of God that made the next error possible. T was easy for the enemy to come knocking again.
Recently I was reading a survey that was done in America some years ago when people were  asked how much they would be paid before they could sleep with a total stranger and the response varied for men and women with the men saying it could only take as low as $10 to sleep with a total stranger woman and for the women, it was about a $100,000 as the highest amount to sleep with a total stranger. There was another survey I saw in the internet where they featured the 10 most expensive virginities hat were sold. Ladies gave up their virginities to total strangers for different causes  .Some of course had reasons why they did it, they were trying to pull through their education, raise funds for medical bills and so many causes but that does not rebut the reason that what they did was Balaam as we see from this story starts to consider again what he shouldn’t do when there was a greater price attached to it . He definitely had a problem with money as we shall see in this series wrong.

So let us consider, as is it very  possible for us to compromise when  the stakes are raised higher, the things that we would not normally do, maybe circumstances present and cause our minds to sway .

If there is a change in price and that poses a greater threat,then  it is a  temptation. Temptation actually occurs because somehow it is something we desire. So before we even blame the devil, James tells us that we are tempted when we are drawn away with our own lusts  and what is temptation to  Mr A  may not be temptation to Mr B . It is important for us to know the things that are a temptation to us so that we don’t put ourselves in a position of vulnerability. Someone said to me recently that she heard her Pastor say to know your strength is a strength in itself.
In His Service,
Grace Tom-Lawyer

“The Error of Balaam” is being run now as the current Bible Study series on “Feasting at the Table” on Peace &Joy Radio @11am every Saturday with a Rebroadcast on Tuesday@7pm.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Error of Balaam - Feasting at the Table edition

Having completed the very enlightening" On the Way to the Palace"& the "Why" series, I feel led that we should begin to consider yet another  biblical character. We have looked at two examples that are worth emulating and now begin on our radio programme "Feasting at the Table" to look at a character that the Bible actually warns us about.

It is quite unfortunate that although this man has a lot of credentials and in his day , he would have been regarded as one having some sort of spiritual status considering the fact that he heard from God, he unfortunately did not end well and the Bible being true to itself, fails to shield from us the errors of the men that we sometimes tag as heroes.

I still remember clearly the first time I heard the name Balaam as a high school student. Most likely I had been taught in Sunday School about a talking donkey but my first awakening with Balaam came after I honoured an invitation from a neighbourhood friend to her school Christian Union fellowship. That day, the brother who was exhorting us took his passage from the book of Jude with the emphasis on verse 3 which encouraged us to fight earnestly for the faith following which it began to give us examples of apostates warning us not to go in their same direction as doing such was bound to land us in where they unfortunately landed .

The story of Balaam is seen in the Old Testament in the book of Numbers chapter 22-25  and is what we will be considering as we begin this series on the radio. I have decided to highlight some previous lessons and the new ones that light is being shed upon .As you may be aware, whenever we study God's word , there is always a new light.

If there is one thing that this series has in common with the one about Joseph as we looked at on the Way to the Palace is the fact that it was not just one error that Balaam committed, before the main error that we know about Balaam, he made several detours and bad decisions along the way which eventually made it possible for  him to make that error he is so popular for. At several points in the life of Balaam, he refused to repent .He continued headlong with increasing insensitivity to  God.

Balaam is brought into the picture in Numbers chapter 22 after the Moabites and the Midianites decided having observed the success of the Israelites  as they defeated their enemies. Balak the king of the Moabites under the false premonition that his land was the next to be attacked decided that it was a battle that would need spiritual forces and as such, he was ready to send for Prophet Balaam who lived across international borders.

One of the lessons we first learn from Balak is not to make decisions based on fear , also there is a lesson there for not assuming things as the Israelites had no intention to attack Moab having been warned by God not to do so since they were relatives . I also learnt from Balak the need to realize what we can and cannot do. Balak knew that this battle was not one he could handle on his own. He knew that it was not just a battle his country could fight alone and that there was a need for a spiritual dimension. Once again, dear reader I ask if we are aware of the battles we are in and the various strategies that are needed. Are we fighting a "we" battle using an "I" strategy or perhaps , are we just engaged in a needless battle like the Moabites and the Midianites here  as revealed in this story. To follow the lesson properly, it would be great to reread the story of Balaam as outlined in Numbers 22-25.

Throughout this season, I  encourage you to listen to the Broadcast and or the Rebroadcast, note the new things , ask questions and do not forget to share as I am also keen to hear .

In His Service,

Grace Tom-Lawyer

“The Error of Balaam” is being run now as the current Bible Study series on “Feasting at the Table” on Peace &Joy Radio @11am every Saturday with a Rebroadcast on Tuesday@7pm

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A man SENT from God

I hope you had a great Easter. Mine was really filled with some outreaches that I am grateful  to God were successful. While we were discussing the “Why series”, under the “Why he came”, one of the reasons we looked at for the coming of Jesus was the fact that Jesus came because he was sent.. This question of being sent is seen all over Scriptures. Several of the prophets were ordinary men who the word of God came to and they heeded the call. Today ,I would like us to consider a man who was described in the scriptures as “sent from God”.
The name of this man is John who happens to be Jesus’s relative. His birth was foretold (Luke 1:8-17) and he was an answer to the prayer of an aged couple who the Bible described as righteous although they had found  themselves in the predicament of childlessness because Elizabeth was barren(Luke 1:7). His father, Zachariah was a priest while his mother was a daughter from the lineage of priest (Luke 1:5-6). This Elizabeth was a cousin of Mary (Luke 1:36), the mother of Jesus and as such John was Jesus’s cousin. The name John means ”Jehovah has been gracious”.

Several years ago when I studied the life of the father of John, I was greatly encouraged that the Bible records some positive things about his life. The first of these is the fact that he and his wife were said to be righteous. Yes, they did have a problem which may have made the society look at them with disdain as barreness was seen as a curse those days( and a sign of disapproval from God. But in the midst of their own pain, I am deeply challenged by the fact that this couple continued in the right ways and Zachariah was introduced as still serving in the temple. He still went around ministering even though there was no hope that his needs would ever be ministered to, he is a typical case of though he slay me(Job 13:15) . He is also a reminder of Habakkuk’s cry that” though the fig tree does not blossom,…yet will I rejoice in God my rock” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

There  was a man sent from God whose name was John .He came as a witness to testify concerning that light so that through him all might believe .He himself was not the light, he came only as a witness to the light ..”-John 1:16-18 NIV New International Version

This John was sent and he had a sense of vison and purpose. This two things defined who he was and what he did.When the Pharisees sent people to ask him if he was the messiah, he clarified that he was not and then they asked him why he did the things he did. He also informed them in reply that he did those things because those were the instructions he received from whom had sent him ( John 1:19-28) .
John teaches us in his conversation with the Pharisees that the man who has been sent is one whose life is shaped by purpose and sometimes when we do not know these, people will want to define us and give us their own ideas of what we would be doing. John was sent to reveal Jesus  and in order to do this, he had to go baptizing (John 1:31).

The lives of Zachariah and Elizabeth was attractive enough for God to entrust them with someone he sent on a special mission. Their problems did not stop them from serving and their wait on the Lord was not in vain. John teaches us several things that we must learn and have if we are sent from God . He challenges us to go beyond our comfort zone but still allow our lives and works  to be shaped by our purpose as received from him.

We will continue this discussion in our next posts.

 In His Service,
Grace Tom-Lawyer