TRUST

In a gathering or community where there is a unifying factor, people tend to have a higher level of trust for one another. For instance people bond by language, traditions, customs or religion may tend to feel at ease with one of their own rather than with someone they consider different. This is only natural, but when a breach of trust occurs it is usually very painful and hard to deal with.

A long time ago in Israel, a young Levite was traveling with his servant and his mistress who was a young
woman from Bethlehem. They were traveling from Bethlehem where he had gone to reconcile with her in her father’s house after a quarrel that made her leave him. They left Bethlehem a little late in the day
so it was impossible for them to get back to the mountains of Ephraim where the man lived without stopping to lodge somewhere for the night. The man’s servant suggested that they stop at a place called Jebus, the city of the Jebusites but he didn’t think it was a good idea because the Jebusites were strangers . He thought it was better they go on until they get to the nearest Israeli city. So eventually they stopped at a place called Gibeah where the children of Benjamin reside. (See Judges 19 & 20) This man felt at home in Gibeah because he was an Israelite. He trusted that he would find hospitality and security for himself and his companions until the next morning. Unfortunately, things went wrong.

To start with, no one in the city was nice to them until an old man came along. The old man took them
in, but some men came banging on the door, demanding to have sex with the traveler. Sex between two men was an abomination so the man had no choice but to hand over his mistress to them . The vile men raped her all night until she passed out and died. This terrible incidence led to war between the tribe of Benjamin and all the other tribes of Israel.

When the Levite refused to stop over at Jebus, he thought he was taking precaution. When he chose to spend the night at Gibeah, he thought he would be dealing with trust worthy people. These were Israelites like him, they would not hurt him, and they would take care of him until morning. And you know what? That almost happened. The old man who took the Levite and his companions in was ready to take very good care of them. But the bad eggs in the city changed the story.

Sometimes I hear people say they do not want to do business with born again Christians because they do not know what to expect. People know how to prepare themselves when dealing with someone who does not claim to be a “saint”, they take necessary precaution, and they’re basically on guard.
What they cannot deal with is a situation whereby they discover dishonesty and all sorts of fraudulent
activities where they expected honesty, sincerity and transparency. Godliness is supposed to be the watch word of a Christian but many of us fall short of this. Not only do we betray the trust of fellow Christians, we go as far as washing our dirty linens in public by betraying the trust of non Christians who expect so much from us by virtue of who we claim to be.

Dear FOJ,

It is never too late to live a trustworthy life. This is very important because everything thrives on trust; trust in God, trust in one another. Just close your eyes and imagine a world where you could not trust anyone, not even God! That would be hell! If you want heaven, let the possibility begin with you.

Yours truly,

Moni.

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LOFTY DREAMS

After God brought down the walls of Jericho, it stayed like that for many years. It was never supposed to be raised again. In fact, Joshua by the spirit of God pronounced a curse on anyone that may nurse or carry out the ambition of raising those walls in the future. Joshua said that such a person would lay Jericho’s foundation with the life of his first son and build its walls with the life of his last son. (See Joshua 6 vs. 26.) This is such a great price; the life of the first male child, which is the beginning of a man’s strength and the life of his last male child, which symbolizes the last drop of his strength.

In the days of King Ahab, a man called Hiel of Bethel had a dream; this dream was to raise the walls of Jericho. Hiel achieved this dream at the cost of the lives of his first and last born sons. (See 1kings 16 vs. 34) It occurred to me that Hiel was either ignorant of the curse that had been placed on any man who tried to do what he did or he just didn’t mind to make such a huge sacrifice. Whatever the case maybe, the fact remain that great feat require great sacrifices. So it’s very important that we inquire about cost before we try to make a purchase.

Secondly, we must not allow ourselves to become so consumed by thoughts or desire to acquire or achieve something that we are ready to make ruthless sacrifices. It is common in the world today, as it was in the past, that some people are ready to do anything for wealth, fame and power. However, sometimes, some people just want to achieve an honest dream. When they encounter road blocks they may be presented with two options; wait or make a ruthless sacrifice. It is very difficult to wait but making a ruthless sacrifice could result in fatal consequences that are everlasting.

When you tell many a great man, “I want to be like you”, they usually smile. In their heart they respond,
“Can you pay the price?” The Lord Jesus asked the same question when James and John came to ask Him whether He could honor them by allowing them to sit at His right and left side after He might have been received into glory. Jesus asked whether they could drink out of the cup He was about to drink from. In other words can you pay the price for such an exalted position? And even though they felt they could pay the price Jesus told them His Father was the one with authority to decide who receives such honor or not. (See Mark 10 vs. 35-40.)

Some of our lofty dreams are really unnecessary, but if we have an honest dream that will add value to the world around us then we must seek God’s face for counsel, approval and provision. If we encounter a brick wall in our pursuit of this dream, we must be prepared to wait for God to make a way. However if what we want to achieve is inspired by selfishness, greed or pride, God will not partner with us. While the world may not see anything wrong with shedding innocent blood to buy success in life, we, the redeemed of the Lord must understand that such attitude to life is ungodly, we cannot live like that
because it is contrary to the ways of God.

Dear FOJ,

For us, the greatest achievements are not in the arts, sciences, politics or what have you, it is in being a part of the kingdom of God. Jesus said to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things but one thing is needed….” (See Luke 10 vs. 38-42).

What have I said so far? Don’t bother to dream, just be a Christian? No. I am saying be a Christian first,
then dream in Christ.

NO WHERE ELSE TO GO

In the book of John chapter 6 vs. 35, Jesus told the Jews “I am the bread of life”. And then he added, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever, and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world”. And while Jesus’ audience were still wondering how on earth they were supposed to eat the flesh of another human being Jesus said, in verse 53 of the same chapter, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” The people listening to Jesus did not understand Him and it didn’t look like He was trying very hard to make them. Rather, it seemed He had expectations too. What kind of expectations?

Before that moment, when Jesus told them they needed the bread of life, they said okay, give it to us.
But when He said, I am that bread, Confusion set in. “Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” (John 6 vs. 60) And because they couldn’t understand Him, they left Him, for good. “From that time, many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (John 6 vs. 65)

In as much as Jesus wasn’t happy that those disciples left, He didn’t run after them. Instead He turned to the twelve disciples and asked them frankly, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6 vs. 67) Peter answered for all of them by saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the son of the living God.” (John 6 vs. 68-69)

To understand the mind of God, we first have to believe. To experience the miracles of God, we first have to believe. The more I look at the scenario in John chapter 6, the more I see an examination hall. I see the examiner, Jesus, and I see the students, made up of the unbelieving Jews, the unbelieving disciples and the disciples who had faith. The exam papers were Jesus’ words. He spoke those words freely, expecting the students to respond, their response would determine whether they pass or fail.
The unbelieving Jews and the disciples who left failed because of their unbelief. The twelve disciples passed because even though they didn’t understand perfectly well what Jesus meant by eating His flesh and drinking His blood, they believed in Him. They believed He was the Son of God, the Savior, and the Messiah.

Before someone is expected to pass an examination, he must have at least attended classes, paid attention to the lessons and thought deeply about them. Many times before the teachings in John 6, Jesus gave the Jews and His disciples’ reasons to believe in Him. Below are some examples of the signs Jesus performed before he spoke to the people about being the bread of life. At the wedding in Cana of Galilee, Jesus turned water to wine; John 2 vs. 1-11. At the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, Jesus healed a
lame man; John 5 vs. 1-9. In Cana of Galilee, Jesus healed the son of a noble man, John 4 vs. 46-53. At the mountain top in Galilee Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish; John 6 vs. 1-14. On a boat, sailing towards Capernaum, the disciples of Jesus saw Him walking on the sea towards them, something no ordinary man could do; John 6 vs. 16-20. Peter was able to say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Also, “We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, because he had been paying attention.
Peter didn’t understand it all but he was wise enough to know that all the answers he wanted were in Christ and nowhere else. So instead of going away like some of the disciples, he stayed.

Dear FOJ,

When we receive a word that we consider strange and difficult from the Lord or the Lord allows us to experience a difficult situation; we need to ask our helper, the Holy Spirit to strengthen us by helping us stay in God’s presence until the Lord sheds light on what He is doing in our lives. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life; therefore, there is nowhere else to go.
Yours truly,
Moni.

FRIENDSHIP WITH A CROOK.

Birds of same feathers flock together. From experience we realize that it feels natural to bond with like minded people, but in spite of this reality, we sometimes try to make friends with people we have nothing in common with. Often it turns out to be quite a mistake. As humans, we have to relate with different kinds of people, but we do not have to relate with everyone the same way. With some people we can relax and talk about anything, with some others we have to be on guard. We have to know where to draw the line in our conversations with them, and in what we agree to do for or with them. We have to be careful not to jeopardize our integrity, our safety, our peace of mind.

Some time ago, one of my sisters got herself into a difficult situation with the school authority of a university that had just offered her admission. The drama started when she turned up for registration
and was informed that someone bearing the same name had already began the registration process. My
sister was shocked and confused. The school was miles away from home, and no other member of our immediate family was there with her. But we had an uncle who was a professor in that university and he
had been monitoring the admission process for her. When he heard about what happened, he tried to get to the bottom of the case. It turned out a cousin of ours whom my sister had told about her admission was behind the mess. She had gone to the school with forged papers to impersonate my sister. I still wonder how she dreamt of getting away with what she did. But the truth is, she wasn’t thinking, she was just being a crook!

In the book of 1kings 22, Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah almost lost his life by fraternizing with Ahab, the king of Israel. They were not birds of same feathers; while Jehoshaphat was God fearing, Ahab was
not. Jehoshaphat must have been aware of this, I’d like to believe that was one of the reasons why he suggested they find out from the Lord whether they should go to war against Syria or not, when Ahab made known his intention to do that and asked Jehoshaphat to support him.

Three hundred prophets prophesied that they had God’s support but Jehoshaphat was still restless. He said, “Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here that we may inquire of Him?” (See 1 kings 22 vs. 7) Ahab was compelled to admit that there was one more prophet, Michiah, the son of Imlah. “So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat,” There is still one man, Michiah, the son of Imlah by whom we may inquire
of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say such things!”

Michiah was called and he told them that the LORD will not go with them to fight the battle. He said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, “These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace,” 1 kings 22 vs. 17. At that point, one would expect that Jehoshaphat, who had gone the extra mile to dig out the truth, would withdraw and return to Judah. But he didn’t, not only did he went with Ahab, he allowed Ahab to con him.

“And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle; but you put on your Robes,” 1 kings 22 vs. 30. Why would he come up with such a plan? Ahab knew that in the heat of battle, his life would be in danger. The enemy would look out for the king to strike him down. And how would they recognize the king if not through his royal apparel. So who’s wearing it? Jehoshaphat! “So it was when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat that they said, “Surely, it is the king of Israel! Therefore they turned aside to fight against him and Jehoshaphat cried out. And it happened that when the captains of the chariot saw that it was not the king of Israel that they turned back from pursuing him,” 1 kings 22 vs. 32-33.

It is such a wonder that Jehoshaphat didn’t think that he would be the one in danger by wearing a royal robe. No doubt he had a good heart, but in dealing with a crook, he needed a wise heart. It was God who saved his life when the enemies went after him on the battle field thinking he was Ahab.

Dear FOJ,

Bonding and making friends is part of life, we will always need people and people will always need us but we cannot afford to throw caution to the wind when relating with people of questionable character.

Yours truly,
Moni.