Christianity and Society

Family Worship

A couple of years ago I lamented the passiveness of some Christian fathers and husbands who are not taking up their spiritual leadership roles as given to them by God in his holy and inerrant Word here. I also went on to appeal to my fellow Christian husbands and fathers to stand up and guard their families from various errors and false teachings that are bombarding us everyday. Today, I would like to continue and point out one of the ways of doing this namely family worship.

We are all familiar with the worship that takes place in our churches when we meet on the Lord’s Day. But there ought to be another worship that takes place in our homes when we are not gathering with fellow saints. Parents, especially, fathers should gather their children, and teach them the word of God, pray, and sing hymns and psalms with them. These are some of the means that God uses to bless his people and to build strong and godly families and churches that are able to discern false doctrines.Thomas Manton was right when he observed, “A (Christian) family is the seminary or theological school of Church and State.”

More importantly, we need to do family worship because it is our act of obedience to God’s Word. God’s command for it dates back to the Old Testament times. “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deut. 11:18, 19). Similar directions are also given in Psalm 78:1-4 and Ephesians 6:4.

I hope, by the grace of God, you are convinced of the need to observe this important practice, if you were not doing it. But you might wonder on where to start. Be encouraged, it is not as complicated as you think. To begin with, set aside time for family worship in the evening when every member of your home is available. If you can do it both in the morning and evening, why not! That’s far much better since you can’t overdose prayer.

Before the worship, take some time to prepare what you are going to share from God’s word. To make it easier for yourself, plan to go through one book of the Bible after another. You can use John Calvin or Matthew Henry’s commentaries in your preparation, which you can access for free here and here. After your preparation, pray for God’s blessings upon your family worship. Then gather your family together. Pray together that God would speak to you through his word, and then read the Scriptures. Explain the passage and give a chance to your children to ask questions regarding the passage. After that sing at least one or two psalms or hymns then pray that God will apply the truth of the words you have shared to your hearts. Remember also to pray for the needs of your family, and to thank God for his blessings. Keep on doing this at an established time until it becomes an inseparable part of your family.

May God bless you as you continue or venture into this wonderful experience.

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Sound Teaching

Take it to God in Prayer

At times, we all face very difficult situations. In such circumstances we either take things in our own hands or take them into Christ’s hands. The former is usually a common reaction.  Apostle Philip also once found himself in a similar situation as we read in John 6:1-13.

Five thousand men came to listen to Jesus’ teaching. Jesus then asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” It was a difficult situation because Jesus and his disciples had no bread let alone money to buy bread.

Philip did not respond to the question directly. Instead, he quickly calculated the cost of feeding such a number of people and concluded that it was impossible to feed them, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” responded Philip (7).  He should have been good at Math!

Are we not like that at times? When faced with a difficult situation, like Philip we are quick to calculate in our wisdom and knowledge and conclude that such a situation is an impossibility forgetting that Jesus is God. Please note that the Scripture tells us that Jesus had deliberately asked Philip to test him for Jesus already had in mind what he was going to do (6). In a very situation we are in, God already knows how he will carry us through it.

Any way to cut the long story short, Philip was humbled as he witnessed with his own eyes how Jesus turned an impossible situation to a very possible one. The five thousand men were fully fed and twelve full baskets of left-over food were collected. I can only imagine how Philip felt as he gathered the left-over food.  Joseph M. Scriven was right when he composed:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

When faced with a challenge, let’s remember that we are limited but God isn’t. So take it to God in prayer and let him do as he pleases.  It is important that I clarify it her e that we don’t take it to God in prayer with a demanding attitude. We don’t take it to God in prayer by banging tables and giving God an ultimatum.

Although such attitude is regarded as faith by some, the truth is that it is lack of faith and trust in God. When we pray like “God I want you to give me this right now, no further discussions” we are in essence saying, “God I don’t want your will in my life because I cannot fully trust your will to do me good.”

However, the right attitude is where we present our requests before God and fully trust his good and perfect judgment and say “yet not what I want, but let your will be done.” This is a biblical attitude of taking it to God in prayer (Matthew 6:10; 26:39, 42). When we take it to God in prayer like that  we are always humbled because God in his good will “ Is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is a work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). If you doubt this, ask Apostle Philip and he will bear witness.

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My Life as a Christian

Our Defense Lies in Prayer

“We know that our defense lies in prayer alone. We are too weak to resist the devil and his vassals. Let us hold fast to the weapons of the Christian; they enable us to combat the devil. For what has carried off these great victories over the undertakings of our enemies which the devil has used to put us in subjection, if not the prayers of certain pious people who rose up as a rampart to protect us?

Our enemies may mock at us. But we shall oppose both men and the devil if we maintain ourselves in prayer and if we persist in it. For we know that when a Christian prays in this way: “Dear Father, Your will be done,” God replies to him, ‘Dear child, yes, it shall be done in spite of the devil and the whole world.’ “- Martin Luther

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My Life as a Christian

My Prayer for 2013

My prayer for 2013 is that God will enable us to live a thankful life all the time and that the worship of Him will take a center stage in our lives.

My prayer for 2013 is also that  Christians will love the Bible more and will be like the Bereans who whenever they heard a preaching, they received it with all eagerness but also examined their Bibles to see if whatever was preached was indeed God’s Word (Bereans 17:10).

My prayer for 2013, further, is that God will enable Christians to realize that Christ is enough and that we do not need to add anything to him to make Christianity more beautiful or more appealing. I pray that Christians will not be taken captive by empty deceit but will walk in Christ, rooted and built up in him (Colossians 2:6-8).

My earnest prayer for 2013 is also that Christians will not sick the ‘blessings’  without ‘the giver of the blessings’ for Christ once reminded us: “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you (John 6:27).

My prayer for 2013 is that we will all seek to glorify God alone and in that way our lives will be meaningful.

May you have a blessed and gracious 2013.

 

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Christianity and theology

Is it right to Critique Prayer?

The Infant Samuel at Prayer - Sir Joshua Reynolds

Lord, teach us to pray

Recently, I have been reading “When Grace Comes Alive” by Terry L. Johnson. The book has been of great help and blessing to me so today I would like to share this excerpt from the book regarding how we should perceive prayer. I hope you will learn something from it and it will also be of great blessing to you.

“We need not to make the mistake of thinking that we need no instruction on prayer, except for perhaps a few hints on technique. Prayer is sometimes seen as being so intensely personal as to be beyond the evaluation of others. ‘Some Christians resent the analysis of prayer,’ notes Dereck Thomas. Prayer is what we do when we pour out our hearts to god. How could such a thing be critiqued? How could it be done wrongly? How could it be improved? They act as though, Thomas continues, ‘some sacred ground is violated when we begin to dissect prayer under a spiritual microscope.’ Yet, the disciples asked, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ They perceived their need of instruction. Jesus responded with teaching on the place, the form, and the content (or words) of prayer. Apparently we need to be taught all of these things.

Why? Why is it not enough for us merely to say whatever is on our hearts, whenever and wherever we feel like it? Because with respect to prayer and worship, when left to ourselves, we never get it right. We don’t know how to pray. We don’t know what to say or how to say it. Why? To answer that we have to go ‘back to the garden’ and reacquaint ourselves with the givens of human nature. Since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit we’ve been off the bushes with them, hiding from God. We are separated from God and alienated from Him (Col. 1:21). We are ‘enemies’ (Rom. 5:10). We are ‘without God in the world’ (Eph. 2:12).

Because this is so, we have no natural inclination to pray. God is light, but as Jesus said, by nature we are lovers of the darkness and haters of the light (John 3:19, 20). We have a natural aversion to God. We don’t like Him. We don’t want to have to deal with Him. We don’t seek Him (Rom. 3:10). We refuse to honor or serve Him (Rom. 1:18ff). Even as redeemed people the dregs of our old nature continue to weigh us down with this antipathy.  We have to haul our bodies out of bed and drag them into prayer closet because fallen human nature, the remnants of which still plague us, resists contact with God. It wants to flee from God, not draw near to Him in prayer…

It matters to Him what we think about Him. It matters to Him how we pray to Him. Again, one might have thought that the truly important thing is that we pray. Just so long as we are sincere, so long as we try, so long as we pray on occasion, that’s all that matters. Given how busy and distracted we are, God should be pleased with any concept of Himself which we might have. He’s not pleased with any prayers that we might offer. We might think that it ought not matter to God, but it does. He is not pleased to receive any scraps of religious interest that we might offer to Him. He requires that we think of Him rightly, and that we approach Him rightly. Consequently, we must be taught. We need instruction. If we are wise we will realize with the Apostle Paul that ‘we do not know how to pray as we should’ (Rom. 8:26). With the disciples we will ask, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ © Terry L. Johnson.

Amen and Amen!

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Christianity and Society

My Random Thoughts on Death of Bingu and Rise to Power of Banda

On Thursday, April 5, 2012 the then president of Malawi Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika passed on after experiencing cardiac arrest. Later on Saturday, April , 2012, the then Vice President of the Republic of Malawi, Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda was sworn in as a President of Malawi by the Chief Justice, His Lordship Lovemore Munlo. No one, except God, knew that these things will happen. Again, God showed us that He is sovereign over His creation and no one can second guess Him.  What Apostle Paul wrote about God in Romans 11:33-36 is very true:

 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.
Amen.

After I heard the news of the passing on of Mutharika, I, just like most Malawians, have keenly followed the developments that have occurred since then.  A couple of thoughts have entered my mind.

First, I, strongly, believe that God loves the nation of Malawi in a special way. Going by media reports, some individual fought hard to violate the constitution of Malawi so that Banda should not become the president. However, their plans never came to fruition and all Malawians witnessed the rule of law prevailing in the land as Joyce Banda was sworn in as President.  I don’t believe that this just happened but God being in control, he guided the events in our country to be what they are today. To Him alone be the glory indeed!

Secondly, my thoughts go to Her Excellency Joyce Banda. This should be a very difficult time for her as she has a huge pile of decisions to make in order to propel our country out of the current quagmire of problems to better days.  Just to remind you. The President has to appoint a new cabinet. She, therefore, has a challenging task of choosing selfless people to serve our nation. She has to appoint people who will put the agenda of turning around the problems of our country before their own personal gains. Believe you me, such people are hard to find since the heart is deceiving above all things. Some might appear very good people who love the country, but deep down their hearts, they harbor selfish plans and are mere opportunists not true servants of the people.

Apart from this challenge, the country is in a very serious economic crisis. We are facing forex, fuel and drug shortages. The cost of living is rising almost every day. Our record of human rights has been worsening. There has been bad governance in the country and the rule of law has in some cases been comprised. Our relationship with most international donors and neighboring countries is not cordial.

Now,  addressing these challenges is not easy. Some will even take longer to be sorted out. No matter how wise and knowledgeable Banda can be, she cannot solve these challenges without the guidance and help of the Lord. Therefore, this calls for us Christian to spring into action and continually pray for her that God should guide and lead her.

We should pray that God should give her the courage to take even those difficult actions that in the end will improve our situation for the better .  As a matter of fact, our responsibility to pray for our leaders is very clear in Scripture:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

We should pray for President Banda that power should not corrupt her to become insensitive to the suffering of Malawians due to careless and selfish decisions of the government.  We should pray that in all things she should trust in the Lord with all her heart and not lean on her own understanding  and that in everything she should acknowledge the Lord so that He can make her path straight (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

Thirdly, my thoughts go to the former first lady, Callista Mutharika and the entire family of late Bingu wa Mutharika. This is, no doubt, a very hard time. They have lost a husband, a father, a grandparent, a brother, an uncle and what have you.

As this is not enough, there have been some people, especially politicians, who were very close to late Bingu who have deserted the family during this time when the family needs them most. It should be very painful seeing those whom you thought were true friends to your relative deserting you because the relative is no more.

Despite whatever bad things that the late Mutharika did, as Christians we are supposed to mourn with family. By mourning with them, we are not approving the bad things rather we are carrying out our responsibilities as God’s children to “rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

So, we should pray that God should comfort the family when some of the close friends of the late Bingu are deserting the bereaved family. Above all, we can pray that God, in his grace, should help the family focus their attention on Jesus rather than on man because man can and will always disappoint, but Jesus never disappoints.  Although the context might be different but I believe the Psalmist put it better when he said:

Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me (Psalm 27:10).

These are some of my random thoughts on the passing on of late Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika and the ascension into the office of president of Malawi by Her Excellency Madam Joyce Banda. God bless our land of Malawi and continue to keep it a land of peace. Amen!

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