Christ is our very present help, as believers. Psalm 46:1 says "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
In times like these, when trouble is evidenced by a pandemic like COVID-19, we must do well to ask if this is our only time of trouble. Are we only in trouble when there's a virus with no present cure? When there are floods all over the country? When the future of this world is uncertain and we don't know when things will go back to normal? Or if indeed things will go back to normal. Is it only then that we are in trouble? That we are needy? The answer is no.
What we see and experience in floods and disease is as a result of that which has made us poor even in spirit. Sin. Sin is present with us daily. In ourselves and outside ourselves. Sin is present within and without.
One thing we all must acknowledge is that sin cannot be fought in our own strength and because of this, we need help from without. We need Christ. Just as we needed Him at the time of our regeneration and salvation, we need Him now as we go through sanctification.
We are always needy of mercy and grace. Since we have a very present trouble (sin). Isn't it great that our God is a very present help? Isn't it great that in His Word we see Christ being able to help them that are tempted because He Himself has suffered being tempted (Hebrews 2:18)?
Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." (ESV)
Brethren, we have the Lord Jesus, a very present help for us and we sure do have a great need. Let us go to Jesus Christ daily and have our everyday needs met by Him.
By Mercy Chepchirchir
In these recent months we have seen all that is scary to us. The destructive locust swarms have swept through the eastern and north-eastern part of Kenya and yet still threaten to go towards western Kenya - something that the locals fear with tightened stomachs. There is the Corona virus which has by now infected over 800 people and killed over 40 people. And then there is the warning of an alleged terror attack by Al-shabbab targeting one of the five-star hotels in Nairobi. These are horrifying things to think about, and yes, we are living in a terrifying world.
The question that usually lingers in the mind of many in times like this is, “How do I avoid being a victim of the locust invasion, the Corona virus, or a terror attack? Indeed, the question on how to avoid all this turmoil is essential, but still, answering that question instills fear within and inmost cases this escalates to paranoia. The more important question to ask would be, “Where is the source or the cause of these predicaments?” A good scientist will say, “Know the cause, know the cure.” Getting to the root of the matter is finding the cause of that matter, then uprooting the thing by its root. What is the source of the locusts, the Corona virus, the men and women who have sold themselves to terrorism? The answer is simple and yet complex in nature. These things are a consequence of the current order of the universe, that is, the source is the fallen nature of the universe itself. But who has subjected it thus? God has. The Apostle Paul declares,
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the Children of God.” (Rom 8:19-21, ESV).
God didn't just create things and leave them there without control, or to their self-determination. God is the one who holds all that is on earth and in the heavens by the word of his power (Hebrews. 1:3). He sustains everything in the sky and on earth (2 Peter 3:7). God keeps the clouds and sends forth thunder (Job 38:33-37). God feeds the hungry young lions (Psalms 104:21) and even the birds in the air (Matthew 10:28-30). If humankind is the best of His creation (Genesis 1:25-26), and He has given us everything He created (Genesis 9:3), how much more will He take care of us? God also directs all that is on earth and in heaven. He makes sure everything on earth works by his command and obeys his word (Mark 4:41). He commands even that single insect to do his will, and it obeys (Isaiah 7:18). He also sends them in swarms, and they do as he pleases (Psalms 78:45; 105 35). It is God who gave everything life, and He is the only one who can take life from them (1 Samuel 2:6). And as long as the earth remains, everything including plants, seasons and animals will continue to exist because God has promised so (Genesis 8:22).
Take a look at the lives of some individuals in Scripture who experienced this first-hand and pay attention to the words of God concerning them:
Observations from these examples: God indeed can bring calamity to men as means of judgment just as he declares in Isaiah 45:7, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things”, and in Amos 3:6, “…does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” Yet in the above-mentioned examples we see God using calamities and suffering to His glory and not as a condemnation of sin. They are indeed images of the curse that is upon the earth and yet at the same time are used to the glory of God. Understand that God does no evil (Lev 19:2; Job 34:12 Hab1:13; Eph 5:5-6; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 1:5, 3:3, to name a few), but He will use those things that seem or are evil to His glory. It is a difficult thing to come to terms with but this is how God has revealed Himself in Scripture.
God has always used His creation to make a point to the people of the earth. He uses all that He created because they are His, He is more powerful than they, and so He can do with them as He pleases. The best example is when God brought locust to Egypt when pharaoh refused to let the children of Israel go (Ex 10:4). He not only brought locusts to the Egyptians but also frogs and other pestilences. The question shouldn't be whether God causes, knows and determines all that happens. The question should be, how are we to respond when things are as ugly as they are now? By saying God is the one who orchestrated all things to happen, it does not mean that he does them from a selfish point of view. God is not an egocentric, narcissistic sadist whose intention is to enjoy seeing humankind in pain. God, by nature, is good (Matthew 19:17), God is loving (John 3:16). And we know that God works all things together for good to all those who love Him. All things include even the horrible situations we are facing today. God is working the locust invasion, the Corona virus pandemic and also the terror threats good to those who love him (Romans 8:28).
Think of God as a movie writer and director. He puts all those horrible, tragic scenes in the movie building up to a more beautiful breath-taking moments at the end of the film. We know the end of the movie God has written and is directing. We are spectators and benefactors of the beautiful ending that is to come. The glorious moment when we will be complete as Christ, perfect without blemish. When we will gain that holiness — without which no one can see God. How do we make sense of these? God uses His creation to show us the sinfulness of sin. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, not only did their actions affect man but the entire creation as well. The creation is groaning waiting for that day when all will be made perfect again. Whenever God sends natural disasters, they should remind us of how bad sin is and how we should eagerly await the coming of the Messiah when all things will be made new (Romans 8:7-12).
God shows us His mercy and enduring patience towards us through these natural disasters. Remember, sin is not sin if it does not go against the only true God. One sin is reason enough to justify God to wipe out the earth and all that is in it, for God is holy and eternal, and so going against the holy and eternal one will require an eternal punishment (Dan 12:2; Matt 25:41, 46; 2 Thess 1:9; Rev 20:10). But, because of His new mercies every morning, He reminds us of His divine, justified and holy wrath. He does so through illnesses for our purity; He strikes those whom He loves to keep them from sin. He does this as a father would do to his child who he loves (Prov 3:12; Heb 12:5-11). God does punish those He loves (Hebrew 12:6). He did it with the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:29-32). He can and will do it to you and me when we disobey him. All natural disasters are a thunderclap of divine mercy (Luke 13:1-5). Remember, He does so because He loves us, and He is purifying us.
Lastly, God brings all these predicaments as a judgment upon those who reject Him and give themselves to sin. Herod exhorted himself before the people of Jerusalem to the point that the people exclaimed that Herod talked like a god. God struck him down because he did not give God the glory (Acts. 12:23, Romans 1:27). During Noah's time God wiped out the wicked people by a massive flood, one that the earth has never seen and will never see (Genesis 6:6). When Sodom and Gomorrah practiced all kinds of sinfulness (Genesis 9:23-25), He poured down fire and burnt the entire city.
In all these, God has caused the most glorious of things to us. He has caused us to be born again (1 Peter 1:3). We are born of God, and so we believe because now we can see God with unveiled faces. He has given us the right to be called the children of God (John 1:12-13). Are you a child of God? God created you, sustains and directs you. He is the one who is calling out to you by name. Believe in His Son Jesus Christ today, and you will be saved. Regardless of the situation, the locusts or the Corona virus, we are in Him and we wait on Him. We wait for the day He will come and take away this mortal body and give us the immortal, one that will never get sick, tired, hungry, angry or be in fear but always in awe of who God is. That is our end.
By Guest Contributor.
Waiting is a difficult thing for most if not all people. When waiting, at least three things are bound to happen: first, you succeed in waiting patiently and faithfully until you receive your object; or, secondly, you give up waiting; and, thirdly, you seek your own way of receiving your objective. As believers, when we are waiting upon the Lord and He seems to delay, the evil one will readily offer us a shortcut. Isaiah 40:30-31 is familiar to many. The context of these two verses is about God strengthening the feeble and the faint-hearted, then it goes on,
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (ESV).
These two verses have always been used to warn the youth against relying on their own strength. Well, no objection to that, but the truth is that the text is addressing the whole nation of Israel, indeed the whole world! Notice that verse 30 says, “even youths (inclusive) shall faint”, and not simply, the youth (exclusive of the aged) shall faint. The word “even” here denotes inclusivity.
Nonetheless, much more can be said about the youths in this passage, especially those who trust in their own sufficiency and are so confident of it that they do not seek God for His grace. Many young people are strong but are apt to think of themselves stronger than they are. But even they shall faint and be weary of waiting, yea, they shall utterly fail in their services, and under their burdens they shall soon be made to see the folly of trusting in themselves. But (thank God for “but”) those that wait on the LORD, who make conscience their duty to him, and by faith rely upon him and commit themselves to His guidance shall find that God will not fail them. They shall find grace sufficient for them: they shall renew their strength as their work is renewed. In the midst of challenges they will be refreshed, they will overcome their burdens and mount up with wings like eagles, so strong, so swift and heavenward, in the strength of divine grace.
The roots of waiting are often bitter, but the fruits are sweet! We are all waiting for something or someone. And as you wait you are not using a stopwatch for your life. Time is always ticking away and never waits for anyone. You may be aging and jobs are not forthcoming, you need to wait. You may be seeking for a spouse or having gotten one, you are planning to marry after some time, you also need to wait! COVID-19 is here with us and the whole world has been greatly affected. We are forced to stay at home, no travelling, the government has declared a curfew, soon or later there may be a lockdown, we need to wait! How can we wait without wasting away? We can learn from King Saul’s mistake in 1 Samuel 13:8,
“He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering for him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt sacrifice here to me, and the peace offering. “And he offered the burnt offering.”(ESV)
Saul was not willing to wait for the appointed time when Samuel would come. He ran out of patience of waiting upon God’s appointed time. As soon as Saul finished to offer the burnt offering Samuel came. What do we learn here? God may appear to delay, but He comes at the right time, the appointed time. In other words, God does not delay whatsoever. Delay is not one of His attributes. This is encouraging to me; I hope it is to you as well. We have often said, “God’s timing is the best”. I trust you believe it. Indeed God has perfect timing, never early and never late. It requires patience and a whole lot of faith but it is worth the waiting.
Waiting involves several elements. Here are three: The first one is obedience and in the case of Saul it was clear, “Samuel said to him, ‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.’” (1 Samuel 15:22 ESV). The second one is endurance or tolerance. I like football and there is a type of training session meant to build one’s endurance. The training involves doing very rigorous physical exercises without touching the ball such as carrying heavy loads or a heavier teammate. This kind of exercise helps to prepare you to face a physically stronger opponent. During waiting you will meet tough moments but endure until you can pull through. The last one is patience - some Bible versions will call it longsuffering and it constitutes the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal.5:22). If we have the Holy Spirit, then, we must wait with patience upon the LORD in all circumstances. He is mindful to such, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:25-26 ESV).
These are perilous times brethren, let us wait upon the LORD. Let us trust the LORD in whatever circumstance we find ourselves as this will mark us out as true Christians. Be obedient to God and the governing authorities that we have in place. Be patient. Persevere knowing that our present situation is not worth comparing with the future glory we have in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Luke Remmy Wasike
Remmy Wasike is one of the deacons in church and a student of Theology at Kisumu Reformed School of Theology.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
Over the past month, God has taught me a lot about being patient and gracious during evangelism. I have been trying to reach out to my classmates with the gospel and, to be honest, it has not been easy. My attempts would often be met by misinformed scriptural confrontations and unwholesome talk that would just leave me discouraged as I saw my efforts bearing no fruit. But, in these low times, God has been impressing upon my heart the urgency of the gospel and has reminded me that I too was a sinner and He was very patient with me. These subtle reminders have kept me going and renewed my desire to see my friends get saved whenever I have faced the roadblocks of discouragement.
I realized that it is easy to take the high seat and adopt the “I have done my part” stance whenever we meet opposition when sharing the gospel with those around us. It is indeed easy to forget the truth that it is God alone who can change the hearts of men and that our part is to only faithfully share the gospel with every opportunity we get.
And you will be hated by everyone because of my name but the one who endures to the end will be delivered.(Mark 9:13 ESV)
Through all this, the burden in my heart for the lost world has always abided, and step by step the Lord has helped me to be more intentional in reaching out and praying for my friends who are yet to come to the knowledge of the truth. And I have found out that I struggle less whenever I call on God for strength, courage, and utterance. The amazing thing is that this experience has inspired me to seek to deepen my walk with God each day through the study and meditation on His word.
By Daisy Adina
Daisy Adina is a student at the University of Eldoret pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Education Arts (English Literature).
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” (Revelation 14:13 ESV).
Oh, the joy of having the gift of family and friends in the household of faith. Oh, how happy it is when we come together and fellowship with one another when we cry together, laugh together and share in the joy of the Lord. Oh, how fortunate it is when fellow believers in Christ hold you accountable and desire for your wellbeing. Oh, how sweet the memories we create with one another and cherish them day by day. Then…then death strikes. It pleases the Lord to take one of us. Oh, how painful and sorrowful it is for us who remain behind. We feel torn from the inside. The pain of losing one of us, a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, or a friend is so overwhelming. We mourn, we ache and there is no amount of comfort that can satisfy our pain and grief other than the comfort of God’s promises in His word.
Death for sure is an enemy and it is inevitable. It does not favor any one or announce its arrival. It is an unwanted guest in every home and it leaves a trail of sorrow behind in every visit it makes. Everyone has experienced the cruel hand of death in one way or another, I recently had a share of it when I lost three of my friends.
You see, we often find ourselves questioning the loss of a beloved, at times we get angry and wallow in despair. We ask why they had to die, we become so hopeless and wonder how we’ll move past the death of our loved ones. The memories we shared with them become a constant linger in our minds and we can’t help but cry out all the more.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed my brothers about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this, we declare to you by a word from the Lord that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord, himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)
How comforting the scriptures are. Yes, we mourn, yes, we weep, and yes, we ache but not as those who have no hope. We rejoice in the knowledge that our beloved has died having known Christ and trusted in His work on the cross. We rejoice in the hope that they are asleep and will rise again upon Christ’s coming and we shall see them again. The word truly does assure us that we shall see them again. So then, may we hold fast to this assurance, to the promise we have been given by our Lord. That indeed death will not have the final say in our lives. And in all these may we too be reminded that even death works together for our good, for the good of those who love Him, for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.
“Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24 ESV)
As Christians, we are exiles and sojourners in this world. Pilgrims on a journey. In the High Priestly prayer, Christ himself desired to be united with us in his glory and we too long for the day our vile bodies shall be destroyed and glorified with him. Christ’s prayer is answered when a fellow saint goes to be with the Lord. Where there’s no more pain, no more suffering, a place we all long to be, a place where sin has not stained. Those who die, die in a natural and perishable body but will be raised in a spiritual and imperishable body. And even more, we can rest in the comfort that the sting and victory of death have been conquered by Christ on the cross.
What then for us who remain behind? If anything, the sight of death should remind us of the fleetingness of life. For what is the life of man if not a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Our flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls. Such is the life of man according to scripture.
Shall we then continue to live in sin? Shall we live as though this world is our home? Shall we continue to pleasure ourselves in the things of this world and pursue joy and satisfaction from them? Shall we continue to live as those who are ignorant of the truth? Are we ready to meet the Lord if we are called upon today? What kind of deeds will follow us?
“Never fear dying beloved. Dying is the least matter that a Christian has to be anxious about. Fear living, that is a hard battle to fight, a stern discipline to endure, a rough voyage to undergo.” – Charles Spurgeon
Living is indeed a battle. A battle against our sinful desires. A battle against our sinful flesh. Psalms 51:5 “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Paul himself in Romans 7 confessed to struggling to do that which was right and often found himself doing that which was wrong. So yes, blessed indeed are they who die in the Lord, who have rested from their labors. But let us not despair in all these for we have a High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness, who has been tempted in every way like we are yet was without any sin. He will surely hold us fast to the very end. Therefore, may we entrust our lives to him and have our hearts secured in Christ. For to live is Christ and to die is gain. He who formed us in the womb will surely guide us to the tomb.
No man knows the day or hour they shall be called out of this world. So live each day as though it was your last. Live to glorify God and honor Him in all your ways. Seek him in truth while he may yet be found. For whatever comes and come it will, may your life be found secured in Christ and your heavenly destination without any doubt.
We all have friends and family members who are ignorant of the truth. And brethren, the pain of losing one of your own who does not know Christ is even more agonizing especially when you had a chance to evangelize to them but did not do so. There is no promise that we shall see them again. There is no hope we can long for, no anticipation in our hearts of seeing them again. In fact, what awaits them as recorded in Revelation 14 is God’s wrath. They will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. The smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever, and they will have no rest, day or night. Such is what awaits them. It is dreadful and it’s neither a place we would want to be nor a place you would wish for anyone to go to. Then let us labor brethren. Let us labor for the Gospel and make the truth known to those around us. May we not be ashamed of it. And to those who ignore these truths, how I pray that you will no longer harden your hearts. May you run to the cross for that is where salvation is found, in Christ. I pray that you will behold these truths and hold fast to Christ until the very end.
Will we give an account of our lives? Yes, we will. So let us examine ourselves then to see whether we are truly in the faith. Let us live and serve God with all our being, with all that is within us. May we hold fast to the inheritance promised. An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for us. May our hope be built in nothing else but Jesus’ blood and righteousness. And to our fellow saints who have gone ahead of us, who have crossed the threshold of life to eternity, precious are they in the sight of the Lord. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalms 116:15 ESV). Until we meet again in the beautiful shore!
Much Grace and Peace to you all!
By Bethly Chemutai
Bethly Chemutai is a student at Kabarak University pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science.