Reconciliation and repentance on Senekal Prayer Hill – ‘a blueprint for South Africa’

Written by Nichelle Steyn

Community members of Senekal gathered on “Prayer Hill” outside Senekal yesterday morning for a special thanksgiving and repentance prayer meeting in response to God’s help in the town during a time of crisis in October 

Senekal pastor John Mathuhle, who believes God intervened miraculously in the town to turn the devil’s plans for civil war into God’s plan’s for reconciliation and revival, invited Christians throughout the country to join local believers in the prayer event on the Day of Reconciliation

At the gathering economist, author and public speaker Dr Arno van Niekerk shared a heartfelt message on the true meaning of reconciliation.  He said it is quite significant that the prayer meeting took place in the middle of country on December 16.

“This is the place where the enemy wanted to bring the sparks for civil war but God took over.” 

He said Christians must put their identity in Christ first and set everything else aside just like God worked in the hearts of community members two months ago. “These community members were brave enough to let the spirit of the Lord take over and God stepped in working behind to scenes to give us hope. God showed us that he is serious about our country, and about Africa.” 

Dr Arno van Niekerk, left and Pastor John Mathuhle at yesterdays Prayer Hill gathering

He encouraged South Africans of all races to let go of their pride and truly humble themselves before God to set the past right, and open the doors for a new future.

“As a white South African I just want apologise on this mountain today, on behalf of the race I represent. I want to humble myself before God and before my fellow black South Africans, to set aside my pride.” 

He said that after apartheid ended in 1994 change came but pride remained.

“We still wanted to do our own thing. After 1994 secular humanism also took over the country, opening the door for abortions, and other ungodly policies. The leaders started to build a nation on sand, but today we want to return the rock, our Lord Jesus Christ, and ask our nation to start building a new nation together,  on the rock.” 

According to Van Niekerk we all have our own cultural identity, and that is fine but it should not take precedence over our identity in Christ.

“What defines you? Is it your identity in Christ or your identity that you found something else? Repent surrender your life to the one and only God – The cross will be the only thing that can save our country. We have to understand the extent of the injustice of apartheid so that we can walk into a new future. Bow before the God of heaven and earth and ask God and our fellow South Africans for forgiveness. Only then can we truly move on.” 

He then went on his knees and went into prayers of repentance.WATCH: A word from Pastor John Mathuhle at the gathering

“For the oppressions, for the hatred we have sown as white people – we are so sorry Lord, please forgive us.”

He then asked Pastor Mathuhle to come forward and asked him for forgiveness, representing the races the whites oppressed during apartheid.  It was a poignant moment. The two men hugged each other and Mathuhle had to take a moment to gather his words.

“We forgive you, and we repent also for the black people who became prisoners of bitterness,”  he said.

After the teary moment, Van Niekerk served communion on the hilltop as a prophetic act to symbolise what had happened there. He asked community members of different races to serve each other while taking communiionn.

“Walk to your fellow South African and pray together for the healing of this nation. Let’s express our forgiveness, because we were forgiven while we didn’t deserve it. I believe this is a prophetic act on behalf of the people of South Africa. We invite the Lord to reign in our nation and stand in the gap for the country. We believe for a new future, for a new South Africa!” 

He urged the community members to open their hearts toward each other.

“None of us can say we never sinned, that we haven’t contributed to the downfall of the nation. God will arise in the hearts of His people. Like dew on a mountain coming down, the unity and the healing of Christ will come down on our nation. As the blood of Jesus was spilled on this earth, we will receive the Lord’s forgiveness and each other’s forgiveness.” 

In an interview after the event he said it was an incredible day, a divine appointment by the Lord.

“It was a public statement by the people of Senekal that they will take hands and will stand in unity.  It was so special as we prayed for each other. It was a reflection of God’s plan for this nation. I think what happened here should happen on a national level.”  

In an interview afterwards Mathuhle thanked all of the people who attended the event, online and on the hill.

“We were so overwhelmed by the Spirit of the Lord. God filled our hearts with a fresh fire for our country and our communities. I am really so excited about what God has done. When we started to repent it was such a blessing — to see the hearts of people that were separated and then experience how the Spirit of Lord allowed us to connect with each other. To see Black and White truly come together, was a holy experience.” 

He said only the power of God can do this. 

“As the remnant we need to call this nation to reconcile with God – Christ is our mediator – a true reconciliation in the Church must start in the house of God.  When we reconcile with God it becomes possible to reconcile with our fellow South Africans. It is not an artificial reconciliation; it is true repentance that leads to the healing and unity of the nation.” 

He said God is birthing a new nation: “We are up for a great surprise in this nation! I believe what happened on this day will have a ripple effect, something significant happened in the Spirit on that mountain.”  

Speaking of his own time of repentence on the hill on behalf of his race, he said: “I repented for things we have allowed to come into the land, a lot evil – demonic influence that we have allowed in our land.

“One of them is the shedding of innocent life, things like the killing of farmers who produce food for our country, and the killing of women and the children. 

“We abandoned our mandate as shepherds of the people of God” 

He asked white people to forgive his people for allowing rapes, killings, crimes, harassment inflicted on them, and implementing evil policies dividing the nation.

“We have abandoned the mandate of 1994 – forgive us. He prayed for God to raise men with boldness who will speak against these things and God to raise them up to change the course this nation is taking. It was such an awesome experience – people were on their knees. Crying and praying. There is a great anticipation in our hearts to see what God will do next.” 

‘Women of SA: forgive others so God can use you to build new nation’

— Nikiwe Apenteng

God wants Christian women in South Africa to unconditionally forgive and love others so that He can use them to build a new nation, says Nikiwe Apenteng in the first video in a Women’s Month series called Wisdom From God’s Daughters posted by Christian Leaders Forum SA.

Last month Apenteng, who is an intercessor, prophet and founder of a community upliftment NGO in Bisho, sent a widely-shared message on social media calling on White South Africans to forgive Blacks for hating them and refusing to forgive them “for what your forefathers did” in the apartheid era”.

KZN miracles – U-turn for Mooi River

By Gerda-Marie, Dare To Love — originally published in Joy!News

Dare to Love spent Saturday last week rebuilding and equipping the community of Mooi River. This town in KwaZulu-Natal was the epicentre of the chaos that left South Africans in shock three weeks ago. Several shops were looted, vandalised and some of it torched.

A group of about 20 volunteers visited the besieged town, taking with them 50 tonnes of food, which included 2 000 bags of maize meal, and 2 300 Bibles (2 000 Zulu and 300 English) with sponsored transport all the way from Gauteng. Around 2 000 congregants of 50 local churches pitched up at the Bruntville Stadium to receive food parcels as well as encouragement. This stadium overlooks the N3 and the Mooi River Plaza – both of which were unsafe during July.

PHOTO: Joy!News
PHOTO: Joy!News

In a series of miraculous events, the donated food seemed to have multiplied as more than 3 000 households received food parcels, which included a bag of maize meal. The remaining food, which included vegetables and maize meal, was donated to the local police, the homeless in Mooi River, other rural communities and an old age home in Harrismith.

When trucks were unable to enter the stadium, someone lent a forklift and several people rolled up their sleeves to help the volunteers to distribute food – another one of 42 miracles which were recorded and an answer to the team’s prayers.

PHOTO: Joy!News
PHOTO: Joy!News

One of the volunteers says the visit was a turning point for the brutalised area. “The rebuilding of figurative walls started with bricks of grace and hope, members of the community responded well to a Gospel message of hope.” Several people raised their hands as a sign of their decision to change their ways and turn to God.  “We prayed, repented, worshipped, danced, saw deliverances, miracles, people taking hands and sharing grace,” said another volunteer.

Children also received attention and had the opportunity to dance with flags on the beat of Jerusalema and other gospels songs.

PHOTO: Joy!News
PHOTO: Joy!News

The day was preceded by a men’s conference which had already been arranged earlier this year but happened to be godly timing. Dare to Love would like to thank the food sponsors, Vuyela Logistics for the transport and One Life Church for the coordination with the local churches

Refreshing Prayer | Who’s Pursuing Whom?

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

September is a blink away. And it often feels more like a new beginning than January, where nothing much changes except the number of the year. In September the school and university years begin, work gathers pace, club programmes reignite, things get going.

This year, that sense of a fresh start is perhaps intensified as we adjust to life after lockdown. September may not be the time to make resolutions, though it may still be a good moment for us to rethink the rhythm of our devotional lives. In doing so, there’s one vital lesson to keep in mind – Jesus came for us.

We did not ascend to heaven; God descended to earth. As John puts it, ‘the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.’ His was the initiative, ours only the response. It is ever so. We only seek God because God first sought us. Indeed, whenever we feel a stirring to pursue him, it’s his grace that has put it there, his wooing that has roused us.

At the beginning of a new year, and perhaps in September too, many of us resolve to read our Bible more, to pray more, to be more fruitful in our everyday lives. We grit our teeth and ‘try harder. But we’re already on the back foot.

If we forget that God has taken the decision to come to us, our prayers become an exercise in striving. We try to pray for longer than we desire or pray the ‘right’ prayers. Soon we can feel dejected. Perhaps we have forgotten the grace of the incarnation, the coming of God to us. And so, the right response is not to strive but to rest, trusting that God wants to be with us, wants to listen, wants to speak.

So, instead of trying to manufacture an experience, it can be helpful simply to acknowledge his presence, repeating quietly to oneself a short phrase like ‘You are here. And I am here. Even in this situation. On this frontline.

In this position of prayerful trust, we can be confident that the places in which we find ourselves, the people among whom we live and work, and the tasks to which he calls us will all be permeated by the presence of the one who is ‘full of grace and truth’.

Matthew Greene

Matthew is a ministry trainee at All Souls Langham Place, London, who loves to read theology, run, and share time with close friends.

10 Quick Q&As on the Church’s Intersection with the Marketplace and Politics

By Nikki Toyama-Szeto

Christians for Social Action (CSA)

In June 2021, CSA Executive Director Nikki Toyama-Szeto and CSA Founder Ron Sider took part in a 3-day Church and Politics Summit in Kenya designed to create meaningful dialogue between the Christian community and the political marketspace. (View Ron’s presentation here.) Several thousand people attended the summit as a high-level church and civic leaders reflected on questions like: Should the church engage in politics? Should Christians actively advance a political agenda? and Can Christian clergy seek elective political office?

The summit was an initiative of the Kenyan Church, in conjunction with Hesabika Trust, Kenya Christians Professionals Forum, and The Catalead.

It is interesting, but not surprising, that conference attendees had quite a few questions about the church in America and its intersection with politics. Due to a lack of time, we were not able to get to all the questions. In order to continue this important conversation on the intersection of faith and politics, we chose 10 questions posed by participants and are sharing Nikki Toyama-Szeto’s short responses. We do so in an effort to help all of us think critically about how our politics influence our witness and worldview, and vice versa.

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1. On financial equity: How can we reinvent Jubilee in the present age? Should Christians begin a global quest for amnesty for debt for nations unable to pay back the money? Should debt relief be expanded?

The principles of Jubilee provide Christian leaders with an interesting framework to consider. One of the fundamental principles is a recognition of both the responsibility to pay back debts, but also the recognition that there are exploitative ways that debt can create an environment that perpetuates debt. (One example is the lending practices that end up enslaving people as they try to repay a debt.)

Specifically, to the international debt practices, I believe that amnesty for debt for nations should be considered but should not be a regular practice. It seems wrong from a Christian perspective when nations are paying disproportionate amounts to service their debt to international lending agencies while their people lack some of the services that their government could otherwise provide. A government’s responsibility should be to the citizens first. (This doesn’t get into a question of corruption, which is also a concern and would change my opinion with regards to debt repayment.) What I’m addressing is the moral question: demanding payment from governments in debt while basic services are being un-funded feels like a capitalistic system overriding the responsibility or function of a government.

2. On drugs: Drugs kill people, the war on drugs kills people. Should we then support the legalization of drugs or the fight against drugs?

Christians believe that our bodies are temples where God’s Spirit dwells (1 Cor. 6:19). Therefore, we should take care of the bodies that God has given us. This would inform my concerns about both non-medical drugs (recreational drug use) and legalized substances. The legalization question is one that needs to be wrestled within the local context as there are many cultural and social implications. One thing that is for certain flawed is the way the “war on drugs” in the United States disproportionately has penalized specific racial groups (most notably the African-American community). The disproportionate legal action against the African-American community is well documented, and it’s the abuse of the “war on drug” mandate that causes me some hesitation for fear it might be a cover for legitimating (whether accidentally or intentionally) increased incarceration of a vulnerable community.

3. On critical race theory: What is the Christian response to critical race theory, especially as a vehicle for unity and oneness in the church?

Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework that helps the community to understand both legal and systemic manifestations of racism. Like many tools of analysis, there is much for Christians to learn in order to help us understand the realities of the world around us. Like other tools, there are places where the purposes of the tool deviate from the Christian priorities.

However, I’m deeply saddened by how politicized this tool has become. Unity or “oneness” that doesn’t examine history (or doesn’t acknowledge past wrongs done) is a thin unity—perhaps one in the picture only. The unity and oneness that God calls for is unity in Christ. The church is called to the restoration of the right relationship (right relationship with God, with self, with others, and with God’s created world). CRT can help unearth some of the places where relationships have been broken and where, in Jesus, they can be made right.

4. On expanding & understanding our worldview: If part of understanding a biblical approach to politics is critically examining other worldviews, how do Christians do so in a way that is both an honest exploration and based in fact? 

Empathetic listening, or entering into a story from another’s point of view, is a great way to explore. We should always be asking, “What can I learn about people who have _______ worldview?”

Personally, I have sought out experiences of displacement. Perhaps this means entering into a situation where I’m not in the majority or choosing to enter into a story that is very different from my own. These experiences of displacement have helped me to understand some of the assumptions that I bring. To be honest, this has enriched my own faith.

For example, I feel challenged to find that in the Muslim context, the spiritual leaders are chosen in a way that is very different from what I am familiar with. In my U.S. context, Christian pastors are usually required to have a Master in Divinity. And while most may have the education, many may not have the gifting or the interpersonal skills that also make for an effective pastor. These new experiences challenge me to think about the requirements we’ve put on our church leaders that may reflect our social values more than the spiritual qualifications.

5. On church & politics: What is the role of the church in politics? Through prayer, activism, advocacy, participation? A combination?

The role of the church in politics covers all those listed—prayer, activism, advocacy, and participation. The question is: How is God working in the church community and in the church members?

There are two additional things I hope the church would do. First, that the church would put accountability in place so that it doesn’t over-identify with one political party, but rather works to re-enforce its commitment to Jesus (at times it will be in line with or against different political parties). Second, that the church would provide a place for people of many political persuasions to wrestle with how their faith informs all areas of their lives, including their political presence, actions, and convictions.

6. On historical injustice: How are issues of historical injustice (like land being taken from Native Americans and the slavery of Black people) best addressed? How do we simultaneously look at past, present, and future?

What’s important is that the past, present, and future are looked at. It is particularly important to do a good dive into history. What happened, and why? How is the impact of this history continuing to play out today? Some of the answers to this inform how we respond today.

Then, we must ask, How do we break these cycles and set out towards a different future? For example, it’s important for those in the United States to understand on whose land their churches are currently meeting. There is a live conversation in the United States about responding to the legacy of slavery. I particularly like Georgetown University’s approach in which the community looked deeply at the history of their school and their own complicity in enslaving people. They also identified ways to make that history visible, and as a result, have made several recommendations for economic restitution to be made to those who descended from the enslaved peoples. Their process is informed by their Christian (Catholic) faith and provides many helpful practices for other communities asking the same question.

7. On voting: When we make a decision on who to vote for, do we begin with the individual running and their beliefs, or do we start with the ideologies of the political party that person ascribes to?

I would ask multiple Christians in your context how they approach this. For me, I look at the individual—their values and their beliefs, but also their character. I am also informed by what they say are their policy priorities (usually this reflects the priorities of the party). Additionally, I ask whether this person has actions that back up their commitment to these policies. In all this, while I look at my interests, I also try to take on the point of view of people who have less power than I have, and I ask the questions of who will govern best with the vulnerable in mind.

8. On post-Christianity: Post-Christianity is real in America. How do we continue to look to Scripture and Jesus as our model for addressing major issues in our country without leaning towards liberalism?

Having both a high view of scripture and increased scriptural engagement are core anchors.  Christians should not fear asking tough questions or interrogating the motives or perspectives of people in the past. The current movement of interrogating “colonized theologies” is fruitful, but we shouldn’t stop with criticism. Where are the generative places where our understanding of God is being strengthened, particularly among those who have historically been left out of these conversations (due to access, language, literacy issues, etc.)?

The reality of post-Christianity in America should be a response of humility. There may be a renewing of the faith as Christianity learns not to operate from the centre of power but rather from a de-centred place. This may ultimately be fruitful for the church. I will also note that as I look at places that are truly post-Christian, I don’t see the U.S. as moving as far along in that place as I do in other places. The reality of the embedded practices of the Christian faith in the culture is still very strong.

9. On unity & diversity in politics: How do Christian Republicans and Democrats come together as the body of Christ, especially when they disagree on very important matters?

As Christians, we are called to a unity in Christ that is deeper than agreement. This opens the door for Republicans and Democrats to come together. My sense is that many Christians have a similar set of values, but the order of importance of those might be different. Or the expression of the path to get to that might be different. There are also genuine and deeply felt differences.

But the Christian whose identity is in Jesus should have the ability to generously enter into the “other’s” perspective, knowing that the other is also an image-bearer of God—and that perhaps there is something that God would say through an entirely different perspective. Unless one can govern a community that has identical beliefs and is of the same party, the pastoral call of politicians to care for their full “flock” would be served by the ability to enter into these conversations across deep differences.

10. On keeping integrity in politics: I lived in the U.S. for some time, and I noticed that many honest Christians were not elected to public office. How can honest Christians find ways to influence culture and engage in politics without compromise?

The challenge for Christians in politics is the same as the challenge for Christians in any space where there are elements that compete for the Christian’s time, heart, and dreams. Christians who want to influence without compromise can do two things to begin:

  • Identify a community of Christians who will journey with you, speak truth to you, and with whom you can share the elements that you want accountability for.
  • Identify a few trusted Christian advisers with whom you meet regularly and who you invite.

One of the elements that we have seen lately is the public (moral) failure of many high-profile pastors and evangelists. One of the people who was involved in leading an exploration into one of these cases commented to me that “accountability and transparency” are two things that are utterly needed for Christian leaders with power and influence.

We are not God. Elements that introduce accountability and transparency would help. Transparency is tricky because as politicians and high-level leaders, the issues are complex, and discretion is key. Helping to navigate appropriate transparency with discretion (when appropriate) is important, but having a community where one can have full transparency is absolutely critical.

Nikki Toyama-Szeto is CSA’s executive director.

Forgiveness

God is ready and waiting to forgive anyone who asks. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 86:5, NKJV. “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You”

God will always be waiting for us to return. It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 44:22, ESV. “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.”

King David based his hope of forgiveness on God’s compassion and unfailing love. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 51:1, NKJV. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.”

How great is God’s mercy? It’s in the Bible, Psalm 103:11-12, NKJV. “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Even when we have been unfaithful, God is faithful to forgive us if we confess. It’s in the Bible, I John 1:9, NKJV. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

What if I am having trouble forgiving someone else? It’s in the Bible, Matthew 6:14-15, TLB. “Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, He will not forgive you.”

Don’t accumulate grudges and keep track of them. It’s in the Bible, Matthew 18:21-22, NKJV. “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

God forgives us many times a day, we should do the same. It’s in the Bible,  Luke 17:4, NKJV.  “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

Just like Jesus forgave others while being crucified, we are to forgive, whether or not others confess their faults. It’s in the Bible, Luke 23:33-34, NKJV. “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”And they divided His garments and cast lots.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you excuse people’s sins. It’s in the Bible, Luke 17:3, NKJV. “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.”

 We are to forgive others as God has forgiven us. It’s in the Bible, Ephesians 4:32, NKJV. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

There is no possibility that Jesus will turn anyone away who seeks forgiveness. It’s in the Bible, John 6:37, NKJV. “ All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

Through forgiveness, Christ provides complete deliverance from the penalty of sin. It’s in the Bible, Colossians 2:13-14, ESV. “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

How to find God’s will for your life?

Have you ever wondered why you were born or your purpose in life? Have you ever felt lost or just drifting through life?

God wants to reveal His purpose and plan for your life. He wants to guide your life and not just have you float aimlessly through life. So how can you really know God’s plan for your life? The following are three ways God can guide our lives.

How God reveals His will to you

1) The Bible

According to the psalmist, what is life’s Guidebook?
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” —Psalm 119:105.

What does Paul tell us we should learn from the life experiences of Bible characters?
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come.” —1 Corinthians 10:11.

God’s Word renews our minds and gives us insight (Romans 12:2, Psalms 119:99). Instead of just plopping your finger down on a random text to catch some guidance, try to absorb the mind of God—by studying and meditating on many texts, the whole of God’s Word. A regular time of prayerful study in Scripture is the best way to get our priorities straight.

2) Providential circumstances

God also guides us by divinely directed circumstances. Psalm 23 pictures Him as the Good Shepherd. A shepherd leads his sheep through lush valleys as well as through rocky ravines. He is capable of helping his charges benefit from and learns from every experience. We have a Shepherd who sticks close by our side.

3) Direct communication of God to the heart

God also guides us by speaking to our conscience. Paul affirmed that believers receive God’s guidance through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10). He proclaimed to the believer that the Spirit can enlighten the “eyes of your heart” (Ephesians 1:18).

The more consistently we practise communicating with God, the more He is able to guide us. He moulds both our inner impressions and our reasoning and judgment so we can see clearly the next step we need to take.

These three guides MUST harmonize

Feet meet three-way arrows

It’s possible, of course, to assume you are living a God-directed life when you are merely following your own inclinations and impulses. The Bible cautions us about just such a trap: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.” —Proverbs 16:25.

Our feelings must harmonize with Bible teaching. In fact, it’s not safe to conclude that God is leading us unless all three of the guides discussed above harmonize.

Take Jake, for example. He had a lovely wife and two children but stumbled into an affair with another woman. How was he to reconcile his behaviour with the Bible’s strong words about adultery? He told his friends: I’ve prayed about it and I feel it’s God’s will.”

Jake’s emotions and “inner impressions” clearly sent him down the wrong path. He imagined that it was somehow “providential” that he’d met this other woman and didn’t step back to look at this relationship in the light of biblical teaching. Bible commands against adultery, and counsel on how husbands should honour their wives could have shown Jake the devastating consequences of his affair and that he was mistaking biological urges for divine impressions.

The final test to know God’s will

“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” —Isaiah 8:20.

The Bible, “the law and the testimony,” is our final arbiter, our authoritative guidebook. We must never allow any impression or apparently providential circumstance to lead us away from a biblical principle.

Submitting to God’s plan

When the devil came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, he attacked Jesus on the issue of submission. Would the Saviour try to fulfil His destiny by expediency, by using the world’s methods, or by submitting unconditionally to the Father’s will? The devil suggested, “If you will only forego the painful sacrifices your Father has planned for you, I’ll give you the world in the palm of your hand—with fame, fortune, and a comfortable lifestyle.” Satan even quoted Scripture in an attempt to lead Jesus astray. But each time Jesus fought him off with the words, “It is written” (Matthew 4:1-11).

One powerful lesson we can learn from the life of Jesus is submission to the Father’s will. Even amid the terrible agony of Gethsemane, He cried out, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). After three years of His Ministry, living day by day in harmony with the Father’s plan, Christ’s dying words were: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus was really saying, “My God-planned life is now complete and fulfilled.”

Discovering joy by listening

As you begin to hear God’s voice speaking coherently through His Word, providential circumstances, and direct impressions, you can learn to accept His guidance wholeheartedly. You too can discover the joy of a God-guided life.

Christian lifestyle

Christians should live as ambassadors for Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

Christians should live to glorify God.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”

Christians should love God and avoid the lusts of the flesh.
1 John 2:15-16 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Christians should live completely for God, not patterning their lives after the world.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Christians should think about things that are pure and holy.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Christians are changed by what they see.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

A Devotional – Strength to Say “No”

by  Billy Graham

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation, He will also provide a way of escape.
-1 Corinthians 10:13 

More than 100 years ago a man was converted to Christ and became a pastor of a church in the slums of London. He went to the poor and the down-and-out and the oppressed. He formed a little group called the Hallelujah Band, and he would stand on street corners and preach the Gospel.

Many of the clergies who knew him were embarrassed by it all. When he was called before a conference of religious leaders, they said, “William Booth, will you go where we tell you to go? If not, you will be defrocked.” In the balcony, his wife, Catherine, stood. She said, “William, say, ‘No, never!’” And he said “no.” That “no” changed history in Great Britain and in many other parts of the world. Booth did not give up and founded a new organization. Whenever The Salvation Army has gone, it has given help for the body and for the soul.

Vashti was the queen of Persia and the wife of Xerxes (Ahasuerus), who reigned over territory from India to Ethiopia (see Esther 1:3-9). Xerxes gave a feast for the various princes and governors and leaders of the entire country. Toward the end of the feast, as Xerxes became drunk, he ordered Vashti, his wife, to come to the feast. She sent word back and said, “No, I will not come.”

Vashti was ready to give up the luxury that she had to keep herself pure. She would not expose her body, would not degrade her character.

When we say “no,” God will help us stand by it. He will give us courage. You say, “But the temptations are so great. I can’t resist them.” Of course, you can’t. In my own strength, I can’t either. We cannot live pure lives without the help of God. We need to let Jesus Christ help us to resist temptation.


PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
Dear Jesus, be my strength when I am tempted. Help me to say “no” to the allures of the world and say “yes” to Your will for my life.

From “Where the Savior Leads: 31 Daily Meditations on Following Jesus” by Billy Graham

10 Guidelines for Christian Living

By Billy Graham

Whether we are playing a game, driving a car, or baking a cake, there are certain rules that must be followed for our safety as well as our success.

The Bible teaches that the Christian life is one of constant growth. When you were born again, you were born into God’s family. It is God’s purpose that you will grow into fill stature and become mature in Christ. It would be against the law of God and nature if you were to remain a baby and thus become a spiritual dwarf. In 2 Peter 3:18, the Bible says that we are to grow. It implies steady development, constant enlargement, increasing wisdom.

For one to grow properly certain rules must be observed for good spiritual health.

  1. Read your Bible daily. Do not be content to skim through a chapter merely to satisfy your conscience. Hide the Word of God in your heart. It comforts, guides, corrects, encourages – all we need is there.
  2. Learn the secret of prayer. Prayer is communicating. Every prayer that you pray will be answered. Sometimes that answer may be “Yes” and sometimes “No,” and sometimes it is “Wait,” but nevertheless it will be answered.
  3. Rely constantly on the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit prays for us (Romans 8), and what a comfort that should be to the weakest of us. Stand aside and let Him take over all the choices and decisions of your life.
  4. Attend church regularly. The visible church is Christ’s organization upon earth. Christians need one another, we need to gather together to worship God and nothing can take the place of church attendance.
  5. Be a witnessing Christian. We witness in two ways: by life and by word – and the two, where possible, should go hand in hand.
  6. Let love be the ruling principle of your life. Jesus said to those who followed Him, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). The greatest demonstration of the fact that we are Christians is that we love one another.
  7. Be an obedient Christian. Let Christ have first place in all the choices of your life.
  8. Learn how to meet temptation. Temptation is not sin. It is yielding that is sin. Let Christ through the Holy Spirit do the fighting for you.
  9. Be a wholesome Christian. Our lives and appearance should commend the Gospel and make it attractive to others.
  10. Live above your circumstances. Don’t let your circumstances get you down. Learn to live graciously within them, realizing the Lord Himself is with you.

Guidelines for Christian Living is excerpted from “Peace with God” by Billy Graham, published in 1953, revised and expanded in 1984.

Breaking the hold of temptation

The battle between flesh and the Spirit, a more general description to this battle is temptation…
Definition: Biblically, the temptation is a physical and/or mental desire to sin – a deep craving for something that stands in direct contrast to the Word of God.
As Christians, we live in a broken world. We still face difficult situations and pain that appears to have no answers. Still, we can rest on God’s Word and the firm truths within.

There is something that all of us have in common, no matter who you are or what you are or what your position in life is,  how educated you are or how uneducated you are, how spiritual you are, there is one experience that all of us have in common. And that is the experience of temptation. The Bible makes it truly clear in several passages that temptation is the appointed lot of all of us.
Temptation begins in your mind. It starts with desire; temptation usually starts in a small way – it’s just that ”one little area.”
Temptation arises from three major sources. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life: “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father but from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (1 John 2:15-17 NLT)
Everyone experiences temptation. No one is exempt. Even Jesus experienced temptation when He was in the flesh, but He did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15).
Temptation is not sinning. Being tempted is not sin but acting upon it, is sin.
One purpose of resisting temptation is to glorify God. “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honour on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT).
There is always a way of escape. You do not have to act upon temptation.
In every temptation, God provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Jesus Christ suffered and died to provide a way for people to be reconciled with God. We as humans now have two choices: we can come to Jesus for forgiveness and cleansing from our sinful hearts. It gives us the right to enter into the kingdom of God. Or we can reject Jesus’ offer and stay out of the kingdom of God….

When Christ died, he was resurrected and ascended to heaven, he began what I would call the “new age,” by which I simply mean that to some extent, God’s kingdom has already begun. For example, Paul says in Ephesians 2:6 (NLT): “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

In other words, Christians are already with Christ in heaven! However, we are clearly still living life here and now on this earth – we are still members of this ‘present world’ (Titus 2:12). There is an “overlap” between these two periods. As a result, we experience a tension between what we were (and to some extent still are), and what we are going to be (and to some extent already are).
This is the reality of the Christian life: we are not what we once were, but we are not yet exactly what we will be. Therefore, on the one hand, we are free from sin – righteous, but on the other hand, we sin and fight against it daily. Martin Luther put it as follows, ‘simul iustus et peccator, both righteous and a sinner. This is exactly what Paul says in Galatians 5:17 NLT: “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

If you know your Bible, you are probably not surprised that Paul spoke so frankly about his struggles with temptation and sin.
Paul’s consistent appeal is that Christians live out who they are now in Christ (read Colossians 3).
Paul explains this further in Romans 6: “For we know that the sinful man that we were was crucified with Christ, that our sinful existence might be ended. So, we are no longer slaves to sin.” Also “We know that the sinful man that we were was crucified with Christ, that our sinful existence might be ended. So, we are no longer slaves to sin.”
In other words, Christians are at war: The war between the desires of the flesh and the Spirit.
Therefore, when you fight sin, you must be courageous it is a sign of a truly spiritual life!
Journal Writing:
• Mantra: The devil whispers, “You are a sinner and you have failed God. You are not worthy.” But you boldly say what God says about you, “I am the righteousness of God.”
• Memorize and meditate on 1 Corinthians 10:13.
• Declare John 3:17 is true: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
• Pray a daily prayer: Jesus, Your Word states, “the Grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness.” By Your Grace, Jesus, empower me to reject sin. Fill me with Your Spirit and remind me that I am a new creation in You. Although I once walked in sin and darkness, by the salvation I now possess, I no longer am bound to walk in those former ways. To You, who gives the power to be witnesses in our lives, and by Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.
• Reprogram your mind: Your life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts. Temptation starts with desire, stop tempting thoughts the minute they enter your mind. Write the thoughts down, reframe the thought. (Reframing: creating a different way of looking at a situation, person, or relationship by changing meaning. Reinterpreting the meaning of our lives based on God’s truth.)
• Read the Bible; Bible studies are essential to living a life of victory over temptation. Meet temptation with the Word of God. Study the temptation of Jesus recorded in Matthew 4:1-11. He met every temptation with the Word of God. You can do likewise even David declared that he has hidden God’s Word in his heart to keep him from sin (Psalm 119:11).

The Bible says that in every temptation there is a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Look for the alternative and use it!
Follow these ways to deal with temptation:
• Remove yourself from the situation – You know what they say: out of sight, out of mind. When temptations are at their worst, it is best to avoid putting yourself in a troubling situation.
• Distract yourself- When you feel a temptation coming over you, do your best to distract yourself. Take your mind somewhere else, do something else.
• Predict and prioritize the outcome – predict the outcome of giving in to your temptation and ask yourself if it is worth it. If you focus more so on the aftermath, you are more likely to resist your temptation.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3: 5-6
“Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Do not. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope.” – John Piper
Ask God to lead the way, and He will direct your path.

United We Grow

We must keep ourselves reminded of diverse kingdom principles that influence our faith. Among these kingdom principles lies ‘Unity’. That isn’t a new word in Christendom. In other words, we’re cognizant of the word ‘Unity.

Therefore, unity means oneness. Oneness of heart as Christian women. Where we get to a point of agreement with each other.

The point where the welfare of others become a priority to us. Subsequently, Unity in the body of Christ grows us to the point where we can be our sister’s keepers genuinely.

The Christian race isn’t a puzzle where we have to guess our way through to win. Instead, it’s a race in which we thrive together to obtain the heavenly prize. Therefore, I need you, you need me, and we all need one another to grow in faith.

Why crave to pull down a sister in the faith? How about the attitude of envy and jealousy towards another in the body of Christ? Or the unhealthy competition we engage in to showcase how good we’re at certain times areas of life and make others feel less about themselves.

I tell you, if we must win the race, then we must set aside every weight of disunity, hatred, malice, and strive to relate with one another with the love of Christ bestowed upon us. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”(John 13:35)

We must not let the enemy (devil) create enmity among us Christians.
The end time is here. Hence, it’s time to work together as we await the return of our saviour. We must realize that united we stand as Christians.

Furthermore, there are still certain women in the body of Christ who think less of themselves and believe they have nothing to contribute. Hence, they prefer to stay inactive or fight others who are succeeding.

However, If you’re among these categories of women, I have glad tidings for you; God has never created anyone without a virtue. Therefore, we need to come to the point of alignment with God’s plans for us to experience the manifestation of those virtues deposited in us.

I need you to think about how your body system functions—all parts working together to stay alive. The eyes are not more important than the legs or any other part of the body. Similarly, the body of Christ works this way.

Brace up sis and play your role in the body of Christ. This is important because when we grow weary along the way, there is a stronger hand from a loving sister to lift us.

In other words, we shouldn’t despise another sister. We need the oneness of the heart to finish strong.

God has a reason for placing you in whatever group or fellowship you belong to right now. He desires you to stand up and encourage others. Cultivate the lifestyle of drawing closer to other sisters within your local church, offices, and neighbourhood. Learn to inquire about their struggles and see how you can be of help to them.

Christian Blog and Online Women's Ministry in South Africa - Cup of Faith

Happiness Hassan

Happiness Hassan is obsessed with a godly lifestyle and loves sharing her faith with other women unashamedly.