Forgiveness Always Astonishes

by Rubel Shelly on June 29, 2015 in Biblepraise, Character, Faith, Love

 “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing'” (Luke 23:34). What must people around his cross have thought?

Hatred seems to come so easily to human beings. In a tit-for-tat world, forgiveness seems to make no sense. Why should I turn the other cheek after an insult, if I can match his – and go him one better? Why should you overlook her slight, if you can tell someone about it – and damage her reputation? 

Why should we not burn down your store and house, if you harm someone of my race or faith group – even destroy our entire community? I’m sure you get the point.

The top half of the front page of USA Today carried the headline “Hate in America.” A syndicated columnist wrote of how he was “filled with hatred” over the event. And a radio commentator said, “I’m not a religious person, so I don’t get what these people are saying. I just don’t understand.”

The Power of Forgiveness

by Steve Popoola on June 22, 2015 in Discipleshipship, Faith, Love

Why is forgiveness such a powerful thing? In my experience, I have seen people struggle when it comes to forgiving others who have hurt them. How many times have I heard people say, “If you know what he did to me, you won’t ask me to forgive him” or “I can’t ever forgive her for what she did to me, not now, not ever!”

 

Forgiveness is a core tenet of the Christian faith. You can’t ignore it and you can’t avoid it. Sooner or later, someone is going to hurt you, someone will step on your toes and it will really hurt. For other people, forgiveness might be a matter of choice but for the Christian, it is not a choice really, it is what is expected of us.

 

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But of you do not forgive men their sins, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins”  (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)

Beauty as Divine Strategy

by Rubel Shelly on June 15, 2015 in Devotion, Discipleshipship

Why did people fall all over themselves to get a glimpse of Jesus? Climb trees to see him? Hang on his every word? It was the beauty of the kingdom of God that Jesus exhibited in his personality and actions.

The gentle humility of Jesus convinced people they had no reason to fear him; he was not about to hurt them. His approachability made them feel welcome in his presence; he would never humiliate them. 

They became excited about the things of God because he was among them. Something about the beauty of his life convinced them their lives could become beautiful as well.

The Virtue of Peace

by Steve Popoola on June 8, 2015 in Biblepraise, Character, Faith

Peace is an essential commodity. Everyone wants peace but many do not know how to attain it. Many do not even understand what peace is. We think that peace is the absence of violence and if only we can get the formula to stop all wars and conflicts, there will be peace in our world.

 

I watched President Obama of the United States speaking in Cairo just a few days after being elected into office, reaching out to the Arab world with persuasive and passionate words. His speech was applauded by a lot of Moslems watching and listening to his speech, describing it as a departure from the policies of the former Administration’s policies. Was Obama able to bring about peace in the Middle East? The emergence of Islamic State is proof  to the contrary.

The Virtue of Joy

by Steve Popoola on June 1, 2015 in Discipleshipship, Faith

The virtues which a Christian possesses is not man-madew neither is it a product of the imagination of men. It is the consequence of a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joy is one of the most misunderstood virtues of a Christian. Its expression negates all normal human reactions. How else would you explain the advice of James to the Jewish Christians? ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds’ (James 1:2)

The Virtue of Patience

by Steve Popoola on May 18, 2015 in Character, Discipleshipship, Faith

Patience. This is one virtue often misunderstood in our world. A patient person is often seen as foolish and cowardly because they do not respond to offenses or infringement of their rights in a predictable manner.

Many fights and quarrels would have been averted if one or either of the parties exercised patience. Many of the road accidents happening on our roads are the product of impatience. The vice of impatience has robbed many people of their joy, destroyed marriages and caused untold hardship to others.

If patience is good, how come we find it difficult to exercise it? I believe it is because impatience is the easy way out. It takes a lot of work to maintain an even temperament in the face of provocation. To lash out however, is much easier. We feel better when we have given the offending party a piece of our mind.

Proverbs 19:11 teaches us, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offence”. It takes a wise man or woman to exercise the virtue of patience.  Discretion teaches us to defer our anger especially when we have not evaluated the reason behind the provocation. By the time we finish our evaluation, we would have poured cold water on our anger and  speak with clear reason, devoid of the harshness which usually accompanies unbridled anger.

The Virtue of Contentment

by Steve Popoola on May 11, 2015 in Biblepraise, Discipleshipship, Faith

The word “content” as an adjective, is becoming more and more obscure in today’s language. I looked up the word “content” in the dictionary and the meaning was as follows; “Satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else”. Another dictionary defined contentment as a “feeling of or showing satisfaction with one’s possession, status or situation”

I am sure if we take a poll of people who are contented in line with the above definitions, the statistics will show a very low figure. This leads us to the question, should we be contented with what we have or where we are? Would that not put us in danger of being complacent?

How To Boast

by Steve Popoola on April 27, 2015 in Devotion, Faith

Boast – “To talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s achievements, possessions or abilities”.

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,”   (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

There is usually the natural tendency for people to boast about the things they possess or about their achievements.

As a student many years ago, I remember remarks often made by fellow students in response to examination results.  For those who excelled, it is common to here them say, “I aced the paper!” For those who did not do well, you will not hear them say, “I failed the paper” rather it was common to hear them remark, “The lecturer failed me”.   People tend to boast about their successes but downplay their failures.

Is there anything wrong with boasting?  To answer this question, let us examine the verse above.  This is coming straight from God and paraphrasing it says, Do not boast in your wisdom, strength or your possessions.

What is peculiar about boasting in these things? A closer examination of these things mentioned, reveal that they are transient in nature. Human wisdom may be relevant for a time but at some point, such wisdom may eventually become irrelevant due to many factors, like technological advancement for instance.  Riches, as we all know is not a permanent resident in anyone’s life.  People lose money due to many reasons, some of which may not be due to their own fault.

When we boast, we focus on ourselves. We project ourselves with no consideration for others.

 

There is however something we can boast about according to Jeremiah 9:24, If we must boast, then our boast should be that we understand and know that Lord and what He represents in our lives. He is loving, He is righteous and He is just.  These are the things that He takes please in (paraphrase mine)

 

God is love. He is the embodiment of love. He loved us even when we were unlovable. He gave His only begotten Son to die so that our sins can be forgiven.

 

God is Righteous. He is perfect in every attribute, attitude and every word.  This is the reason why we could never attain that level of righteousness. We are saved only through the righteousness of Christ.

 

God is just. He is fair in judgment. Human judges sometimes make mistakes by punishing the wrong person for a crime they did not commit. An Illinois man was recently released after being jailed for 20 years for a crime he did not commit.  Because God is all-knowing and just, He would not make such an error in judgment.

 

Let us not boast in the things that are here one day and gone the next. Let us however make our boast in  God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)

Lights of Hope

by Steve Popoola on April 20, 2015 in Faith, Love, Relationships, World Events

A few days ago, we were greeted with the news of violent attacks against foreigners in South Africa.

Clips of videos and pictures containing disturbing violent scenes have been circulating all over social networks and it is quite difficult not to feel a sense of sadness over the affair.

I do not for once believe that South Africans are cruel people. I have wonderful South African friends and many are readers on Biblepraise newsletter and I am sure that they are saddened by the terrible and shocking recent events happening in their country. It is heartwarming to see South African University students, Journalists and Musicians protesting against the xenophobic killings.

Black Lives Matter

by Rubel Shelly on April 13, 2015 in Biblepraise

The cover story of Time magazine this week is “Black Lives Matter.” Yes, they do. And so do brown lives, yellow lives, red lives, and lives of all colors. It is high time white people said as much, acted accordingly, purged our racist attitudes, and got over our defensiveness against discussing racism.

 

“We don’t want to be held responsible for bringing Africans to these shores as slaves over two centuries ago!” Of course not. But the fact remains that it happened. Black people continue to suffer for it. White people continue to have the upper hand in America. And the playing field isn’t level.

 

“We’re not all racists!” No, but some of my more candid black friends have helped me understand the difference between personal and institutional racism. And there is still far too much of the latter for anyone to deny that there are no personal advantages that we get to claim when our skin is lighter.