Dear #PrisonersOfHope

I enjoy listening to Naye Lupondwana’s programme “ Facts of Faith”, on SAfm every Sunday morning on my way to church. It is a platform that allows listeners the benefit of hearing what faith communities have to say about the issues of the day. I just can’t recall what topic was being discussed, on that particular Sunday, but I remember a gentleman calling with a question that was irrelevant to what was being discussed. His question was “why did God use Moses, knowing very well that Moses was a murderer?” Naye politely told him that he was not going to entertain that question since it was not in line with what was being discussed. I remember laughing out loud upon hearing that question, not because the question was irrelevant but because the caller sounded so annoyed as he was asking the question. His question might have been irrelevant on that day, but it got me thinking…….

Yes it is true, Moses was a murderer, Moses had speech problems, Moses was insecure, as if that were not enough, the guy also had a short fuse. Moses also did not feel qualified to do what God had called him to do. In Exodus 3 v 11 Moses asked God “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ In Exodus 4 v 13 Moses pleaded with God, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” In the eyes of man, and in his own eyes, Moses was unqualified to be used by God. Despite his worst, God was still determined to use Moses to accomplish His purpose.

1 Corinthians 1 v 27-28 says, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify things that are, so that no one will boast before Him.”

I am always fascinated by the kind of people God used in the bible and the people He continue to use today to share Hope to the hopeless world. I found this interesting and I thought I should share with you. These are some of the characters God used:

Elijah – suicidal

Joseph – abused and an “ex-con”

Moses – murder, short temper and speech problem

Gideon – low self esteem

Samson – a womanizer with dreadlocks

Mirriam – a gossiper

Rahab – a prostitute

The Samaritan woman – a divorcee

Noah – a drunkard

Jacob – a cheater

David – a murderer and adulterer

Jonah – ran away from God

Naomi – a bitter widow

Ruth – a foreigner

Martha – worried about everything

Mary Magdelene – possessed by seven demons

Zacchaeus – was short and loved money

Paul – a mass-murderer who persecuted Christians before he became one.

Maybe you can identify with some of these unqualified people, and you are wondering if God can ever use you. God is greater than our guilt, shame, imperfections and all the things that tells us we are not worthy of His love. Don’t wait until you feel qualified to do what God is calling you to do.  God qualifies the unqualified. 2 Corinthians 3 v 5 says, “It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” NLT.

“Next time you feel unqualified to be used by God remember this, He tends to recruit from the pit, not from the pedestal.” Jon Acuff.

Signed: #RestoredMe

Season of Isolation

Dear #PrisonersOfHope

 Just as there are seasons in the natural, there are also seasons in the spiritual. They say to be forewarned is to be forearmed. With natural seasons, if you live in the southern hemisphere, you know that end of winter gives way to spring, so when you approach the end of winter, you start making preparations for spring. But spiritual seasons have a way of catching us off guard and interrupt our lives.

A season of isolation is a place of complete separation, where you feel lost, unwanted or deserted, all alone. I too, experienced a season of isolation. Being the kind of person who does not take unpleasant things lying down, I fought a lot with God during this season. Until it dawned to me that I cannot fight God and win. I kept on loosing and loosing until I gave up control. Yes, I gave up control and calmed the noise in my soul, only then, did I realized that I am actually ‘alone in His presence.’ The most comfortable place to be in life is to be in His presence. You can loose everything but never loose your relationship with God.

Joseph in the book of Genesis 37 went through a season of isolation. Dumped in a pit by his own brothers, sold off into slavery and just when things seemed like they were looking up, Joseph was thrown into prison in a foreign land based on a false accusation. But God’s presence was evident in the life of Joseph, even his master Potiphar noticed that, Genesis 39 v 2 -4. Even in prison God was with Joseph, Genesis 39 v 21. Isolation prepared Joseph for his position as the second most powerful man in Egypt. Isolation from every other voice and source but God Himself, has prepared countless men and women through the ages for greatness. There are moments when your growth depends on the isolation, and that is preparation.

Because seasons of isolation are uncomfortable, we resist them and conclude that God must be punishing us, when in reality He is preparing us through isolation. You and I can learn something from the life of a caterpillar, in our season of isolation. “The caterpillar crawls on the ground barely escaping those that would step on and crush him. Then one day he climbs on to the tree where he is isolated then incubated then emerges as a butterfly able to fly over the heads of those that once tried to walk on him. If God can do that for a caterpillar, how much more will He do for you as He keeps you safe and warm until you are ready to emerge stronger than ever before”. Unkown.

Sometimes we need to understand that we have been isolated on purpose and stop resenting the fact that we have been “set apart”. When we embrace this season, we begin to discover things about ourselves that we otherwise would have never known. God also begin to reveal something about Himself that He cannot reveal to us while surrounded by people.

Don’t allow the pain of being isolated to arrest your desire to live. Remember that some of the greatest books were written in prison and some of the greatest ideas were invented in chains. It is once we are out of this season that we realize that God has never left our side.

In your season of isolation, do not allow the enemy to fill your mind with negative thoughts. The enemy will always try to convince you and I that our season of isolation is a time of rejection, and then we begin to feel sorry for ourselves, and we allow self-pity to drop our voices to a whisper. Once our voices have been dropped into a whisper, then we can no longer be the agent of change that God wants us to be for somebody else.

Are you feeling isolated and all alone? Not so, God is right there with you everyday as consistent as the beat of your heart. He has you just where He wants you. Remember He is Jehovah Shammah, He will never leave you, nor forsake you. He is strengthening you, giving you vision and revelation for the next season of your life.Next time you feel alone remember this “ A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings.” Mandy Hale

Signed: #RestoredMe

Long Walk To Forgiveness

Dear #PrisonersOfHope

I have struggled for a long time with the concept of forgiveness. It seems to be one of the greatest human challenges. The bible tells us to forgive, and this has only added to my frustration and confusion. “What exactly is God asking me to do?” I have always asked myself. It is difficult to forgive when you feel like you have been stripped, wounded and left feeling like a victim on the Jericho road, (Luke 10 v 30). Forgiveness is not easy, just when you think you’ve mastered it in one part of your life, or in one relationship, some new offense touches a deeply treasured piece of you, and the hurt and anger flare again. Life has a way of dragging us into the most painful and unthinkable places, where we cannot change the past and our future seems to depend on a concept we do not understand, FORGIVENESS . I have never really thought of forgiveness as something to aspire to, I have always thought of it as a white flag of defeat.

Forgiveness is a gift to yourself; it is about releasing yourself from the control of someone who hurt you. It does not exonerate the perpetrator but it liberates the victim. Oftentimes we feel as if forgiving someone means that we are allowing them to get away with what they have done.

Exodus 21 v 24 “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” I used to think this is a fair scripture. Then came Jesus in Matthew 5 v 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If we practice an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, soon the whole world will be blind and toothless.”

We cannot always understand other people’s motive for hurting us, since we cannot see what is in their hearts. Luke 6 v 27 -28, Jesus instruct us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who spitefully use us. This is hard, not just for me but for a lot of children of God. We tend to believe that forgiving people who have hurt us is hard, but the reality is that walking around with anger and unforgiveness in our hearts is even harder. One of the most dangerous effects of harbouring unforgiveness in our hearts is that it short-circuits the power of God in our lives, making you and I unable to walk and function in the Spirit.

We’ve all heard about forgiving and forgetting. It is true that we must forgive, but I am not sure if forgetting is possible. But if we sincerely forgive, the pain of the offense will not persist, after a while the memory of it will loose its sting.

Forgiveness is the matter of the heart. It is an act of surrendering to God’s will and it is between you and God. When we honored the words of our Savior Jesus Christ to pray for those who hurt us, asking good for them, seeking the Lord’s presence in their lives and transformation of their hearts. Asking God to reveal His love and grace to them. Then we will personally experience God’s miraculous, transforming grace more profoundly than we ever thought possible.

Believe me when I say, you cannot pray for people and still be mad at them, as you pray for them, you develop compassion towards them and God begins to reveal areas of struggle in their lives. Hurting people hurt others, much as healed people heal others. What we do or say to others is a direct reflection of how we feel inside. Sometimes we need to take a step back and remind ourselves that other people’s actions and reactions are not about us, they are about them. For hurting people, the act of hurting others gives them instant gratification. It is not like they are evil, just hurting. The truth is that you cannot fix yourself by breaking someone else.

When we pray for them as an act of obedience to God, He will begin to shine His light on us, to remind us that we are not perfect and we have been forgiven. If we want the beauty of God to be seen in our lives, we must refuse to keep unforgiveness in our hearts, because it will take the shine out of our lives.

I don’t know what hurt or pain has kept you in prison of unforgiveness. Maybe your wounds are so fresh and still bleeding and the mention of the word ‘forgiveness’ feels like rubbing salt into the wound, but remember that it is believed that salt heals wounds faster. When people offend us, we should allow the love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts to come out towards them. God is love, and He is a forgiver. Love forgives. Love cures people, both the one who give it and the one who receives it. When we choose to forgive, we stop the past from robbing our future.

Signed: #RestoredMe