On Eagles’ Wings

“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4)

Welcome to the new academic year, especially for first year students. The long week of orientation is over, but the exercise of acclimatizing continues for much longer – you haven’t covered all the corners yet, and more First Year students are still arriving. The Chapel fraternity assures you of our support in this process. Our prayer is that you will succeed both academically and in all round growth. Start by acknowledging God’s blessing upon you evidenced in your safe arrival.

Journeys have lots to teach us: the Jewish people started off as a small extended family of just 70 members and were incubated in Egypt for 430 years to become a numerous and powerful nation. They swung from the blessedness of Joseph’s legacy and sunk into harsh slavery that would make them cry – they cried until it was so loud in heaven and God came to their aid. After their deliverance, God fondly informs them about the whole episode with an unveiling of his grand purpose – to have this nation in perpetual special relationship with Him. They did not deserve it, not by merit; they could not work it out, not by might. But God himself offers them a bright future, a great blessing.

John Gill expounds on the “Eagles’ wings” description referring to the detail in Deut 32:11-12: As an eagle stirs up her nest… Her young ones in it, to get them out of it: the eagle is merciful to its young, and does not go into its nest suddenly, but first makes a noise, and disturbs them with her wings, striking them against a tree or its branches, that so they being awakened may be fitter to receive her: with respect to literal Israel, Egypt was their nest, where in their infant state they lay like young birds; and though it was a filthy and torturous one, yet they seemed sometimes as if they did not care to come out of it; until the Lord shook the situation around them by the ministry of Moses and Aaron.

With respect to spiritual Israel, their nest is a state of sin, in which they are at ease, and do not care to be awakened and stirred out of it; but the Lord, in love, awakens, stirs and gets them out, by sending his ministers to arouse them, by convincing them by the Spirit of their sin and danger, opening their eyes to see their wretched and miserable estate and condition, and by exerting God’s Almighty power, plucking them as brands out of the burning.

Just like the eagle skillfully trains her young to fly, yet with considerateness, our God takes us through situation and journeys tough and rough, yet He is with us always. Just as He has been with you in the past, so will He assures you of His presence to the end of the age, if you remain in the relationship to which He has called us.

 

 

Jesus cares: “I am the bread of life.”

 Then Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd… he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Then Jesus declared,
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:5, 35)

John’s gospel is best place to find clear indicators that Jesus cares: his conversations were comforting; and his care fed people – at the Cana wedding, the 5000 at the beach in Galilee, and He gave living water to a Samaritan woman and her relatives. His food and

counsel bring peace to every thirsty soul that reaches out to receive from Him. The need for satisfaction and peace is real – at levels personal, institutional, national, regional and international. How many people are fighting within over food, unfulfilled goals, career and business choices, disappointments at work or in relationships…? Although he or she may look good on the outside, someone is inwardly fighting an abusive or deficient upbringing, inherited spiritual bondages, close people stealing property, or uncertainties about the future. And these very conflicts are the seeds that grow into costly armed wars we have seen at home, in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, North Korea – all over the world.

The needs of the world and even up close to the needs of an individual can well be expressed as hunger or thirst; for needs physical, emotional, occupational, and spiritual – satisfaction keeps eluding us! Having known that the people that took the Cana wine would need more tomorrow, and those five thousand that ate physical food would ask for more, Jesus brought a new twist to his catering vocation. He first introduced at the well in Sychar with the Samaritan woman, when he claimed to have water better than that in Jacob’s well; he would offer living water that quenches thirst forever. Now he says, ‘I am the bread of life’! His final serving was the last supper where he further amplified the statement and made it clear that whoever comes to Him will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Him will have his thirst quenched for good. These are demonstrations that Jesus cares.

Where do you turn for satisfaction and peace? As we pray for peace in the world, let us recognize that it begins within one individual; let us therefore seek to receive from the Prince of Peace what we need to be restfully content – ‘cast your cares upon the Lord’. And let us be agents of this peace; encouraging someone and helping just one person overcome the battles within could arrest a looming strike or rebellion. In their fellowship, Jesus Christ fed them physically, and after rising from the dead, spoke Peace to them twice before He commissioned the disciples. He knows the depth of our needs and will not rush away; He alone satisfies. Be sure He is attentive to you; He cares for you.

Peace be with you!

 

 

 

 

Jesus cares: “Peace be with you!”

Then Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”

Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,
“Peace be with you!” (John 6:5, 20:19)

John’s gospel is best place to find clear indicators that Jesus cares: his conversations were comforting; and his care fed people – at the Cana wedding, the 5000 at the beach in Galilee, and He gave living water to a Samaritan woman and her relatives. His food and counsel bring peace to every thirsty soul that reaches out to receive from Him. The need for peace is real – at levels personal, institutional, national, regional and international. How many people are fighting within over food, unfulfilled goals, career and business choices, disappointments at work or in relationships…? Although he or she may look good on the outside, someone is inwardly fighting an abusive or deficient upbringing, inherited spiritual bondages, close people stealing property, or uncertainties about the future. And these very conflicts are the seeds that grow into costly armed wars we have seen at home, in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, North Korea – all over the world.

I consider the highest expression of Jesus’ care to be his greeting, ‘Peace be with you!’ The food he gave brought temporary relief from the problem of hunger, but the Peace he gives brings everlasting welfare. ‘Shalom’ (‘Peace be with you’) was and still is a normal greeting among the peoples of Middle East; but just like the English may hastily respond, ‘Fine’ to the greeting ‘How are you?’ – even when troubled deep inside – one may not really feel or receive peace when they respond affirmatively to the ‘Peace’ greeting. It is now time to receive revitalizing effects from familiar words; the one speaking is not just throwing a casual greeting at you; His names include Prince of Peace and Wonderful Counselor. The reason most people will say ‘I am fine’ is because they don’t expect that person to do anything about their troubles. But Jesus is not like that person who greeted you and didn’t even wait to hear your response; Jesus Christ will stick by you and listen to more than you can share – tell him the real deep truth, and may His greeting of ‘Peace’ bring you comfort and joy. Jesus cares.

As we pray for peace in the world, let us recognize that it begins within one individual; let us therefore seek to receive from the Prince of Peace what we need to be restfully content – ‘cast your cares upon the Lord’. And let us be agents of this peace; encouraging someone and helping just one person overcome the battles within could arrest a looming strike or rebellion. In their fellowship, Jesus Christ spoke Peace to them twice before He commissioned the disciples. He knows the depth of our needs and will not rush away; be sure He is attentive to you.

 

The Privilege of Serving

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women… These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (Luke 8:1-3)

It is a great privilege to serve a King. Nothing has changed since the days of King Saul; just like Jesse was pleased to send his son David with gifts to show his gratitude for the privilege to serve, ministers today will always thank the President for having trusted them with this office or that, in almost every speech wherever whenever. David was pleased to serve (1Sam 16:14-23), the Twelve were happy to follow and be with Jesus the great Rabbi, and also the women were happy to give and support this noble ministry.

Today is the Feast of Mary Magdalene. She was one of the women that helped to support Jesus’ ministry; she had been healed and was now eternally thankful. Even after Jesus suffered, died and was buried, her commitment remained; she visited the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. She refused to leave after realizing that her master’s body had been ‘stolen’! In the end, she saw Jesus alive again, and went on to tell the good news as the first evangelist. Mary Magdalene carries great inspiration through the ages – not only for women but for all people. We can draw many lessons for her life, discipleship and ministry; for today, let us concentrate on the privilege of serving.

Many of us have embraced this privilege – thank you! The construction team had stressful and tiresome Friday last week as they cast concrete, but they rejoice at the privilege to serve. Kakumba Chapel embarked on the vertical extension of the Chapel Hall to create more working and ministry space and a multi-purpose Hall which will majorly be used as a Teens’ Chapel, and also for fellowships, meetings, parties, short courses and University lectures and exams – the Musiime Hall. The motivation of these physical development actions is the Gospel; we want the good news of Jesus Christ to reach more and deeper, and to equip more people to go and proclaim the same. All these are service opportunities.

Our teens need deliberate focus; they are in transition from being children to becoming adults, and are many times lost in between; yet they face potentially confusing circumstances both from internal changes happening in their bodies and from external influence by peers real and virtual. Whether by your generous contribution to the building project or by your presence and participation in their services, seize your opportunity and privilege to serve these young people in Jesus’ Name. If you dare to ask and listen, there are many opportunities to serve the greatest King of all. It is rewarding now and eternally, but it is also peace-giving when you fulfill the purpose for which your Creator made you. Take the opportunity heartily and enjoy your privilege totally.

 

 

 

Musiime Hall – A Gospel Witness

The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the valley of acacias. (Joel 3:16-18)

Prophet Joel concludes his short message with an account of the future glory of Judah and particularly the LORD’s house. Physical developments and peace are God’s way of showing us His glory and favour. Prayers to enthrone the Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, and giving to build for His glory are very important activities in the Church. We need peace and development seen on Kyambogo hill as our dwelling, our Jerusalem, and we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Prophet Jeremiah and King David in their various messages gave us inspiration and encouragement to pray for our city. And at Kakumba Chapel, it is time to rally our efforts in this direction – it is time to build.

Kakumba Chapel embarked on the vertical extension of the Chapel Hall to create more working space and the Musiime Hall – a multi-purpose Hall which will majorly be used as a Teens’ Chapel, and also for fellowships, meetings, parties, short courses and University lectures and exams. The motivation of these physical development actions is the Gospel; we want the good news of Jesus Christ to reach more and deeper, and to equip more people to go and proclaim the same. The gospel liberates and gives life and light. Our teens need deliberate focus; they are in transition from being children to becoming adults, and are many times lost in between; yet they face potentially confusing circumstances both from internal changes happening in their bodies and from external influence by peers real and virtual. Listen to the progress update and seize your opportunity to participate in this noble cause of building.

At least Ugx 280 million has already been spent (since July 2017), and the foundation, gallery (first) and second floor structures are up. Decking and all preparations for the third floor are almost complete. Thank you for your giving!  Next: we hope to cast concrete for this floor this week on 18th-19th July 2018. We need to raise more money for the concrete and the next tasks, which include fixing windows and doors in the lower floors, and building walls to enable the completed sections to be used safely. Meanwhile the University Top Management commended and blessed the project and we are grateful for their continued support. I call upon you to support the physical prosperity and peace through your generous contribution to the building project at hand – the Musiime Hall Project.

Joel reminds us through his three chapters that when a hard message comes from the Lord, it is not to discourage us to despair. It is to wake us up and align us to God’s purposes and will; and this starts with repentance, reconciliation, and goes on with re-building and building new structures which stand as testimony of God’s goodness and His glory.

 

 

 

 

The Message of Prophet Joel

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly… bring together the elders, gather the children… Let them say, ‘Spare your people, LORD.’ (Joel 2:15-17, also 1:14-15)

Joel has a chorus for us. When some message is repeated, those accustomed to music are quick to call it a refrain or a chorus, just like ‘Praise the Lord, praise the Lord…’ in the anthem-like hymn ‘To God be the glory’; not many people may know all the verses off-head, but majority will gladly join in the chorus when the few have finished each verse. This chorus normally bears the central message of the hymn, the core that completes each verse, so that if someone knows only the chorus, they know the hymn’s entire message approximately. Songs with a repetitive chorus are easier to learn and remember; even writers of poems and other prose-like pieces find some kind of ‘chorus’ to embed in their writings to facilitate memory for the main point.

Right at the center of the book appears Joel’s chorus: Joel 2:15-17 repeats verses 14-15 of the first chapter. The message is:

Declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly.

For the day of the LORD is near!

In Chapter 2 (read), this Day is described as an unstoppable mighty army approaching to conquer and destroy utterly, in the same spirit as the appallingly destructive locusts of Chapter 1. This vivid picture is supposed to frighten all apart from those that will be shielded by the LORD himself – those who call upon Him in spirit and in truth. Hope us unveiled for them in this very Chapter. Unfortunately, many of the others put up an unfounded bravado that makes them deny the veracity of this shaking message; they continue in idolatry, fornication, stealing, or even lukewarm-ness, disregarding the Lord! They hope they will escape somehow by their own might and power, or perhaps the Day will not come at all!

God has assured us of the certainty of this message by bringing surprises in fulfillment of parts of this prophecy. For example, the bewilderment that confounded the cosmopolitan feast at Jerusalem in 27AD demanded explanation beyond the speculations of the spectators. The leader of the fire-spitting tongue-speaking band is Simon Peter, and he will clearly explain; and here is the most important spot where we find Joel standing tall as the Prophet to be quoted in the Pentecost sermon: “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people’” (Acts 2:16-17, Joel 2:28). As surely as the Pentecostal outpouring happened, so shall the dreaded Day of the Lord come. Your only hope is to hide in Jesus Christ the Rock.

And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls. (v.32)

 

 

The Message of Prophet Joel

“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near” (Joel 1:14-15)

 The bewilderment that confounded the cosmopolitan feast at Jerusalem in 27AD demanded explanation beyond the speculations of the spectators. The leader of the fire-spitting tongue-speaking band is Simon Peter, and he will clearly explain; and here is the most spot where we find Joel standing tall as the Prophet to be quoted in the Pentecost sermon: “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.’” (Acts 2:16-17). More of this will follow next week, but for now let us go to the beginning of his good book.

In his opening chapter, the Prophet Joel sharply calls for attention to a calamity that recurs to create worse and devastating calamity! The end is in contrast very bright and hopeful. In his book, there is a progression in the thought, rising from the solid, sorely smitten earth to a region ethereal, and the stages of advance are marked by sudden, sharp calls (Joel 1:2, 1:14; 3:9), or by the blasts of the trumpet which prelude the shifting scenes (Joe 2:1, Joe 2:15).

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia paints the contextual picture: The land has suffered from a succession of disasters, the greatest that could befall an agricultural country, drought and locusts. The two are in fact inextricably connected, and the features of both are mixed up in the description of their effects. The extent of the disaster is vividly depicted by the singling out of the classes on whom the calamity has fallen, the drinkers of wine, the priests, the vine-dressers, the husbandmen; and, toward the close of the chapter, the lower animals are pathetically introduced as making their mute appeal to heaven for help (Joel 1:18-20).

If the Day of the Lord does not cause shivers in your body, soul and spirit, you must be made of iron or wood. Who does not feel an electric shock when a loved one is suddenly declared dead? Who does not tremble when a dear friend diagnosis comes through as ‘cancer’? Who is not worried about the nuclear weapons in North Korea? All these only give us a foretaste of how the Day of the Lord will terrorize creation. Joel comes like a doctor to immunize those who listen, so that the Day of the Lord will not take the toll it should have. Joel warns and recommends actions that will keep you safe when that time comes. Long before the Day comes – and it will come suddenly – turn to the Lord in worship, in prayer, in fasting, in total commitment in spirit and in truth – honour the Lord your God according to His Word, and you will be safe and secure, both now and on that Day.

 

 

The Message of the Isaiah: Hope for the Gentiles

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42:1-3)

 Isaiah, the prominent prophet to Judah, brings words of great hope for all people; his 42nd chapter opens with these ‘times of refreshing’. As God introduces his servant, he is described by qualities, purpose, and assignments that amplify the mission of God in the world. In many ways we can deduce who this Servant would be – the Messiah himself, Jesus Christ. In the gospel of Matthew, we can find two sections which are traceable to Isa 42. The servant is well introduced in Matt 12:18-21 after a controversial healing and teaching. He is the hope of the nations – all people groups. The weak that come to him are not broken; the unsure and the wavering are not cast out; the lost find their vision and hope in Him; all who could relate with ‘the smoldering wick’ or ‘the bruised reed’ receive great encouragement. “In his name the nations will put their hope.”

Another instance is of identifying the Servant is when John the Baptist, languishing in prison, sent messengers to confirm whether Jesus was the Messiah (Matt 11:1-6); he sent back a message with his identity sealed in the ongoing mission: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Again here, this is a quotation from Isaiah 42:6-7, from where the hope is bright. Surprisingly, this hope was hidden from John the Baptist, and he suffered some more and finally was beheaded! But to the nations – to the world, the gentiles, all peoples – this hope lives on. Such paradox of God’s operations leaves questions, but the answers are more powerful.

Isaiah’s opening chapter is an attack on false religiosity. In our day, he would be targeting pastors involved in financial fraud, choir and worship team members involved in fornication, dance and drama team members involved in secret sins and indecency, and any church leader or elder putting up a show yet in secret there are dark sports; Isaiah would also be targeting smart church goers who are consistent and seem deeply touched by the worship and message on Sunday morning, yet the rest of the days of the week are spent in the shady streets of naughty life. Isaiah starts off by attacking false religiosity that was abundant in his day and seems to be with us today!

Just like the Servant introduced in Isaiah 42 is hope for the gentiles – for all nations, so is the Message of Isaiah. The call to true worship is directed to all nations. ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed’ (James 5:16). This is the way to be preserved; otherwise, ‘every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire’!

 

 

The Message of the Isaiah: Fruit!

Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right… Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Isaiah 1:16-17, Matt 7:19)

Isaiah was a prominent prophet to Judah, who prophesied around 700 years before Christ – a contemporary of Hosea and Micah. He seems to have belonged to a family of high rank given the evident easy access to the king and close proximity with the priest (7:3, 8:2). His writings stand out: “For versatility of expression and brilliance of imagery Isaiah had no superior, not even a rival. His style marks the climax of Hebrew literary art” (ISBE). Isaiah recorded God’s message to Cyrus king of Persia before Cyrus had even been born and before Persia became a great power (Isaiah 44:28, 45:1-6). Isaiah bears at least twenty Messianic Prophecies that have their evident fulfillment in the New Testament. Isaiah is quoted directly more than fifty times in the New Testament – the second most quoted OT book (after Psalms).

So, what was the message of Isaiah? Suffice to start at the beginning of the book, since such a big and prominent scroll may not be hurriedly summarized. Isaiah’s opening chapter is an attack on false religiosity. In our day, he would be targeting pastors involved in financial fraud, choir and worship team members involved in fornication, dance and drama team members involved in secret sins and indecency, and any church leader or elder putting up a show yet in secret there are dark sports; Isaiah would also be targeting smart church goers who are consistent and seem deeply touched by the worship and message on Sunday morning, yet the rest of the days of the week are spent in the shady streets of naughty life. Isaiah starts off by attacking false religiosity that was abundant in his day and seems to be with us today!

Is God really not interested in ‘the multitude of your sacrifices’? How then shall his Priests and Levites survive, and how will the Chapel development project be moved ahead? Money is the blood of any economy; stop its flow and there will be a catastrophe! When God seems to be inviting this situation, there must be a serious point He is making. And the demand that He places above sacrifices must then receive utmost attention: ‘Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right’; in the words of John the Baptist, ‘Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.’ Jesus warns strongly that the tree that does not produce good fruit will end up in the fire!

‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed’ (James 5:16). Fortunately, there is a way out – and this is it – for your sacrifices to be accepted, and for amends to be made to restore a joyful fellowship with God and with one another. God bless you all.

 

 

 

The Message of the Former Prophets

Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” All the people … fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD – he is God! The LORD – he is God!”  (1Kings 18:21, 39)

What was the message of the prophets? Today we listen to Elijah as we peek more into this question. A strange vision in which Jesus, Moses and Elijah were seen together is recorded in Matt 17 – The Transfiguration – when Jesus’ countenance was changed, his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Moses and Elijah represented the testimonies borne in the Law and the Prophets about Jesus, whose true identity was now announced by God himself there and then, followed by a command: ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ What God said at this unusual conference is what the prophets preached at different times and to different audiences. They called people to Jehovah God, but also pointed to a Messiah that would come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.

Elijah was the first prominent prophet to appear in the Northern Kingdom of Israel amidst a series of wicked kings. Elijah’s ministry was not able to change the hearts of the leaders of his day; after Ahab’s wicked reign and those of the six wicked kings before him, Ahaziah and the twelve kings following him all ‘did evil in the eyes of the LORD’ and ‘caused Israel to commit sin’. Ahab himself is said to have done ‘more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.’ At one point Elijah considered himself the only prophet of God while the idols – Baal – had over 450 prophets; there was such a saturation of sin! Then Elijah fearlessly appeared and in the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated the power of God:

Today:

Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism. The movement emphasized intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience.

  • Romantic: Praise and Worship, Intercession, Preaching,
  • Romantic: Relationships, Worship, Business Negotiations

“If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” The prophet thus called on his hearers to return to the LORD and follow him because He alone is God. The drama of rain withheld and the drama of fire come down in answer to Elijah’s prayer were demonstrations for the people, many of whom repented and slaughtered the false prophets that had deceived them for a long time. Do you hear Elijah’s same message in Moses, Samuel, David, Obadiah, Jonah, Hosea, Daniel, John the Baptist, and in Jesus Christ himself? The list is much longer – all speaking the same language; this is no surprise as they were under the same inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The people saw the sign of fire at the contest at Carmel and declared, ‘The LORD – he is God!’ Today we have seen much more and there is no reason why anyone would stay away: the command also comes to us to Listen and Follow the LORD our God and never to trade Him for anything.