• Victor E Karaba Muriithi

The Bible begins and ends with the presence of God. In Genesis Eden is presented as Man’s home, but more importantly as God’s sanctuary, i.e. a dwelling place for His presence. In Revelation, We see Eden returning and being expanded into a New Heaven and a New Earth where God’s people enjoy God’s presence continually. (Rev 21:14). The presence of God is not simply just an aura or atmosphere, but an aspect of the nature of God. The bible teaches that there this a big difference between the omnipresence of God and his MANIFEST Presence.

In the account of Samson, the last judge of Israel before introduction of monarchies (Judges 13 to 16), we see his destiny explicitly being laid out by God even before he was born. Samson was given immense strength to aid him against his enemies and allow him to perform glorious exploits, such as killing a lion, slaying an entire army of one thousand Philistines with only the jawbone of a donkey, gathering three hundred foxes, and using them to torch the grain fields and olive groves of the Philistines, and destroying a temple of the Philistines with his bare hands and many other exploits. God supplied Samson's power because of his consecration to Him as a Nazirite, symbolized by the fact that a razor had never touched his head. In spite of his continued directive from God to fight the Philistines, Samson pursued a much more personal connection with them. He fell in love with a Philistine woman, Delilah, who was tasked by her people to find the secret of Samson’s strength. Three times she begged to know the secret of his strength, and three times he lied to her. Finally, after Delilah nagged persistently, he confessed: “A razor has never come to my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, then my strength would leave me” (Judges 16:17). Sure enough, Delilah took advantage of this new information, lulling Samson to sleep and shaving off his hair. He immediately became weak and God’s power left him. "Samson woke up and thought, 'I will do as I did before and shake myself free.' but he did not realise that the Lord had left him." (Judges 16:20). What a horrible tragedy not to KNOW that God is not with you. His long hair had been cut off, the vow to the Lord was broken, and the Lord had left him. He was now as weak as other men, and helpless in the hands of his enemies. Delilah handed Samson over to the Philistines, who gouged out his eyes, and forced him work grinding grain by turning a large millstone in prison.

Remember King Saul? When he was anointed as king, the Bible records that the Spirit of God rushed to him (1 Sam 10:10). However, when he messed with the anointing, the Spirit of God departed from him (1 Sam 16:14). The tragedy was; he continued reigning as king for 15 more years after God withdrew His spirit.

We can no longer afford to take God's grace for granted. We cannot keep on abusing the mercies of God and keep on doing what we want and expect that God will still have our back. It is a sad thing for anyone or for a nation to end up in a place where God's hand is no longer on them. But it is more tragic to think that His hand is still on them when in actual fact it is not. Do not deceive yourself that God is still with you either, because you are not reaping immediate consequences of your reprobation, or you appear to be walking from blessing to blessing. The biggest forms of deception we are facing today are: the lies we tell ourselves, the facts we have chosen to ignore, the truth we have closed our ears to and the realities we have shut our eyes to... Lord have mercy on us! "Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me." (Ps 51:11).

The presence of God dwells in a Sanctuary. God instructed the children of Israel to make a dwelling place for His habitation. “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8. We also see in the Sinai Covenant, that at the heart of it was the promise that God’s presence would dwell with His People. “Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.” (Exodus 29: 45 – 46). Sanctuary comes from the combination of the Latin word Sanctus and the suffix –ary. Sanctus refers to something that has been set apart from all other things; something that has been set apart for the express use or service to Jehovah God. The suffix –ary denotes something connected intimately to the word it modifies, and it especially refers to a place. A sanctu-ary is a place where you will find holiness, or a place that has been set apart as holy.

Where has God chosen to dwell in the New Testament? “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man” (Acts 17:24). This is the mistake that is made about “sanctuaries” under the New Testament. God specifically chose the tabernacle and, later, the temple in Jerusalem in which to dwell. It was God’s presence that made those places holy. God has not chosen any building to dwell in after the temple in Jerusalem. Where does God dwell? “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9). “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:1). We are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22). We are God’s temple. We are god’s dwelling place. We are the “sanctuary” in the New Testament.

I wish to conclude with the some words from a wonderful song written by John Thompson and Randy Scruggs (1982)

"Lord prepare me to be sanctuary

Pure and holy, tried and true

With thanksgiving, I'll be a living

Sanctuary for You"

  • Victor E Karaba Muriithi

I have been re-reading the Bible all over again (I have a “though-the-bible-in-a-month” plan) and right on day 1, the Holy Spirit revealed something I had hitherto not seen in the life of Cain. Why did things go so wrong in Cain's life? Well, primarily because man sinned and fell short of the glory of God. But from the account recorded in Genesis 4, Cain's tragedy started with his attitude: HE TOOK GOD’S GRACE FOR GRANTED!

Cain's attitude towards God appears good to begin with. He was the first to make an offering before Abel followed suit. Although we are not told what requirements there were for any type of offerings, God did not accept his offering (theologians are split on this with some arguing about God delighting in the Christological aspect in Abel’s killing of a firstborn lamb – But today I do not want us to be theologically technical). The rejection of his sacrifice then made him have a jealous attitude towards his brother Abel. Cain was a man in turmoil, on the knife-edge of sin, God comes asking questions with surgical precision. “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7).

Grace is the generous character of God in the face of human rebellion. The God of grace is vividly portrayed in every angle of this account. In fact, throughout the whole Bible, God does not punish sin without giving people the chance to repent. Grace always warns the tempted. We receive this grace not because of who we are or what we do but because of who God is. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45). “The LORD is good to everyone and his mercies extend to everything he does.” (Psalm 145:9). God’s saving grace is a freely available to those who choose to trust and believe in Christ Jesus. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us (lavished) with all wisdom and understanding." (Ephesians 1: 7-8). It is undeserved and unmerited. "We are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from ourselves; it is God’s gift not from works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9).

What then should be our response to this? DO NOT TAKE THE GRACE OF GOD FOR GRANTED.

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them].” (2 Corinthians 5: 18). [God's grace started right at the garden of Eden when God clothed naked Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The two had sinned but God came looking for them and didn't treat them as they deserved (Job 42:8 NLT). But the word "Grace" per se (Hebrew: Khane), is introduced in Genesis 6:8 in relation to Noah. Grace (and truth) were revealed through Jesus (John 1:17), but we also see them 'foreshadowed' in the OT, just as we have Christophanies of the pre-incarnate Christ. As we always say, "the NT is concealed in the OT and the OT is revealed in the NT."]“Don’t take the grace of God in vain – don’t let it be wasted. Hear what God says: ‘When the time came for me to show you favour, I heard you; when the day arrived for me to save you, I helped you.’ Listen! This is the hour to receive God's favour; today is the day to be saved!” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

Coming back to Cain, he had Grace extended to him – he despised it. God did extend His grace to him and tried to prompt him into righteousness, but Cain was too indignant to hearken. Grace probes, Cain was probed with a view to having him recognise what is going on – and to repent. When such a turn looked unlikely, grace warned him thus: “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7). The warning is clear: death will be the result of your sin. (Genesis 4:7). Unfortunately, sin mastered him.

Grace empowers us to repent. Not just a once-and-for-all decision to follow Christ, but the continuing power to say no to sin. “The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-13). “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace”. (Romans 6:14).

I know EVERYONE reading this is at a point where grace is calling us to throw ourselves on the character of God. Grace is probing; grace is sounding a warning. Many of us are facing the just rebuke of God for our sin(s). Whatever the case, DO NOT TAKE THE GRACE OF GOD FOR GRANTED. Shalom!

  • Victor E Karaba Muriithi

Sometimes we hardly get anything done because there is too much commotion around us. Often times SO MANY people around us that are NOT concerned about our situations. Allow me to explain using 3 examples found in the Bible.

When Jesus arrived at Jairus' house He was met by a great commotion. He was a man on mission and He knew what to do: He had the crowd kicked out. Matthew 9:25 says, "WHEN THE CROWD WAS PUT OUTSIDE, JESUS WENT IN..." These were guys who had treated Jesus with scorn and contempt. Their attitude as well as their sorrow would disturb the reverential feelings essential to the performance of such a miracle. He had to cast them out.

When the Hebrews went out of Egypt, the Bible records that a Mixed Multitude accompanied them. The mixed multitude were not partakers of the Abrahamic covenant. They were stiff necked and rebellious to God. Though they saw and experienced the signs and wonders of God, these did not change them. They constantly doubted God and rebelled against Moses. They were the first to complain and grumble. They had a mind-set that was always looking to go back to Egypt at the slightest opportunity (Exodus 12:37-38; Numbers 11:4-6). Because of their influence, the entire Hebrew nation that went out of Egypt didn't enter Canaan (save Caleb and Joshua). They all perished in the wilderness.

There are times where when you really need a breakthrough or some type of deliverance that you are going to have to SHUT THE DOOR on some folks and Turn OFF the noise and get alone with you and God and your family and watch HIM manifest the things you need. The Bible tells of a widow who was in serious debt and the creditors were about to take her sons. Elisha the prophet instructed her, inter alia, "And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” (2 Kings 4:4). SHUT THE DOOR! They don't need to be around when God delivers you. Whether it be some members of your family, so called friends or church folks, often times the enemy will use them to create doubt and despair in your mind.

In the corporate world, the importance of operating in Stealth Mode cannot be overstated. Stealth mode is a strategy in which something is intentionally hidden until a predefined date. Many of us have suffered a great deal of pain because we've allowed too many people inside. Folks who don't understand your assignment, who haven't caught your vision and who don't believe in your ability to fulfil your purpose. These will sabotage you and frustrate you against your purpose.

This year, (and in years to come), reduce the commotion around you. Keep your dreams and mission under wraps. Learn to be low key and off radar. Become unnoticed until your success and results blow up in their faces. Operate in silence. Get rid of commotion. When the time comes, "your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly." (Matthew 6:4). Activate your stealth mode.

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"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power." (Romans 1:16; Ephesians 3:7)

© 2016 Victor Erastus Karaba Muriithi.