Love God’s People

Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people” (Esth 10:3 ESV2011).

Mordecai cared enough to take and raise Esther when her parents died (Esth 2:7). He faithfully served king Ahasuerus and saved him from a possible assassination (Esth 2:19-23). When Haman decreed the destruction of all Jews, Mordecai stepped forward and eventually saved his people (Esth 4).

Mordecai did not only love God, but he also loved God’s people to the extend of taking risks to save them.

His love for Esther meant that he should take and raise her as his own child. His love for God’s people meant that he should face the enemy to stop the massacre of God’s people.

There is so much to learn for us from the legacy of Mordecai. Many of us claim to love God and our neighbours. But do we love God’s people to the extend of facing the enemy to save them?

Today, Christians (God’s adopted people) are attacked from every corner intellectually, physically, politically and economically. Today, Jews (God’s chosen people) are fighting for their survival as Muslims are attacking them with the determination to kill every Jew until none is left. More and more the nations of the world are turning against Israel and supporting Islamic destruction of Jews. Today there is so much need for Christian men like Mordecai who will stand up and defend Jews and Christians from the attacks of the enemy.

Farther, forgive my selfishness and cowardice. May I love and stand up for your people. Bless me with love for them and boldness to defend them.

Serving God with your heart

“I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.” (Ps 89:20-21, ESV2011).

God found, anointed and empowered the little shepherd boy David to kill Goliath, to rule the nation of Israel and to pave the way for Messiah. Although he made mistakes, he lived for God, worked for God, fought for God and left behind a great legacy and a great kingdom.

But the question is, was David merely an obedient servant who only did what God said or was he more than that? The answer is found in Acts 13:22: David was not only a servant, but a man after God’s heart who would do all God’s will. He was not merely obeying God, but passionately trying to fulfil God’s desires. He was not merely a labourer but a passionate man of God. He did not just put in his labour but firstly his heart, then all he had to see God’s will done.

That is the kind of servant God looks for. If you work for a corporation, it will be enough if you put in your expertise and labour. But if work for God, your expertise, labour and even your obedience will not be enough. First and foremost you must give your heart as David did.

May the Lord give us His heart, passion and desires so that we may be a people after His own heart.

Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth, … You are the light of the world…” (Mat 5:13-14, ESV2011).

Salt has preserving and flavouring abilities and is used to preserve and make food tastier. In the same way, God meant that Christians should act as preserving and flavouring agents in this constantly decaying and tasteless world.

Light is what chases away darkness and makes any place pleasant and habitable. In the same way, God meant Christians to be light in this dark and corrupt world.

Since the days of Christ, God used many Jews and Christians as salt and light to make this world a more habitable, pleasant and flavourful place. For example: the hospitals and the medical system, education and universities, equality and freedom of all men were introduced and implemented in this world by Christians. God used Christians like William Wilberforce to fight against the slave trade and to establish the concept of freedom for all men. God used Christians like George Muller to establish orphanages and care for abandoned children. God used Christians like Corrie Ten Boom to protect and shelter Jews from the Nazis during the 2nd World War. Today God is using many Christians to shelter and provide for victims of Islamic violence and terrorism in the Middle east and North Africa. Islamic armies arrive to kill, destroy and kidnap. Christians arrive to save, shelter and give life.

What is your role in God’s work? Where does God want you to be salt and light? Where does God want you to save, shelter and give life?

Father God, please use me as salt and light in this dark and bitter world. Use me to preserve what is good and pleasant and to fight against what is evil. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Fruitfulness

… make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:5-8, HCSB).

Faith is a gift of God and it comes first. However, we still need to work on adding these qualifications onto our faith. Goodness (“virtue” as some translations say), knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection and love are the things we need to develop and make part of our life to be fruitful servants of Christ. Often, these qualifications are contrary to our nature, culture and default behaviour patterns. Thus it requires intentional work and prayer to make them part of who we are. Sadly, without these, our faith and knowledge of Christ will remain only in theory, unable to produce fruit in our own lives and in our circles of influence. As James (2:20) said “faith without works is dead”, faith without these qualifications is fruitless just like a dead and dry tree. However, the man who supplements his faith with these qualifications is like fruitful tree by streams of water bearing lots of fruit in season (Ps 1:-3).

Father thank you for blessing me with faith in Christ. Father, please help me also to add these characteristics onto my faith and my personality so that I my lead a fruitful life.

Friends and enemies of God

“You adulterers! Don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility with God? So whoever wants to be a friend of this world is an enemy of God” (Jam 4:4).

Although this verse begins with “You adulterers!” it is actually applicable to everyone. One cannot be promoting the principles and values of this world and still be a friend of God. One is either God’s enemy or God’s friend based on what he favours: the values and principles of God or the values and principles of the world. Only those who favour God and His values and principles are His friends and true Christians. Those who claim to be Christian and at the same time promote the things that God hates such as homosexuality, adultery, abortion, etc. are not actually God’s friends but enemies.

Sadly, in our post-modern world, we have many so-called Christians, who are pro-world and anti-Bible. They support the politically correct ideas of the world against the radical teachings of the Bible. On the one hand claiming to be Christian, on the other hand fighting against God and His values. Thus, they are the friends of this world and enemies of God no matter how much they claim to be Christians.

However, those who will obey and promote the Bible’s teachings and the values of God are the friends of God and the true Christians.

May, God give us reverence and fear for His name, bless us with an undiluted commitment to Himself and all His principles and values. May we be faithful to Him and His Word.

Faith in Action

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (Jam 2:19-20).

Faith without works is dead. In other words, its the practical faith that gives life not the theoretical faith. If your faith in God is only a theory then it is good for nothing. True faith is practical and fruitful. If you are only a spectator Christian who is scared or unwilling to take a step forward, make a stand for what you believe, afraid to take risks, afraid to be politically incorrect then I am sorry to say that your theoretical Christianity is fruitless and your faith is useless. True faith is practical in nature and demands action. Be bold! Take a step forward! Stand up for what you believe! Otherwise, do not even call yourself a Christian. Only those who can stand up for what they believe can influence and change the world. Only those who can take risk and step forward in faith can be the salt and the light in this dark and suffering world. Only those who are willing to fight spiritual battles can win victories. All the rest will go down to history as useless theoretical Christians.

Jesus, help me to be a practical Christian not theoretical. Help me Jesus to be bold and stand up for your truth. Help me Jesus to step forward and do what you called me to do. Amen.

Perseverance

Blessed is the man who endures temptation” (Jam 1:12, NKJV).

Temptations, trials and persecution are inseparable parts of Christian life. As Paul said all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:16). In other words, Christianity is not a game, nor a club for lazy happy clappers. It is tough, it is difficult and it requires perseverance and faith even in the shadow of death. Christian history is filled with men and women of God, who suffered all kinds of hardship and never gave up but persevered. When God calls you to do something, surely there will come various kinds of temptations, trials and even persecution on your way. God will allow such hardships to come against you to test and to refine you. In fact, all men and women of God face them. Jesus had to endure hardship, torture and death on the cross to fulfil God’s plan. For many years, the apostle Paul endured all kinds of hardship and persecution in doing God’s will. Similarly, across the world, throughout Christian history all servants of God faced hardship, temptation and persecution. If you want to serve God and do what He has called you to do, you have to persevere and be determined in spite of all difficulties.

Lord Jesus, please help us to keep our eyes on you and persevere so that we may fulfil your plans. Help us to serve you with determination and perseverance as you did. Amen.

Abraham: God’s Friend

““Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.” (Jam 2:23, ESV2011).

Abraham’s life was marked with his friendship with God. His was not just a religion but a radical trust in God. His journey started in Genesis 12 as he stepped into the unknown in obedience to God. For the rest of his life he was always depended on God for protection, guidance and provision. Although, he was a wealthy man he was also a broken man before God. He was a stranger in strange countries, unable to protect himself and unable to have his own children. Although he had many workers, he did not seem to have many friends. Even his wife could not fully share and support his faith and obedience to God (Gen 18:10-15). Abraham was a strange and broken man. His extra ordinary faith and obedience to God made him even more strange and lonely at times. However, in the midst of all, God became his friend (Isa 41:8). So much so that God would visit Abraham and discuss His plans with him (Gen 18). As a faithful friend, God sustained him, protected and guided him throughout the years.

Similarly, your faith and obedience to God might make you unpopular, strange and lonely. Remember then, who called you, who sustains and guides you. God is your eternal friend. Trust in Him and pour out your heart to Him.

Jesus: Always Reliable

We live in an extremely unreliable world. It is the expected norm that no person or no institution is actually reliable. Friends and family fail us, companies we work for desert us, governments we elected betray us, churches we supported hurt us. We, ourselves betray, abandon and fail others around us. As the time goes by people, governments, demographies and even the climates change. All these changes make our world even more unreliable.

But there is one, who has always been reliable, who has kept all His promises and never deserted those who put their trust in him. Jesus: the only truly righteous and reliable person who ever lived in our unreliable world.

13 years ago, on December 6, I decided to leave Islam and follow Jesus. Since then, I have gone through a lot of rejection, persecution and trials. As I was following Jesus, I have experienced the favour and the wrath of people. At times I was an obedient follower of Jesus, at other times I disobeyed Him. But He never abandoned me, never turned His back on me. He kept all His promises, even when I did not keep mine. He became my best and most reliable friend. In the same way, Jesus kept all His promises and never abandoned anyone of His people throughout the history.

Taste and see that Jesus is good, His love and faithfulness endure forever (Ps 34:8; 100:5). He is always the reliable refuge and stronghold for His people (Nah 1:7; Joe 3:16).

Halaal Trade: Have we let it go too far?

Have we let it go too far?

Much has been said and much has been discussed regarding the halaal food trade in South Africa. Although the halaal food trade is gradually becoming a growing concern for many South Africans, it has been in this country for many years.

The Muslim Judicial Council claims to be “in the field of Halaal certification for over 50 years and was the first such authority in all Africa” (MJC 2012). In other words, it has been over fifty years that South Africans have been consuming halaal products. Surely, fifty years ago the percentage of halaal food in the food market was much less than what it is today. Today, there are four established and active halaal certifying companies in South Africa: MJC (http://www.mjc.org.za), SANHA (http://www.sanha.co.za), NIHT (http://www.halaal.org.za), and ICSA (http://www.islamiccouncilsa.co.za).

Besides these four there are many other minor Muslim initiatives trying to establish themselves to take a bite from the lucrative halaal trade. Most of the food parcels you buy from the shops bear the stamp of either one of these halaal certifying companies and many restaurants serve halaal food. Each one of these halaal certifying companies accumulate millions of rands annually simply by providing halaal certification for food, cosmetic and other products.

For example, an auditing report by Nkonki KZN, dated 1 September 2011, shows that SANHA’s revenue for 2010 was R9 615 988, and for 2011 it was R11 221 289 for the year ended on 28 February 201 (Richards 2012:30). According to Malaysian state minister Abdul Malik Kassim “Global Halal products market is estimated at US$2.3 trillion” which is not limited only to the food market. According to Tony Naidoo’s research article, Hoodwinked by halaal, Rainbow Chicken, for example, pays over R320 000.00 a year for only its KZN operation. Unilever pays over R65000.00 for its Durban plants” (n.d.).

All these astronomic halaal certification expenses are indirectly projected on the consumers. Every time when we buy a product which bears the halaal mark, we are paying an indirect halaal surcharge.

Because of the fact that almost all the food products and many restaurants in South Africa are already halaal certified, it is almost impossible for us not to buy halaal products and avoid paying the halaal surcharge. In other words, we are all indirectly forced to buy halaal food and pay a halaal “tax” every time we buy food which is our very basic need to survive.

The halaal trade is an Islamic trade system which operates according to the principles and regulations of the religion of Islam. It regards and respects only the religion of Islam. In principle, it benefits only the Muslims. Because of its lucrative nature, Muslims gladly participate in it and support it.

However, in a country like South Africa where Muslims constitute only about 2% of the population, stamping all the food products as halaal and forcing all the non-Muslims to pay for the halaal certification is not only unethical but also unconstitutional.

About 98% of South Africa is not Muslim, but all of us are forced to buy halaal food and pay a surcharge to enrich the 2% Muslim population. None of the non-Muslims benefit from the astronomical halaal income but we are all forced to buy halaal products and support the halaal trade.

Muslim halaal authorities claim that they use their income for charity and religious work. Very well, but what religion are they supporting and propagating? Our Christianity or their Islam?

It is absolutely ridiculous to think that 98% non-Muslim South Africans will be very happy to give millions of Rands from their hard-earned money for the islamization of our country. It is even more ridiculous to think that 98% of non-Muslim South Africans will be desperately demanding to eat food offered to the Muslim god and prepared and sold according to Islamic religious regulations.

However, worse than all of that is the fact that we have millions of very poor people in this country who can only buy very basic food. Please tell me how ethical is it that the halaal trade is taxing even these very poor people every time when they buy food.

Our government does not tax the unemployed and the poor but Muslim halaal trade does. Even if you are about to starve to death and have only R7 to buy a pack of bread you still have to pay your halaal tax (surcharge) as you buy your bread so that they can get even richer while our people get poorer. Please tell me, doesn’t this halaal trade look like an oppressive trade system, sucking the blood of the entire nation to benefit only the Muslims and force Islam on the whole nation.

If you are not Muslim you cannot benefit from it, however, whether you are Muslim or not you have to pay your halaal tax. Even if you are the poorest of the poor you still have to pay it.

A Biblical Analyses of Halaal Food Trade

What does the Bible say about the halaal food trade? Of course, if you do a word search in your Bible for “halaal” you will find nothing. However, if you start searching and studying the concept of eating the food offered to idols then you will quickly bump into Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 8:1-10. It seems that Paul does not want to make a huge issue of eating the food offered to idols. He simply says that “we are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we
do” (1 Cor 8:8, ESV). Based on a simple reading of this passage many Christians choose to be

Based on a simple reading of this passage many Christians choose to be ignorant on the halaal food issue. However, we need to understand that the nature of halaal food trade is not an exact equivalent of what Paul was writing about in a predominantly pagan society. Paul’s teaching was to a small group of believers who were living in a predominantly pagan Roman Empire.

We, however, live in a predominantly Christian South Africa where there are thousands of churches, Bible schools, seminaries and about 75% of the population claim to be Christian. The Muslim community, which is the reason for halaal food, is only about 2% of the population. In other words, our current situation is not an equivalent to Paul’s situation but an opposite. As the Christian majority of South Africa, instead of influencing the marketplace
with the Gospel and offering our food to the only true God Yahweh, we have been both allowing and funding the worshippers of Allah to offer most of our food to their god and take total control of our market. How sad! As

How sad! As Christians, we are called to be a blessing to our community and country by influencing them with the love and knowledge of God. We are called to proclaim the name of God and offer both ourselves and all we have to Him. Allowing and funding our food to be offered to any other so-called god, whether it be Allah or Buddha, is absolutely unbiblical in its core. If our Muslim citizens, who are only about 2% of our population, want to eat halaal food
they are welcome to offer their own food to their own god, at their own expense.

However, as the Christian majority, we have the constitutional right and the biblical responsibility to reject halaal food and declare the name of our God Yahweh over our food, our markets and our country. As Christians, we are also called to uphold the truth and defend the weak.

Halaal trade in our country is done in a very deceptive and oppressive manner. Consumers are forced to pay for something which they did not ask for and about which they are not informed. Rich, poor, Christian, non-Christian, all are forced to pay for the halaal trade surcharge. It is our biblical responsibility to bring this matter into the light of the truth and do all we can to defend the poor and the weak.

Most genuine Christians prefer to eat food which is not offered to any so-called god. But prefer to offer themselves, their lives, their food and all they have to the only true God, Yahweh.
Although the consumption of halaal food is not a sin, it does not honour the name of God either.

The nature of the halaal trade is unethical and oppressive. Judge for yourself: Will you continue to be a victim of the halaal trade and support the islamization of our country?

Bibliography

Kassim AM 2012. The global market potential of Halal. An online presentation. Accessed from: http://www.halalrc.org/presentations.php. 31 May 2012.

MJC 2012. Muslim judicial council web site. Accessed from: http://www.mjc.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93&Itemid=3. 30 May 2012.

Naidoo T. (n.d). Hoodwinked by halaal. An online article. Accessed from:
(http://www.docstoc.com/docs/19770110/WCASA-Church-membership-form. 30 May 2012.

Richards A. 2012. Introduction to halal organizations and islamic davah activities in South Africa. www.incontext.webs.com. 05 April 2012.