When the British people are asked who the greatest Briton of all time was, Sir Winston Churchill usually tops the poll. If you were to ask an American who the greatest American was, they might reply George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. If you asked a Jew at the start of the first century AD who the greatest Jew was, without a doubt they would have said ‘Moses’. Moses was the supreme figure of their history. He had rescued them from slavery and given them the Law.
The writer of Hebrews describes to Jewish Christians how Jesus is greater than Moses. His argument is that, in spite of the greatness of Moses, Jesus is in a completely different league. Jesus is the ‘centrepiece of everything we believe’ (Hebrews 3:1, MSG); ‘he has been found worthy of honour greater than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honour than the house itself’ (v.3). ‘Moses was faithful as a servant’ (v.5); ‘Christ is faithful as a Son over God’s house’ (v.6).
The themes for today’s passages are trouble and distress, testing times, and trials and tribulations. However, you can see in these same scriptures that the secret to dealing with these is to ‘fix your thoughts on Jesus’ (v.1).
At any given point in our life there is usually some area that causes us trouble and distress. It may be something you yourself are going through, or a family member, or a close friend, or something to do with your work or ministry.
I remember hearing the American pastor, Rick Warren, say how he used to think that life was a series of battles, followed by times of blessing. Now, he thinks of life as being on two tracks – one track is blessing, the other is battle. They run concurrently.
The psalmist certainly went through times of battle: ‘Trouble and distress have come upon me’ (v.143a).
How do we respond? The psalmist’s answer is to keep trusting in the Lord. He keeps on believing that God’s words are ‘fully trustworthy (v.138): ‘your servant loves them… your commands are my delight’ (vv.140,143).
He fixes his thoughts upon the Lord: ‘Righteous are you, O Lord’ (v.137a). The great revelation of the New Testament is that ‘Jesus is the Lord’ (Romans 10:9). He is the one on whom you are to fix your thoughts.
Lord, thank you that in times of trouble and distress I can fix my thoughts on you and trust in your promises.
A faith that has not been tested cannot be trusted. Sooner or later all of us go through times of testing. In these times, the challenge is to stay faithful to God – not to harden our hearts but to keep them soft and tender towards God – to keep on trusting in spite of all the difficulties and challenges to our faith.
During these times of testing, every time you feel like doing the wrong thing but choose to do right, you grow in spiritual maturity, wisdom, character and faithfulness.
‘Moses was faithful’ (v.2). But Jesus, of course, is our supreme example of faithfulness. He went through years of training and times of powerful temptation. Yet he was ‘faithful in everything God gave him to do’ (v.2, MSG).
This letter was written to a group of people who were going through a time of testing and persecution. It was written to encourage them to hold on to their ‘courage’ and ‘hope’ (v.6), inspired by Jesus: ‘Fix your thoughts on Jesus’ (v.1).
In this passage, the writer quotes Psalm 95:7–11 (Hebrews 3:7–11). Interestingly, he does not write, ‘as the Holy Spirit said’ but, ‘as the Holy Spirit says’ (v.7). He clearly believes that the Holy Spirit continues to speak through the Scriptures in a contemporary way to the readers. As you read the Bible, expect the Holy Spirit to speak to you today.
In spite of the great high moment of deliverance from Egypt, the people of God had fallen away in a time of testing in the desert (v.17). This is a warning for us: ‘See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily… so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness’ (vv.12–13).
One of the remedies to unbelief that the writer highlights here is community. He tells them to ‘encourage one another daily’ (v.13). This is why it is so important to be part of Christian community, spending time with other Christians, encouraging one another and building up your faith.
‘Sin’s deceitfulness’ is an interesting expression. Sin is deceptive. If it were not, we would not sin. Sin is usually accompanied with a deceptive label: ‘This isn’t really sin, and it won’t do you any harm anyway.’ But, when we enter in to sin, bad patterns form, our conscience is seared and our hearts become hardened.
At the heart of sin is unbelief. Ever since the Garden of Eden, the deceitfulness of sin has caused us to doubt God’s goodness, his love for us and his word – ‘Did God really say?’ (Genesis 3:1), ‘You will not surely die’ (3:4). You always swallow a lie about God before you swallow forbidden fruit. For us today, it is still the same. If we really believed God’s love for us, his goodness and his word, then we would not fall for sin’s deceitfulness.
Because the people of God kept on complaining, they never entered God’s rest – which was the one thing they wanted. They did not trust God to provide. They were ‘unbelieving’ (Hebrews 3:12). They were not able to enter God’s rest ‘because of their unbelief’ (v.19). When we do not trust God, we lose the peace of God. Find peace by fixing your thoughts on Jesus, trusting him and listening to him as he continues to speak to you through the Scriptures.
Lord, help me today to fix my thoughts on Jesus. Help me not to live in fear and unbelief but in trust and peace.
‘When disaster strikes, understanding of God is at risk’, writes Eugene Peterson. There are times when we face unexpected illness or death of someone we love, national catastrophe, social disruption, personal loss, economic uncertainty or the devastation of natural disasters. Peterson continues: ‘It is the task of the prophet to stand up at such moments of catastrophe and clarify who God is and how he acts.’
The prophet Joel describes a time when disaster struck – the great devastation caused by a plague of locusts. This may have been a real event or a vision. There was a plague of locusts that hit Jerusalem in 915 BC. The devastation they caused was extraordinary.
The army of locusts is (without insecticide) unswerving, unstoppable and invincible. It ruins the vineyards, strips the orchards and, as a result, all the crops fail. The livestock then has nothing to eat. The locusts are like a tornado that moves through the land.
‘What a day! Doomsday! God’s Judgment Day has come’ (1:15, MSG). This image of the locusts is picked up in the book of Revelation and used as a description of the tribulations of the final judgment (Revelation 9:7–11).
Jesus himself used the language from Joel 2, ‘The sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine’ (Joel 2:10; see also Matthew 24:29), in his description of the coming judgment.
What should our response to all this be? None of us like half-hearted apologies – nor does God. He seeks for genuine repentance:
‘It’s not too late –
God’s personal message! –
“Come back to me and really mean it!
Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!”
Change your life, not just your clothes.
Come back to God, your God.
And here’s why: God is kind and merciful.
He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
This most patient god, extravagant in love’ (Joel 2:12–13, MSG).
In the midst of these prophecies of judgment, there is hope. When you turn to God and seek his forgiveness, you no longer have to fear this final judgment. Joel uses the image of a trumpet being blown to herald this day of judgment (v.1).
In the New Testament though, Paul uses this same image to describe how Jesus has conquered death, and made forgiveness and salvation possible – ‘In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable and we will all be changed… Death has been swallowed up in victory… Thanks be to God! He gives the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:52–57).
Father, thank you that you are gracious and compassionate, kind and merciful. Help me, as I await with confidence the day of his return, to fix my thoughts on Jesus.
‘… fix your thoughts on Jesus…’
Fixing my thoughts is sometimes like herding cats. My mind tends to be all over the place. Keeping my thoughts ‘fixed’ requires consciously putting aside the ‘to do’ list and tuning in to that ‘still small voice’ of God.
Eugene Peterson, The Message, 'Introduction to Joel', (NavPress, 1993), p.1225.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Well, of all of the agony while languishing in a confinement for the next thirty years is a nagging thought what kind of "banging" your loved one will endure and possibly enjoy in the muscular hands of your machoman neighbour.
Mheshimiwa had cited his fiance and the dowry he had paid for her "erotic services" among others as one of the reasons the magistrate court should consider as terms of his lenient sentencing. Obviously, Mheshimiwa is a layperson not knowing his own personal convenience is irrelevant in appraisal of such matters but what is crucial is whether the society will benefit if mercy is extended to him. In his case, he ought to have sought succour and possibly solace from the fact that he is a "first time offender" who is unlikely to repeat such felonies seeing he was corrupted by power which he will never recapture it after serving a sentence of more than a year he will be unqualified to hold again any public office for the remainder of his miserable life.
His cries for empathy were much more a squirming squeal. It is sad his legal team did not prepare him to speak the right stuff. Moreover, the whole criminal case was conducted in a kangaroo manner with the prosecution team overwhelmingly clutching on circumstantial evidence and from the Defendants' self incriminations to win this highly charged political case. Self incriminations can be corroborating evidence but cannot be decisive to convict the suspects particularly where such surmises may have been secured possibly under duress which may be strenuously stretched to accommodate ignorance.
The defence team were under no obligations to parade their clients to sink themselves in the mud or answering any question that the prosecutors had asked them. The Defendants could easily have used words such as "I do not remember or recollect" or "I was not there" or "this is a case of mistaken identity..". That is how you win a case which most of the compelling complainants never bothered on time to lodge a complaint and obtain an RB from the police till they had heard Mheshimiwa political fortunes had dissipated dramatically. Opportunism of the key complainants weakened their water-leaking case although we know they were apprehensive of retribution from Mwendazake brutal regime. Hayo ni matatizo yao sisi hatuhusiki na changamoto za waoga.
We believe despite being pampered with a filthy dowry, the beauty queen will move on after all the appeal avenues have been fully tested and ex Mheshimiwa has made no tangible headway.
A top CCM man will in less than three years be a new owner of this pageant. In our highly considered estimate, that time is all it takes to exhaust all legal channels to ensure justice for the convicts of armed robbery.
We say so because once a woman is brushing shoulders with politicians of disrepute and had tasted easier wealth and power she is most likely to surrender to those who were closer to Mheshimiwa inner cycle brimming with bribes and exuding the fallacious confidence it generates. She will drool for good times to continue after all she was traditionally married but not officially married albeit legally speaking the duet means the same cup of coffee. The FilipuNjombe "escapades" likely to repeat here albeit with tweaks of no opposition politician can afford her knowing their are now "ombaomba". We see them daily on "Twitter World" brazenly passing a begging bowl begging for a piece of a loaf to support themselves after Mwendazake deprived them of a straw to drink parliamentary goodies...
He who betrays ALWAYS is the one you trust most that the word of God well echoed by our own axiom is fulfilled.
"Kikuumacho ki nguoni mwako..."
Days turned into months then to years plus extortionate legal expenses will drain Mheshimiwa deep pockets to a level he will not have the resources to maintain our lovely lady who now has attracted unwanted attention...especially from CCM lustful eyes...
I can easily visualize many secret admirers are gearing up themselves to take over and own this beauty that the Kiswahili axiomatic wisdom may be established..."Akitoka paka, panya hutawala..."
Anaandika Baba askofuBenso Lwakalinda Bagonza
HUKUMU YA SABAYA
Ilikuwaje? Kipi hakikufanya kazi yake sawasawa? Taifa lenye mihimili yote, taasisi mbalimbali, vyombo vya habari, vyombo vya ulinzi na jumuia za kimataifa, likaacha mtu mmoja akateka, akaiba, akatesa, akabaka, na kuvunja sheria zote?
Kabla ya kuteuliwa kuwa DC, Sabaya alikuwa chini ya uchunguzi wa Polisi kwa makosa ya kutapeli na kujifanya Afisa wa "Chombo" nyeti.
Ndani ya "chombo" nyeti ni kosa la ahera kutumia kitambulisho cha "chombo" kujipatia huduma au kutisha watu. Ni kosa kubwa zaidi "kujifanya" na "kughushi" kitambulisho cha chombo.
Kabla Polisi hawajampeleka mahakamani, akateuliwa kuwa DC.
Aliyekuwa Mkuu wa Wilaya (Sasa Mbunge) alitia mkono kwenye mamlaka ya uteuzi mpaka Sabaya akateuliwa.
Lilikuwa kosa kubwa. Linaigharimu serikali, linaichafua mamlaka ya uteuzi.
Utetezi wa Sabaya katika kesi hii kuwa alitumwa na mamlaka ya uteuzi ni mbaya sana. Unaichafua taasisi ya uteuzi, unakichafua "chombo" nyeti na kudhalilisha viapo. Mteuzi na Mteuliwa Hawakufundwa. Tunabaki kujiuliza:
I) Kwa hiyo mamlaka ya uteuzi iliagiza Sabaya aibe, abake, apore, aue, atese, ateke na kughushi?
Ii) Kwa hiyo mamlaka ya uteuzi imehukumiwa kama mshirika wa jinai hizi?
III) Kwa hiyo kama si Kinga, tungetumia "subpoena" kuiita mamlaka ya uteuzi kizimbani kujieleza?
iv) Kwa hiyo tungekuwa na utawala mzuri wa sheria, bunge lingeteua Kamati Maalum ya kibunge kuchunguza makosa haya makubwa yaliyotendwa na mamlaka ya uteuzi?(Watergate).
v) Kwa hiyo Sabaya ameivua nguo mamlaka ya uteuzi kwa madai haya mazito akiwa mbele ya kiapo au amedanganya chini ya kiapo?
Madai ya Katiba Mpya yanaonekana wazi. Katika kesi hii, mambo mapya ya kuzingatiwa katika katika mpya yamejitokeza:
1. Nafasi ya DC na RC: Wateuliwe au wachaguliwe? Je ni wanahitajika ikiwa tuna dhamira ya kuimarisha serikali za mitaa?
2. Kinga ya Rais: iwepo au isiwepo? Ikinge yapi na kuacha yapi? Ianze lini na kukoma lini?
3. Wateule kupitiwa na Kamati fulani kabla ya kuthibitishwa
4. Njia ya kushughulikia mamlaka kuu endapo zimekiuka katiba
5. Namna ya kushughulika na wateule wenye viapo endapo wanashtakiwa katika mahakama za wazi.
6. Usawa mbele ya sheria.
Uhuru "Chombo" imehojiwa na Kesi hii. Kimepoteza uhuru na weredi. Tufanye Nini?
Je kama Taifa twaweza kuungana, tukasahau tofauti zetu na kutamka kwa pamoja kuwa "ISITOKEE TENA"?
The more I study it, the more I love it. The Book of Hebrews appears to be addressed to Jewish Christians. It is written in a way that seems strange to our modern ears – the language is steeped in the Old Testament. It deals with this vital question: How can you approach God?
The author’s answer is: through Jesus, our Great High Priest. The high priesthood of Jesus is the pinnacle of the letter. It is the only New Testament document that expressly calls Jesus a Priest. The priestly work of Jesus is hinted at elsewhere, for example, the ‘high priestly’ prayer of Jesus in John’s Gospel (John 17) and the ‘beloved disciple’s’ description of Jesus as ‘advocate with the Father’ (1 John 2:1). But it is here in the book of Hebrews that the theme is taken up and expounded.
Approach God knowing he is loving and compassionate
God’s love for humanity has always been great. ‘Your compassion is great, O Lord’ (v.156). The psalmist knew God’s love: ‘Preserve my life, O Lord, according to your love’ (v.159). He knew God was a deliverer (v.153). He speaks of redemption (v.154) and salvation (v.155).
He knew God would deliver, redeem and save, and it was because of this that he knew he could approach God with confidence. What he did not know was how God would save him.
As we read the whole Old Testament, including this psalm, through the lens of the New Testament, we can see that what the psalmist described is made possible through the high priesthood of Jesus.
Lord, thank you for your great love and compassion. Thank you that through Jesus you have made it possible for me to be delivered, redeemed and saved.
Approach God through Jesus, your Great High Priest
It is quite astonishing that you and I can approach the Creator of the universe with confidence and boldness. Of course, we must be respectful but we do not need to be timid or fearful. How is this possible?
As the writer introduces the central theme of his letter, the high priesthood of Jesus, he makes the point that the main purpose of his letter is to encourage them to ‘hold firmly to the faith we profess’ (4:14). Learning more about who Jesus is enables you to stand firm in your faith through the storms and temptations of life.
Jesus is unique. The Great High Priest is both ‘the Son of God’ (v.14) and fully human. He is able to sympathise with your weaknesses and he ‘has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin’ (v.15).
Jesus had all the same feelings you have. There were times when he felt like doing the wrong thing, but always chose to do the right thing. As you speak to him in prayer you can know that he knows how you are feeling.
There were three necessary qualifications for the priesthood:
Humanity (‘selected from among human beings’, Hebrews 5:1)
Compassion (‘able to deal gently’, v.2)
Divine appointment (‘called by God’, v.4)
Jesus exactly fits the role.
But Jesus belonged to the tribe of Judah, not Levi, and therefore he lacked qualification for the normal priesthood, which was made up of descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron (who was a Levite). Thus, the writer identifies him with a new order of priests, identified with the Old Testament character Melchizedek, who was a priest of ‘God most High’ and ministered to Abraham (Genesis 14:18–20).
The book of Hebrews shows how in every way the priesthood of Melchizedek was superior to that of Aaron (see Hebrews 7). Because Jesus’ priesthood is like Melchizedek, it is eternal (5:6). It is therefore effective for all time. It affects those who lived before Jesus, as well as everyone who lives after him.
Jesus is your representative (v.1). He is both the model priest and far superior to any other priest.
Jesus gained experience through the things he suffered (v.9). God uses everything in your path, however painful, for you to gain experience. You can learn to use your pain for someone else’s gain.
Rick Warren writes, ‘God loves to turn crucifixions into resurrections. The things you wish were most removed from your life are often the very things that God is using to shape you and make you into the believer he wants you to be. He wants to use that problem for good in your life. There’s something more important than your pain. It’s what you’re learning from that pain.’
Like us, Jesus gained experience through what he suffered. However, unlike us, he is without sin. Therefore, he did not need to offer sacrifices for his own sins. He is ‘the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him’ (v.9).
You can ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that [you] may receive mercy and find grace to help [you] in [your] time of need’ (v.16). As you ask for forgiveness for the past – you can know that you will receive ‘mercy’. As you ask for help for the future you can know that you will receive ‘grace to help’ you in whatever your needs are and whatever difficulties you are facing at the moment.
The image of the throne is a way of emphasising the majesty and glory of the one who sits on it – God. Yet through Jesus you can approach God in prayer and worship no matter how you are feeling or what you have done.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you that through your sacrifice I can approach the throne of grace with confidence, receive mercy and find grace to help me in my time of need.