Nov

14

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By Rev. Paul Maleke

I thank God for bringing Ignite South Africa into my life when He did.

I first took the FCG course which proved to be more than I was expecting as its name state, Foundation for Christian Growth. But in real terms it is nothing foundational rather intensive. After finishing it I took on God’s Plan as a second leg but I failed to finish it due to different storms which attacked me from all sides. So I took it again this year and I believe it came at the right time. I believe this whole plan was orchestrated by God himself.

As a result of attending this class I managed to establish a couple of classes at church for different level. The adult Bible study was established because of this God’s Plan for Christian Service course and a courtship class was also started seeing that we had more and more youth who are falling pregnant and becoming single parents.

Because of a better understanding of intercession, I began to teach relevant teachings to the youth and their parents. My teachings were improved and became more direct and simple for anyone to understand and as a result I saw growth of up to 50% of older men (fathers) attending the church and visitors who are touched by the gospel they received or heard from church. I have learned so much from this class.

We thankful for Pastors that are passionate about God and His direction and praise Him for multiplying their efforts!

Nov

11

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This is our first place winner Mofokeng Popi and here is what she shared:

When I was much younger, I lived with my grandmother in a small village. Often she would have to fight to get me to school because I hated it so much that I would pretend to be sick so she’d let me to stay home. When my mother visited us I acted out because she forced me to go to school.

My absenteeism was so bad that I had not learn to do the basics of grade r. During the year that I somehow completed grade r, my mom bought a house in Phuthaditjhaba. The following year she decided that I should move in with her so I could get a better education. However, I had to perform a test to determine if I was able to start grade 1. For the test, I needed to write the first five letters of the alphabet and count from 1 to 20. I failed miserably so I had to repeat grade r.

When I passed and moved onto the next grade I made new friends, all of whom surpassed me academically. I was seen as one of the dumbest children in class because I was struggling to write and read my name and surname. Whenever I was asked to answer a question in class the other kids would laugh at me and tease me because I always got it wrong. Their constant harassment changed me. I became a troublemaker and a bully because I was full of rage. I wanted to make their lives a living hell, so I ate their lunch and took their pocket money not because I needed money but because I wanted them to feel the pain I felt when they were laughing at me.

Grade 2 and 3 were very similar in that I always made friends with the bullies and was often in fights, we broke all the school rules. I passed grade 3 and was sent to another school because I still wasn’t doing well academically. I started playing soccer and joined a netball practice; I thought these activities would restore joy in my life and give me a reason to live because every day that I went to school I wished I’d die, knowing that I was always going to be a laughing stock.

In grade 5 my behaviour remained relatively unchanged. I was still enraged because of my incompetency. My teachers used to say that I would never make it in life because they had lost all hope in me. This pushed me deeper into the dark hole that I was myself in and I felt worse about myself. My self-esteem and confidence had been eroded, but my parents didn’t lose hope; they kept pushing and taking me to different schools and even paid tutors to teach me how to read and write. It seemed as if they were wasting their time and money, but God was in control. In grade 6 I started seeing things in a different light. My hope was renewed when I started to believe that God would change my situation.

When the time came to write my final exams I was anxious because it was becoming harder and harder to move on to the next grade. When I got my report I was so scared of failing but I got the shock of my life when I found out that I passed with high marks. I was even awarded a certificate for remarkable academic improvement. I was so happy because it was the first certificate that I had ever received in my life and I also knew deep down that God was busy sharpening my life for His own glory.

But in grade 8 I found myself wondering if I could do as well as I did before. Doubting myself; I cried uncontrollably in my room, wishing that I could die instead of having to go back to school where I would, without a doubt, be the school’s laughing stock. On the day that we were set to write an English paper, I was beyond nervous. Everyone seemed to enjoy the test but I was clueless. My nerves held me back as if I were instantly paralysed. It was then that I had an encounter with God that I still can’t quite put into words.

I’m now in grade 9, I’ve come to realise that it’s my time to shine and show all my full potential. It might sound impossible but I’ve come to realise that when you want something bad enough, putting your mind to it and doing your level best is the way to go. That and a little help from God.

Remember that God is not a son of man who can lie, nor will He change His mind. Like He said in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

I believe and I declare my life will never be the same again. Walk in the light.

Join us as we congratulate and thank Popi for sharing her story with us!

Sep

5

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Prosperity. Success. We may define it differently, but we all want it – for ourselves, for our children, for our children’s children.  Fortunately for us, in Joshua 1 God gives us the secret to prosperity and success.

And the secret is…Wait for it…Obedience.

The Lord was busy encouraging Joshua in his new role as leader of Israel.  Joshua had big shoes to fill after Moses, and was likely feeling a bit intimidated and unqualified.  So the Lord promised to always be with him, and encouraged him to be strong and courageous not once, but 3 times. (4 if you count his soldiers saying the same thing.)

But the part that struck me in the encouragement was the call to obedience.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:7-8, emphasis added)

While strength and courage are important, its obedience that leads to prosperity and success.  And who doesn’t want to be successful wherever he or she goes?

Now, both the world in general and our American culture in particular have much different definitions. For example, Merriam-Webster defines prosperity as “the state of being successful usually by making a lot of money.”  We tend to think of wealth, possessions, influence, and power, and then project that view on God thinking if we obey God we will be wealthy.

Yet reality doesn’t pan out…

Because God doesn’t define prosperity or success the same way we do.  I love what Jen Hatmaker says in For the Love.  When it comes to how we interpret the Bible, “If it isn’t true for a poor, single, Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true.” In other words, God’s Word must be true for all.  If it isn’t true everywhere, then it isn’t true anywhere.

So if we determine that obedience leads to material wealth and power, yet it doesn’t work for that poor, single mom, then we’ve misunderstood the character and Word of God.  Prosperity and success must mean something else…

The Lord tells us if we obey, then we will be prosperous and successful.  Imagine if our values and goals, words and actions, marriages and parenting, work ethics and relationships were all rooted in God’s Word.  Imagine if we modeled Christ in every area of our lives.

That sounds pretty prosperous and successful to me.

Praying for prosperity and success in your life and mine.

Aug

29

Declaring Fearlessly

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”  Ephesians 6:19-20 (NIV)

Paul had just been encouraging the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord, to draw their strength from His and to clothe themselves with the full armor of God so that they’d be able to stand against the devil’s schemes. We’re in a spiritual battle and the enemy wants nothing more than to keep us from following Christ and from reaching others for Him. So he’s telling us to stand firm, gear up, and pray, pray, pray.

He tells us to pray for all the saints, then goes on to ask for prayer for himself. Why? Because he’s an ambassador in chains charged with sharing the Gospel. We can think of the chains figuratively, but in Paul’s case he was literally in prison in chains at the time.

As an ambassador, Paul was Christ’s representative. Christ chose him, entrusted him with the Gospel, commissioned him, sent him out to share it, and qualified him to do so. We are Christ’s ambassadors as well.  2 Corinthians 5:20 says this: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

God makes His appeal through us. What an awesome privilege and responsibility that is!

Even in jail, Paul’s priority was doing the will of God, sharing the Gospel, and encouraging others to do the same. Paul doesn’t ask for prayers to get out of prison. His own comfort and freedom weren’t top priorities in his heart or mind. Rather, he asks to declare the gospel fearlessly – without fear of the enemy, without fear of man – as he ought to speak. 

Whether we are in chains or able to go freely, we ought to proclaim the Gospel boldly, without fear. So what are some of the things that are holding us back from doing so?

Fear of rejection? Fear of persecution? Fear of embarrassment or humiliation? A lack of love for our fellow man?

Ask the Lord to reveal any fears that you have so they can be dealt with and you can be reconciled with God, ready to battle for Him and for those who don’t know Him.

Aug

26

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As imperfect humans living in an imperfect world, we go through a lot.  Trials, problems, injustices.  And as Christians it can be even more difficult, swimming against the currents of the world, battling against attacks of the enemy.

But James tells us to be patient and not lose heart.  Like the farmer who plants and then waits patiently for harvest, “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” (James 5:8)

I needed to be reminded of this today.  It’s not like we don’t already know this – that we need to be patient and keep the faith when things get tough and prayers seem to go unanswered.  But for me, I tend to forget as time marches on and pressures, doubts and fears try to push their way in.

Patience is such an important part of faith.  It’s what keeps our faith engaged while we’re waiting on God.  Patience is to faith what our feet are to the brakes in our cars.  Obviously we keep pressing until our cars come to a complete stop.

Yet it’s not always so obvious when it comes to faith – at least not for me anyways.

Earlier this week I saw a great video segment from Andy Stanley.  He spoke about our current presidential race how people are becoming weary of everything that is going on.  He reminds us not to grow weary, to remember that we worship a God who is bigger than all of this and in always control.

And I love this – he tells us to “Stop scaring the children!”  That’s exactly what our lack of faith does.  It gives the next generation a pretty bleak picture – one of doom and gloom and an impotent, uncaring God.

James goes on to remind us that we have seen and heard of the Lord’s dealings, that we already know for a fact that God is full of compassion and is merciful (v11).  James gives the examples of Job and the prophets who endured trials with patience, persistence and prayer.  These are great examples to be encouraged by.

But they also remind me that I have examples in my own life…and you do as well.  Testimonies big and small of when God showed up, came through, answered prayer, full of compassion and mercy.

We just need to remain patient and keep the faith for as long as it takes.  And stop scaring the children!

What do you find yourself praying the most about these days?

Praying that you will remain patient and full of faith as your prayers are answered.

Jul

6

 

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God doesn’t judge the way the world does, based on possessions, power, influence or fame.  Instead, He looks at how we love and how we demonstrate that love through the simple day-to-day things.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “ Matthew 25:37-40

In this parable Jesus’ message is clear –how we love others and respond to their needs is how we love and serve God Himself.  They are one and the same.

Food for the hungry.  A drink for the thirsty.  Welcoming a stranger.  Clothing the naked.  Comforting the sick.  Visiting the lonely or imprisoned.

What these acts have in common is that they are simple – things that any one of us can do.  They are also things that only the person being helped will notice.

Notice in this parable that those serving didn’t realize it was Christ they were serving.  “When did we do that?” they asked.  Winning His favor wasn’t their motivation.  Instead their motivation was to serve purely out of love for others, even the least of them.  As a result, their attitudes and actions were credited to them as righteousness.

Continuing on in the parable, you’ll see that those who didn’t help others, who may have had they known it was Christ they were serving, were separated out and judged as having the wrong heart, wrong motives and wrong actions.

Our Father is delighted when we love and help others without expecting anything in return.  That’s how we experience the pure joy of serving.

And we needn’t think we have to do everything, fix everything or give everything that we have.  That is not the goal.  The goal is simply to love others well, and it’s the simple things can make such a difference!

Lord, please help me to be present in each moment, and to notice the people and needs around me.  Show me how to help in the simple ways that reflect your love each and every day.  Amen.

 

May

30

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I love the Psalms because they are so raw, authentic, and passionate.

They show us that we have a God who cares about us and wants to share in our triumphs and pains, in our hopes and fears.  He loves our praise, but He’s also ok with our cries, complaints and rants.
God wants it all.  That’s what being in relationship is all about.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.  In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?”  Psalm 56:3-4

David was crying out to God because he was being pursued by his enemies.  He was feeling weary, discouraged, and fearful from fighting all day long.  And notice that he doesn’t say “if” I am afraid, but “when.”  Because it happens.  It happened to him, it happens to me all the time.

Like David, I have felt exhausted and battle weary at times.  I have felt trampled, hurt by naysayers and scared by doomsdayers in my life.  While I may not have actual soldiers chasing me with their swords glinting in the sun, my enemy (and yours) is even tougher, craftier and more persistent.

When negative comments and thoughts about myself and the world around me make me feel insecure, inadequate, and afraid that’s a sure sign that I’m putting my trust in something other than God.

Fear is a red flag that I’ve taken my focus off of God.

I love how David rallies his courage in this Psalm.  He remembers that he belongs to God and that God is with him.  He puts his trust in God and trust is the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” 

God wants us to place our trust in him – only him.
Anything short of that is actually idolatry…ouch!

So David turns his worries into praise, and he conquers his fears knowing that God has his back (and front and sides…)  As David strengthens himself in the Lord he realizes that no one and nothing can harm him or prevent him from fulfilling God’s purposes.

God will deliver him from the hands of his enemies, and God will deliver us as well.

Our fears stem from a lack of trust.
Not trusting that God has our backs.
Not trusting that God is with us.
Not trusting that God is speaking and that we’re hearing His will.
Too often, we listen to the voices of our enemy instead.

Where are you placing your trust right now?
Lord, please show me what it looks like to trust You in each area of my life.

May

2

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Do you have any cares these days?
I know I sure do.  Cares about family, work, friends, what’s going on in the world around me… yet God tells us to cast our burdens, cast our cares upon Him.

“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  Psalm 55:22, NASB

The Lord tells us to give these cares over to Him and let Him take care of them.  He encourages us and states that He will carry the weight, freeing us up to simply trust in Him.

He invites us to look to Him as our sustenance, our provider, the one in control of all things. My cares aren’t silly or trivial to Him, because I’m not silly or trivial to Him.  And the same goes for you!

If you have children, think about a time when they lost their favorite toy, stressed out about a test, or worried about being asked to the dance.  While none of these signaled the end of the world, it felt that way to them.  And you cared about it because you care so deeply for them.

Big or small, our burdens matter to God because we matter to God!

God’s promise is that He will never let the righteous be shaken.  That’s me.  I’m righteous, so this promise is for me.

And if you trust Christ as your Savior then this promise is for you as well.

Righteousness doesn’t mean doing everything right, rather it means being in a right relationship with God, and that happens when our sins are forgiven through Christ.

Picture placing your burdens on a hook at the end of a long fishing line.  Now cast that line as far as you can.  Watch it flying farther and farther until it hits the water with a “kerplunk.”

See that bobber thingy floating way out there? Say yes…

Now cut the line! 

As you cast your cares unto the Lord, resist that urge to reel them back in and trust. . .

Apr

21

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Each of us holds something in our hands.
Whether it an opportunity, a hurt, or a gift we all are holding something and often we don’t even realize what it is.

I remember a season in my life where what was in my hand was not flattering, it was offense.  I had been hurt, deeply hurt by another and yet because it wasn’t “proper” to be angry so I stuffed it.

I buried it so deep within me that I did not see it.

But over time, it became apparent to those close to me that something was wrong and thankfully…. they shared.  This allowed me to do the introspective work I needed to do to get right. To forgive.
To move on and be free.

I encourage you to look at what is in your hands.
Don’t wait for someone (if they dare) to question you about it, check for yourself right now.

Are you clutching something in desperation?
Gripping something in anger?
Or loosely holding something in an open palm?
and then figure out . . .  what is it?

God has given us one life to live.

Create your life to be a gift to others – one that builds up, supports, strengthens, and gives.
I promise, choosing life is something you will never regret!

 

Ignite South Africa is a nonprofit org in Michigan and South Africa with a mission to model, equip, and ignite godly leaders.  If you want to be a part of this mission, check out ways you can join us on our website.

 

Mar

7

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“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.

Moses is telling Israel that they will be going on without him, but not to fear because the Lord will be with them. If it isn’t scary enough to head into unknown enemy territory, imagine charging ahead when the leader you’ve come to know and trust is staying behind. I’d be afraid for sure! But this reminds me of how often we look to other people or other things for safety and security when we should really be looking to the Lord.

Next Moses summons Joshua, who will be the new leader, and basically gives him the same message. I imagine that Joshua was feeling pretty fearful and inept for the sudden promotion, especially with all eyes on him. So Moses tells him to be strong and courageous.

Sure, it’s one thing to say it, but how do you actually do it? How do you just be strong and courageous? How do you trade fear for courage, and trembling for strength?

Moses goes on to remind Joshua of God’s purpose for him – that he’s been called by God to lead Israel forward. And if God calls us to do something, we can be certain that He’ll give us what we need to carry it out.

Next Moses reminds Joshua of God’s promise – that the Lord Himself has sworn this land to Israel. And we can be sure that if God makes a promise, it’s guaranteed because He is faithful and never goes back on His word.

Then Moses focuses on God’s presence – affirming that the Lord will go before them and with them. Here I picture God Himself clearing the path and being someone we can rely on each step of the way.

Lastly, Moses reminds Joshua of God’s permanence – that He’ll never fail, forsake or leave. God is with us always, even when others step out of the picture for whatever reason.

These truths are why we should have no fear, but these truths are also the how. They are how we can trade fear for courage in any situation. By remembering God’s purpose, promises, presence and permanence we can rewire our thinking. By turning our focus from the scary situation to God Himself we can dissolve our fears causing courage and strength to rise up within us.

What would you do if you were not afraid?