Chosen by God (1) (And why it leads to confident living)

dad throwing up child


There are many explanations for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly threading their way through life. None comes close to the doctrine of Predestination, and its twin –Providence- interwoven throughout the Scriptures. They are rooted in the assumption that God is sovereign over the universe. God reminds us of this through his prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 46:9-10

Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’

If uttered by a human being, these claims would be arrogant and undemocratic. Only a narcissist or delusional person would dare to say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please!”  But God is not human or delusional. If He is truly the Creator of the universe, He is simply stating the facts.

He is unique. He is the only God. He knows everything. His purposes will stand. Other parts of the Bible tell us that God’s character is always a perfect balance of justice, wisdom, love and mercy (Ps 37:28Ex 22:22Rom 11:33Ps 86:5).

My prayer is that you will read today’s text with fresh eyes and an open heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the good work He is doing in your life and plant a seed of confidence in your heart. This is a difficult subject, so be sure to hover over Biblical references to check the texts for yourself. We will read from verse 18 to set the context, but will focus on verse 28-31.

Romans 8:18-31

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?…

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

While creation ‘groans’

In his letter to persecuted Christians in Rome, Paul exposes the good, the bad and the ugly of life in its gory details. Humanity has rejected God’s rule and chosen to be their own judge of good and evil. Sin and rebellion are let loose with devastating consequences on the whole world (Romans 1-3). Creation is groaning, subject to decomposition and death, waiting to be liberated when Jesus returns as King (Rom 8:18-23).

Paul is describing our reality. Every day, we have painful reminders that life is fragile and transient—a pilgrimage between one state of nakedness to another. Yet, it is equally true that God is sovereign over all. Paul affirms the cruel suffering of his readers, but then sets their suffering against the backdrop of eternity. Instead of addressing them as victims, he treats them as victors (Romans 8:3137). They are called conquerors because God has chosen them as his special people. It is God who is ultimately behind everything that happens to them. Even while Creation groans, Paul addresses his readers as those “called to belong to Jesus Christ,” “loved by God and called to be saints” (Rom 1:6-7).

Being called and chosen is a big deal to Paul, and it should be to us if we are Christians. It is a truth that tethers us in turbulent times. It gives us a sense of belonging — a real home. It is a great comfort for believers who feel marginalised or homeless in this world. It is a source of humble confidence.


Predestined from eternity…Called…

Held by the providence of God…For all eternity!

If true, these statements have staggering implications for life. In Romans 8:18-31, Paul gives us eyes to see the invisible hand of God lovingly shaping his children and history on our behalf.

“The Tapestry”

The late Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who endured prison and Ravensbruck concentration camp after harbouring hundreds of Jews in her home during the holocaust, wrote this poem about her life, known as The Tapestry.

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

Corrie ten Boom wrote The Tapestry because she believed that her destiny was safely rooted in eternity, with the all-sovereign God. Despite Naziism and the horrors she personally experienced, even the death of her family, her view of God did not change. She experienced her God, not as an indifferent Creator, but as the master weaver of his universe, with her life woven into his great purposes. It gave her comfort and confidence to know that no evil scheme could reverse this simple truth—“He knows, He loves, He cares.” Corrie’s life before, during and after Ravensbruck was deeply grounded in the truth of divine Predestination and Providence. After the war, it enabled her to forgive her enemies and ignited her with a desire to share Christ’s gospel across the world, until she died on her 91stbirthday. Can a particular view of God really affect someone so deeply?

I am persuaded that the entire sweep of the Bible affirms the sovereignty of God as the master architect and playwright of history. Neither fate, nor accident, nor karma determine our destiny. God is never taken by surprise. There is nothing random in the past, present or future. God even uses evil schemes and his enemies as agents to achieve his sovereign plans (Isaiah 37:26-32Isaiah 10:5). If you truly believe this, it will have profound practical effects in your life.

Your view of God determines how you see your role in the world, how you pray to God and how you treat people around you. It determines what you put your hope and confidence in. It determines your direction.

Predestination is a doctrine that rests on God’s sovereignty. It points to origins. Before the beginning of time, God, in his infinite wisdom, has chosen people to know, love and care for as his own.

On the flip side of the same coin is providence, which points to the way God keeps, guides and preserves his people. The Westminster Shorter Catechism gives a helpful definition of divine providence:

“God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.”

For now, we are living on the underside of the tapestry. Our vision is obscured and distorted as we lack perspective to see how all the threads will be woven together. Only when the loom is silent and God unrolls the canvas, will we finally see how each thread played its part in the beautiful tapestry of God’s story. “For now I see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor 13:12).

Only the arrogant or foolish claim to see through a mirror clearly now.

How can a mortal, finite human being understand God’s sovereign plans? Who of us would like the job of holding the world together and directing its course? What about our free choice? Can we be held accountable?

These are big questions I cannot fully answer, but I will touch on them in the second part of this devotional. Please hang in to the end! But as a starting point, let us list some things we can know for certain about being chosen by God from His Word:

  • God has chosen, foreknown and called a people for Himself before the beginning of time, because of his sovereign purpose, good pleasure and will (2 Thess 2:13Eph 1:4-5). They are called his “treasured possession”, “holy to the Lord”. The basis of this calling is not on merit, but simply because God set his love on them and has entered an everlasting covenant of love with them (Deut 7:6-8).
  • We did not choose God. He chose us because of his undeserved favour and love for us (John 15:16Rom 11:5). The foreknowledge (Rom 8:29) of God is pregnant with meaning. It goes beyond mere cognition. Foreknowledge is synonymous with the Hebraic expression “jada”, which implies an intimate covenantal love relationship. To foreknow in verse 29 literally means to set his love upon and delight in us. Let the intimacy of this knowing love sink in for a moment. It is the same word used for the intimate love between husband and wife (Hosea 13:5). God addresses his people, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you (Jer 1:5).” “You only have I known of all the families of the earth (Amos 3:2).” Jesus says He knows his sheep and his sheep know him (John 10:14). We are only enabled to love him, because He first set his love on us (1 John 4:19).
  • All the days of God’s children were written in his book before even one of them came into existence (Psalm 139:16). God is not surprised on the day we are born or die!
  • We can only understand the truth of the gospel when God shines his light in our hearts (2 Cor 4:6), just as He did when He said, “Let there be light!” We are spiritually dead and helpless until God makes us alive with Christ (Eph 2:1-5). No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them (John 6:44).
  • God grants us repentance leading to knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:25-26).
  • God the Father predestined us to be adopted as sons, holy and blameless like Jesus, our older brother and Saviour (Eph 1:3-5). This is his plan for our lives. God’s purpose in choosing us and his providence in working everything for “good” in our lives, have identical aims: (1) To become more like Jesus in character (Romans 8:29) and (2) to proclaim His greatness in a dark world (1 Peter 2:9).

Walking humbly with our God.

The Westminster Catechism asks the question: What is the chief end of man?

The answer– To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

This is the script God has authored for us from eternity. If I am a Christian, this means that I am not the author of my own story. I am not the Master of my own fate or the Captain of my soul. The poem Invictus, by William Henley, is the direct antithesis of Corrie ten Boom’s The Tapestry. It means I have nothing to prove to anyone. This is humbling but also liberating. It gives us the freedom of self forgetfulness. Christianity teaches that we do not make up our own story, but are characters in God’s epic story.

A story is a powerful thing. I love listening to stories of how people were saved. They always tell of how God drew them to himself. How they were lost and God stepped in through a string of events to bring them to himself. How they were blind to the gospel and then the mist dissolved. How their hostility turned to receptivity. How they found purpose and direction in their life, not just for now but for eternity.

Solomon said that God has set a longing for eternity in our hearts (Eccl 3:11). Perhaps it is to remind us that His work involves us in an eternal, spiritual purpose beyond ourselves. It is humbling to know we are minor actors on God’s eternal stage.

A scandal of the gospel is that God expressly chooses the foolish, weak and despised people of this world to shame the powerful and self reliant (1 Cor 1:26-29). Those who do not believe they need Jesus do not want to come to Him. They do not think they need to repent and believe. There is only one way to come to God the Father and to walk as a Christian– in humility and trust. We need to abandon our own glory and seek His.

Providence — our only security in a turbulent world.

In Romans 8: 28-31, God makes a special promise to those who belong to him. He assures us that his providence will rule over us all the days of our lives.

The promise is not that we will be protected from evil or suffering.

God does not promise to always intervene or answer our prayers in the way we think He should.

The promise does not apply to everyone. Sadly, in the normal course of events, things do not always turn out for the best.

The promise is for those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. For these people, God guarantees that He will have the final say over the effect of all things in their lives. The God who chooses his people will preserve his people (John 10:28). He will weave good from all things. He calls us to trust his wisdom and goodness in this. Beyond this we have no claims on God. This is our security in a turbulent world.

John Piper asks,

“The question is, which world would you rather live in? One where humans or Satan or chance govern what happens to you? Or one where an infinitely good, infinitely wise, infinitely powerful God works everything together for the good of those who trust him and for his glory?” (John Piper).

No matter what life events you may be facing, if you belong to Christ, Paul’s two rhetorical questions are addressed to you,

“For if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:31-32). This is the recipe for confident Christian living.


Join us in the next devotion to answer 3 important questions about predestination:

  1. If God’s purposes are supreme, why pray and why evangelise? God will do it anyway.
  2. If God’s purposes are supreme, how can we be morally responsible beings?
  3. Is God unfair in choosing some and not others?


Make Colossians 1:9-11, Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28-31 your own prayer:

Lord, strengthen me to walk in a manner worthy of your name. Empower my efforts according to your glorious might. Sustain me with endurance, patience and joy even when my life is taking an unwanted detour. I do not always understand your purposes when bad things happen, but you are the King of the universe. You are wise and good and I trust that you are always working good from evil. Make my heart soft and supple so that through every circumstance, you may lovingly cast my character into the mould of your Son Jesus, my Saviour and Lord. Amen.

Worship God as you listen to this profound song by Chris Tomlin.


What is the blessed life?

mom and dad with child

Counting and naming blessings

Being conscious and grateful for everyday blessings is expressed in the simple hymn: “Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” But a quick glance at Facebook could convince a visiting alien that blessedness comes from having beautiful children, a new car, exotic holidays, great friends, getting a promotion or snagging a good looking partner! The gift is often praised, but the giver simply ignored. It is as if blessings come out of nowhere or are due credit for our efforts. For many people, the blessed life is nothing more profound than enjoying good luck, hereditary privilege or the fruits of one’s labours.

A matter of fact, not feeling

Christians also love to use the word blessed, although we are not always exactly sure what it means. We know that a blessed life is more profound than random luck and has something to do with God’s favour and protection. In the Bible, the Greek word for blessed (makarios) literally means happy, and blessings (eulogeo) are the bounty, favour or benefitswe receive from God’s hand. But these benefits have often been twisted by Bible teachers to refer to favourable circumstances and monetary rewards. Many pastors, particularly in Africa, have turned the Christian gospel into a commodity and teach their churches the principle of “seeding” (giving to the church) in order to reap material blessings and riches from God. But perpetual wealth, health and prosperity have never been the lived experience of godly believers through the millenia– including the prophets, Paul and the apostles, and Jesus Christ himself. The Bible simply does not teach this materialistic understanding of the blessed life. In fact, the first forty-three Psalms are meditations or prayers on the privileges or blessings of God’s favoured ones, yet they are drenched with the psalmist’s groans, cries, grief, persecution and personal torment. These ancient songs express God’s favour and blessing over oppressed, poor and helpless people.

Today’s text from Ephesians 1 gives flesh to the special “blessedness” of being a Christian. Here we see that being blessed is not just a feeling (which comes and goes depending on our circumstances) but a fact. It is a unique kind of privilege that has more to do with status than a fuzzy emotion. We are blessed because of our position as believers who are in Christ regardless of our social status, race or any other group identity. We are often blessed in spite of our circumstances, not because of them. Blessing has been conferred on us by God himself and it’s been done in the past tense. It is secure, unchangeable and unconditional. Blessedness is a matter of fact, not of feeling. It is the ultimate privilege and has nothing to do with good luck. The blessed life is something we can depend upon because it is based on God himself, not on ourselves or our circumstances.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Blessed in Christ

(Ephesians 1:3-14)

It is true that everyone experiences God’s blessing in a general sense. God has blessed us with life in the world He has created, the ability to breathe and gasp at a beautiful sunset, hug a child and laugh with friends. Sometimes we don’t realise how blessed we are until we lose something precious. It is right to thank and praise God for every simple blessing and take nothing for granted. (James 1:17) Living with gratitude and joie de vivre is actually good for our physical and emotional health no matter who we are.

But in our Ephesians text, did you notice how many times Paul links blessing to being “in Christ” or “in him?” It is the way the Bible speaks of being united with Christ, which happens the moment we become a Christian. What a privilege to be blessed “in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6)! Union with Christ appears 165 times in the New Testament, which means it’s central to our faith.  The blessedness Paul is speaking about in Ephesians 3 is special and distinct. It is only experienced by being “in Christ.” Of course, this cannot mean a literal, physical union with Christ, as Jesus died in 33AD on a Roman cross. But it describes the reality of a believer’s intimate relationship with Jesus because he lives in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:17-19).   The Bible has many terms and images to describe this reality of being united with Christ. It is not just a loose link with Jesus or the way I feel close to him at certain times. Metaphorically speaking, a Christian has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).

John Murray describes the joyful blessing of being united with Christ like this: “Why does the believer entertain the thought of God’s determinate counsel with such joy? Why can he have patience in the perplexities and adversities of the present? Why can he have confident assurance with reference to the future and rejoice in hope of the glory of God? It is because he cannot think of past, present, or future apart from union with Christ.” (co-founder and past lecturer at Westminster Theological Seminary).

Being “in Christ” gives hope where many are in despair.

(Eph 1:9-14)

God’s ultimate plan for human history is found in Ephesians 1:9-10. On a certain day in the future, God will unite all things in heaven and on earth in Christ.  On this day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. He will rule supremely with no rival. But until that day, God gathers a special family for Himself whom He has chosen to be holy (Eph 1:4), adopted (Eph 1:5), redeemed and forgiven (Eph 1:7). He has opened our eyes to see the mystery of his will regarding Jesus (Eph 1:9), he has given us an inheritance (Eph 1:11) and sealed this future hope with his own Spirit who comes to live inside us (Eph 1:13-14). God has not only purchased us, but has also blessed this family under his rule with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” We have purpose on this earth and into eternity. We enjoy great benefits and assurances this side of heaven. We are not the product of random chance and fate in this messy, unjust world. It is truly awesome that the Maker of the universe has given us this privilege on earth, and it is the blessing enjoyed by all God’s people through the ages. If we are Christ’s followers, we need to meditate on this truth every day. This is the only blessed life, regardless of the messages drummed into us by social media, advertisers or our own distorted minds and wavering emotions. This spiritual blessing is the only privilege worth having, because it speaks of God’s unfailing love for his children since before the world was made. It cannot be earned or lost.

No privilege of race, education or wealth comes close to blessedness in Christ.

(Eph 1:7-812-13)

Do you notice that none of these great blessings is due to a single thing we have accomplished or our group identity? Every blessing is God-given, “according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7). It is a generous, undeserved treasure trove. It is initiated and “lavished upon us” by God (Eph 1:8).  Paul assures us that our “blessedness” does not depend on us. God was at work long before the creation of the world for the purpose of adopting us into his family. Given the timing, there is nothing we could have done to earn his selection.

Blessedness is sealed, signed and delivered by God himself to those who belong to Him. But it is also clear that we need to respond to God’s plan of redemption. We need to accept the invitation of redemption for ourselves. We need to hope and believe in Jesus ourselves. (Eph 1:12-13). There is no such thing as a proxy response.

Blessedness is built on redemption through Jesus. (Eph 1:7; 12-13)

The blessed life is freely available to us, but Jesus welcomes sinners to himself only on the basis of redemption through his blood and the forgiveness of our sins (Eph 1:7). Sin has no place in the presence of God. Evil deeply offends his holiness. We first need to be made right with God to claim these special blessings of God. They are not conferred by religion or ritual or heritage, but only through personally putting our trust in Jesus. That is why Peter affirms in the earliest sermons of the Christian faith that Jesus is the cornerstone, as “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Jesus was unequivocal that He was the way, the truth and the life and that no one could come to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). Paul wrote to Timothy that there is only one God and one mediator between God and man–the man Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5). Jews were not exempt due to their special religious heritage. This is the gospel of our salvation— the word of truth that Paul refers to in verse 13 of our Ephesians text.

The unique word of truth

(Eph 1:13)

The text tells us that we are united with Christ when we hear the word of truth and believe in Jesus (v13). Nothing more is required than hearing and believing, but verse 13 is describing the greatest miracle known to mankind. Did you notice that Paul doesn’t refer to some vague idea of truth, but uses the definite article “the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation”? Abdu Murray’s excellent book, Saving Truth: Finding Meaning in a post-truth world describes how western culture has moved to a new worldview where personal feelings and preferences matter more than truth or objective facts.

“Western culture embraces confusion as a virtue and decries certainty as a sin. Those who are confused about sexuality and identity are viewed as heroes. Those who are confused about morality are progressive pioneers. Those who are confused about spirituality are praised as tolerant. Conversely, those who express certainty about any of these issues are seen as bigoted, oppressive, arrogant, or intolerant.”

Murray goes on to provide vital insight on how to share the gospel truth in a post-truth world, connecting with people in the things that matter to them, so that they will hear us and believe in Jesus.

The uniqueness and power of the gospel is inescapable: That the perfect Son of God should become flesh and live among us, that He should die for our sins on the cross and rise on the third day—this is a unique word that offers salvation, peace and hope to our generation in the same way as to any other in history.

It is the word of truth that needs to be clearly spoken, heard and believed: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom 10:14The Triune God is a speaking God. He is not silent and He has shown us who He is and how we can know Him. We are God’s mouthpiece to communicate this word of truth to a confused generation. We need to learn to do it effectively in the post-truth world in which we live and in which our children are growing up.

Sealed with the Holy Spirit.

(Eph 1:13-14)

Amazingly, God has done more than speak his word of truth to us. His Spirit is alive in us and at work in our lives. The Holy Spirit is a person– the protector, counsellor, prompter, comforter, and the power and presence of God for those who are in Christ. He is the guarantee of a sure inheritance that cannot perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Our inheritance is eternal life with God. This is our true legacy– the only glory worth seeking. The Holy Spirit is living proof of it.

Do you know the Spirit’s work and presence in your life?

What blessing really means.

Loss, failure, illness, broken relationships and death can smash the perfect image of our Facebook blessings in the blink of an eye.

Yet, in a recent season of my life when almost every pleasure and comfort was stripped away–when everything was dark and I could hardly breathe or eat a mouthful of food–when all I could do was lie face down, crying to God in desperation, and devour His word like a crazy person seeking water in the desert– that is when I knew his blessing more intensely than ever. I knew and felt deep down in my soul the paradox Jesus described: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are those who mourn” (Matt 5:3-4). I personally experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit more intimately than ever before and felt God’s grace and mercy drench me like warm, heavy rainfall. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that my life was blessed. It was joy.

I experienced God’s blessing because of this simple truth in God’s word:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

God is faithful. Merciful. Steadfast in love.

I store hundreds of verses like this in my memory bank for times when I forget that my life is blessed. My blessing is based on His character, not my own. Nor my circumstances.

Elizabeth blessed her cousin Mary, the mother of Jesus, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” But blessed Mary would watch her beloved son brutally crucified 33 years later. In Mary’s life, and in our own lives as God’s children, true blessedness has everything to do with God’s favour and nothing to do with favourable circumstances.

If you are God’s child, you will experience the blessing of being at peace with God– forgiven of your great burden of guilt and sin through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross (Romans 4:7). You will also know that the greatest blessing known to mankind is to be loved by the immortal God. It is the blessing of security–  the confidence of knowing that no one can accuse or stand against you, and no circumstance,  in heaven or earth, nor even death itself, can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:31-39). Nothing can come between you and Jesus.

The ultimate water bladder

The certainty of God’s love is the water bladder in your hydration pack on a long trail. Without water, it won’t take long for thirst and dehydration to set in. You will wilt, get wobbly on your feet and start seeing mirages. Trust me, I’ve been there! Likewise, a believer cannot survive for long without sipping slowly and deeply on the living water of God’s eternal love for you. It is the surest way to keep your vision clear. It is the one great blessing around which all the others nestle comfortably.

Live out the blessed life!

  • Do you have a joyful, grateful heart that is evident to people around you? How do you typically respond to your blessings? Do you blessthe Lord (speak well of/ thank and praise Him), not just in Church but in your everyday encounters with people at home, school, work, in the supermarket, wherever you find yourself? Are you certain of the favour and love of God even if your circumstances are far from perfect?
  • If you are a parent, do you speak words of blessing over your children in the same way God honours and blesses you? Or are you shaming or disheartening your children by dishing out conditional approval?
  • Do you experience the love of God your Father at a heart level? Do you personally know the blessedness of Ephesians 1? If you are unsure, do not delay! Keep reading these devotions, ask God to reveal the “word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Make an appointment today with a trusted Christian to meet regularly until you know where you stand with God. Pray, however imperfectly. Don’t stop until you have more than head knowledge of God’s blessing.


Turn Ephesians 3:16-21 into your own prayer:

“Father, I pray that out of your storehouse of rich blessings, you may strengthen me by your Spirit– with a deep inner strength that is more than human. Give me an unshakeable, secure confidence.

Jesus, I invite you to live in my heart through faith, every day, every moment. I ask that I may live my ordinary life securely rooted in your unfailing love for me.

May I, together with all your followers, fully grasp how wide and long and high and deep is your love for me.

Father, please let me experience in my mind and my heart the dimensions of your love which is greater than anything I can fathom.

As your child, may I be fully satisfied in you, content and grateful with my life. May I know that I am truly blessed in you.

Blessed be your name!

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Amen!”


In “Blessings,” Laura Story asks the question of God: “What if blessings come through rain drops? What if the rain, the storms, the hardest nights–are your mercies in disguise?” Listen to Laura Story and Matt Redman sing about the blessed life:



Every Believer’s Hydration Pack

active activity adventure backpack
Photo by Krivec Ales on

Ten essential items

If you are crazy enough to enter a trail run, you will know that a fully equipped hydration pack is an absolute essential. Being a novice, I was shocked to read the list of compulsory equipment I have to put in my hydration pack before merrily setting off to “Run-the-Berg” in October. The kit list includes a waterproof jacket, space blanket, whistle, fully charged cellphone, beanie, thermal vest, fleece, compass, sunscreen and first aid kit! That’s ten essential items, excluding the 1.5 litres of water we’re somehow supposed to squeeze in our nifty hydration packs strapped to our backs! I was suspecting overkill until I glanced at a picture of the mountains I will traverse, described as “notoriously unpredictable and unforgiving for the ill-prepared.” It was patently obvious that I was a member of the ‘ill-prepared’ club as I read on about the hazardous terrain and weather conditions of the trail I’d signed up for. It slowly dawned on me that my overpriced hydration pack and its contents was no joke! I would be a fool to wing it on my own without knowledge and preparation. Romantic visions of myself clad in simple shorts, T-shirt, and a pair of Bata takkies, free as a mountain goat under sunny African skies,  were embarrassingly inappropriate for the realities of this particular adventure! They were nothing but naive illusions. At best, they would leave me disgruntled and defeated. At worst, my fantasies would lead me to abandon the race altogether, or steer me to a sticky end.

It is the same with the God Walk.

Counting the cost

When Jesus calls us to be his disciples, he tells us to count the cost (Matt 16:24-26) and prepare for a long  journey ahead. He doesn’t paint a rosy picture when he calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. The God Walk is not a journey of super spiritual meditation, signs and wonders. Nor is it a direct route to health, wealth, inner peace and self actualisation as the world understands it. Jesus calls Himself the way to the Father (John 14:6), but doesn’t entice us with a comfortable, straight, smooth path. Instead, He candidly tells us that the world will hate and persecute us because of his name (John 15:18-25) and that we will face the same troubles he faced along the road.  Jesus is unequivocal: “The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” He pulls no punches as he describes himself as the narrow way– not the mainstream, trendy, attractive path that leads to destruction (Matt 7:13-14).

We dare not forget that Jesus led the way up a steep hill called Golgotha, with a cross strapped to his back. It wasn’t exactly a nifty hydration pack.

It doesn’t always happen the day of our conversion, but sometime thereafter if we are walking as a Christian, we suddenly realise we are aliens in enemy territory, opposed, ridiculed and pressured to conform even by those we call our friends. We find we are in the world, but not of it (John 17:16) and the sting of that realisation surprises or hurts us. The Apostle Paul doesn’t sugarcoat the way of discipleship but calls us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, active participants in a lifetime transformation programme through the renewal of our minds, capturing one thought at a time. (Rom 12:1-2) Paul describes keeping the faith as “fighting the fight” and “running the race” to receive the reward the righteous Judge has for us when He returns as King. (2 Tim 4:7-8)

This is no fun run!

From Genesis to Revelation, we are warned that the Enemy will try to deceive us and make us doubt and deny who we are and who God is. We may even believe the lie that we walk alone. Satan will entice us to do things our own way or to give up entirely on the God Walk before the finish because he is the ultimate liar, thief and murderer of our souls. (John 8:44)

But Jesus promises that the reward is well worth the cost of giving up everything to follow him.  He makes it clear that the only way you and I will save our life, is by losing it for Him. (Mark 8:34-38) The other side of the coin is death. The cost of rejecting Jesus’ call is that we will forfeit everything of value  and remain alienated from God, ourselves and those around us. The Bible is unequivocal. God’s way leads to life. Every other way ultimately leads to alienation, loss and death. God’s way leads to peace and joy. God’s way is in fact a person: the God-man Jesus Christ. “The Word became a human and lived among us” (John 1:14).  I am utterly convinced that the reward of walking with Jesus is infinitely greater than the cost of being his disciple. I am also convinced that it is the truth, even if we live in a post truth generation.

Jesus’ way may be hard, but it is truly blessed. He is the way to human flourishing on earth and eternal life spent with the God who made us in his own image.

The Bible has a lot to say about the preparation, route and destination of those who walk with God, as well as the prize Christians can look forward to beyond the finish line.

Ten essential truths for every Christian

There are no short cuts to the God Walk. It is not a sprint but more like an ultra-marathon or a mega-hike that lasts a lifetime. But God has graciously given us a “hydration pack” fully equipped with truths to get us through every section of the route. Without this pack of doctrines, we will quickly become thirsty and hungry, tired, injured, bewildered, disoriented and discouraged.

People often think of doctrines as boring theories that theologians think up to get us off the scent of true spirituality. Our generation is more concerned with experience and spectacular events. It values personal feelings and preferences above truth. But Biblical doctrines are living descriptions of God’s amazing dealings with human beings like us. Doctrines give us wisdom about true spirituality and the totality of human experience, including our bodies, minds and souls. Biblical doctrines give us God’s perspective on our place in the universe, which is far more accurate than subjective naval gazing. Moreover, doctrines have significant practical use for our lives, apart from giving us insight into God’s character and our human nature. The Apostles thought sound doctrine was vital and urged Christians in every age to teach what agrees with sound doctrine, to be trained in good doctrine (Titus 2:1) and to read Scripture carefully, keeping a close watch on our teaching, so that we do not forget what it means to be a Christian or lead others astray, or be deceived by false Shepherds (1 Tim 4:16). Teaching, training and reading is the essence of The God Walk devotion.

Doctrines of the faith are much like items in a hydration pack. They are essential for flourishing and survival along the trail of real life.

In the upcoming weeks of devotions, we will be unpacking our Christian hydration pack, looking at Biblical texts that show us what it means to be a Christian. I have chosen ten items for our hydration pack. Of course none of  these texts on their own tell the whole picture of what it means to be a Christian, but are just samples of the vast storehouse of God’s truth and promises that God has given us in his word. This is what it means to “hold fast to the word of life” until the day of Christ (Phil 2:15-16).

There are of course many more doctrines of faith than the ten I’ve chosen. But, if you are new to the Scriptures, hopefully these appetisers will whet your appetite to dig deeper into the Bible for yourself. As Paul put it to the Greeks of his day: God, who made the universe, gives life and breath to each of us only for a short time on this earth. He created you and me to know and be known by Him– “to seek Him and perhaps feel your way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:24-28)

I pray that these ten truths will become the rudder of your mind, the anchor of your soul and the furnace of your heart as we run side by side the race God has set out for us. I pray that we will be fuelled with faith, hope and love that comes from walking with God.

Ten essential items for every believer’s hydration pack.

Here is our “kit list” for the next few weeks on The God Walk: