CAST Voices Devotion: All Nations

CAST Voices Devotion: All Nations

By Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt

23 May 2017

Genesis 22:18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.

banner-Abraham-and-the-stars

The theme of “All Nations” or “All People” is one of the important themes in the Bible. We first come across it in Genesis 6 where God says: “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them” … and he does. He floods the whole world and saves only Noah and his family.

But through most of the Bible, God’s agenda is to find a way to save and bless all people, and so he looks for a good man, a man of faith and obedience through whom he can bring that blessing to all the nations of the world.  Genesis 22:18 tells us that he found Abraham and appointed him as the one through whom he would bring this blessing. This is one of five times that God makes the exact same promise to Abraham – that through his seed all nations on earth will be blessed. This was his main intention, not only for Abraham’s life but for his descendants—blessing for all the nations.

The Bible explains in many ways what blessing means: It means happiness or joy, protection and security, it means favour, honour, peace, authority, long life, good relationships, many children, material abundance and most of all, the presence of God. And it is God’s desire that all nations of the world should experience this kind of blessing. So He made a plan to bring blessing to all the nations.

The Bible also makes the clear connection between blessing and obedience to God. In fact in this passage, all nations are going to be blessed because of Abraham’s obedience. But this blessing is not automatic – it is dependent on all nations learning from Abraham and his descendants (his seed) to obey God and live in covenant with Him just as Abraham did.

The New Testament explains to us that the blessing for all nations was not only through the nation of Israel (the descendants, or seed, of Abraham) but more particularly from one man—the ultimate descendant of Abraham, Jesus, who obeyed God in every way without fault.

Following Jesus will always bring blessing to us. Not necessarily every element of blessing all the time because there will be times of hardship, danger, persecution, loneliness, and poverty—he promises these to us too!  But His presence remains with us in all these things, and ultimately the journey of a life with Jesus does bring blessing in every way. Not only to us but to everyone around us.

Questions to ponder:

  1. Who is included in “All Nations”? Think of some names of people groups / nations.
  2. How have you experienced blessing through knowing Jesus and obeying God?
Advertisements

CAST Voices Devotion: Children & Role Models

CAST Voices Devotion: Children & Role Models

By Joseph Bode

Scripture: 1 Samuel 2:12-36; Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Devotion:

Children are a blessing from God and He has given us the responsibility to nurture them as they grow. However we have failed as parents, guardians, churches, and communities. The environment that we have created is toxic for children and it does not support their potential! The environment chokes their potential and eventually shatters their dreams. This forces many children to become substance abusers, thugs, poor, malnourished and so on.

On other hand, we also hear and see sad stories of children being abused, killed, forced into labour, etc. The list is endless. Those who are entrusted with the responsibility of caring for children have failed – they have neglected the responsibilities that God has assigned to them, even committing all sorts of crime against children. It is very sad that there are no role models, father figures, mother figures, brother figures or sister figures. The society is toxic and unfriendly to children.

Let’s look at a passage: 1 Samuel 2:12-36.

In the above passage we see a father, Eli, who was God fearing and did amazing things in the temple. He held a coveted highest office as a priest and a judge in the land of Israel. Sadly his sons brought it low because they sinned against God. The fact is that Eli did his job well, but he forgot his responsibilities as a father and parent – He neglected his sons. He was too busy for them, and he only began taking action after the people of Israel complained. He warned his sons but never stopped them, and the whole family had to suffer the consequences!

God has entrusted us with the responsibility of caring and nurturing children in His ways – in our homes, churches and communities. He wants us to make time for children and be good role models as well.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise”.

lamont photo

Questions:

1. What is your attitude towards children? Do you see them as a blessing or a burden on your church or ministry?

2. How do you handle those children who are considered as an outcast, naughty, neglected, attention seekers, annoying and so on?

3. Do you consider yourself a good role model (father figure, mother figure, etc) to children? Are there areas you need to improve on in caring and nurturing for them?

CAST Voices Devotion: Learning from the Little Ones Part 2

CAST Voices Devotion: Learning from the Little Ones

By Cindy Whittle

Part 2: Children have unlimited potential

Exodus 2: The Birth of Moses
Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
Devotion:

“Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” -Andy Stanley
DSC_0648On Tuesday we looked at the Biblical account of the boy who brought the loaves and the fishes to Jesus. 5000 men were fed that day and the crowds who had come out to hear Jesus speak were exposed to Jesus the provider, the Jesus who is able to do the impossible, the Jesus who is able to take the little we give him and use it for the advancement of His Kingdom.

Today we consider the story of Moses. Moses was born into a world full of insecurity, fear and doubt on the part of the Pharaoh, which had in turn bred hatred and contempt for the Hebrew people. As a result, his very existence was threatened before he was even born. God allowed Moses’ mother to do what she had to to preserve his life because one day God would use Moses to lead God’s people out of Egypt after 400 plus years of slavery, one day God would give Moses the Ten Commandments, one day Moses would write the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, considered the books of the Law. Moses would foreshadow Jesus. He would pave the way for Him.

It’s amazing to consider the two moms in the background of each of these accounts. Both moms were doing their best in completely different ways. I imagine the mom of the little boy with the loaves and the fishes got up early that day to pack his lunch. She supported him in the only way she could. He wanted to go to hear the Rabbi speak and she gave him all she had, to enable him to do that. I imagine he learnt to give all he had to Jesus from a mom who gave all she had to him. Jochebed, Moses’ mother, had to be even bolder to support her son. She had to go against Pharaoh’s command to save his life. Jochebed had to be fearless and determined. She had to believe her son had unlimited potential to be used of God. She believed God had a plan for his life that outweighed the cost of her own. I imagine he learnt to carry out God’s will without fear of what this could cost him from a mom who carried out God’s will without fear of what this could cost her. Think about that for a moment.

Questions:

1. You may be a mother or simply called to play the role of a mother in a child’s life. Do you believe that child has unlimited potential to be used of God?

2. Have you ever considered that God may have called a child in your care or simply in your company to do something of value to the Kingdom that far outweighs His purpose for you? How far are you willing to go to help them realise that potential?

3. Consider the mother figures in your own life. What have you learnt from them? What can you share because of them?

CAST Voices Devotion: Learning from the Little Ones

CAST Voices Devotion: Learning from the Little Ones

By Cindy Whittle

Part I: Children have unquestioning faith

John 6: Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”  Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

Devotion:

What … if?  What if?  These two words have the power to hold us back and stifle even the most confident voice in us if accompanied by the slightest bit of fear and doubt – “I want to share my idea but what if no one agrees with me? I want to believe the encouraging words I received today but what if my colleagues are just saying good things about me but they don’t actually mean it? I want to share my prayer request but what if everyone judges me if I am vulnerable and real?” But in the absence of fear and doubt and in the presence of Jesus, they are two very powerful words indeed. Two words at the inception of every innovative movement and every leap of faith CAST has taken, “What if poor people, who are possibly even in debt, could save money each month? What if fish farming could be started inland in Noodsberg? What if people could permanently move out of poverty? What if the cycle of fatherlessness could be broken? What if an 8 year old refugee child who could barely recognise a handful of letters at the start of a year could learn to read and maybe even write by the end of that year? What if there could be no poor among us?”

20160728 Word Works - Addington (8 of 32)

Friends, the little boy in this passage was poor. He had five small loaves of barley bread, the cheapest bread at the time, pretty much considered animal feed, and two small fishes similar to sardines or anchovies. But he asked “What if?” I imagine he asked “What if I gave my lunch to Jesus? What if I held nothing back?” No fear, no doubt, just the unquestioning faith that Jesus can do the impossible if we bring what we have to Him.  Jesus can take our ‘what if’s’ and turn them into a reality, a certainty, for the advancement of His Kingdom.

Questions:

  1. Consider the loaves and fishes in your hands today. The multitudes are hungry. What holds you back from giving all you have to Jesus?
  2. Do you ask “What if?” In your work or in your personal life? Even if it seems really unlikely, even an impossibility, do you ask it in any case and then hand it over to Jesus to make a way?
  3. Children have unquestioning faith. At what point have we lost that as grown-ups? And most importantly, how do we get it back?

#HatredMustFall

CAST Voices Devotion: #HatredMustFall: The Freedom of Forgiveness

By Rolan Gulston

Matthew 6: 12-14

Devotion:

In the past twenty-three years of South Africa’s democracy, many have come to relish the political, financial and physical freedoms that this change has allowed. ‘Freedom’ is thought of as the state of existing without limitations; freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom of movement. Paradoxically, feeling ‘free’ gives us a sense of security in knowing that we are in control.  It can therefore be said that true freedom lies in our mind-set: our psychological freedom. In his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”, Nelson Mandela wrote that, upon his release, were it not for a shift in his mental attitude, specifically his choice to “leave his bitterness and hatred behind, [he] would still be in prison.”

In this passage of scripture centred on the Beatitudes (Beautiful Attitudes) of Christianity, Jesus calls us to do exactly that. Forgiveness frees us to love, ourselves and others, just as we are by God. It is no wonder, then, that Christ instructed the Apostles to recite these words in daily prayer as a frequent reminder to be mindful of our attitudes towards others, and how harmful it can be to harbour feelings of resentment.

But forgiveness is not easy, and it is nearly impossible to forget. One way of overcoming this is to reflect on and redress harmful thoughts and attitudes through open dialogue. Understanding and empathizing with those that we oppose can help to break down the psychological walls that confine and inhibit our ability to love.

Going forward as the torch-bearers of freedom in this country, it is incumbent on us to follow Christ’s teaching in embracing a more reconciliatory attitude in order to truly free ourselves from the burdens of the past.

Questions:

  1. In your view, what #MustFall, and why?
  2. How would these sentiments help to move our communities forward?
  3. Do you feel free? How have you embraced your freedom?

CAST Voices Devotion: The Passover

CAST Voices Devotion: The Passover

By Bongani Mkhize

Exodus 12

Devotion:

God showed His seriousness when he called Moses in the burning bush and sent him to Pharaoh to release the Israelites (Exodus 3). This incident was followed by 10 plagues from God to the Egyptians, as Pharaoh’s heart was hardened to release the Israelites. The tenth plague forced Pharaoh to release the Israelites (vs.29-30). God told the Israelites to take the Lamb for each household, and it should be kept until the 14th of the month. They should slaughter, roast it on the fire and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (12:3-9). Passover serves as a painful reminder of the affliction the Jewish people suffered in Egypt, where they were foreigners and strangers. They were also homeless, and wandered for forty years in the wilderness. At CAST, we can think of those people within our land who were compelled to leave their homes by the conditions in their countries: wars; hunger; political unrest; lack of development etc. They preferred to leave their homeland and cross into our country, looking for better life. It is our mandate as community workers to stand for the truth and fight any corruption towards such people in our country. The Passover also teaches us to share what we have with our neighbours (v.4). We must not be greedy, instead we should take what is enough and share the excess. The Israelites had to eat the unleavened bread, (matzah) considered as the bread of affliction. In our communities, we have many people who are eating matzah every day, and we have to work hard to alleviate poverty within our communities. What matters most in the Passover is the blood of the Lamb because it is the sign of God’s people (v.13). It is our MANDATE to help all people we are working with to come to understand the importance of the LAMB (JESUS) in their lives. Only Jesus can save us from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9).

Questions:

1) Think of all the plagues that came over Egypt. How are people in your community suffering because of lack of knowledge?

2) Think of what you have – isn’t God great? Why don’t you celebrate your possessions by sharing with needy people?

3) Like Abraham’s call – so Moses’ call was serious. What do you think of your calling?

The Message of Palm Sunday in a Country Gone Mad

Clipart-palm-sunday-graphic

The Message of Palm Sunday in a Country Gone Mad

By Pastor Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt

10 April 2017

From an economic perspective, the past month has been tumultuous for our country: corruption, incompetence, threat, fears, anger and protests have dominated the news and for many of us, our thoughts too. How should we as Christians and church communities respond to all this and what does yesterday’s celebration of Palm Sunday have to say to us about these issues?

In mid-March our courts ruled that the management of social grants by CPS is illegal, and there was a fluster over whether SASSA would pay the R12.6Bn in grants to some 17M recipients on 1 April. This was a big deal because about a third of South Africans depend on social grants for survival and could have faced chronic food shortages and been unable to pay rent, utilities and other basic needs. This was a crisis not only for grant recipients, but the economy as a whole—predictions were that retail sector sales would fall by almost 12% and national economic growth by 0.3%. Of course the grants were paid, but the whole debacle uncovered heaps of incompetence and corruption in SASSA and CPS.

Hard on the heels of this crisis was President Zuma’s recalling of Pravin Gordhan from his international trip to promote investment in South Africa. We all feared what would happen after that, and it did … on Friday 31st in the early hours of the morning, Gordhan and his deputy were sacked and the cabinet was reshuffled. The fact Gordhan was known as a competent and honest finance minister led many to accuse the president of trying to get his hands on the treasury, and taking out anyone who might stand in his way. At the same time the death of struggle activist, Ahmed Kathrada left the nation in a state of grief. Timeously Kathandra also called for Zuma’s resignation in an open letter read at his state funeral. All this has highlighted, again, the growing internal ructions in the ANC as leaders like Cyril Ramaphosa openly expressed their disapproval of the president’s decisions.

Of course, the Rand immediately weakened and two of the three major international ratings agencies dropped South Africa’s credit ratings to junk status. That means they have no confidence in the reliability of our country to pay back money that we borrow … they’re not sure what the future holds. I think everyone is worried about what the future holds right now, that’s why tens of thousands of South Africans took to the streets on Friday, most calling for the resignation of Jacob Zuma, though many also coming out in his defense.

Sandwiched in between all this was the high court ruling on the 31st March making cannabis (dagga) legal for home use. As we’ve seen in other countries, this opens the way for increased drug use. What makes it worse is that many communities are already reeling from the devastating social and economic effects of whoonga addiction. And so we may well ask, “Has our country gone mad?”

We are clearly a nation in crisis right now, and we have moments of déjà vu as our thoughts flash back to the years of the struggle as Christians and churches are faced with many of the same questions we had in the 70s and 80s: Are we supposed to support and pray for those God has placed in authority over us, doing our best to live peacefully and not resist authority (as the Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1-8 or Romans 13:1-7)? Or are we supposed to speak up and stand against evil authority as we are encouraged to do in passages like Isaiah 59:15-16 and Proverbs 31:8-19, following the examples of heroes of the faith like Gideon, Esther, Daniel, Peter and John?

Yesterday was Palm Sunday which is, ironically, the day that Jesus performed his most notable act of civil disobedience. He marched into the temple courts and started pushing over tables, scattering money, releasing birds and driving the livestock out into the streets. This wasn’t only disruptive, it was demonstrative—his message was clear: “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers”. It all made such an impression that the authorities seethed with anger and plotted to kill him—a feat they managed just four days later.

What do we observe about Jesus’ attitude to civil disobedience from this unusual story?

  1. There is a time and place for civil disobedience—Jesus did it after all.
  2. Although Jesus was disruptive he did not hurt any person—this was not a violent protest.
  3. He used actions to underscore a clear message—everyone knew what he was trying to say.
  4. There was no personal gain—he took nothing for himself, and it was not for the sake of his own security, comfort, or rights. It was entirely directed towards God’s honour and kingdom.
  5. There were consequences to his actions which he was willing to bear—the loss of his life.

In the Bible, there are a handful of times that God gives specific instructions to his people to use violence. But on the whole we find His admonitions are to support authority wherever possible, using prayer as our first weapon, but not failing to speak out strongly when there is injustice, refusing to act in ways contrary to God’s laws no matter the consequences, and using our influence to resist evil systems and people in acts of civil disobedience. It is clear that there are times when God will hold us to account unless we lay our lives and freedom on the line for what is right and just.

Throughout history most of the great social justice movements have been spearheaded by Christians willing to lay their lives on the line for the sake of God’s kingdom—a few of these include: the abolition of infanticide and abortion in the ancient Roman Empire, of slavery and child labour in England, of widow burning in India, the freeing of African countries from colonialism, the civil rights movement in America, the fall of communism, and the Apartheid struggle in South Africa.

When churches have remained silent on injustice and evil, they have invariably regretted it in later years. During the apartheid struggle, many churches disagreed with the system but, for practical or theological reasons, did not use their influence to speak boldly and decisively. In an effort to minimise their exposure to risk, these groups ultimately compromised their message and integrity.

Let’s be wise in how we respond to the crises in our country: Let’s not fall into the traps of failing to speak up, or failing to support and pray for government, or failing to seek God’s will and purposes, or of only responding when our personal comfort and rights are at stake rather than the rights of others, or of thinking and acting in ways that are unChristlike and do not display the fruits of the Spirit.

May God speak clearly as you listen for His voice, and make yours heard in the tumult of corruption, anger, fear, self-centredness and protest. Let’s be agents of peace, of righteousness, and of justice, not looking to our own interests but always the interests of others and pleading with our Father: “Your kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven”.

CAST Voices Devotion: Family

CAST Voices Devotion: Family

By Nomakhosi Kumalo

28 March 2017

1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives & especially for their own household has denied the faith & is worse than an unbeliever.

God instituted the family when he created man & woman. All family members are persons equal in dignity & have different responsibilities. Growing up in an African culture we learned that the father or any male in the house was the head of the family & therefore should be treated with more respect than anyone else in the family. But the truth is that each family member is a beloved son or daughter of God & that is why the Bible says we are all made in the image of God (meaning we are all equal). We still live in the era where many males demand respect but have no actions to show they deserve that respect (they impregnate women & run away from the responsibility). Polygamy is also a huge problem in my culture & the sad thing is that they take so many wives but fail to even support one. These men walk the streets with their heads held up high as if they have achieved something when the truth is that they bring children into poverty. Without a father, those kids are more likely to turn to a life of crime, abuse or they just don’t know how to be responsible.

For women, going to family courts is daunting nowadays, but the sad thing is that even when some women get assistance from the government they tend to make the kids suffer for what the father did to them & end up using the money for their personal gain & neglect the kids. We live in a generation where family doesn’t hold much substance anymore as we have more broken families than what God proclaims as a family. How do we bypass all that as believers, as the Word says we should provide for our families?

Questions

1) How do you feel visiting a neighbour or family friend who uses gender supremecy in their household?

2) How can we change the mindset of individuals to take responsibility for their actions, especially in regards to family?

3) What are your views about polygamy?

The Jesus that Transforms Part IV

Woman-Well

CAST Voices Devotion: Jesus Transforms the Religious Mindset

By Charmaine Moses

16 March 2017

John 4:21-24

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Devotion:

Traditionally, Jews worshiped on Mount Zion and Samaritans on Mount Gerazim.

Religious and doctrinal issues had separated both Jews and Samaritans so much that Jews and Samaritans had different centres of worship. Jesus transforming power allows us to worship him together in one mind and one accord.  God is calling the church to a position of oneness. To worship him in spirit and in truth is far more important than worshiping Christ in a specific location. Freedom to worship Christ begins with a transparent relationship with him.

Questions:

  • In today’s church, what are religious and doctrinal issues that separate God’s people?
  • How can we as leaders pursue oneness in the church, despite denominational and doctrinal differences?

The Jesus that Transforms Part III

Woman-Well

Jesus Transforms Mindsets About Racism

By Charmaine Moses

14 March 2017

John 4:9-10

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)  Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

There were huge racial tensions between Jews and Samaritans. Jews regarded Samaritans as half breeds and never wanted to interact with them.  Jesus talks to this Samaritan woman, a woman of a different race and ethnicity.  Through his actions, he demonstrates the love of God for all humanity regardless of race, colour or culture.

Jesus asks this woman for water. Her reply is, “Sir you have nothing to draw water with and the well is deep.”  Jews avoided drinking from non-Jews, fearing contamination resulting in uncleanness.  Jesus breaks this attitude of prejudice by asking the woman for water. He then offers her living water.

Questions:

  1. Transformation that brings about permanent change begins with us. In your group, honestly evaluate our country’s view on racism.
  2. How can we make a difference in changing perception and building a united nation?