All people at all levels of society in the Cook Islands and the rest of the world are undoubtedly welcoming this long summer break.
They are not only spending quality time with family and loved ones but are taking stock of the old year’s undertakings and setting up new plans and resolutions for a better and brighter New Year, 2018.
Whether these plans and resolutions involve education, business, sports, health, community, politics, church, family or personal pursuits and aspirations, it’s that time of the year to think and work on those still wishful and hopeful goals for the future. Study history and human civilization and you’ll see that pretty much everyone strives to become fuller and more mature person, reflecting and learning from our past and always trying to avoid and correct past mistakes in order to improve our present and future destiny.
The Apostle John wished above all things for the Church and people of God to be blessed economically, and with healthy lifestyles but most importantly, spiritual stability. This was their message and their own lifestyle as they continued to spread the Good News of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth.
God wills for all people whether Christians or non-Christians to live a lifestyle of prosperity as opposed to poverty and to be healthy rather than suffering to ill-health. The foundational impetus to both is a strong Christ-like spiritual focus.
Prosperity does not strictly point to economic gains only, but to prosper in the fostering of good education for our children, also fostering good health, manners, conduct and behaviour and showing great respect towards all mankind.
I am moved by the story of one Tongan woman who stood to speak as a guest speaker at a regional women’s conference. She became so emotional that she could hardly utter a word until she finally came gathered her thoughts and remarked how blessed she was to find no beggars on any of the roads around Rarotonga. That was in contrast to other island nations and the many big countries where she had travelled and where beggars of all ages were a common sight.
Those of us who have also travelled widely will agree to that. It sure speaks volumes for the prosperity and vibrancy not only of our culture and very way of life but for our foundations in Christianity, as the Word of God in Psalm 33:12 declares: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance”.
Any marriage with multiple partners (polygamous relationship) only leads to confusion and chaos and I believe the same occurs in any nation that accepts all kinds of religions and whatever form of idolatrous beliefs and practices. This is where I rise to salute and commend the strong support that our former and current governments have offered our Cook Islands Religious Advisory Council in vigorously fending off unChristian influences that dare to bring in false gods and false hopes into our little tiny paradise Cook Islands.
This is precisely the stamina and stability that the Apostle John promotes for any country, nation or community of people: Prosperity against poverty, good health against poor health and spiritual integrity against un-Christ-like lifestyles.
The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2: 9 endorses this same message of prosperity stating, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich”.
This scripture clearly shows that Jesus Christ, who was and is God himself, did not leave his rich and heavenly realm to come down to this sin-ridden earth to stay in the poverty that humanity has ignorantly allowed to surround them, but to lift them out of that impoverished form of lifestyle into a more decent, balanced, wholesome mind, body and soul Christ-ordained prosperity.
Let me finish with a simple resolution programme for now and into 2018. It is based partly on the Apostle Paul’s exhortation and encouragement in 1 Thessalonians 5: 23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”. It is called “Wholesome Prosperity In Christ”.
1. Always start your day at the earliest possible time (5 or 6am) before your day gets busy, talking to your God Jesus, like talking to a friend through prayer. Walk about in your lounge on your verandah or in your yard and ask and tell him everything. Pour out your soul to him, and better still together with your spouse or child, in a partnership intimacy with your Saviour Jesus Christ.
2. Open the Holy Scripture. Start with one or two chapters or more a day at the Book of Acts, the first written historical account of when and where the Church of Jesus Christ first began, the operation of the Holy Ghost in the church, the missionary activities and miracles activated by the faith of his Apostles. Then move on to the Gospel and all three Epistles of John, two Epistles of Peter, Psalms and the rest of the New Testament Books.
3. Discipline yourself to do all that before even your walking or exercise programmes, before the newspaper, computer, phone call and breakfast. Once that’s done, you have obeyed what David in Psalm 16:8 & 9 states: “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope”.
4. If you are unable to do all of the above because of shift works, airport visits or late nights – ensure its done before your day ends. Each day has its own blessings to receive or curses to rebuke. ‘Pray without ceasing throughout your day to Stay in focus’.
5. Discipline yourself to fast two or three days a week from midnight to midday (without food and water). While food is the biggest irresistible temptation to most of us, abstaining on a short-duration exercise is also activating your faith and saying to your flesh/body: “You are under my control in Jesus Name.” Fasting is disciplining abstinence from the lust of the flesh and gluttony in order to Last in active service, not “sit” service to our Lord.
6. Discipline yourself and whole household to never leave unwashed, unpacked dishes on the sink before bedtime or before leaving home for school, work or errands. Dirty dishes always invite ants, cockroaches and other unhealthy critters. “A healthy mind makes a healthy body and home.”
7. Lastly, never leave the home unattended. Make sure beds are made, rooms tidied, washing done and hung out, folded and packed away. Train children to be responsible and share the workload, don’t kill yourselves as parents by doing everything. Husbands, loving a wife is doing all that she does too, in the home. “Bear ye one another’s burden and fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Have a blessed and prosperous Jesus’s New Year 2018.
Kia mataora, kia manuia, noo ki roto I te Au, te Tapunui e te Aroa ua o to tatou Atu ko Iesu Mesia!
Bishop Tutai Pere