Author Archive

National Crusade

Posted: June 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

Read >Nehemiah 7 – 8

And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel (Neh. 8:1).

This incident is in some ways a foreshadowing of an event that will happen many years in the future. Both these events brought together a nation to hear from God. Both would contain a call to repentance for the people of Israel.

The future event is found in the Book of Acts. The disciples were in the upper room waiting to hear from God. Just as these Israelites came together as one, the scripture denotes the same unity for those in the upper room.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).

The anointing of God came upon those in the Book of Acts. They came out to preach to all who would listen.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language (Acts 2:6).

The comparison could be made here between Ezra and Peter. Both spoke the words of a prophet that came long before them.

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16).

Both men also spoke words that would call others to repent and follow after the Lord and His Word.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).

The finding of these comparable situations in the Old Testament and the New Testament reinforce the importance of both events. In both events, the Word of God was spoken over a nation. Many heard this and in their hearts they felt the need to turn to God. In the Book of Nehemiah, the people broke out in praise and worship to God. In the Book of Acts, many accepted the free pardon of sin that Jesus offers.

Double Impact 

Posted: June 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

Read >Nehemiah 4 – 6

And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah – (Neh. 4:16).

There were enemies that did not want to see the walls of Jerusalem be rebuilt. It was known to Nehemiah and to those working to rebuild that they may be attacked at any time. They had to prepare for this attack, so they divided their forces. One would stand guard and protect the work, while the other would continue the building process. Even with a guard, the builder also would carry a sword on their side.

As is common in the Word of God, many scriptures can have spiritual applications to things spoken of in the physical realm. We can often draw lessons to learn for our day to day living even though the situation might never apply to our lives. These lessons, if utilized, will guide us into a better place with God in our lives.

It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things (Rom. 15:27).

The lesson in this scripture verse can be applied in more than one way. It is not uncommon to discover more than one lesson to learn. There are two clear life applications to this verse.

This verse also applies to the individual believer. Each of us have differing roles we must fill in God’s kingdom. First off, we are all called to be students of God’s Word and soul winners. In addition to this, we all have a specific call for us as individuals as we see in that last verse. Finally, we must be on guard and prepared for the attack of the enemy at any time. The Bible says the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). The word of God is sharper than any two edged sword (Heb. 4:12).

Mordecai’s decisions

Posted: June 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

Read >Esther 8 – 10

And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman – (Est. 8:2).

God had used Mordecai greatly. The course of events of his life had placed him in situations where he could make great differences in the world around him. Mordecai could have decided to go in various different directions in his life. God chose a man that would choose to walk down a godly path.

One of the early decisions Mordecai made would change his life forever. He did the moral and godly thing in taking in his orphan cousin and raising her as his daughter. His adoption of Esther was a decision that had an impact on his life for years to come.

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thy heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man (Prov. 3:3-4).

The next choice Mordecai made would change Esther’s life forever. King Ahasuerus was seeking a new queen. He had put Queen Vashti away for disobedience to the king’s orders. There was a call for young women to come before the king so he could select a new queen. Esther was brought to the palace. The Lord had His blessings on her. The king loved her and made her his new queen. The Lord blesses those who are obedient to Him.

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing (I Pet. 3:9).

Mordecai’s next choice changed the life of King Ahasuerus in that he saved his life. Two of the king’s servants were angry with him to the point they wanted to attack and maybe even kill him. Mordecai heard these threats, and he could have chosen to ignore them. After all, this king held his people captive. He did the right thing in telling Esther so she could warn the king. The servants were hung for their crime before having a chance to harm the king.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matt. 5:44).

Cast Down but not Destroyed 

Posted: June 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

Read >Job 1 – 4

And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21).

The words of Job in this verse are a testimony to the true value of worldly things. This man, in a short period of time, had almost everything of physical value taken from him. Not only that, he had even lost his servants and his own children.

The understanding that Job demonstrated would be tested greatly. He would not only deal with these great losses, but he would face challenges to his faith on every side. He would even be challenged to give up on God.

The true believer in Christ knows that true value is in spiritual things and not physical ones. Job clearly believed this to be a truth. Even after everything that had transpired, he still said “blessed be the name of the LORD”.

During times of loss, it is sometimes very difficult to see things this way. This is even true of the believer. Although in difficult situations we should be even more inclined to look towards the throne of God for answers, we know that is not always the case. At times, we are overcome by the trials that are placed before us. We need to understand it is part of our walk with God to go through both good times and bad times.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you (I Pet. 4:12).

When these difficult days come to our lives, we must learn to place our trust and dependence in God and His Word. The Word of God will always have words of comfort, assurance and advice for those who seek help from the Lord. Times may seem hard. The way may seem impossible. However, the Bible clearly explains the believer can and must overcome. We may be in the midst of the fight, but the ultimate victory is ours.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed (II Cor. 4:8-9).

God’s Providence

Posted: June 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

Read >Esther 4 – 7

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this – (Est. 4:14)

The providence of God is clearly shown in the Book of Esther. This is not to say that we don’t see God’s providence throughout the entire Word of God. There are examples of such from the beginnings of the Old Testament in the Book of Genesis until the close of the New Testament in the Book of Revelation. The Book of Esther simply shows providence at work to save the people of Israel in one clear timeline of events.

The Lord began this work all the way back when Nebuchanezzar and Babylon took the people of Israel into captivity. Mordecai and his family were obviously part of the Jews that were taken to a strategic place in Babylon to provide service for the king. This placed Mordecai where he would need to be.

The fact that Mordecai remained here shows God at work. As time went on, another Babylonian king rose up. The Babylonians were then conquered by the Medo-Persians. Mordecai had seen the reigns of Cyrus and Darius pass by and now was ruled over by Ahasuerus. God truly had a purpose for this Jewish family.

For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth (Rom. 9:11).

God then began to show the same workings in the young cousin that Mordecai had raised as a daughter. Esther found favor first with the king’s steward, Hegai, who was in charge of the king’s women. She then found favor with the king himself as he loved her above all others. She became his queen.

The wicked Haman had no idea the queen was Jewish. This was also part of God’s providence. Surely, if this had been public knowledge, Haman would have had a much more deceptive plan to destroy the Jews. God knew well beforehand what Haman would try to do and set in motion a plan to stop it.

And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Rom. 8:27).

Posted: June 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

Read 1 Chronicles 24

Highlights:

Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the LORD (I Chr. 26:27).

A good portion of a soldier’s income in ancient times came from the spoils they might take in battle. There may or may not have been any sort of salary for being in the army at that time. Men would fight for a number of reasons. They might have fought for national pride or patriotism. Some may have been forced to fight. They might have been drafted or sequestered to the military of their own nation or a nation that conquered them. Some were even slaves and were fighting for their freedom.

It is obvious then that the spoils of battle were very important to the soldier’s income. Those spoils were often limited as commanding officers might take certain items for themselves. The average soldier might only be able to take from what was left over.

Therefore, this donation of the spoils taken in battle to provide for the upkeep of the Lord’s house was a sacrificial gift. These items could have easily been kept for personal gain. However, they were dedicated for the use of the Lord.

This could be looked at in a way, as a tithe and offering to the Lord. There is a difference between the two. Many know this, others may not. The tithe is the giving back of a percentage of what God has given us. The scripture reveals that percentage to be a tenth. It is a must to tithe if we desire our life to be in right standing with God. And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly (II Chr. 31:5). And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at Him(Mark 12:17). The offering is what we might give above the required tithe.

Read 2 Chronicles 4

Highlights:

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord (II Chr. 5:13).

This looks to have been an exciting praise and worship service to the Lord. There was much reason to celebrate. Their enemies were all but gone. The Temple was complete. The Ark was being brought up to be placed in the Temple. It would seem all of Israel had come out for this celebration. There were plenty of reasons for this to happen. 

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in His Tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord (Ps. 27:6).

We see in this verse the results of this tremendous session of praise. A great cloud came in and filled the Temple. The priests themselves became overwhelmed. This cloud was the glory of the Lord.

But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel (Ps. 22:3).

This scripture shows us very clearly that when we surrender ourselves in praise to God, He will show up. The nation of Israel put aside all their differences and came together for one purpose; to offer praise, worship and thanksgiving to God. Their praises brought the Spirit of God to the scene.

The same thing can and will happen today. You might say that you have been in some pretty good church services and you never saw a cloud fill the place up. That is probably true for most of us. That does not mean that we have not been in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Let me just start straight up, exactly how I see it. ​In some sense I don’t think the colonial project really ended in Nigeria. We just shifted the tyranny and extractive ethos to a local elite.

What difference is it to a Teacher in Takum, A Farmer in Otukpo or a Fisherman in Ekim,  if his faraway oppressor is in Abuja or in London, or indeed, in Jalingo, Makurdi or Uyo his state capital?

When people talk about a country growing from poor to rich, that gets lost in the jargon of income per capita and other metrics.

In fact, what that looks like is a fisherman in Ekim in 1923 has grand kids who have vastly better incomes, education, health, opportunity. It means that a fisherman’s grandchild has the opportunity to compete to be a bank manager or even CEO today. That’s progress. 

It’s about people, en masse, moving from a life where they have low productivity to vastly higher productivity. But what I think has happened since 1923 is that children of fishermen mostly became fishermen themselves, with no change in productivity. Or they moved to cities to work in other low productivity jobs. Comparing his grandfather’s life to his, it hasn’t changed much (or has grown worse).

This is the challenge. How does a society develop to ensure that each successive generation lives better and has a better shot: progress.

So many problems just vanish when people are well fed, life is not bitterly difficult, the kids are looked after, etc. People keep looking to the various governments. We expect that an omnipotent Federal Government has the resources to fix all problems: It can’t. 
Looking at the 2017 budget across Africa, it is clear that the Federal Government of Nigeria is broke. We plan to spend roughly $120/Nigerian. The Kenyan Government is spending $560/Kenyan. South Africa: $2180/SAn. That is a big difference. 

But that doesn’t tell the full tale really, because as the saying goes: ‘Every Nigerian is a Local Government’. We are paying for that budget. We are paying in hardship, in the high cost of living, the lack of opportunity, one of the lowest life expectancy rates on earth and so on.
Of course, in the middle of all this, we supposedly have one of the biggest economies in Africa. I always find that one hilarious. If we had the productivity of the average South African worker, our economy would be two or three times its current size (our labour pool is 3 times larger than theirs). Also, SA’s government is spending about 33% of GDP. We, with our unsigned budget, are spending 7%. Again, pointer that Government isn’t that big.

The Government has to start working to empower Nigerians. It cannot be this colonialist mafia that just extracts from the population. They sit in Abuja with the best roads in the country, but a man in Nnewi or Aba cannot ship his produce through Calabar or Port Harcourt. Buhari is ‘recuperating’ in London claiming to be taking made in Nigeria drugs, while doctors are being tassed in LUTH over salaries that they are actually owed. This is colonialism!

I think it is so bad that we do not EXPECT things to get better in the next 25 years, so we optimise towards the proximate next best. 

Always interesting to read about America after the war (and California in the 70s). Phrase ‘alive with possibility’ always seems to come up. What phrases come up in your everyday experience? Of course we hear ‘there is money in this country,’ but it rings hollow for most people. What tends to ring true are things like: ‘This country is finished’; referring to other countries ‘these are serious countries’ and so on. You face a self-fulfilling prophecy situation — you think the country is finished, so you behave like a person living in a finished country. You don’t inflate the contract by 20% and fix the road well, you under-engineer the road and inflate the contract by 200%. 10 people do well, 1,000,000 suffer. The same road is re-tendered in a different budget cycle and the sham is repeated. 

2019 is coming. There will be an incredible amount of energy poured into it from that 7 trillion naira budget (and other budgets to come). To what end? The person is inheriting a mess. (And the funniest part is that we are going to hear the same vacuous, platitudinous slogans!). Actor, Andy Roid in Game of Thrones described it as “focusing on the politics of the Red Keep while White Walkers, Dothraki Hordes and Dragons are coming for you”. We aren’t talking about our real problems. 

The country is broke; y’all are marrying and having babies far too much; the government is choking off progress. We need to think about how govt can become more accountable, become less colonialist, to actually work for the people. Maybe that is confederalism or true federalism, I don’t know. I’ll leave thoughts on how to change the status quo for another time. I drop my pen here. We all need to start thinking right and start acting.

Read >Ezra 8 – 9

For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him – (Ezra 8:22).

The feelings that this man of God had were in some ways understandable and in other ways not. It is easy to see why he could have been ashamed or embarrassed. The proclamation had been made that the hand of protection of God was on all those that sought Him. It was said that God would strike down all the enemies of His people. It would seem that trust was being put in man instead of God by asking for military assistance. If this was the case, there was definitely an error to trust anything over God. 

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe (I Tim. 4:10).

On the other hand, things can always be looked at in a different way. It is true that God often works in supernatural ways. We see that clearly in select parts of the Word of God. There were healings, resurrections from the dead and many other miracles done, especially during the time that Christ lived in human form. Many seek after God for this very type of work in their life.

Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world (John 6:14).

However, God will work, often, in other ways. God will use natural means to meet the needs within our lives. When we need comfort, He may send it through a dear friend. When we need healing, He may send it in the form of a doctor. And when we need protection, God may send an army of humans or an army of angels or whatever he chooses. The choice must be left up to the Lord.

The Lord could very well do exactly as this verse said using either a human army or an angelic one. God can use either to crush the enemies of Him and His people.

by Tim Brister

The church is a people who are called out and set apart from the world who are also called and sent into the world. The goal of the Christian life is complete conformity to Christ, and such conformity is both in character and in mission. In other words, the church is to be both a holy people (set apart) and missionary people (sent) at the same time, all the time.

I come away with this when considering the promise that Jesus will build His church and the purchased goal that Jesus will perfect His church.

Christ the Builder:

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:18

Christ the Perfecter:

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:25-27

Jesus, the head of the church, is very committed to His bride, that is His people. He has determined that His church will be built and that His bride would be pure. Given that these promises are “yes” and “amen” and are sealed in His blood, we should consider the implications on who we are and how we should function as His people.

For instance, Jesus went deep into the world without becoming “worldly.” His mission was not sanitized or limited to the moral boundaries of cultural normativity. And yet there was never a point when He was not the sinless Savior, the lamb of God without spot of blemish. His active obedience to the Father was not only the fulfillment of the law’s demand but also the fulfillment of the Father’s redemptive mission.

For the Christian, the sanctified lifestyle and sent lifestyle go hand in hand. To pursue holiness apart from mission or to pursue mission apart from holiness is to pursue a path contrary to the way of Christ. On the one hand, too much cultural adaptation misses the call to holiness (Christ the perfecter); on the other hand, too much cultural isolation misses the call to mission (Christ the builder). The promise of Christ’s building through mission and the purchase of Christ’s bride for purity should be held together.

Questions that arise from these truths should challenge us all: Are we living as God’s sent people? Are we available and reliable tools for the Master to build His church? Are we pursuing holiness through repentance and faith? Are we committed to being a pure church, addressing sin both through formative and corrective discipline? Is our desire to reach the world leading us to compromise in areas of holiness that doesn’t reflect or honor the character of Christ?

As you can imagine, the challenge is to embrace the promise of Christ as builder as participants in His mission while embracing the purchased goal to have a pure church. A church that is distinctively formed by the gospel and functions to spread that gospel in word and deed will be both attractive and offensive. We are not offensive by being “holier than thou” with an “us vs. them” mentality; rather the gospel that transforms us exposes their idols and confronts the folly of futility of life alienated from God.

What encouragement do we have in knowing that Jesus has promised to build His church and perfect his bride?! May God help us to be a missionary people, renewed by the gospel to behold, believe, and become like Christ who has sent us in His name for the advance of His church and spread of His fame.