Archive for the ‘Help Line’ Category

We’re Talking Power Here. Real. Life-changing. Power.

Christianity isn’t about how to be spiritual, achieve your goals or have your best life now. Christianity isn’t about philosophy. It’s not about talk. Christianity is about power.

Power to obey God. Power to change. Power to love those who are messed up. Power to get back up after being pummeled by wave after wave of affliction. Power to wield the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith to extinguish the devil’s fiery darts.

The gospel itself is the very power of God:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18

DA Carson, says of this verse, “One might have expected Paul to say, ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the wisdom of God.’ Instead, he insists it is ‘the power of God.’  

And: 

“The gospel is not simply good advice, nor is it good news about God’s power. The gospel IS God’s power to those who believe.”  (emphasis mine).

God’s word confirms this:

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power1 Corinthians 4:20.   

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

Do we believe prayer has great power? I don’t feel electricity when I pray. I feel weak. I’m a jar of clay. But God puts his power in pots. We connect with God’s power through our mustard seed faith. An electric cord is weak and flimsy. But when we plug it into a socket, it connects to all the voltage of the electric company, which courses into our sabre saw or vaccuum sweeper.

Ask God for his mighty power today. Thank him that he promised your prayers are powerful and effective. Remember, the kingdom of God isn’t talk; it’s power.

TheBounce is an Excerpt-based digital publication and was brought to you by Touchstone International. You can follow us on twitter @touchstoney and find us on Facebook @touchstoneinternational
:::There’s Hope for a Tree:::

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Inestimable Value 

If we follow Jesus’s advice to fear only God, we come to his intriguing question: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?” The Greek actually says “two assaria,” which were Roman coins made of copper and together were worth about one-eighth of a day’s wage for a laborer. It would take, in other words, roughly half an hour’s worth of work to earn enough to buy a sparrow at the market. A day laborer could earn enough to buy a sparrow without breaking a sweat. And yet, Jesus assures his disciples, God remembers each sparrow individually. 

If we are to think rightly, we must look up—at the birds. But what do sparrows have to do with the preceding command to fear God, not man? Simply this: if we cast our lot with God, he will not forget us, no matter how insignificant we may appear. In fact, Jesus assures his fearful disciples, God knows the very number of hairs on our heads. That’s intimacy beyond our wildest dreams. He made us. Nothing about us or our disheveled lives surprises him. God has things under control and can be trusted completely in the face of any difficulty. 

Even for the disabled, who are often considered to be worth less than birds in today’s culture. Stephanie Hubach is the mother of Timmy, a child with Down syndrome. She has struggled with the anxiety, depression, bewilderment, and brokenness that her son’s chromosomal condition has brought. But she has also seen God bring light to what many consider to be an unremittingly dark path. 

“Disability is essentially a more noticeable form of the brokenness that is common to the human experience—a normal part of life in an abnormal world,” Hubach writes. “It is just a difference of degree along a spectrum that contains difficulty all along its length. Due to God’s common grace, no one exists in the extreme of complete brokenness. Due to the fall, no one enjoys the extreme of complete blessing. We all experience some mixture of the two in every aspect of our humanity.”

God has the mixture just right for each of us to seek him and show forth his glory: neither too much blessing to make us forget him; nor too little to make us curse him. (Proverbs 30:8-9)

This question about sparrows, which touches on our inestimable value in God’s eyes, follows his commands not to fear man but God, and it is followed by one more command not to be afraid: “Fear not,” Jesus still says to us, “you are of more value than many sparrows.” Thinking about this fact, straight from the lips of Jesus, gives unshakeable courage. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus again touches on things avian. “Look at the birds of the air,” he says; “they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26) The answer is obvious.

Fearing the Future

Sometimes, however, our primary fear isn’t from without but from within. We know God is both powerful and good and can protect us from others, but we are anxious about ourselves. Somehow we think we still have the power to mess things up. We fear that we cannot provide for ourselves, that we can get into messes that even God cannot clean up, knots that even he cannot untie. Ultimately we think our well-being, and that of our families, is up to us, and such thinking paralyzes us.

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.(Luke 12:22-31)

Blinded by what passes for reality, we become transfixed with our lives, our bodies, our spans of life—as if we are autonomous, untethered free agents trying to get through a dangerous world as best we can. Or we fear that, no matter what God has promised in his word, we are somehow different, that even if the Lord can keep chaos at bay for other believers, he cannot or will not do so for us. We fear that somehow or other our mistakes are special and beyond the power and reach of God. This is sinful conceit. 

We forget to whom we belong. “Once God takes us into covenant with himself,” J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom write, “as he does the moment we put faith in Christ and are born again by the Holy Spirit, our relationship to God is of child to Father and sheep to shepherd, and that means that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit will hold us fast and not let go of us, even if in moments of madness or sadness, or just plain badness, we stray into the wilderness of sin and death.”

After introducing the disciples to sparrows, Jesus moves on to ravens. Just as we are of more worth to God than the sparrows for which he cares, so we are more valuable than the ravens that he feeds. If God feeds them, he will feed us

God’s care is not theoretical. It is intensely practical. Remember that God used ravens to feed Elijah, his depressed and frightened prophet. (1 Kings 17:6) God is not playing games, promising and not delivering. His care involves real, physical stuff—such as food. 

When I was unexpectedly laid off from my job and groping to regather the shards of my shattered career, our church and other Christians came through. Friends across the street picked up low-cost groceries for us at their church. Another bought and installed more memory for our ailing computer. Others prayed, took us to lunch, pointed us to job leads, and helped with faxes and resumes. Some gave us money—frequently and anonymously. I felt carried along by their prayers and practical expressions of concern. 

God’s family was our family, too. As Jesus said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

Then come the clinching questions. Even if we choose to disregard the truth that God is for us, Jesus points out the utter futility of anxiety, asking, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Luke 12:25) If Jesus’s positive, spiritual encouragement to trust God fails, then Jesus is not afraid to get brutally honest. And the honest truth is this: Anxiety doesn’t work. It never has, and it never will. “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:26) Anxiety says, “My fate is in my own hands. It is all up to me.” With that kind of thinking, no wonder we remain wide-awake at three in the morning! 

Not only does anxiety fail to produce any positive results for us. It often does the opposite, draining us of life itself. Those who are anxious over debt, for example, are at higher risk of ulcers or digestive tract problems, migraine headaches, severe anxiety, severe depression, heart attacks, muscle tension, losing their temper, and having trouble sleeping or concentrating. Worry kills. 

Author and counselor Bob Phillips tells the story of a man who met Death on the way to a far country. Death told the man he was going to kill ten thousand people in a city, and he went on. Later the man met Death going the opposite way and pointed out that he had heard that seventy thousand had perished. “I only killed ten thousand people,” Death responded. “Worry and Fear killed the others.”

We cannot control life, so we should not worry. Of course we are called to plan and work, but we must leave the results to God. This is because the results, no matter what “self-made” Americans may believe, are ultimately out of our hands. The best-laid plans of mice and men can fail, while God’s providence can bring us to unimaginable (and undeserved) heights. We are not in control of our lives—and that’s okay. 

In fact, our lack of control means we should worry not more, but less. Children have little to no control, yet few display symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder. They have the least control, and probably the fewest worries. There’s a reason babies sleep like babies. Without the crushing burden of responsibility, they don’t have a care in the world. Children have their problems, of course. They are not immune to bullies, bad parents, or disease. As they get older, the stress of school or relationships can rob them of their sleep and wipe the smiles off their faces. But the norm for most kids, who live at the pure mercy of others, is joy. Perhaps this is one reason Jesus tells us we must “become like little children” to “enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) Worry, which is evidence of misplaced self-reliance, has no place in God’s kingdom. We can control nothing. The King will provide. 

Looking Down 

To drive home the point of God’s unimaginable concern for his children, Jesus next tells us to look down, turning from his high-flying avian creations to the humble grass beneath our feet. Jesus points out how our heavenly Father provides wildflowers to decorate the ground more beautifully than Solomon in all his glory. (Matthew 6:28-30) As this simple yet profound act demonstrates, God’s provision is extravagant, promiscuous, sovereign, unasked for, and free. God is not a miser seeking to hoard his goodness. It is in his very nature to share his best, to hold nothing back. 

No wonder Jesus exclaims a rhetorical question, “But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28) Such grace, illuminated for us by creation, calls for awe-filled expressions of worship, as when David blurted out in sheer wonder: 

When I consider your heavens, 
   the work of your fingers, 
   the moon and the stars, 
   which you have set in place, 

what is man that you are mindful of him, 
   the son of man that you care for him? 

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings 
   and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:3-5)

Meditating on these facts should bring great assurance. Even if we don’t receive everything we want, we will get everything we truly need—God himself. “What, then, shall we say in response to this?” Paul asked, reflecting on God’s plan of salvation. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Persistent Anxiety 

That should be the end of the matter, but it isn’t. Over and over the Bible tells people who should know better not to be anxious. 

• “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)

• “Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.'” (Isaiah 35:4)

• “He [who trusts the Lord] is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8)

• “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

• “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” (Matthew 10:19)

• “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

But we naturally turn to worry rather than to God. Why? Yes, there is much to legitimately fear in this sin-scarred world in which the devil is constantly on the prowl. The night we sent one of our sons on his first overnight church camping trip, a late-spring tornado ripped through a Boy Scout camp in the next state and killed four young men and injured dozens more. You can be sure I regularly checked the weather reports. Our son returned home on schedule, but this did not lessen our grief for the parents of the boys who didn’t—or our protective parental instinct. 

I must confess that, whether for reasons of history, genetics, or choice, anxiety is my natural default mode. Much as I try to project an image of quiet confidence, a lot of my inner life is characterized by fear. I get anxious about how I will look. I fear heights. I’m afraid I won’t be able to meet a particular challenge. I even get anxious when writing a chapter about anxiety! And I suspect I’m not all that different from most people. Partly, anxiety represents a perfectly natural response to perceived threats. The fight-or-flight response to danger is deeply imprinted on our humanity. And let’s face it: those who live without fear often find themselves without their health or their lives. Living without due concern for the consequences of your actions will buy you a quick ticket to the hospital or cemetery. That’s why so many teens die from alcohol overdoses or reckless driving: they believe (wrongly) that they are invincible. The anxious person, however, sees himself as completely vincible, as it were. 

And Jesus, far from denying the frailty and danger of the human condition, affirms it. Not only that, he takes it upon himself, day by day, month by month, year by year. He takes it upon himself and gets mockery, slander, arrest, torture, and death for his trouble. As we saw in the introduction to this book, Jesus has the serenity amid life’s storms that only trust in one’s heavenly Father can bring. 

And when [Jesus] got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:23-27)

Jesus’s question remains: why are we afraid, O we of little faith? If he can rebuke the winds and the sea, what is there to fear? The answer: absolutely nothing. Think about it.

Excerpted from:

All That Jesus Asks by Stan Guthrie
Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Copyright 2010

Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.

The whole goal of a Titus 2 woman is to train younger women in Biblical, simple-to-measure, Spirit-empowered, love-based living.

Paul did not call for Titus as the pastor to train all the women in these qualities God wanted them to cultivate; rather he called upon the godly older women of Christ’s church. He singles out the women of faith, those who had already learned to love their husbands, learned to love their children, and learned to be reverent, godly, modest and wise–and charged them with seeking out and meeting with every younger woman in the church.

The older women are to have mastered all the criteria and the younger women are trained in the last seven.

1. Living as a Priest for God – verse 3 “the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior” 

First the godly character of the older woman in the faith is profiled. Without a reverent lifestyle behaving like a living sacrifice, dedicated to God–none of the rest even matter. That is why Paul starts here first!

Paul first draws a word from the Roman world to capture the entire bearing of these godly role model women in Christ’s church. The Greek word translated “reverent” is used only here in the Bible, and it conveys the idea of priest-like. That word for ‘acting as a representative of a god’ is the word Paul uses to describe the devout and godly character of the Titus 2woman. Older women are to live like holy priests serving in the presence of God. Their sacred personal devotion to the Lord has slowly come to influence every aspect of their lives.

Godly older woman have simply taken Romans 12:1-21 Corinthians 6:19-20; and Galatians 2:20 seriously.

Bodies presented as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, not conformed to this world,but with transformed and renewed minds, in bodies that are temples of the Holy Spirit glorifying God in your body and spirit, which are God’s; no longer living for me, but Christ living through me.

They have presented themselves to the Lord, they have begun to live life the way God asked them to live–as a walking temple of God, as a consecrated priest of God, as a living sacrifice, and as a bondservant of the Lord.

Godly women Living as a Priest for God;

2. Guarded Tongues – verse 3 “not slanderers” 

Next Paul turns the spotlight on the hardest member of the body to control, according to James–the tongue. Twice in his epistles Paul targets a woman’s habits of their speech, saying it is a spiritual qualifier or disqualifier. Though this is a universal problem we all face, Paul specifically says to women who want to serve Christ’s church–guard those tongues. 1 Timothy 3:11 “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkersbut temperate and trustworthy in everything” (NIV).

James 3:2-6 tells us that a tongue out of control, indicates a life out of control; and both can cause much destruction. James goes on to note that the source of all wickedness, especially of an uncontrolled tongue is hell; and it is Satan who is at the root of all gossip, all harmful talk, and all slander. If you are damaging the reputation and ministry of others you are a tool of the devil.

In fact the word “slanderers” here in Titus 2:3 is diabolos, the very name of Satan used of him 34 times in the New Testament. Satan has been a false accuser and so each time he incites a believer to do so they are doing Satan’s work. Satan is the ultimate source of all evil, the root of all wrong behavior; and since James says the tongue is capable of causing great evil, Satan is always close at hand.

Godly Titus 2 women never are to surrender their tongues to the devil.

They are prompted by the Holy Spirit to make sure that what they say is absolutely true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report before they say it–lest they discredit their ministry effectiveness as a godly Titus 2woman.

One common type of talk that hurts is called gossip and comes in many forms that all of us, and especially those who earnestly seek to be aTitus 2 man or woman should always avoid: malicious talk, rationalized gossip/talk, and “innocent” gossip. This usually starts with proper motives and desires but gets off course with unwise sharing of sensitive information, then curiosity sets in and soon the conversation is far beyond the problem and the solution and has become malicious, slanderous, harmful gossip.

So what should we avoid? Never use our mouth in an unregenerated way! What should we do? Tame our tongue by the Holy Spirit as His Word richly dwells and permeates all our lives. Why not like David, make some plans now to change our usage of our tongues?

Here are three great ways to change:

  • Think first: before starting to say something pause a few seconds and ask are these words–true or false; exaggerated or accurate; healing or cutting; grateful or complaining?
  • Talk less: it is a biblical fact that the less you talk the wiser you appear. Plan, prepare, concentrate and enrich each opportunity to speak. Make each a time to speak as 1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.
  • Start now: like David, ask God to fit you for a word retainer, get braces put on that tongue. Don’t waste your greatest tool.

Godly women Living as a Priest for God; with Guarded Tongues.

3. No Excesses – verses 3 “not given to much wine” 

The third godly characteristic Paul focuses upon is the self-controlled, moderation that is to characterize women of every age in Christ’s church. Godly women are Spirit-controlled in every part of their life. They resist excess in any area of daily life. They are not slaves to any substance, slaves to any amusement, any fashion, or any attitude that does not please their Master in Heaven.

Most women in the early church were formerly pagans. Drunkenness was the norm for many women in that society. Drinking was the best way to forget about the problems of being a “slave” to a pagan man who looked upon his wife as a convenience that bore him legitimate children and enhanced his reputation in the community. Because this life was all there is to a pagan, hopelessness led to drunkenness. Paul said that prior to salvation they all were “without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12).

Coming to Christ changed everything, but old habits are hard to break. The old ways of their husbands would come back, old pains from emotional and physical abuse would resurface, and the temptation to slip back to the intemperance of slavery to wine would grow strong. Lack of physical control of any appetite points to a spiritual immaturity. Both Timothy and Titus were told to beware of women returning to their old habits in this realm of drinking.

Today “not given to much” goes far beyond merely wine. There are so many forms of alcohol never imagined in the Biblical times that can be abused, plus drugs (both acceptable and unacceptable kinds) that can be abused, tobacco that can be abused,, wonderful varieties of food that can be abused, beautiful varieties of fashionable clothing that change with every season that can be abused, housing options, exercise options, recreation options–all that can be abused, and become addictions.

There is a generation of believers who have never tasted a drop of alcohol and pride themselves in that choice–while overeating with daily regularity; and both are condemned by God in Proverbs 23:19-21 side-by-side.

Because of Romans 14:15-211 Corinthians 8:9-13 we see that though the Bible never forbids wine drinking, our liberty is limited by the consciences of other believers and our testimony to the world. The lesson of temperance is consistency.

We must be as cautious of any intemperance; and “not be given to” too much of anything be it the use of money, the enjoyment of leisure, or the establishment of a house to live in. What ever we do is to be tempered by the glory of God. He must be the object and focus of all we do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. NKJV

Modern society has elevated fashion almost to the point of idolatry. Clothing stores, newspaper and magazine advertising, and television commercials are like giant billboards that continually proclaim, “We covet clothes.”

Expensive, often ostentatious, jewelry for both men and women is becoming more and more prevalent as a means to flaunt material prosperity and glorify self. We are continually goaded to put our bodies and apparel on parade”.

Godly women are Spirit-controlled in every part of their life. They resist excess in any area of daily life. They are not slaves to any substance, any amusement, any fashion, or any attitude that does not please their Master in Heaven.

Godly women Living as a Priest for God; with Guarded Tongues; and No Excesses. Godly women seek to be reverent in their behavior, careful in all their conversations, and never enslaved to anything but Christ.

4. Visible Integrity – verse 3 “teachers of good things”

The fourth type of godly behavior in Titus 2women is spiritual integrity–godly women live what they teach. They train others in the pattern they have learned. Their walk speaks louder than their talk.

Their life is daily placed under God’s control in all areas: their tongues, their appetites, and their habits. They do not overindulge themselves, they are not overweight-gluttons, they are not pleasure-hungry, and they are not malicious-talkers.

These godly older women were noble in everything and in the way they lived life they taught by their actions what is good!

Titus 2:3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. NIV

Paul always stressed preaching and teaching what he was already living. In his instructions to Timothy he said:

1 Timothy 4:16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. NASB

Titus was to encourage these older women to develop a ministry of teaching younger women what is good.

Younger women with children were to keep their primary focus at home (see Titus 2:4-5), but the older women would do well to reach outside their homes and share what they had learned with those who would profit from it most.

A godly woman teaches by her life what is good in God’s sight. She carefully chooses the “better part” as Mary did in contrast to Martha. Titus 2women see every area of their lives as an open book that should and does teach Christ’s gracious Lordship. They can say as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”. NKJV

And who is an older woman? Technically in this passage it was a woman who was past raising her children, some commentators even say the age of sixty as Paul does in the widows list of 1 Timothy 5. But in reality there is no chronological age given.

For every woman in this church there are some older and some younger. To those older, you are to look and see if they are an example of Christ–if they are, ask them to show you what they have learned and how they do it. For those who are younger, you are to seek to get into their lives and help them bring every area of their lives under the gracious Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Every young lady and woman in this church should have as their highest desire the goal of being first a Titus 2 student of some godly older-in-the-faith woman. And, the highest honor, the greatest goal in the life of every older woman in this church is to have the honor of being that older-woman-in-the-faith.

If you have children that is where you must start. If they are grown and gone–ask God to begin filling your lives with younger women into whom you can prayerfully pour the love and wisdom of Christ gleaned from His Word, and by your years of walking in the Spirit!

Every godly woman has the opportunity to teach the younger generation of women in the church. This instruction is to occur in informal settings, such as one on one, small groups, or women’s Bible studies. And this instruction is both by word and example. Many young women today were not raised under a biblical family model. That’s a challenge for the older women in the church.

Godly women seek to be reverent in their behavior, careful in all their conversations, never enslaved to anything but Christ, and teaching by example the way to follow Christ.

5. Earnest Mentors – verse 4 “that they admonish” 

This one word is variously rendered into 4 different English words by the top 4 versions: “teach” (KJV); “admonish” (NKJV); “train” (NIV); and “encourage” (NAS). The context and the word imply that this was to be a process of teaching, explaining, encouraging, training, and holding the young wives to a standard that was unfamiliar to them and yet vital for the success of their marriages and families.

One of the strongest forces for spiritual ministry in the local church lies with the older believers. Those who are retired have time for service. It is vital that we mobilize and use these important people. In my own thirty years of pastoral ministry, I have been constantly helped and encouraged by godly, older saints who knew how to pray, how to teach God’s Word, visit, troubleshoot, and help edify Christ’s church.

In teaching what is good they “encourage the young women” (Titus 2:4). This opening phrase of Titus 2:4 “that they admonish” is one Greek word in Paul’s letter, the word is sophronizo and means, “to train someone in self-control, restore to senses, admonish and exhort earnestly.”

You will note the similarity of this form to characteristics of elders, “prudent” (1 Timothy 3:2), and older men, “sensible” (Titus 2:2). Older women are to train the younger women to learn the art of self-restraint. This training process requires that you older women be committed to being responsible, confrontive, and affirming in an ongoing relationship with a younger woman.

The first four spiritual qualities are all present to make this quality work. God wants a godly woman whose life speaks louder than her words. A woman whose character is noticed and prompts other women to examine their own lives and seek to emulate her joy, her peace, her walk in the Spirit in evident and practical ways. The Titus 2 older-woman-in-the-faith’s life is a pattern for others to use in shaping their own lives.

So the older-in-the-faith, godly women of the church were:

  • to behave like holy priestesses of the Almighty God,
  • showing restraint and discipline of appetites and words,
  • living what they speak so that the younger women want to learn from them how to live and please God in their lives and families.

So what was their very first lesson? Training younger women in loving their own husbands!

Godly women Living as a Priest for God; with Guarded Tongues; and No Excesses; with Visible Integrity; as Earnest Mentors of–

6. Wives who are their Husbands Best Friend – verse 4 “the young women to love their husbands” 

A Christian home in a pagan culture was a radically new thing.

Young women saved out of paganism needed to get accustomed to a whole new set of priorities and privileges; and those who had unsaved husbands would need special encouragement.

The Titus 2 models had the responsibility of training the younger women how to be successful wives, mothers, and housekeepers; and the younger women had the responsibility of listening and obeying.

Among the Bible-believing women of the first century there was a big challenge in “loving” their husbands. For various reasons and in various degrees those women found themselves with either minimal or no “feelings of love” for their husbands. Believing wives almost always want to obey the Lord, thus they submit and fulfill their responsibilities to their husbands–but often only dutifully and not lovingly. It’s not just that loving your husband is a virtue, Paul says that not loving him in a way that he can feel–is a sin!

In Paul’s day, men and women were saved out of a culture where romantic love usually did not exist in marriages. Wives were only seen as the trusted keepers of the home and bearers of the children. Emotional love, psychological needs, and sexual desires were satisfied outside of marriage by most husbands. The opportunities for illicit sex in the Roman world were endless. For most women this was in some ways a relief as they did not have to “perform” sexually on a regular basis for their husbands. But the emotional super-glue that the marital relationship produces was thus absent. Salvation stopped the immorality in most believing men’s lives back then–but salvation did not make them or their wives instantly close, intimate, and life-sharing friends and lovers.

Just as modern pre-marital moral laxity has scarred many young couples into a troubled, often superficial marital relationship, so were most of the marriages of the New Testament church. What was Paul’s Spirit-prompted answer? What was to be the way to solve the distant, detached, and constantly tempted husband daily buffeted with the overpowering allurements of the flagrantly immoral Roman culture?

Christ led Paul to deploy a legion of older-in-the-faith, godly women to go from house to house, become a close and trusted friend of those young wives–and train them in how to become their husbands best, closest, dearest, and most-intimate friends.

Physical or sexual love without romance is soon empty and meaningless; and as Solomon (who had a lot of experience) said, soon becomes “Like gravel in the mouth” (Proverbs 20:17). Paul knew that to protect those newly believing husbands and fathers from the tidal waves of temptation, they must have a vibrant, attractive, satisfying emotional and physical relationship with their wife. Husbands who are drawn to think about and wants to see their wife throughout a day away from home, are protected from attraction and distraction by a wicked world about them. Loving, caring, romantic wives are trained not born.

The key to understanding this bold new dimension of the early church’s training is in the word Paul uses for love. Every believer has already repeatedly been commanded to “love” with agape love which is an action. We are commanded to act in a loving way towards each other, our saved and unsaved friends, and even our enemies. This agape love is not a feeling, it is an action. Paul explains agape love in Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19 as a husbands acting towards his wife in the same self-sacrificial way as Jesus loves the church.

Women were also commanded to obediently submit respectfully to their own husbands (Ephesians 5:22Colossians 3:18). Peter adds that they were to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit that was beautiful to God and of immense value in the marriage (1 Peter 3:4). This was the reciprocal relationship of a godly marriage on a behavioral level. The commanded attitudes and behavior of believers in marriage is the foundation and the formula for a Christian marriage. But soon it gets back to dutiful, obedient, often unemotional, and detached relationships. So Paul says that it was imperative to go further. Titus is given the key to flourishing marriages and homes–train the younger women in how to cultivate a loving friendship (phileo) with their husbands. This is emotional love.

Agape love is never used in the Bible to describe sexual love or responsibility because emotional love can’t be commanded. The beautiful, intoxicating love that God designed for marriages to have sexually is emotional and those emotions can’t be commanded. We can’t make someone feel a certain way; we can command them to “do” something but not “feel” a certain way. Genuine, Biblical, marital, sexual love is emotional intimacy in the highest degree. God commands willful, agape love; but the emotional phileo love of friendship and sexual intimacy can’t be commanded–it must be learned.

When the younger women saw how the older women loved, respected, admired, and were best friends with their husbands–they were drawn to see that close and intimate friendships with husbands were possible and very profitable for daily life. They learned how to encourage their own husband, how to build him up, how to surprise him with their affections, and how to cultivate a life-long growing and deepening friendship.

“Younger women” refers to those women who are able to bear children or are still rearing children. Since women can bear children well into their forties and the main duties of raising a child last for about twenty years, a woman under sixty could be considered young in the biblical sense (1 Timothy 5:9).

What qualities ought to characterize her life? Love Their Husbands: One word in the Greek text, philandrois, is translated “love their husbands.” Paul used the same terms to describe godly widows (1 Timothy 5:9). It means to be a woman totally devoted to one’s husband. Some women say that their husbands are no longer lovable; but having that attitude is disobedience to the clear Word of God. To help your attitude, keep in mind that loving your husband doesn’t mean you’ll always feel the rush of emotion that characterized your love at the beginning of your relationship. Marriage is a contented commitment that goes beyond feelings to a devotedness–to a level of friendship that is deep and satisfying. If you don’t love your husband, you need to train yourself to love him. Serve him kindly and graciously day by day and soon you will make such a great investment in him, you will say to yourself, I’ve put too much of myself into this guy not to love him! It is a sin to disobey this command.

The best way to fill a home with joy and peace is to have a husband and wife who are best friends–intimately, emotionally, and spiritually.

Experience the life changing power of the Gospel as both old and young women apply these principles to their relationships and interactions.

We learn from the opening verses of Romans that this letter is all about the gospel of God, which centers in his Son. It is the good news of God’s saving grace in Jesus for sinners like me and you. And that good news is all about God’s peace. Paul closes his introduction with this promise and blessing: “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7).

These words come to us as more than mere formalities. They declare life-giving hope to seize and believe. The apostle announces God’s stance—his posture of grace and peace toward us in Christ. Just as the words “loved” and “saints” point back to the designation of God’s people in the Hebrew Scriptures, so this promise of peace calls to mind the great Hebrew word shalom and the Old Testament vision of peace, fulfilled in Romans in the person and work of Jesus. It is no wonder that the formal worship liturgy in some Reformed churches frequently begins with an opening salutation, a word of greeting from God through the minister, often taken from texts like Romans 1:7.

Probably the most famous shalom prayer-promise comes from Numbers 6:24-26, the benediction assigned for Aaron and his sons to proclaim to God’s people.

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

This peace is more than the absence of war and strife. It is the positive presence of harmony, salvation, joy, blessing, and reconciliation—“the state of perfect well-being created by God’s eschatological intervention and enjoyed by the righteous.” [Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 139.] In the context of Romans, it is the reconciliation of believing Jews and believing Gentiles both with God and with each other—both vertical and horizontal. We taste it now whenever we enjoy the fruits of repentance, confession, and forgiveness with each other. One day we will experience it fully.

Who will experience this final peace? Only those who belong to God. The apostle both promises and warns, “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 1:9-11). Whether Jew or Gentile, the one who knows and follows the Redeemer God will treasure God’s saving gift of shalom. On the other hand, the unbeliever who rejects God’s “way of peace” (Romans 3:17) will only reap God’s judgment.

How does someone gain God’s peace? Romans 5:1-2 replies, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” In this compact summary of gospel blessing, Paul tells us (1) that we now have peace with God; (2) that this peace is built on our justification through faith, God’s grace-work of declaring us righteous in Christ; and (3) that this peace produces deep joy. As hymn writer Francis J. Van Alstyne (1820–1915) exclaimed,

The vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Similar themes emerge in Ephesians 2:11-18, where Christ and his cross form the centerpiece of our peace.

What does this gospel assurance have to do with pursuing peace in our relationships? Everything. It fills us with joy, power, and confidence as we gratefully obey God in our relationships. It provides a model of grace to convey to others. And it reassures us that, even if the other people don’t respond in kind, our relationship with the most important and ultimate Person in the universe remains secure. Thanks be to God for Jesus our Lord!

The saving work of God in the Christian, however, does not merely consist of a right standing with God. In salvation God has done something not only for us, but also in us. Our Christian growth—sanctification in its past, present, and future aspects—began with a decisive act by God of severing the spinal cord of sin and making us new people who are now inclined to love and obey him. The apostle Paul describes this internal transformation: “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Romans 8:6-8). The sinful mind is hostile to God, but the saved mind—the mind captured and controlled by the Holy Spirit—reflects the very life and peace of God’s Spirit, albeit imperfectly.

Isaiah pictures a similar reality with a vivid metaphor in Isaiah 57:18-21 concerning God’s own promise to restore his people.

“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will guide him and restore comfort to him,
creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
says the Lord.3 “And I will heal them.”
But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
which cannot rest,
whose waves cast up mire and mud.
“There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

In other words—to join Isaiah and Paul—death marks the unbeliever; life and peace mark the believer.

Relational Peace with Others

The twin gifts of God’s reconciling peace through Christ’s cross and God’s inner peace through his Spirit lead to the third peace blessing, namely, relational peace with others. In one of the Bible’s most realistic texts concerning human relationships, Romans 12:18exhorts us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

We find a fourfold call in this passage and its context. First, we must pursue peace as our Christian duty. The apostle commands us to live at peace. To fail to seek peace with people is to disobey God. We have no option.

Second, we must pursue peace with everyone. The peacemaking charge in this text is comprehensive; we must address all of our relationships. Our Lord does not permit us to ignore even one relationship or dismiss any individual. As the apostle declares in Acts 24:16, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” While this “with everyone” standard is admittedly high, God’s power makes his commands less daunting.

Third, as we actively pursue peace, the apostle urges us to leave the results to God. “If it is possible,” Paul reminds us, we should live at peace. He acknowledges that a peaceful result may not be possible; we have no guarantee that the other person will follow God’s peacemaking plan. As the old saying goes, “It takes two to tango.”

Fourth, keeping in mind the larger context, we must pursue peace in light of God’s mercy toward us in Christ. The entire twelfth chapter of Romans flows from God’s saving grace expounded in detail in Romans 1–11. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). In other words, we must apply Romans 12:18 against the backdrop of Romans 12:1-2 and the preceding eleven chapters. Peacemaking is but one way we offer ourselves to God in sacrificial worship, and that obedience, like every other command in Romans 12, arises from the gospel of God’s mercy in Christ.


Taken from Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts by Robert D. Jones. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.


With the current tide on christly living, we can categorically tell you that no one can survive it with a well grounded Prayer life. Therefore it has become necessary to deal extensively with Prayer wholistically. Knowledge is power and Prayer is More Power. Putting both together will make a dynamic Explosive Power-packed life. Using Daniel in the Bible as a measuring stick, we will try to pinpoint areas and perspective of an effective and fervent prayer life. Therefore, Let’s  just dive into it already 

1. Position yourself for prayer by reading Scripture first.

“In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years” (v. 2).

2. Follow Scripture’s lead toward what you should pray for. (If prayer’s the train, make Scripture the rails.)

“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition…” (v. 3)

3. Pray humbly, recognizing your utter unworthiness before an all-holy God.

“…prayer and petition in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” (v. 3)

4. Begin by praising God for His attributes, His greatness and faithfulness. Let God’s character provide the context for prayer, so He’s the center of gravity, not you.

“I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: ‘O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands…’“ (v. 4)

5. Confess your sins, taking full responsibility, without rationalization, spin or self-exemption.

“We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.” (v. 5–6)

6. Permeate prayer with affirmations of God’s amazing grace and your profound gratitude—never asking for what you deserve, but thanking Him that He’s given you infinitely better than you deserve.

“Lord, you are righteous but we are covered with shame…you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you…we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled; we have not obeyed…. All Israel has transgressed your Law and turned away, refusing to obey you.” (v. 7–11a)

7. Before bringing your requests, repeatedly affirm God’s worthiness and your unworthiness—never forget who you are, and Who you’re talking to.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the law of Moses…have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you! You have fulfilled the words spoken…by bringing upon us great disaster…just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us.” (v. 11b–12a)

8. Never blame God for sin, its consequences or for life’s hardships.

“Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the LORD is righteous in everything; yet we have not obeyed him.” (v. 12b–14)

9. Make requests in light of God’s past acts of faithfulness. Rehearse those acts to God, as demonstrated in Scripture, history, and your own personal and family life.

“Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned and done wrong. O Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem…” (v. 15–16)

10. Pray for God’s sake, His glory, and His reputation, reminding yourself it’s all about Him, not you.

“Our sins and the iniquities of our fathers have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. …O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” (v. 17–19)

11. Pray with a heartfelt recognition of God’s undeserved grace on behalf of you and others.

“We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” (v.18)

12. God hears our prayers and starts responding to them (when we pray with Daniel’s attitude and perspective) before we can see results, and even when we can’t see results at all.

“While I was still in prayer Gabriel the man came to me in swift flight. “I have come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given…which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed.” (v. 21–23)

13. God deploys angels on missions in response to humble, biblically-based, God-centered prayers.

“I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks…I looked and there was a man… ‘I have been sent to you’ …. Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.’“ (10:12)

14. Prayer mobilizes righteous angels, who engage in intense turf warfare against fallen angels, with kingdom claims at stake. Answers to prayer may be hastened or delayed as a result of this warfare.

“But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come [in response to prayer, having been immediately dispatched, but delayed three weeks in warfare]…. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the King of Persia…. Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come…. No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince….” (10:13–14, 20–21)

Conclusions

1. Prayer isn’t passive, it’s active. It’s really doing something. Prayer isn’t the least we can do, it’s the most.

2. Prayer is supernatural. It’s reaching out of the visible world into the unseen world, and tapping into powers beyond this dimension. (Prayer picks fights with demons—and empowers righteous angels to win those fights.) “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

3. Prayer is never secondary, it’s always primary. It’s not the last recourse, when options run out, it’s the first and best recourse. Prayer is the central work which causes all other work to bear fruit. (No prayer, no power.) “Therefore put on the whole armor of God…take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the gospel…. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly” (Eph. 6:13, 17, 18-20).

4. God’s greatest works, accomplished through prayer, are often invisible to us for now. (What’s visible to us, except in rare moments of clarity, are not God’s greatest works.)

5. We pray now in faith, believing our prayers are making an eternal difference; we anticipate heaven, where we’ll learn God’s breath-taking answers to our prayers, including many that seemed unheard and ignored.

6. There is no greater ministry, no higher calling, no better investment than prayer. (It’s not just right, it’s smart.)

7. Prayer is trusting God that He can accomplish more when I’m on my knees than I can accomplish on my feet.

by 

I don’t like to wait. No, let’s be completely forthright: I despise waiting. There is a certain highway in the city where I live that is notorious for traffic that is snarled for several hours on both sides of rush hour: I avoid it like cream of broccoli soup. Every Sunday morning, there are certain members of my family who move at the speed of a glacier in getting ready for worship, and I’m convinced they make less haste on the days I have to preach. They make me wait, and I don’t like it.

I realize that I am not alone in this. Fallen humans categorically do not like to wait. We want instant gratification. We want life’s knottiest dilemmas solved in a half hour or so. Why is it so hard for sons of Adam to wait? Conventional wisdom says doing absolutely nothing should be easy for us, but it is not.

Over the years, I have learned that waiting on the Lord one of the most potentially sanctifying (and necessary) aspects of the Christian life. It is one of those glorious “gospel paradoxes” that makes us say with the prophet, “O Lord, your ways are higher than our ways, your thoughts higher than our thoughts.” We pray in hope, and then we wait on the Lord to answer. A Christian man prays for a job so that he can provide for his family as God has commanded, and then he waits. A mother prays that God will draw her wayward son to himself unto salvation, and then she waits. We pray that God will make our future path clear, and we wait. We read Matthew 6:34 for a thousandth time for comfort.

The Puritans understood this reality well and developed something of a doctrine of waiting; they referred to it as being in “God’s school of waiting.” William Carey understood it well. He spent many years on the mission field before seeing his first convert. Of greater import, the inspired writers understood it well: Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

As difficult as it can be, waiting builds spiritual muscles in a unique manner. My sinful impatience notwithstanding, Isaiah makes this truth clear: “But they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” What a glorious promise! And yet, our discontented hearts find it difficult to wait.

Yet waiting on the Lord many good things for us. It:

1. Causes us to pray without ceasing. We are needy and He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is always faithful and the outcome of our waiting proves Him wholly true.

2. Instills in us a clearer understanding that we are creatures who are absolutely dependent upon our Creator. Though our sinful hearts crave omniscience and omnipotence, we possess neither, and waiting helps us to focus on that reality.

3. Increases our faith. After all, does not the writer of Hebrews define faith as “the conviction of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen?” (Heb. 11:1). We wait and God works.

4. Transfers the doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty from the speculative realm to the practical. In waiting, we actually experience God’s Lordship in an intimate way.

5. Grounds our future in a certain hope. This is Paul’s point in Romans 8:24–25“Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” A glorious by-product of this is that it instills patience, that most elusive of spiritual virtues, in us.

6. Reminds us that we live between the times.When Jesus returns, the not yet will collapse into the already, and there will be no more waiting for an answer to desperate prayers. The Kingdom will be consummated, and Jesus will set everything right. Until then, we pray and wait and are sanctified by God’s wise process.

7. Stamps eternity on our eyeballs. When we bring urgent petitions before the Lord, we wait with expectancy, and the city of man in which we live fades in importance, and we begin to realize that the city of God is primary. As Jonathan Edwards prayed, “O Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” Waiting helps to do that. It prioritizes the eternal over the temporal in accord with 2 Cor. 4:18, “…as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

I love God’s Word and delight in its truth. Yet too often I find that after reading my Bible or hearing a sermon, the truth, so necessary to the wellbeing of my soul, can too easily slip away. The truth that had for a moment captured my attention and my affections can quietly fade amid the clutter and noise of the day.

One of the best ways to remedy this is to practice the spiritual discipline of meditating on God’s Word. It is a discipline that takes time and intention, but one that brings great benefit to the soul. We need to carve out time to lay hold of the truth of God’s Word.

It is a bewildering paradox of our day that the Bible can be so accessible and yet so marginalized. On the one hand our technology has brought God’s Word close at hand. It’s on our phones and tablets and computers and iPods. We have almost immediate access to several versions of the Bible as well as a wealth of sermons and commentaries. But this same technology also threatens to distract us and drown out God’s Word. We have become a culture obsessed with noise and comfortable with clutter. So many sources are bringing input into our lives: TV, radio, online news feeds, Facebook, Twitter…. More than ever we need to make time to meditate, to dwell in God’s Word.

Meditation is pondering the Word in our hearts, preaching it to our own souls, and personally applying it to our own lives and circumstances. It is how we sanctify our thinking and bring it into submission to Christ—taking every thought captive. Paul tells us in Romans 12:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

[All Scripture references are ESV unless otherwise indicated.]

In Psalms 77 Asaph uses three verbs that capture the essence of meditation. When he finds himself perplexed and troubled and cries out to God, he determines to steady his soul by looking to God and laying hold of truth. He says in verses 11 and 12:

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
Yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
And meditate on your mighty deeds (Psalms 77:11-12).

Asaph uses 3 verbs in the Hebrew to describe what it means to lay hold of truth: He says: I will remember, I will ponder, and I will meditate.

He begins with remembering (zakar)—calling to mind “the deeds of the Lord” and His “wonders of old.” He intentionally takes note of truth and draws it back into his thinking. Asaph reflects on what God has accomplished for His people in the past—events and epics like the Exodus and Passover, the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, the conquest of the Promised Land. He makes an effort not to forget all the Lord has done.

David also speaks of remembering God:          

When I remember you upon my bed,
And meditate on you in the watches of the night (Psalms 63:6).

In Psalms 143, when David is overwhelmed with trouble, he uses the same three verbs as Asaph, beginning with “remember.”

remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands (Psalms 143:5).

We are a forgetful people and God would have us to remember. Meditation begins with remembering, bringing back into our minds the truths and praises and promises of God.

But, second, Asaph also uses a word that is translated in Psalms 77:12 “I ponder.”

I will ponder all your work,
And meditate on your mighty deeds (Psalms 77:12).

This is the verb hagah in the Hebrew. It is found in numerous places in the Old Testament and is translated as “ponder” or “meditate”:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And on his law he meditates day and night (Psalms 1:2).          

When I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night (Psalms 63:6).

In Psalms 2 it is used of the nations “plotting” against God.

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain? (Psalms 2:1)

The word literally means “to let resound.” It is used in Psalms 92:3 of the sound or tones of a musical instrument as it resonates.

On an instrument of ten strings,                
On the lute, And on the harp,
With harmonious [or resounding] sound(Psalms 92:3).

It is used also in Psalms 9:16.                                

The LORD is known by the judgment He executes;
The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.
Meditation. Selah  (Psalms 9:16).

It is not entirely clear if the use of the word here is a musical instruction for the musicians to play an interlude—letting the instruments resound—or if it is an instruction to the congregation—let this truth resound within yourselves.

We find the term also at the end of Psalms 19:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer (Psalms 19:14).

In other words: Let the inward tones of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord…

This is how we want the truth of Scripture to fill us and impact us—as we hear it and sing it and pray it—as Paul tells us in Colossians 3:16, let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly! Let it dwell in us in a way that resounds and reverberates in and through our lives.

We see another use of the word in Isaiah 31:4that helps us understand its intent. Isaiah uses the word in reference to a lion:

For thus the LORD said to me,
 “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey” (Isaiah 31:4)

The word for growl or roar is this word for meditation. Have you ever heard a lion when he roars? He does not just use his voice. His entire being reverberates. This is meditation. Letting God’s Word resound from within the very center of our being.

Meditation involves remembering, and resounding, but finally Asaph speaks of meditating.

I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds (Psalms 77:12).

This word siyach means to muse and wonder and dwell on—to think deeply about something. Used literally it means to murmur, mumble or talk to yourself.

In a negative sense it can mean “to complain.” It is the idea that something has so taken hold of your thinking that you can’t stop thinking about it. So on the negative side—it troubles you and disturbs you and draws out complaint; but on the positive side—it captivates you and enraptures your thinking so that you “dwell on” it. This is the way we want God’s truth to lay hold of us—so that we can’t but dwell on it, so that it captures our thinking and finds it way into our choices and decisions.

The Puritans thought of meditation this way as they described it as “preaching to yourself.” We take the Word of God that we hear and read, and we mull it over in our minds and then bring it to bear upon our lives in personal exhortations.

It is a word that is found often in the Old Testament, especially in the psalms.

May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD (Psalms 104:34).          

I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways (Psalms 119:15).          

Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day (Psalms 119:97).

When we meditate we think about God’s Word. We dwell on it and then as opportunities arise, we preach it to ourselves. We inject it into our thoughts as we make decisions, as we admonish and instruct our souls to choose right things and walk down right paths.

This is the essence of meditation. It is evoking the truth, embracing it and embedding it in our lives. It is intentionally focusing on recalling God’s truth that it might resound in our hearts and become that grid through which we sift and measure our thoughts and actions.

Meditation is a crucial Christian discipline and a vital means of grace that we must treasure and practice. But it is a discipline that takes time and effort. Accessibility can never beat intentionality. Don’t assume that having God’s Word close at hand means you have it close at heart. Carve out time in your day to remember, time to ponder, time to preach to yourself. The world around us can too easily choke out what is needful and good for our souls. Don’t allow God’s truth to slip away from you. Be intentional and diligent and your meditation.

Founders Ministries Blog

by Ken Puls


Fellow Nigerians:

Happy 2018 once again. This year promises to be an unusual one and a turning point in the history of our nation. In conveying my optimistic salutations, I am not unmindful of the unpleasant circumstances that characterised the turn of the year, including the fact that the first “Merry Christmas” uttered by many Nigerians was to their fellow compatriots in fuel queues at petrol stations. I am also saddened by the terror attacks on places of worship during the festive season. My heartfelt condolences go to the families and communities in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas in Benue State who began the year in grief because of the murderous activities of heartless criminals. I pray that they, and every hurting Nigerian, will experience the comforting hand of God and find the fortitude to hope for a happy and joyous year in 2018.

Tomorrow, the fifteenth of January, is Armed Forces Remembrance Day; a day set aside to remember Nigeria’s fallen heroes, those who fought in the First and Second World Wars, as well as those who laid down their lives during the Nigerian Civil War to keep Nigeria one. I salute these heroes and every member of our Armed Forces still fighting in various missions in the world and, in particular, those in the theatre of the prolonged war against Boko Haram.

I am also mindful that tomorrow will mark fifty-two years since the shots were first fired that eventually destroyed the federal foundations upon which our union was originally constructed. We remember the fathers of our nation who lost their lives in the process, the likes of Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. We celebrate the legacies of these heroes past, together with those of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and we reaffirm that their labours shall never be in vain.

I stand here today as I have done in previous years to constructively examine the state of the nation, to evaluate our progress, to appraise our governmental systems and structures against the backdrop of our national purpose and promise, and to awaken leadership to the solemn call to dispense good governance. Very importantly, I stand today to prick the conscience of a nation that has turned the other eye in deliberate sinful silence of a conspiratorial magnitude while Nigerians are being murdered in various parts of the country by marauding herdsmen. I will proffer structural solutions to these and other challenges facing our nation in the course of this address, but first I will clarify issues arising from my public statements regarding my role in the future of our nation.

Setting the Record Straight

On the first day of the year, I shared twelve prophecies regarding the nature of the year 2018 as I had received from God. For instance, the tenth prophecy indicated that there will be an upsurge in the price of mineral resources as well as oil and gas in 2018. Barely had these statements been made when the price of oil topped $68 for the first time since 2015.[i]

However, the twelfth prophecy has become the theme of myriad speculative interpretations and enquiries. While it has brought excitement to some, it has brought anxiety to others. I have since been inundated with messages from politicians and journalists as well as friends and well-wishers seeking clarification or offering advice based on their understanding of those declarations.

I did say that, while waiting on God, the Spirit of God said to me:

“Politics is not over for you. There is still one thing left for you to do: Run for President…I will work it out Myself and make it happen in due course[ii].”

I went ahead to put this in context as I appealed for prayers. I hereby further clarify the twelfth prophecy with the following ten points:

  1. The declaration was not a presidential campaign announcement; it was an invitation to prayers sent out to fellow labourers initiated in our corporate destiny as nation builders;
  2. To the uninitiated, that declaration was news, but to my partners in destiny, to whom indeed the request for prayers was extended, my journey and trajectory in the call to nation building is well known. It began on April 10, 1967 when, as a thirteen-year-old, I saw myself in a vision discussing the future of the nation with two Nigerian leaders, General Yakubu Gowon and Chief Obafemi Awolowo. That vision changed my life; it sustained me as a teenager and propelled me into student politics at the University of Lagos as I ran for the post of Student Union President; it took me into active politics as I stood on the platform with the elders the day the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) was launched in Lagos; that vision shaped my uncompromising non-conformist value system in legal practice, business, ministry, and politics. The subject of the twelfth prophecy is therefore not new;
  3. Nowhere in that declaration did I mention running for election. It is, however, not surprising that politicians and the politically-minded have interpreted it as such. Their narrow interpretation reminds me of Joshua’s description of the sound from the Israeli camp while Moses was away on the mountain with God.[iii]Whereas the Israelites were making merry, to Joshua, a man of war, every sound from the camp was a sound of war. In like manner, every time the word “run” is used in a statement, the politician thinks of elections, while a statesman thinks of the next generation. I am, by God’s grace, a nation builder propelled by the dream of a New Nigeria and hopefully will become a statesman someday;
  4. I am indeed running, but not for elections; it is a race of destiny and the destination is certain. The certainty of this destination is reminiscent of the statement Jesus made before Pilate:

John 18:37 (NKJV): 37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

In like manner, to everyone asking what the twelfth prophecy actually means, my unequivocal response remains, “To this end was I born, and for this purpose I came into the world: To lead Nigeria into her prophetic destiny.” It will happen in due course, in God’s way, and in God’s time;

  1. Some may ask, “How then can it happen, if not by elections?” My simple response is that there are biblical precedents, including the stories of Joseph, David, Nehemiah and Daniel; there are also historical precedents, including the case of George Washington whose unanimous election was merely an endorsement, and Gerald Ford who, under the terms of the 25th Amendment, took the oath as Vice President on December 6, 1973, and, following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, was inaugurated as the 38th President of the United States on August 9, 1974, without a single election;
  2. Furthermore, as Jesus said when Nicodemus came to Him by night to make enquiries:

“…The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”[iv]

If God leads me to serve my nation by election into political office, I state boldly that I will accept it with all my heart. In the year 2011, when the opportunity came to be running mate to then General Muhammadu Buhari, God said to me, “You are walking on a path that I have mapped out for you.” In His wisdom, God knew that phase of His plan was not going to lead to election victory, but it was a crucial phase of His plan, and I dare say that the dress rehearsal was worth it. As God unfolds the next phase, my response to Him is simply, “Here I am. Send me.”[v];

  1. The important point to note is that it is my destiny to shepherd this nation into her prophetic destiny, and the time is at hand. The method by which God intends to do it is up to Him; I am neither flagging off an election campaign nor building political alliances. Like David, I will continue to shepherd God’s flock and, in His time and manner, I will shepherd the nation according to the integrity of my heart and the skillfulness of my hands[vi];
  2. For the cynics who query the authority and audacity by which I speak of my assignment to Nigeria, let me remind them of the statement by Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo before the High Court on September 11, 1963, just before he was sentenced to prison for treasonable felony:

“It is, therefore, with a brave heart, with confident hope, and with faith in my unalterable destiny, that I go from this twilight into the darkness, unshaken in my trust in the Providence of God that a glorious dawn will come on the morrow…I…will not die in prison…I am confident that the ideals of social justice and individual liberty which I hold dear will continue to be projected beyond the prison walls and bars until they are realized in our lifetime.”[vii]

History later justified these bold claims. Shortly after his release from prison, he became the Federal Commissioner for Finance and Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council in the Gowon administration (today’s equivalent of Vice President and Minister of Finance rolled into one). In this capacity, Chief Awolowo helped Nigeria prosecute the Civil War without borrowing a dime, to the extent that General Yakubu Gowon, in a tribute to Chief Awolowo, acknowledged that the late sage helped save Nigeria from breaking up[viii].  My question to the cynics is therefore: How did Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo know that he would not die in prison but would be released to serve Nigeria? If they cannot answer this question, then neither will I tell them by what authority I make these audacious declarations;

  1. Having established the fact that I am ready to follow God’s leading in the service of my nation, let me reiterate that what Nigeria needs now is not another election but a return to the drawing board to renegotiate our union. You will recall that, in 2015, I made a similar declaration in the message titled “The Gathering Storm and Avoidable Shipwreck: How to Avoid Catastrophic Euroclydon”[ix]. In that address, I called for restructuring when others were clamouring for elections. Three years later, the majority that was wrong has become the minority, and the minority that was right is becoming the majority, even as restructuring has become the buzzword in our nation;
  2. Finally, I am reminded of David’s response to his brothers’ spiteful cynicism when he accepted Goliath’s challenge. This is recorded for our learning in I Samuel 17:28 & 29 (NKJV):

28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?”

Fellow Nigerians, given the state of our nation, is there not a cause? Therefore, rather than waste time on cynical critics, we draw strength from the words our ears have heard:

The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying,
“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,
And as I have purposed, so it shall stand…”[x]

The State of the Nation

Some measure of progress has been made within the first thirty-one months of this administration[xi]. However, as was the case with previous administrations, the current government appears to be merely patching the cracks on the wall. This administration anchored its policy outlook on three main thrusts, including security, job creation through diversification, and anti-corruption, yet all around us are signs of retrogression.

As at June 2015, the unemployment rate was 8.2% of a labour force of 74 million[xii], meaning that about 6 million Nigerians were unemployed. By September 2017, despite such efforts as N-Power[xiii] and a range of policies aimed at improving enterprise development and facilitating job creation, the unemployment rate had risen to 18.8% of a labour force of 85.1 million[xiv], indicating that between 2015 and 2017, the number of unemployed Nigerians rose from about 6 million to almost 16 million.

On diversification, despite ongoing efforts, reports indicate that oil continues to significantly dominate Nigeria’s exports revenue[xv], leading to the shortfall in foreign currency in the first half of this administration[xvi]. In essence, we have been unable to export much beyond crude, as oil still accounts for over 90% of total exports revenue[xvii].

The ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption war is seen in the loss of crucial corruption cases[xviii]. For instance, in April 2017, the federal government lost four high profile corruption cases in ninety-six hours[xix].  These losses are in addition to bizarre developments such as the failure of the government to confirm a substantive Chairman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), despite the fact that the same political party controls both the executive and the legislature, not to mention the public showdown between EFCC and Department of State Services (DSS) officials[xx], or the opposition of the Director-General of the DSS to the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the EFCC[xxi].

Furthermore, nothing indicts the current government greater than its failure in one key performance area that ought to be its strength: security. Despite recent setbacks, we acknowledge the gains in the war against Boko Haram, but highly disturbing is the mayhem being continually unleashed by herdsmen on communities in different states across the country, including Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Kaduna, Enugu, Edo and Ogun States, leaving trails of weeping and wailing. The recent killings in Benue State are akin to the last straw that is set to break the camel’s back.

Herdsmen Attacks and the Deliberate Sinful Silence (DSS) of the Nigerian State

Not only has the government failed to stop these killings across the country, it has done so against the backdrop of conspiratorial silence, choosing rather to label such attacks “an issue of communal misunderstanding”, as the Inspector General of Police recently did in respect of the Benue attacks[xxii]; it has treated the menace with kid gloves even after the Global Terrorism Index 2015 described “militant” herdsmen as “the fourth most deadly group of 2014”[xxiii]. Worse still, some of these killings have reportedly been carried out in collusion with the military[xxiv].

Recently, the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government, Umar Bindir, justified the bearing of arms by the herdsmen[xxv] but failed to tell where the herdsmen get their guns from and with which government agency these guns are registered. Who authorised them to bear arms? Who gave them immunity against section 3 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act 1990[xxvi], which prescribes punishment for illegal possession of arms? Who monitors the use of these guns? Why have the relevant government agencies failed to act? In particular, why has the name Department of State Services (DSS) become synonymous with the phrase “Deliberate Sinful Silence” (DSS)? Or is it now the Department of Sinful Silence?

As expected, due to the incapacity of the states, not even the anti-grazing laws of states like Benue have succeeded in dealing with these issues. These one-sided and incomprehensive legislations by state governments that lack the constitutional powers to provide security for their people have yielded little or no results. Therefore, the federal government has become complicit for the following reasons:

  1. By not advancing and vigorously executing policies aimed at pre-empting or preventing these killings even with sufficient warnings: I am reminded of the open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari by a former Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada and Second Republic senator, Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher. Permit me to quote excerpts from that letter:

Your Excellency Mr. President…I am pained that you ignored my advice in my private memorandum to you dated 30th July 2016. I had warned you of the possibility of a horrendous genocide in Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, and Southern Adamawa States. I asked you to be proactive and stop the genocide that has been ongoing but which would burst out in the open and shock the world within 18 months. Your office replied my letter…thanking me “immensely” and giving me the assurances that the advice would be heeded…I regret to now inform you that it is seventeen months since my warning and prediction and your government did nothing to pre-empt or prevent the genocide.[xxvii]

  1. By failing to make it an issue of importance in national discourse: Despite the antecedents of the marauders, including the recent Adamawa incidents[xxviii], Mr. President, in his New Year address to the nation, did not consider the menace or the pain of victims of previous attacks worth a mention in his address[xxix];
  2. By failing to give victims a path to reconciliation and the hope of a united Nigeria: It has been reported, for instance, that as a result of the failure of government to act, there have been reprisal attacks on herdsmen[xxx], resulting in a vicious cycle of death and destruction;
  3. By rejecting the call to restructure our nation in order to bring lasting solutions to these and other signs of sectional discontent:

In his New Year address, Mr. President further alienated his government from the voice of reason in relation to the call to restructure Nigeria. In his words:
“…I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “Restructuring”…When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.”[xxxi]

I totally agree with Mr. President that we need process reforms; otherwise, we would not be appointing dead men to head parastatals[xxxii], but can process reforms replace foundational structural reforms? Never. Be that as it may, let no one confuse the genuine call to restructure the nation with the gimmicks of political opportunists who ride on the restructuring wave for their perceived advantage. Many of them talk the talk but neither walked the talk in the past nor will do so in the future.

Therefore, I say to those who have the power to take the decisions and actions necessary to end these atrocities, especially by restructuring the nation, but have failed to do so for political gains, that they are attempting to establish a city by iniquity and there are dire consequences. I am reminded of the word of the Lord in the Book of Habakkuk: “…For the stone will cry out from the wall, And the beam from the timbers will answer it. Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, Who establishes a city by iniquity!…”[xxxiii]

The current edifice of state has become a deathtrap. All around are cracks on the wall that originate from the structural foundations. Those cracks are dripping with blood and the stones in the wall are crying out. The stones are crying out from Benue State and every part of the country where herdsmen have slaughtered the innocent in unspeakably barbaric attacks while the government failed to act until there were yet more bodies in morgues. The stones are crying out in every state in the federation where workers’ salaries are unpaid and poverty prevails because states are nothing but institutional and constitutional vegetables on life support from Abuja. The stones are crying out because young men and women are leaving the shores of a country so rich yet so poor and are enslaved, prostituted and murdered in other lands. By maintaining the status quo, Nigeria has once again become a land filled with crimes of blood.

Therefore, since state legislation has proved inadequate and the federal government has failed to act, the cries of Nigerians have gone up to God as an appeal to a higher governmental order. The judgement that is written in Ezekiel 7:2327 (NKJV) is about to be executed: 23”‘Make a chain, For the land is filled with crimes of blood, And the city is full of violence.

24 Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles, And they will possess their houses; I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease, And their holy places shall be defiled.

25 Destruction comes; They will seek peace, but there shall be none.

26 Disaster will come upon disaster, And rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; But the law will perish from the priest, And counsel from the elders.

27‘The king will mourn, The prince will be clothed with desolation, And the hands of the common people will tremble. I will do to them according to their way, And according to what they deserve I will judge them; Then they shall know that I am the Lord!’”

The Nigerian state has a choice to make on the way forward to lasting peace and prosperity: It is either the path of divine judgment reminiscent of a Jehu revolution[xxxiv] or a choice to renegotiate our union through a pragmatic approach to restructuring the nation. I will devote the last part of this address to reiterating the latter option, hingeing it on an interesting statement made by Mr. President in his New Year address.

Of Impatience and the Expectations of Nigerians

First, I will read excerpts from the 2018 New Year address by Chinese President Xi Jinping that show the heart of a leader mindful of his people:
“Our GDP rose to the level of 80 trillion yuan (12.3 trillion US dollars). Over 13 million urban and rural jobs were created…1.35 billion people are covered by basic medical insurance. More than 10 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty…
…Our country’s great development has been achieved by the people, and its fruits should be shared by the people…
…officials at all levels must constantly hold in their hearts the interests and concerns of the people, and regard the benefit of the people as their highest career accomplishment. They must think for the people, respond to their needs, and work for the greater happiness of the people.”[xxxv]

By contrast, in his New Year address to Nigerians, President Buhari said:
“We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities…We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose.”[xxxvi]

Admittedly, this administration inherited a backlog of woes, including economic recession, an unfavourable external environment characterised by low crude oil prices, and a treasury emptied through corruption by previous administrations. Also, one cannot but agree with President Buhari on the long-term nature of the desired change. After all, China began its journey to economic transformation in 1978[xxxvii].

However, the fact remains that, over the years, Nigerians have been known to be resilient to a fault and to have low expectations of their governments, but if Nigerians are now getting impatient, it could be because they are beginning to realise that fast-paced growth is possible when we get the fundamentals right. In those fundamentals lie the solution to herdsmen attacks and our myriad economic and socio-political problems. It is a call to return to the foundations of our geopolitical structure; it is a call to renegotiate our union.

Facilitating Nigerias Economic Miracle: Revisiting the Pragmatic Approach to Restructuring

Nigeria’s past episodes of oil-induced growth have never been sustained, not even when we had a GDP growth of 33.7% in 2004[xxxviii] after oil prices rose in response to the American invasion of Iraq. However, as at 1963, when Nigeria had not yet discovered its oil, we had the opportunity to build a fast-paced but sustainably growing economy. At that time, the Nigerian economy had begun to grow at about the same growth rate[xxxix]by which Japan would later become the second largest economy in the world within two decades.[xl] By 1962, official reports indicated “a rapid rate of economic growth” across Nigeria[xli]. However, while Japan’s growth continued, ours was truncated by political recklessness and military intervention. This led to the abrogation of the regional federal structure that nurtured that growth.

Fellow Nigerians, this is why I stand on the God-inspired pathway to the New Nigeria which I call the Pragmatic Steps to Restructuring Nigeria[xlii]. I stand on this because it is a return to the winning formula, albeit improved upon and better suited. With this plan, Nigeria can leapfrog, within ten years, the phases of industrialisation to become a global industrial powerhouse comprised of six geo-economic zones.

With this plan, the North Central can optimise its mechanised agricultural potential and harness the Niger and the Benue not just for irrigation but also for hydroponic farming; it can become a centre of world class cattle ranching that will not just quell the menace of herdsmen attacks but also incubate allied opportunities such as meat, milk and leather processing and a range of fast moving consumer goods industries, powered by renewable energy. The zone can then transit to heavy industries, including steel manufacturing and auto-manufacturing, while also harnessing the rivers as inland waterways and tourist attractions.

Meanwhile, the North West can harness its vast arable land by deploying land-enhancing technologies for mechanised agriculture and cattle ranching, while also becoming Africa’s defence manufacturing hub. With this arrangement, the zone will then be provided sufficient competitive impetus to revive its historical potential as a central hub in Africa’s textile industry.

With this approach, the North East will have the opportunity to redefine its identity from being a hotbed of Boko Haram to becoming a hub for cattle ranching as well as pharmaceutical and construction industries, harnessing its unique concentration of mineral resources such as clay, limestone and gypsum.

With its new-found liberty to develop at its own pace, the South West can revive the vision of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The zone will not just resuscitate its vast industrial and agro-allied manufacturing potential; it can become a global centre for warehousing and distribution with its world-class sea and airports. Its intellectually aware cosmopolitan social class can become the catalysts of an African cultural renaissance that will facilitate the rise of new genres of creative and cultural industries. Meanwhile, within the zone, Lagos State can consolidate its position as the African hub of global finance.

The South South zone, with its vast oil and gas resources, currently sustains the nation’s expenditure. Nigeria owes this region the urgent activation of the pragmatic approach to restructuring. This approach will see the zone progressively obtain autonomy over these resources such that it can house a cluster of refineries and petrochemical industries. In addition, it can recover from its history of environmental degradation to harness its agro-allied industrial potential. It can also incubate a renewable energy cluster and become an African shipping hub.

The South East is home to a large population of vibrant entrepreneurs. In addition to potentially hosting a globally competitive agro-allied and energy industrial hub, it can, once again, break records in commerce and industry, and export to the world, innovation, enterprise, and an energetic human resource ready to convert opportunity anywhere in the world in the interests of our nation and continent.

With this approach, within ten years, from a near unitary structure comprising thirty-six states, these geo-economic zones can then evolve into six strong federating geopolitical zones and a Federal Capital Territory, roughly mirroring the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates.

Fellow Nigerians, another important season is upon us as a nation, as a people, and as custodians and protectors of our collective national heritage. A nation should indeed be more than just a mere geographical expression: it should be the sum total of all its peoples, joined together by shared history, values, culture and aspiration, fused into a national ethic and an ingrained sense of identity. Failure to embrace this wise option, brilliantly articulated with patriotic fervour in 1947 by the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his book, Path to Nigerian Freedom, is at the root of the unfortunate challenges we face today as a people. Indeed, there is nothing anyone, however cerebral or highly placed, can do against the truth, but for the truth[xliii].

Our founding fathers embraced the challenge of nationhood in their season by securing independence from the so-called colonial masters. Our military has played their role, good and bad, in shaping national direction for a considerable portion of our nationhood. The current political class has done its part by facilitating our return to civil rule.

Now, it is the turn of Nigerians: professionals, artisans, students, soldiers, policemen, para-military, academics, market women, drivers, youth, both the employed and the unemployed, as well as every Nigerian who is not an active beneficiary of the present disorder.

It is time for a DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION. The season for complaints and complacency is over. We must seize this opportune moment to translate our collective national disappointment into a uniquely Nigerian REBIRTH.

The current political class constitute far less than one percent of Nigeria’s voting population. To avoid engagement with the powers that have hijacked our collective patrimony is to surrender our national destiny without a fight. And as Cardinal John Onaiyekan said: “Every citizen must be involved in politics…Only people who are irresponsible will say they are not interested; even if you are not interested in politics, politics will be interested in you”[xliv].

Our fight to reclaim and renew Nigeria begins now. Registering and obtaining a valid voter’s card must now be a national priority. If the 2015 elections were critical to our national survival, the 2019 polls are pivotal to our country’s future development. If power truly belongs to the people, it is time for the silent majority to instigate REAL AND GENUINE CHANGE.

As I have declared on previous occasions, what is required to kick-start this process is the creation of a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring[xlv]. This commission is to be headed by a biblical Joseph-type national figure appointed to provide visionary leadership for the process with the support of six Zonal Commissioners. The visionary leadership will co-ordinate the implementation of master-plans for each of the six Geo-economic zones. It will evolve for the nation a strong anti-corruption-based national value system and stir up uncommon patriotic zeal among Nigerians. It will also attract various domestic and foreign investment packages and float a social impact bond to fund development. The requisite human capacity for the economic miracle will be provided not only by skilled Nigerians at home but also by many others based abroad through Diaspora for Development agreements guaranteed by goodwill and fuelled by uncommon patriotism.

To facilitate the process, the National Assembly will provide the requisite constitutional amendments within the ten years in addition to serving as a monitoring and evaluation clearing house. By the tenth year at the latest, the systems, values and structural underlay of the geo-economic transformation will be codified in a new constitutional arrangement whose preamble is the Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration[xlvi] adopted by the 2014 National Conference. The new constitution will be adopted by the Nigerian people through a referendum, such that it can genuinely lay claim to the prefix, “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…”

Conclusion

As a nation, we have an opportunity to rewrite our history and choose a more prosperous future. We can choose to continue to play the ostrich or we can decide to take up the gauntlet and face our national challenges squarely. Just as Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV):

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…”

Let it be known, however, that the New Nigeria is like a moving train that cannot be stopped, like a stone that will cause the wicked to stumble, and like a rock that will make them fall[xlvii]; and whoever falls on this stone will be broken, but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder[xlviii], and this nation will fulfill her destiny.

I have said my piece. He who has an ear to hear, let him hear: Nigeria will be saved, Nigeria will be changed, and Nigeria will be great in my lifetime. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare
Serving Overseer, The Latter Rain Assembly,
Convener, Save Nigeria Group (SNG)

 

References
1. Okoromadu, Festus. “Oil Price Rises Above $68, Highest Since 2015.” Leadership. January 5, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://leadership.ng/2018/01/05/oil-price-rises-68-highest-since-2015/

2. Bakare, ‘Tunde. “2018 Our Year of Good Success”, Video, 59:47, December 31, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2l91oFjXm5U/

3. Exodus 32:17 (NKJV)

4. John 3:8 (NKJV)

5. Isaiah 6:8 (NKJV)

6. Psalm 78:72 (NKJV)

[vii]Dawodu, Segun. “Obafemi Awolowo’s Allocutus.” Dawodu. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.dawodu.com/awolowo6.htm/

[viii]Ameh, Comrade Godwin. “How Awolowo saved Nigeria from breaking up during the civil war – Gowon.” Daily Post. March 7, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2017/03/07/awolowo-saved-nigeria-breaking-civil-war%E2%80%8E-gowon/

[ix]Bakare, ‘Tunde. “The Gathering Storm & Avoidable Shipwreck: How To Avoid Catastrophic Euroclydon.” Tunde Bakare. January 4, 2015. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://tundebakare.com/gathering-storm-avoidable-shipwreck-how-to-avoid-catastrophic-euroclydon/

[x]Isaiah 14:24 (NKJV)

11Adetayo, Olalekan. “Nigeria @ 57: Presidency releases Buhari’s 57 achievements.” Punch. September 30, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://punchng.com/nigeria57-presidency-releases-buharis-57-achievements/

[xii]Ugwuanyi, Sylvester. “Unemployment rate in Nigeria rises to 8.2%.” Daily Post. August 3, 2015. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2015/08/03/unemployment-rate-in-nigeria-rises-to-8-2/

13N-POWER. Accessed January 2018. http://www.npower.gov.ng/

[xiv]“Nigeria’s unemployment rate rises from 14.2% to 18.8%.” Vanguard. December 23, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/12/nigerias-unemployment-rate-rises-14-2-18-8/

[xv]“Nigeria facts and figures.” OPEC. Accessed January 12, 2018. http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/about_us/167.htm/

[xvi]Ohuocha, Chijioke, and Mayowa Oludare. “Nigeria considers foreign exchange reforms as dollar shortages bite.” Reuters. November 21, 2016. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/nigeria-currency-lawmaking/nigeria-considers-foreign-exchange-reforms-as-dollar-shortages-bite-idUSL8N1DM2Y0

17See 15

18“Why EFCC keeps losing corruption cases, by Agbakoba.” The Nation. September 3, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://thenationonlineng.net/efcc-keeps-losing-corruption-cases-agbakoba/

19Tijani, Mayowa. “Orubebe, Ademola, Patience…FG loses four cases in 96 hours.” The Cable. April 6, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.thecable.ng/orubebe-ademola-patience-fg-loses-four-cases-in-96-hours/

[xx]Akinkuotu, Eniola. “Drama as DSS operatives stop EFCC from arresting ex-DG.” Punch. November 22, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://punchng.com/drama-as-dss-operatives-stop-efcc-from-arresting-ex-dg/

[xxi]Oyedele, Damilola. “Senate: DSS Report on Magu Sent to AGF More Damning.” ThisDay. March 26, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/03/26/senate-dss-report-on-magu-sent-to-agf-more-damning/

22Wakili, Isiaka. “IGP meets Buhari, says Benue killings is “communal misunderstanding.”” Daily Trust. January 5, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/igp-meets-buhari-says-benue-killings-is-communal-misunderstanding.html/

23Institute for Economics and Peace. “Global Terrorism Index 2015.” Economics and Peace. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Global-Terrorism-Index-2015.pdf/

24See Agbakwuru, Johnbosco, and Marie-Therese Nanlong. “Uniform men lured us to be killed by herdsmen – Plateau attack survivor.” Vanguard. October 17, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/uniform-men-lured-us-killed-herdsmen-plateau-attack-survivor/ and “Tension in Edo as Fulani herdsmen rape, kill two women.” National Daily. May 23, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://nationaldailyng.com/tension-in-edo-as-fulani-herdsmen-rape-kill-two-women/

25Silas, Don. “Why Fulani herdsmen need to carry weapons – Adamawa SSG, Umar Bindri [VIDEO].” Daily Post. December 15, 2017. Accessed January 9. 2018 http://dailypost.ng/2017/12/15/fulani-herdsmen-need-carry-weapons-adamawa-ssg-umar-bindri-video/

26Law Nigeria. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://www.lawnigeria.com/LawsoftheFederation/ROBBERY-AND-FIREARMS-(SPECIAL-PROVISIONS)-ACT.html/

[xxvii]Ameh, Comrade Godwin. “’You betrayed Nigeria’s democracy, promoted genocide’ – Former senator bombs Buhari in open letter.” Daily Post. January 6, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2018/01/06/betrayed-nigerias-democracy-promoted-genocide-former-senator-bombs-buhari-open-letter/

28Silas, Don. “BREAKING: Suspected herdsmen attack villages in Adamawa.” Daily Post. December 4, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2017/12/04/breaking-suspected-herdsmen-attack-villages-adamawa/

29“Full text of Muhammadu Buhari’s 2018 New Year address.” Punch. January 1, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://punchng.com/full-text-muhammadu-buharis-2018-new-year-address/

30 Umar, Yusuf. “Silent killings of herdsmen ongoing in Adamawa, Fulani group alleges.” Vanguard. January 3, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/01/silent-killings-herdsmen-ongoing-adamawa-fulani-group-alleges/

31 See 29

32 Olowolagba, Fikayo. “Appointment of dead people: SERAP asks Buhari to withdraw appointments.” Daily Post. December 31, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2017/12/31/appointment-dead-people-serap-asks-buhari-withdraw-appointments/

33 Habakkuk 2:11-12 (NKJV)

34 II Kings 9 (NKJV)

35 “Full text of President Xi’s New Year address.” CGTN. December 31, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://news.cgtn.com/news/3063444d35637a6333566d54/share_p.html/

36 See 29

37 “Chinese economic reform.” Wikipedia. January 3, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_economic_reform/

38 “GDP by Country | Statistics from the World Bank, 1960 – 2016.” Nigeria Data Portal. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://nigeria.opendataforafrica.org/mhrzolg/gdp-by-country-statistics-from-the-world-bank-1960-2016?country=Nigeria/

39 ibid

40 “GDP by Country | Statistics from the World Bank, 1960 – 2016.” Nigeria Data Portal. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://nigeria.opendataforafrica.org/mhrzolg/gdp-by-country-statistics-from-the-world-bank-1960-2016?country=Japan/

41 Eastern Nigeria Development Plan, 1962-68. (Eastern Nigeria, Nigeria, Ministry of Economic Planning: Government Printer, 1962), i.

42 Bakare, ‘Tunde. “Pragmatic Steps Towards Restructuring Nigeria.” Tunde Bakare. October 1, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://tundebakare.com/pragmatic-steps-towards-restructuring-nigeria/

43 II Corinthians 13:8 (NKJV)

44 Odunsi, Wale. “Why every Nigerian should be a politician – Onaiyekan.” Daily Post. January 7, 2018. Accessed January 9, 2018. http://dailypost.ng/2018/01/07/every-nigerian-politician-onaiyekan/

45 See 42

46 “Download: Nigeria 2014 National Conference Report #NGConfab.” Premium Times. August 14, 2014. Accessed January 9, 2018. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/national-conference/download-nigeria-2014-national-conference-report-ngconfab-2/ (See pages 288 – 295)

47. Isaiah 8:14 (NIV)

48. Matthew 21:44 (NKJV)

BEING TEXT OF SPEECH BY PASTOR ‘TUNDE BAKARE AT THE STATE OF THE NATION BROADCAST ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2018.
VENUE: THE LATTER RAIN ASSEMBLY, END-TIME CHURCH, 4, AKILO ROAD, OFF OBA AKRAN AVENUE,
OGBA, IKEJA, LAGOS, NIGERIA.

THEMEIT IS TIME TO RENEGOTIATE OUR UNION

SCRIPTURAL TEXTS: JEREMIAH 8:20229:19.

Is Jesus God? If you answered with a quick, firm “yes,” read on. Recent polls show a whopping 96% of Americans believe in “God.” Obviously, considering the state of American Christianity, something doesn’t quite add up. Dare we assume that 96% of Americans believe in the Christian God? Do we all have the same “god” in mind when we confess faith?

Now think about the center of Christian apologetics: that Jesus Christ is God. Please don’t excommunicate me just yet, but if you were to ask me, “Is Jesus God?” I would respond with another question. “Which ‘god’ are we talking about?” Most evangelical Christians, when sharing the Gospel, assume that Jesus’ identity is in question, while God’s isn’t. In other words, we think everyone basically agrees with us about who God is, and so all we must do is simply proclaim Jesus’ divine link to Him.

Declaring the divinity of Jesus by stating matter-of-factly that He is God does not really resolve anything until we have painted the biblical picture of the true God. Yet in the past 200 years, fundamentalists and evangelicals have defended Christ’s divinity without stopping to consider how God’s identity is also under attack. Why? Liberal theologians have taught that Jesus was not divine and should not be worshipped as God in the flesh. Conservative Christians have rightly recoiled from such heresy, but while simply affirming Jesus’ deity might stifle the theologians, it provokes a “so what?” from the person on the street.

“Jesus is God” can’t be true until we get past all the other “gods” masquerading under the Christian “God” label. Muslims worship an impersonal, distant “god” (Allah, in Arabic), but is the Muslim-god the same as ours? Most Americans will line up to sing “God bless America.” Yet considering the Deist beliefs of several of our forefathers (and a growing segment of the population today), this Clockmaker-god does nothing more than put the clock together, wind it up, put it up on a shelf, and go about His business or back to His rocking chair. If the god that is in mind is one of these, saying “Jesus is God” is incorrect. Jesus definitely is not that god.

A Christian who knows his Bible and has a clear picture of God can be telling the truth when he says, “Jesus is God”, and at the same time, the person listening (perhaps with a Deist concept of god) may be hearing an outright lie. Jesus’ divinity is not the only issue at stake here; God’s very identity is under attack too.

Some readers might affirm that “Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” in order to eliminate many pluralistic gods. But where does that leave our Jewish friends, since they would easily affirm the same statement? You might say, “Jews and Christians share the same God! It’s just about Jesus that we don’t see eye to eye.” By saying this, Christians make a glaring misrepresentation of Yahweh – the Great I Am.

God is not God apart from Jesus. It is pointless to try to define the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob apart from Jesus Christ. That is the pluralistic problem plaguing so many Christian factions today. Since you can’t explain the Bible’s God without involving the Trinity, you can never fully explain how “Jesus is God” makes any sense at all.

Since Christians believe in a triune God – Yahweh in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we actually undermine the divinity of Christ by claiming that our God is the same as that of our Jewish friends. As Christians, we believe Jesus is so important that you can’t define God’s identity apart from Him.

So what’s the answer? What can help us get through some of the theological red tape and bring us to the point where we can once again make a firm statement for the Gospel?

Here’s the statement that I recommend you chew on a little bit: GOD IS JESUS. When you see Jesus, you are seeing God, not just because Jesus is God, but also because God is Jesus. Jesus is the One who shows us who God is and what God is like.

Of course, “God is Jesus” is a statement that has its own interesting theological snags. We can start heading backwards by asking, “Which Jesus is God?” since people don’t agree on Jesus’ identity either! Still, I believe we can more easily define Jesus’ identity and how it relates to God’s Person than we can trying to go the other way around.

So, looking ahead for the 21st century, how can we move forward in our Gospel proclamation? Let’s teach people who Jesus is; show them how Scripture describes Him; tell about His atoning sacrifice on the cross; proclaim Him as Lord. Then, utilizing the biblical portrait of Jesus, tell people, “That’s who God is. That’s what God is like! That’s God in human flesh.” You want to know God’s identity? Meet Jesus. God is Jesus.

Written by Trevin Wax. © Kingdom People Blog. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


I’ve been browsing through Randy Newman’s book, Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Your Family Members, Your Close Friends, and Others You Know WellThis is an incredibly important topic as I have come to find it harder to share the gospel with family members as it is with an unknown person in my community. I imagine this is true for most if not all Christians.

In the conclusion of his introductory chapter, Newman provides four steps for sharing the gospel with your family. I thought they were very thoughtful and practical. Check them out.

1.  If you don’t already have one, develop a system for prayer for your family. Perhaps you can set aside a section in a prayer journal.

2.  Begin your prayers for your family with thanksgiving. This may be more difficult for some people than others. Regardless of your family’s well-being, thank God for the family you have and all the accompanying benefits you can identify.

3.  You may need to include prayers of confession as well–confession of your lack of love for your family, your idolatry of control in trying to change them, your reliance on your ability to convict them of their sin instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to do that, your coldheartedness, haughtiness, and self-righteousness, etc. Ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light of truth on your darkness of sin.

4.  If you haven’t already done so, “come out of the closet” as a Christian to your family. Pray for gentle words and a gracious demeanor mixed with bold confidence. . . . Aim for your announcement to be informational rather than evangelistic. You can trust God to open evangelistic doors later.

#3 nailed me.

One thing I might add, especially if you have a large family: look for opportunities in the course of the day when it is not so hectic where you might be able to enjoy a sustained conversation with a family member who is not a Christian. In a large group setting, conversations tend to stay on a superficial level, but if you can get alone with one or two family members for 10-15 minutes or longer, you will have a greater opportunity of magnetizing the conversation to the gospel and how Jesus has changed, and is changing your life.