“For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).
Knowing when to say ‘no’, especially to loved ones, is an art which great leaders all through the ages have cultivated. Sometimes, they may keep silent or look for ways to avoid the question. Or like Nelson Mandela, they may say: “Let me think about it. ” But as Mandela’s biographer noted, “in the end, he will not tell you what you want to hear just because you want to hear it. “nKing Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, was not that smart. His descent into evil began in a casual way: he loved many women who were strangers to his God. Soon he married them, but at first resisted their idol worship. Then he began tolerating it, until it became so overwhelming around him that he got involved in it himself. He no longer saw anything bad in it nor remembered the clear command of God against idol worship. From then on, his heart became imperfect before God, as he engaged in more evil activities in the sight of thenLord. Solomon obtained promises from God, received answers to his prayers, and was guided by God for the most part. But his idolatrous practices spelt doom for his throne. His kingdom came to an ignominious end. He had become so corrupted that he had no interest in God any more. nWe must understand that God knows our strengths and weaknesses. It is usually through our weaknesses that temptations come. God’s commands, therefore, are meant to protect us from yielding to base instincts. We must protect ourselves too by following and applying thenWord in our lives always. We must never forget that it is good to start well with God, but it is best to allow Him lead us from start to finish.
“And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him” (Luke 5:13).
Some missionaries went to a certain part of India to reach the lost. Yet, a fetish man, steeped in the powers of Satan would not allow them. He threatened the missionaries hell should they carry on with their mandate. The missionaries resorted to prayers which conquered the Satan in him. One day, his wife developed a life threatening infirmity which simply refused to go, despite his evil incantations. He resorted to the same missionaries who thereafter prayed and she was instantly healed. Having tasted of God’s power, he repented and thereafter became a preacher himself. The leper in our text must have heard of the ministry of Jesus, for he knew He had power to heal him. However, he was not sure Jesus would be willing to touch him, probably because of his putrefying sores. He was ignorant of the intense love, mercy and compassion of the Lord. Being humbled by his hopeless situation, he pleaded and cried out to the Lord for help. The response from Christ is ever so reassuring. And of course, the leprosy couldn’t have remained for another second. His singular contact with Jesus was just enough to change the rest of his life for good. That same Jesus is still there for us today whenever we turn to Him for help in our distressed, helpless state. He will never turn away those who penitently come to Him though they are compassed about with seeming hopelessness. He is a compassionate and loving Friend. Are you going through any challenge? Remember, He feels your pain and He will always be there to help you out.
Haters Of God
– JOB 8:11-22
“They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought” (Job 8:22).There is a wise saying which states that, the Okro plant can never outgrow the planter. It may grow big and tall but the planter would always have a way of bending it low to harvest its seeds. God’s purpose for the creation of man is so that they should show forth His praises. Yet, He allows man the freedom to choose his actions with the admonition of eternal consequence. To choose life is to live in obedience to God’s word and commandment, living daily in absolute yieldedness to His will. This is the minimum requirement that guarantees man’s continual fellowship with his Creator. In the exercise of this freedom to choose his action, man often veers off the right path and perpetrate actions that alienate him from the Almighty. Man soon begins to think that the rush can grow without mire or the flag without water (Job8:11). To forget God is to behave as if He is not there. It is to be answerable or accountable to no one for our actions. How long can the branch abide without the tree? The paths of all who forget God and the hypocrites’ hope shall perish. The Scriptures affirm that the wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God. Let us, therefore, live our lives to the glory of Him who has created and given us this life, for it is only by so doing that we would not have received His precious grace in vain
Thought for the day: To hate God is to love death and hell.
Bible Reading in one Year: NEHEMIAH 1 – 4
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Key Verse: “The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God” (Deuteronomy 7:25).It is extremely difficult to imagine what society would have turned out to be without rules, regulations and laws to govern man’s behaviour and regulate interpersonal relationships. Israel had a taste of a lawless society, one without a leader, when everyone did that which was right in their sights. The Bible is replete with uncountable instances of God’s pronouncement of blessings upon the children of Israel, His chosen people. As should be expected of a Holy God, these blessings were usually predicated upon the people’s obedience to divine laws and commandments. But more often than not, the commandments were flagrantly disobeyed and discarded. Even then, the people would not go too far in disobedience before calamities of disastrous dimensions would befall them. Then they would remember their God and plead for forgiveness. The ever forgiving and long-suffering God would forgive them, but their promised steadfast walk with him would fizzle out like early morning vapour. Here, the God-chosen law giver, Moses warned them on what they were to keep away from, particularly those practices that amounted to abomination in God’s sight – gold and silver on the idols of the Canaanites, and their graven images. Christian believers must be careful not to allow the influences of the world – immorality, bribery corruption, murderous instincts, unforgiving spirit – to penetrate their homes and places of assembly. Our hearts should be stayed on God alone. Mercifully, He possesses all that pertain to life and godliness which we can always access through faith.
Thought for the day: Evil association corrupts good manners.
Bible Reading in one Year: EZRA 7 – 10
Key Verse: “Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard” (Nahum 2:13).
It is the irony of life that man born free himself, will subject another man through the force of arms to slavery and servitude. Ancient Assyria with its capital at Nineveh, for centuries, was a prosperous nation; a prosperity it earned through the wicked plundering of other nations it had conquered. Northern Israel had been conquered and Judah was severely threatened. Indeed, the atrocities of Assyria (possibly God’s instrument of chastisement against sinning and obviously incorrigible Israel) were enough reason for the world to tremble. Only divine intervention prevented the desecration of Jerusalem a few years later. Assyria was destroyed in 612 BC. This was the kernel of Nahum’s prophecy, that doom was about to descend upon the world’s great oppressor. And because God had decreed it, all attempts to defend it were in vain. Its cup of iniquities was overfull and God’s instrument of judgment, the flood, was unleashed. Prophet Nahum portrays the seriousness of sin in the sight of God. Though His mercy may cause Him to withhold judgment for a season, His hatred for sin, human wickedness and oppression will ultimately make punishment inevitable. How we need to, as Christian believers, warn the people about the truth of God’s judgment over sin and oppression. And we ourselves ought to live above reproach so that we do not court His wrath.
Key Verse: “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (Ezekiel 1:28).
God never calls anyone for a specific assignment without providing him with adequate tools with which to prosecute the task. Part of this tool may, in God’s wisdom and discretion, include the revelation of His glory to show His beauty, power, honour, presence, greatness and authority. The vision Prophet Ezekiel saw brought home some eternal facts: first, that God is omnipresent and therefore, He was present in Babylon as well as Jerusalem. This is a comforting lesson and relief. Second, that the glory of the Lord referred to God in all His fullness and uniqueness especially in His interaction with man. Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord as the appearance of fire together with its brightness round about. When he did, he said, “I fell upon my face”. This was his usual response whenever he was in the presence of God. This way, he demonstrated a reverential fear of God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth. This ought to be our lifestyle whenever we are in the presence of God. This is not necessarily about physical genuflection, but about humility, respect and honour to God from our hearts. We must be seen to have reverence for His Name, word and house, and not do anything capable of bringing dishonour to Him. Those who have believed in Christ must be careful to maintain good works so that His Name is not blasphemed. We should bow before the Majesty and worship Him in the beauty of His holiness.
Sunday July 31, 2016
Key Verse: “And it came to pass after this, that David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the LORD said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron” (2 Samuel 2:1).
All through the ages, people of God, through prayers, vision and meditation received answers from the Almighty. Those who in every circumstance sought the face of God were sufficiently guided on what to do and what to expect. One unique attribute of David in his relationship with the almighty God was the rare privilege of communicating with Him. The tribe of Judah publicly anointed David as their king. He was now to officially act as a king. We are to note that in his humility and modesty, he never mentioned to anyone that he had been previously anointed while Saul sought to kill him. He rather gave Saul the honour and respect as the king and God’s anointed. David was not one that would allow a good deed go unnoticed. He sent and thanked the men of Jabesh-gilead for the honour done to Saul and his sons’ bodies in giving them proper burial, regardless of the attendant risk. They too of Jabesh-gilead showed appreciation for Saul’s defense of their city against the invading Amorites. One good turn, it is said, deserves another. We ought to, before moving ahead to do that which clearly seems obvious, take it to God in prayers for His direction and guidance. He only knows the proper timing of all our engagements. Never attempt to go ahead of God’s timing; do not walk behind afar off either. Pray today for a closer walk with Him through a life that is wholly controlled by His Spirit.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 TIMOTHY 1 – 4
Vision Of God’s Glory
“As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (Ezekiel 1:28).God never calls anyone for a specific assignment without providing him with adequate tools with which to prosecute the task. Part of this tool may, in God’s wisdom and discretion, include the revelation of His glory to show His beauty, power, honour, presence, greatness and authority. The vision Prophet Ezekiel saw brought home some eternal facts: first, that God is omnipresent and therefore, He was present in Babylon as well as Jerusalem. This is a comforting lesson and relief. Second, that the glory of the Lord referred to God in all His fullness and uniqueness especially in His interaction with man. Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord as the appearance of fire together with its brightness round about. When he did, he said, “I fell upon my face”. This was his usual response whenever he was in the presence of God. This way, he demonstrated a reverential fear of God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth. This ought to be our lifestyle whenever we are in the presence of God. This is not necessarily about physical genuflection, but about humility, respect and honour to God from our hearts. We must be seen to have reverence for His Name, word and house, and not do anything capable of bringing dishonour to Him. Those who have believed in Christ must be careful to maintain good works so that His Name is not blasphemed. We should bow before the Majesty and worship Him in the beauty of His holiness.
Thought for the day: To fully swell in God’s presence is to reflect His glory.
Bible Reading in one Year: EZRA 1 – 3
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Saturday, July 30, 2016
Saul was chosen by the Lord to be king over Israel and as long as he remained obedient to God’s commandments, the kingdom prospered as Israel defeated his enemies. However, immediately after he went into disobedience and feared man more than God, he lost God’s favour, guidance and protection. A young man after God’s heart was about to succeed him. David had been anointed king in Hebron over the two tribes of Judah. Now the time was ripe to anoint him king over the other 10 tribes which had been under the rulership of King Saul. All the men of war numbering over 300, 000 gathered with only one purpose, to make David king. Even the Levites who ought not to be drafted as they were exempted from military service, also volunteered to fight in David’s army. People are often drawn to a great cause. The brave and the determined stand out for the attainment of set objectives. The salvation of lost mankind is by far a greater cause; and as believers, we must be brave, determined and faithful to engage in this task. We should not be unmindful of God’s purpose of sending His only Son Jesus Christ to die for the sins of the world. Spiritual blindness caused Israel’s inability to know this. God is about fulfilling His purpose for the church and we need to be awake and be of one heart.
Key Verse:“And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5).
It is said that “if you try and don’t succeed try and try again”. However, it seems people make their best effort at their first attempt at a task. As soon as failure becomes a chronic cycle, the law of diminishing returns sets in, subsequent efforts decrease in intensity till all hope of success is lost. Peter had gone on fishing with James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They had masterfully spread their net hoping for a good catch. They had probably laid out their plan of how to utilize the proceeds from their sale. But they were disappointed. Jesus gently advised Peter to “launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught”. The result was tremendously unbelievable, as the multitude of fishes nearly broke the net. Seeing the miracle, Peter suddenly realized his insignificance in comparison to Christ’s greatness and humility. He had seen Jesus perform miracles of healing and deliverance and a question was probably playing out in his mind, ‘Could Jesus care also about my personal and domestic day-to-day needs?’ Overwhelmed by the miracle, Peter realized his sinfulness and acknowledged same before the Lord. The prompt obedience of Peter resulted in the astonishing miracle. And this was the gateway to the Great Commission. “Henceforth thou shalt catch men”. If only we can say, like Peter ‘Master, at thy word’, what a great success we would make of our soul-winning effort, if only we could go as Christ has commanded. Let us go without fear, Jesus will take care of our needs.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 THESSALONIANS 1 – 3
“Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them” (Esther 9:24).
On 1 October, 1946, after 216 court sessions, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg delivered its verdicts sentencing the leaders of the Nazi party to death by hanging. Julius Streicher, a notorious Nazi in the movement’s early history, and publisher of the anti-Semitic newspaper “Das Strummer”, set up to publish his vitriolic attacks on Jews, was one of those to face the gallows. Before his execution, he suddenly screamed, ‘Purim Fest 1946′ to acknowledge his defeat as an enemy of the Jews. Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the spring, commemorating the execution of Haman, ancient persecutor of the Jews described in the book of Esther. Haman also died by hanging. From our text, Purim was a day to remember, but not for the reason Haman had thought. That great day, March 7, 473 B. C. , established a festival that the Jews celebrate today. Purim is from the Hebrew word “lots” because Haman cast lots to determine the day on which he would exterminate the Jews. But God turn ed their fasting to feasting and their troubles to triumph. There are no miracles in the book of Esther. Yet, the whole episode is a miracle of divine providence. Neither Haman nor Satan using him could destroy the people of God or put an end to the Abrahamic and Davidic promises of the preservation of the nation for the coming of the Messiah and the ultimate salvation of Israel. No doubt, these are challenging times but we are assured of ultimate victory.
Terrible and dangerous floods have claimed lives across the world for years. In the past year, extreme weather caused severe flooding in many parts of the world. Increasing elemental dislocations across the world are posing serious concern to all. Even worse, the failure of weather predictions is sending jitters down the spine of metereologists. But our God remains on the throne. The Psalmist in our text enumerated some of the glorious attributes of God. He reigns supreme above everything. His throne is established of old and has no end. He controls the seas and the mighty floods so that their damage is checked. His testimonies, that is his Word, are very sure and holiness characterize His house forever. God is supremely and incomparably greater than all freakish conditions. When you are in the ocean, you have no control over its movement and power. Yet, in this psalm, we see God portrayed as even more powerful than the ocean. Does the prospect of a relationship with such an all-powerful Being scare you and circumvent any intimacy you might have with Him? It is great to remember all the great things that God has done in the past, but we cannot leave Him in the history books. We need to be able to say, “The Lord reigns in my life today”. We have no choice than to cleave to Him fully especially now that frightening and uncertain weather conditions and environmental dislocations are in the upswing. You must stand on Christ’s solid rock for all other grounds are sinking sand.
Key Verse: “And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 15:3).
Once when Mark Twain was lecturing in Utah, a Mormon acquaintance argued with him on the subject of polygamy. After a long and rather heated debate, the Mormon finally said, “Can you find for me a single passage of Scripture which forbids polygamy?” “Certainly, ” replied Twain. “No man can serve two masters. ” The reign of Abijam, the son of Rehoboam was uneventful. Although he was said to have been buried in the city of David, this was no guarantee that he made it to heaven. In fact, the brevity of his reign was a clear indication that God was not happy with him. The heart of man is so given to the pursuit of the mundane things of the world that it hardly accommodates the things of God. Like Abijam, many measure their wealth by the number of wives they marry, the number of children they have or perhaps, the number of properties they are able to acquire and accumulate. The Scripture warns that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Following a wrong mentor would mean you are prepared to share in their destinies. Abijam’s life occupies a mere footnote of history. Yours as a child of God must never be like his. Your life must never be determined by material and carnal parameters. If Christ is truly the Cornerstone of your life, you need to be the salt of the earth and lightened lamps on the bushel providing illumination to all. In sum, you ought to be a channel of blessing to all.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 CHRONICLES 30 – 33
Monday July 25, 2016
Key Verse: “Beriah also, and Shema, who were heads of the fathers of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who drove away the inhabitants of Gath” (1 Chronicles 8:13).
When error is allowed to fester for a long time, it soon puts on the garb of truth. There is not much to mention about the generations of Benjamin in our text. The passage contained mere catalogue of names with some who were designated as heads of families and communities until the thirteenth verse where Beriah and Shema, who were of the inhabitants of Aijalon drove away the stubborn inhabitants of Gath – a Philistine town that produced the evil Goliath who threatened Israel for forty days (morning and evening) until David killed him. As young converts and Christian pilgrims, how you make progress in your new found faith depends, to large extent, on how completely or incompletely you deal with the root of besetting sins in your life. Keeping an old acquaintance, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or any other sin partner or plagued by unequal yoke can prove to be your greatest undoing. Jesus said you cannot serve two masters; you either love the one or hate the other. Make up your mind this day to root out the giants and the remnant of the inhabitants of Gath completely out of your life to discover a new realm of victory. The co-habitation of the life in Christ with besetting sins will only end-up in one destination – the pit of hell. A double-minded man can never please the Lord.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 CHRONICLES 26 – 29
Key Verse: “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles” (John 11:47).
Envy is a deep seated vice that cannot be easily tamed by anyone. It takes the grace of God and the determination of the heaven-bound saints to rid themselves of this negative mindset. On hearing about the popularity of Christ’s ministry, the priests and members of the sect of the Pharisees gathered together to plot against Him out of envy. They were amazed and worried about the many miracles of healing and supernatural deliverances taking place. And when the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead took place, they were completely pushed to a corner. These religious bigots became troubled because something good was happening for which they were not in a position to take credit. They had taught error and fed the people with a doctrine that could not save because it was essentially a cocktail of the damnable traditions of elders. Many of those who are in so-called God’s service are doing so out of envy of the few who are genuinely serving God. They assume that because of the reverence and awe accorded these saints of God, they believe in their erroneous mind-set that they too could hit the limelight by preaching false doctrines and topics that catch the fancy of their adherents. And just as the machinations of Theudas and Judas of Galilee came to naught, so shall these merchant men, in the garb of pastors and preachers, eventually head for the rocks. Envy and jealousy are twin evils that must never be once named among saints. If you have noticed a trace of either of these evils, you must give yourself no rest until you have prayed them out of your life, for the unrighteous shall never inherit the kingdom of God.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 CHRONICLES 22 – 25
Key Verse:”And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened” (Mark 7:34).
One of the most inspiring plays written in recent years is “The Miracle Worker, ” which tells the story of Anne Sullivan and her efforts to teach young Helen Keller. Helen had been born without sight, speech or hearing. It was a thrilling scene when awareness finally came to Helen as Anne Sullivan placed Helen’s hands against objects then signed words into Helen’s open palm. The miracle of touch brought the miracle of communication. In our gospel lesson today, we find Jesus healing a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment by the Sea of Galilee in a region that was filled with mostly non-Jewish people. And even in this area where people don’t exactly know all the details about Jesus, they know that He is powerful and able to do miracles. And looking up to heaven, He sighed and said, “Ephphatha, ” that is, “Be opened”. Jesus cured him and the man began to speak plainly. He even went on to speak boldly about what Jesus had done for him. Many people are a thousand times worse than this poor deaf and dumb man. They have ears to receive God’s word, but blatantly refused to listen. But those who hear God’s Word gladly will receive His mercy. God has shown us no other way by which we can come into heaven than through His precious Word.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 CHRONICLES 18 – 21
Key Verse: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:10).
Towards the end of what has been a grave and graphic revelation and illustration of the end time events, Daniel was introduced to a man (most certainly an angel) clothed in linen, standing upon the waters of the river to announce the duration of the second half of the Great Tribulation which will be for a period of three and half years. On further inquiry, Daniel was told that the time of these events are certain and cannot be changed but the effect will be different on the wise and wicked participants of the Great Tribulation. The suffering will purify some of the Jews who will eventually be sealed, while the wicked will be radicalized the more and move on in their wickedness. We have seen many unrepentant sinners become softened and melted under the corrective yoke of affliction. Others become disillusioned because of the problems they go through. But the good news to all is that the tough times we sometimes face will bring out the very best in us if we wisely depend upon God. We grow smarter and wiser through tough times than we do through the easy times. Therefore, endeavour to hold tightly to God while evil times last. They have very short shelf life afterall, and sooner than later, they must succumb to God’s immutable dictates. As the song writer rightly posts, “storms do not alarm me, they sometimes must cease”.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 CHRONICLES 13 – 17
Key Verse: “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing” (Hebrews 9:8).
Many people grumble today that there are too many things they are not allowed to do in the house of God. They would rather be given the liberty to indulge in gratifying the flesh. They argue that the rules should be relaxed to allow them more freedom in the house of God. But even in the Old Testament, God did not indulge the Israelites. He imposed a set of rules and regulations on how they should approach Him, and conduct themselves in the house of worship. The other priests and the common people had access to God only through the high priest. By this, the Holy Ghost hinted that there was yet to come, a more perfect way to worship God. The way to come is better as it would entail the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Today, we are not bound by those rules of ceremonial cleansing nor limited on our diets, as these do not have the power to keep anyone clean permanently. It is only the blood of Jesus, shed on the Cross at Calvary that can wash away our sins. It is Jesus Christ, who is now our High Priest, that can give us the grace to go and sin no more. To be a true worshipper, admit all your sins, ask Him to forgive and cleanse you, and serve Him all the days of your life afterwards.
Wednesday July 20, 2016
Key Verse: “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).
Experience has shown that it is very dangerous to write off a man because of his present status. Paul, a former persecutor of believers, received pardon and was sent to preach to the Gentiles — a race that was thought to be outside the commonwealth of Israel. The truth that Gentiles would become “fellow heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” was formerly a mystery that has now been revealed to Paul. This is the thrust of the passage under consideration. Paul realised the purpose of his conversion. He was to declare to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Paul was not just satisfied with knowing the mystery revealed to him; he was not content with reaching out to the Gentiles, but he accepted as part of his ministry, “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God…” Paul pursued this revelation to a logical conclusion. Through his ministry, those who had no hope of eternal life became partakers. Those who were doomed to eternal damnation were rescued. Today, it is our tu to toe the path of service and commitment as the apostle did. Despite the deluge of challenges and troubles which crowded Paul, he moved on to accomplish the very purpose for which he was saved. We must ensure that we are not slowed down by whatever circumstances surrounding us.
Key Verse: “But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof and darkness shall pursue his enemies” (Nahum 1:8).
Two-times Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, had this to say about human tendency, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. ” This is a most unfortunate aspect of human failings. This is all-too-often so when men choose to be controlled by their passions rather than by reason. The Ninevites who lived at about 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ demonstrated this ugly reality. About 100 years before then, Nineveh, the powerful and wealthy capital of the Assyrian Empire, had their cup of iniquity full. Their wickedness had become so presumptuous and repulsive that God sent Prophet Jonah to cry against it. The people feared and repented massively and got God’s pardon. The next time Nineveh featured in the Bible, its inhabitants had relapsed into grosser wickedness that the city was called “a bloody city, and full of lies and robbery. ” Prophet Nahum declared divine judgment upon the city — a prophecy that got fulfilled not too long after. The content of this prophecy shows the futility of opposing the sovereign God, whose power is dreadfully felt in the heavens and earth. Today, despite these glaring lessons from history, sinners, with unthinkable presumptuousness are waxing worse in their sin and openly confronting God. But, as was the case of all who imagined vain things against God and faced His irresistible wrath, He will make an awful end of all present rebellious men and women. Yet, His tender mercies and love will continue with those who trust and serve Him.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 CHRONICLES 1 – 4
The Theatre Arts magazine once recorded a most frustrating conversation. A subscriber dialed the magazine’s number. “Sorry, ” said the lady at the receiving end, “but there is nobody listed by the name of ‘Theodore Arts. ‘” The subscriber insisted. And the receiver repeated, “I told you, we have no listing for Theodore Arts. ” By now the subscriber was yelling, “Confirm it, the word is ‘Theatre’: T-H-E-A-T-R-E!” The operator came back with crushing finality: “That—is not the way to spell Theodore. ” Spell out the gospel as you may, there are people who will never grasp it. The simple reason for this is that their minds have been blinded by Satan. How sad it is today that there are people who have so mortgaged themselves to the devil that the preaching of the gospel has no converting effect on them. For instance, those who have delved into certain occults are known to actively resist the light of the glorious gospel. Sadder still is the case of people who constantly sit under the plain teaching of God’s word and yet remain blind, obstinate and unreformed. They remain deluded but contented with their alarming spiritual state. Those who are still mind-blindfolded by the devil and shielded from the light of the true gospel should urgently bestir themselves, seek the Lord and sincerely call upon Him before their hopeless doom is sealed.
Key Verse: “Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?” (Job 4:17).
It is a common thing for people to misread the actions or experiences of others. Oftentimes, this happens when we have developed a fixed idea of a person or people. At other times, we may be so blindfolded by our personal experiences or background that we cannot accommodate other perspectives in life. But one of the most painful experiences is to be misjudged by another person, more so when it involves a person you trust and whose opinions you respect. Imagine how Job must have felt when his trusted friends who visited him during his travail completely misunderstood him and charged him with sin. At such a time, Job needed loving and comforting company to keep his spirit up. On the contrary, his friends that responded took turn to lecture him on how such experience could not happen to a person unless he was a sinner. While resigning to God’s will about his losses and distress, Job expressed his anguish and confusion of mind. To this, Eliphaz, one of Job’s friends responded and reproved him for perceived impatience and discontent. He drew much from a personal vision he had so as to convince Job of mortal man’s feebleness and despicable state in comparison to God’s purity and infinite sense of justice. He did not expect Job to continue to lay claim to innocence and implying that God was punishing him unjustly. Eliphaz’s logic was right but, in the context in which it was said, it amounted to misreading his innocent friend who was undergoing a severe physical and emotional torture. In much the same way, we often react to people in ways that worsen their situations because we do not take time to empathise with them or, at least, read them in their contexts. We should strive to be more sensitive in our dealings with others.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 CHRONICLES 21 – 24
Key Verse: “They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul’s brethren of Benjamin” (1 Chronicles 12:2).
In a letter addressed to a clergy, Alexander Mather, on August 6, 1777, John Wesley voiced his concern about the declining spiritual state of the Methodist Church. He attributed the decline to carnal, fearful and lukewarm preachers of the time and gave his famous challenge: “Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world. I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the kingdom of Satan and build up the kingdom of God on earth. ” Till date, such people are, regrettably, in short supply. The text today describes a contingent of such people that came to join themselves to David when he was in exile at Ziklag in Philistine. Of this set of supporters, many remarkable observations can be made. First, notice where they came from — many of them came from Benjamin, the tribe of Saul who was then viciously hunting for David’s life. They were apparently moved by good conscience, knowing that David was innocent and had divine mandate to succeed Saul, their kinsman. It was a show of godly courage. How we need to shun racial or tribal sentiments and uphold righteousness in our service to God and dealings with one another. It was also said of these men that they had an uncommon mastery of handling of weapons. They were so versatile that they could throw stones and shoot arrows with both hands. The search is still on for true Christian heroes, men and women whose passion for God and righteousness goes beyond personal economic and social gains. They are the ones the Lord counts on to make a difference in an increasingly godless world. Are you part of this team?
Key Verse: “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country” (Luke 4:24).
One uncomely aspect of human nature is that we seldom appreciate the blessings that come to us readily. A simple logic about this condition is that, as they say, “Familiarity breeds contempt. ” Thus, familiarity can be a great disservice to us even where it does not breed contempt, at least, according to one time English writer, William Hazlitt. When the Lord Jesus, reading from Isaiah’s prophecy, announced the immediate commencement of His ministry. The people marvelled at the depth of wisdom and power in His discourse but failed to trust Him as the Messiah. Familiarity robbed them of the great advantage of having the Messiah among them. Christ chided them for this. He reminded them that it was the same attitude of belittling acknowledged prophets that made Elijah to by-pass the Jewry and bestowed favour on a Sidonian widow, even as Elisha healed a Syrian leper and none in Israel. As it was with these Jews, so it is today. Many people are robbed of the ministerial blessings from their Christian relatives because of familiarity. There are believers who miss the full benefits of their ministers because they have become too accustomed with them. Some Christians have become so frequent with Bible study and other spiritually enriching activities that they are no longer ministered to by them. For some others, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. This is a subtle trap that we must avoid if we truly desire the blessings of God.
Key Verse:“Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house” (Ezekiel 9:6).
That those who truly believe in Christ and have been saved from sin will not be part of the judgment and wrath that God will bring upon the entire world is a comforting and reassuring fact of the Scripture. We have several examples and illustrations in the Bible that attest to this truth. We can easily recall the experience of the children of Israel in Egypt. As God determined to bring the judgment of death on all the first born of Egypt, He instructed the children of Israel to mark their door post with blood of a lamb which they were to slay so that they would be protected from the angel of destruction (Exodus 12:13). Our passage re-echoes this fact. God had determined to bring judgment upon the faithless people in the land but decided first to put a mark upon all the faithful of the land so that they will not be part of the destruction. The mark on the faithful was to show that they belonged to God and so must not be touched by the agents of destruction that were to go through the land. Note that the destruction was to begin from the sanctuary. This shows that it is possible to be in the church and not belong to God. It is sad to know that there are so many people in the church today that truly do not belong to God. They are still involved in all forms of atrocities, abominations and wickedness. This is why judgment will begin in the house of God, and all such people will not be spared because they do not have the saving mark. If you are truly born again and living right, walking in obedience to the Word of God, the Lord has promised to spare you when He comes to judge the wicked. Therefore, do not panic or fear.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 CHRONICLES 9 – 11
Key Verse: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
A young man had the opportunity of being invited to a royal banquet. It was the wedding ceremony of a king’s son. He however, felt short of the standard of the dress code. While other guests turned up in the standard attire, he was the odd man. The host was surprised to see a man who looked odd in his banquet and asked him, “How did you come in here without a wedding garment?” He was speechless and was eventually thrown out of the banquet. The children of Israel at this time, were on their way to the Promised Land. God, through Moses, needed to remind them how they should comport themselves and what they must consistently do to keep enjoying the privilege of inheriting a land that “floweth with milk and honey”. They must fear the Lord God, and keep all His commandments. Above all, they must love the Lord their God with all their heart and might. Just as God made a demand of implicit obedience from Israel, we must make ourselves qualified to enjoy all the benefits of serving the Lord by fearing and loving the almighty God. The passage emphasizes your “heart, soul and might”. This is the totality of the human personality. This implies therefore, that the totality of man must be given to God. One must not “visit” Him occasionally in times of trouble and need. God must be the central focus of a sensible man’s life.
Oppression and ill-treatment of people are like arrows in God’s heart. The Almighty abhors repressive treatment of people by the wicked. He dispenses judgment against the oppressor. His righteous judgment runs from generation to generation. Those who delight in wickedness always reap the anger of God. Obadiah lists the sins of the Edomites against the Israelites their brethren. They aided the Babylonians as they plundered the city and put Israel in distress. They also collaborated in making sure that the escaping Israelites were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. But, there was a day of reckoning. The Judgment of God would come upon Edom in a fierce manner. They would be devoured by the nations of the world to the point that it would be as if they never existed as a nation. Believers must put their absolute trust in the living God. Though they may be going trough oppression by the enemies of God, engineered by the devil, a day of deliverance will come. And God will rain vengeance upon the wicked of the world. Those who have yielded themselves as instruments of oppression in the hand of the devil will soon receive the recompense of their wicked deeds. They will be wiped off the face of the earth and their memories shall perish.
Key Verse:“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The hope of believers is eternal life. The Bible says, eyes have not seen and it has not entered into the imagination of anyone, what God has prepared for His people. All the beauties in this world will pale into insignificance when compared to the beauty and the bliss of eternal life. Christ, who is the Hope of glory, will bring along with Him this glory that shall never fade nor pass away. It then means that whatever we see here at the moment, is just a mere shadow. They are not in any way to be compared with the splendour which the overcomers will enjoy endlessly. In our passage today, Paul contrasts his ministry of the new covenant with the ministry of the Old Testament covenant and law that was given to the nation of Israel on Mount Sinai. Since the sacrifices could not atone for sin, those who administered them laboured seemingly fruitlessly as they had no effect in producing justification for sin. The Old Testament law was however glorious because it accomplished the purpose for which it was given, that is, to bring man to Christ. When Moses received the law on Mount Sinai, he came down with a radiant face. However, after a period of time, the glory that was radiating from his face faded. Paul used this event to illustrate the passing of the Old Testament law and covenant. The new covenant that is written on the hearts of men through the Mediator, Jesus Christ, is glorious and permanent. Believers in Christ have transcended the Old Testament law. We are at once able to perceive the glory of Jesus and by this, continually grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Our lives are being transformed into the image of Jesus by obedience to His will day by day. And we come to the fullness of His glory and revelation when we eventually see Him face-to-face.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 24 – 25
Key Verse: “Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same” (Job 4:7, 8).
In the game of racing, spectators usually gather to cheer and jeer. It is always advisable for an athlete to always distinguish between those who cheer him from those who jeer at him. If he becomes discouraged by the deafening jeering of spectators, even when he is leading the race, he is not likely to finish strong and victorious. Three friends of Job had visited him and had listened to his complaints that were made out of sheer pain and discomfort. Eliphaz, one of the friends, felt that Job’s outburst of complaint should not go unresponded to. Although Eliphaz was correct in his observations that the wicked will always reap the wrath of God, he however, misapplied it by insinuating that Job was reaping the recompense of his evil deeds. He was short-sighted however that the afflictions of his friend was totally orchestrated by the devil and one of those “light afflictions” that the Scriptures spoke of. How often do men misjudge us! But as believers, our concern and preoccupation must be on what God thinks about us; our standing with God and not the perception of gainsayers. The Christian journey demands daily cross-bearing. Every believer must be focused and ensure he/she is in tune with the will of God at all times. You may suffer rejection in the midst of persecution; you must commit everything to God who judges righteously. It is a new day and a new dawn. Look up, for your victory is assured.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 22 – 23
Key Verse: “Also the valiant men of the armies were, Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem” (1 Chronicles 11:26).
Those who do extraordinary things will always be counted. The Book of Numbers 25:7, 8, has an account of a worthy exploit by a young man who hated sin and moved to defend God. For that singular act, he wrote his name in gold. In today’s text, David’s success to bring the nation under his rule was because he had surrounded himself with very capable men. These mighty men aligned themselves with David, while Saul was still reigning. They had great influence in the lives of the people when David eventually ascended the throne. You will recall that these valiant men had risked their lives to bring David water, but he refused to drink it. Their daring venture had manifested the extremity of their loyalty to him. By the same token, David’s refusal to drink the water also manifested how deeply he valued their lives. These valiant men were listed in the text today, including the names of their fathers. It goes to show that everyone’s work is being recorded and published against the individual’s name. We are challenged to stand up to be counted among those who risk their lives for the sake of the gospel. There were multitudes of men in Israel at that time; but only a few were marked out. Stand up for the gospel and strive never to be left out from the number of valiant and selfless men who invested their all into the gospel.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 20 – 21
“And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22).
Every man that is born of God has treasures of divine deposits and wealth inside him. A man’s treasure or potentials are God’s investments in his life. They are seeds of greatness planted in your life for optimum living. God brings the knowledge of these treasures to our notice in the form of dreams, revelations, gifts, talents, prophecy, and call to ministry. These potentials are given for our benefits and that of humanity. God, like an entrepreneur, expects that His people exploit and make a positive use of their potentials maximally and in such a way that it would profit Him. Everyone knew who Jesus was. They may have expected Him to make some pronouncements about His person, but He claimed to be the specific fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the Messiah. It was difficult for them to accept these words from the mouth of a “carpenter’s son”. They could accept Him as a good teacher but not as the Messiah of Israel. It does not really matter what men think of you. What really counts is what God thinks about you. The world may take you for nonentity, but God knows that you are a firebrand in His hand. Rather than brood over rejection, launch out in your strength and allow God to display the innate talents in you to His glory alone. Jesus did not go to the synagogue to advertise Himself. He was there to teach “as his custom was. ” He was quiet, down-to-earth and humane person as He went into the synagogue. He maintained the composure even after he had read what prophet Isaiah had said concerning Him. There was no self-exaltation, no flaunting of credentials. Yet, people saw the wisdom He displayed while reading the Scriptures. If you are therefore an out-crop of Jesus, how you need to daily radiate His glory and exude His excellent credentials.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 18 – 19
“Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32).
Those who love and appreciate God will equally fear Him. The fear under consideration is not the slavish fear that makes you perceive God as a task master ready to apply the rod at the slightest provocation. No. It is the fear that is borne out of admiration and reverence for He who is incomparably greater than every creature. Our text pointed out the disposition of the people of Israel when God wanted to speak with them. About forty years prior to that time, God had spoken to them from the mountain. He spoke out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness in the environment. They witnessed God’s greatness and magnificence first hand. When they heard God’s voice the first time, nothing happened to them, but this time they were afraid that they might indeed die. Strangely, unbelievers only have the fear of God when they think about God’s judgment and eternal death, that is, eternal separation from Him. But for the believer, our attitude always should be one of reverence for God as aptly captured in Hebrews 12:28: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. ” God is not interested in false religious exercises. Rather, He wants us to have a heart and life which are completely dedicated to Him. If we truly love Him, we need to obey Him.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 16 – 17
“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18).
John Patton, a Scottish missionary, in 1858, went to New Hebrides, now called Vanuatu, with his family. Three months after their arrival at the island of Tanna, his wife died, and a week later, his infant son also died. Terribly alone, he was plunged into sorrow. Those around him, unfortunately, could not show any sympathy. Patton could only take solace in God, the all sufficiency, and then he wrote, “Let those who have ever passed through any similar darkness as of midnight feel for me. As for all others, it would be more than vain to try to paint my sorrows. But for Jesus, and His fellowship, I would have gone mad and died. ” Our text depicts a very pathetic situation in Israel. Micah could only watch as chaos reigned supreme throughout the land, destroying every interpersonal relationship. But he had great faith in God that things would turn around for the better. He proclaimed that he would wait upon God, who hears and saves at the time of trouble. He was confident that when help would be needed, God would see His people through. So, Micah prayed to God, asking Him to take care of His people, as the great Shepherd and to go before them. God answered the prayer, expressing His delight in mercy and pardon for their sin. Micah was confident that the nations, who regale in fighting them, would be shocked and put to shame. When you come to God with humility like Micah, He will forgive you of all sins and deliver you from all afflictions. He appreciates a sincere and humble heart. Sin is the only barrier to His mercy. But when God takes away the guilt of sin, He breaks the power of sin so that it may not have dominion over us. God’s grace is always sufficient to subdue our sins so that they will not ruin us.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 14 – 15
John R. W. Stott, who made great impact for Christ in the twentieth century, considered pride as the greatest enemy of the human race. His succinct statement about pride goes straight to the heart of what the Bible teaches about the deadly root of sin and sorrow. Our text, today, amplifies it. God’s anger against Edom was specific. The Edomites were proud of their great wealth, which they obtained from trading, iron and copper mining. They also trusted in the natural protection provided by the clefts of the rock. Their pride led them to believe that they would never be conquered. Though from human point of view, Edom was almost impregnable. Yet, it was not inaccessible to God. Obadiah’s vision was therefore Judah’s confidence that Edom would ultimately be destroyed. For Judah, God would not allow the forces of evil to triumph over His people. Curiously, there are those who view pride as a virtue. They hardly believe that pride is both deceptive and damning. Those who are guilty of pride put down much confidence in their ability and so-called wisdom only to discover that this mindset is limited and myopic afterall. The proud never gets far; their over-bloated impression always turn out to be their waterloo. Pride can lead to serious consequences. It can strain your relationship with God and cause His wrath to be unleashed. Pride led to Lucifer’s demotion. It is often the undoing of many believers who repose much confidence in themselves than in Christ. Do you have any measure of pride in you however minute? Endeavour to uproot it from your life lest it transforms you an enemy of God. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 11 – 13
“It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3)
Bob Woods, in Pulpit Digest, told a story of a couple who took their children – son, 11, and daughter, 7 – to Carlsbad Caverns. When they reached the deepest point, the guide turned off all the lights to dramatize how completely dark and silent it is below the earth’s surface. The girl got frightened and began to cry. Immediately, her brother said, “Don’t cry. Somebody here knows how to turn on the lights. ” This is the purpose of the gospel-Jesus came to turn on the light to the world. Luke took time to carefully and conscientiously investigate the life and ministry of Christ. He explained that many people took up the task of setting in order a narrative of Christ’s life. This implied that besides the inspired accounts of Matthew, Mark and John, many uninspired writers gave account of Christ, either for themselves or for the benefit of their family and friends. Even today, some people present the gospel Christ, not to preserve the sanctity of the word of God but to discredit it. Luke made this observation based on certain qualifications which he felt other writers did not have. Particularly, he was in the company of actual eyewitnesses, who accurately told him the details of the events of Christ. This indicates that for you to truthfully present the gospel message of Christ, you must acquire the basic qualification – salvation – otherwise your efforts will be a waste. The question now is, do you have the basic qualification which will enable you give a precise account of the life and character of Christ? The gospel also presented the story of Zacharias and Elisabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, who lived righteously. They obeyed God from the heart, not regarding their challenge of barrenness. This clearly reveals that the centrality of the gospel message of Christ is purity of life. Therefore, we must be holy to earn God’s recognition.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 9 – 10
Samuel Brengle, in 1878, turned down offers to pastor some of the largest Methodists churches in the United States of America to join William Booth’s Salvation Army. Booth, who was initially sceptical about him, assigned to him the cleaning of other people’s shoes to instill humility in him. At first, Brengle got discouraged and regretted joining the church movement, but when he saw a vision of Jesus bending over the feet of rough, unlettered fishermen, he said: “Lord, you washed their feet; I will black their shoes.” He threw away pride and embraced humility. Job had no rest, peace and quietness. He was so low physically, mentally and emotionally that if he was allowed to die, the calamities he was facing would have made him rejoice at it. To him, it seemed that God had forsaken him and did not care about him anymore. Yet, he never doubted that God was in control. Quite frankly, some people are passing through Job-like challenges, looking hopeless and sorrowful. They are walking through dark valleys, while consolation seems far away. Thank God, there is solution. God asked: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). Build your confidence in the Lord and He will see you through. For people living without a focus on heaven, they should know that they will spend the rest of their lives in hell, except they accept Christ now. They will lose all their wealth in this world and miss being with God. To avoid this, they must live with eternity in view, preparing for heaven. The Scripture says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Winston Churchill, during World War II, gathered the labour leaders to enlist their support for the needs of Britain. He asked them to picture in their minds a parade, which would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war. The sailors, who kept the vital sea lanes, coming first, the soldiers next and then, pilots. The last would be the miners who laboured for the economy. So, today, not all the jobs in a church could be prominent and glamorous, but the diligence of the worker in accomplishing his or her assigned task will determine the reward before God. Our text showed David’s most powerful men who fought the battles with him and also helped him to become the king of Israel. When these three most powerful soldiers came to David at his camp by Adullam’s cave, he was very thirsty. The only place they could get a well of water was Bethlehem. But the Philistines were in control of the area. Notwithstanding this challenge, three famous soldiers risked their lives to get the water for David. They fought with the Philistines and escaped with some water. As these three famous soldiers risked their lives to get water for David, we too have to risk our life for the sake of Christ. Ours is not only to pray for material things. We have to agonise in prayer for the salvation of other people. We have to endure the affliction and persecution of men because of Christ. David, though terribly thirsty, poured out the water to the Lord. This revealed how much he appreciated God and these men. It shows that we should value the lives of other people and feel concern about the souls that are going to hell. God can only give you place of recognition if you are diligent at His service. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29).
Prayer: “And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the LORD” (1 Chronicles 11:18).
Key Verse: “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not” (Luke 7:13).
Jesus, at every point, has always had compassion. He went into a city called Nain and saw a funeral procession. A man, the only son of his mother, who was a widow, had died and this threw the city into a sorrowful mood. His mother was weeping uncontrollably and a large crowd from the city was with her. The loss of her only son meant she had nothing in her future except a life of childlessness and loneliness and misery. When Jesus heard her story, He had compassion on her. When you see other people in agonising pain of life, do you feel concerned about their situation like Jesus? The Lord could not look away from the plight of that woman nor accuse her of being the cause of her predicaments. Ordinarily today, people would attribute the death of her husband and son to her. Some might start preaching to her right there, like Job’s friends. But Jesus had genuine concern for her. Why did He tell her to stop weeping? Was it wrong for her, as a mother, to weep at the funeral of her son? No. But Jesus wanted to show that her sorrow would be turned to joy. When you come in contact with Jesus, your situation will turn around for the better. Jesus has the power to give life to the dead and call those things which do not exist as though they did. Jesus touched the open coffin and spoke to the body. Immediately, the man, who was dead, sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Fear gripped everybody there and they began to glorify God. Jesus could speak to something dead and bring life to it. He is able to look at your problem and speak life into it.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 3 – 4
Key Verse: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
The most difficult thing for many people to do is to accept their faults. They would strenuously defend themselves and make even seemingly cogent excuses for their faults. It is their own way of maintaining their self esteem and refusing to take blame or account for their failings. This is what the world recommends and applauds, but which God frowns at. No one stands any chance of being accepted by God until he recognizes, accepts and takes full responsibility for their shortcomings. Apostle Paul knew that his letter to the Corinthian Christians was hard and biting, but his goal was to get them to the point of accountability with a desire to change. He was happy that his letter made them sorry, and eventually blameless before God. We must never imitate those who hold unto their faults at all costs, as this will result in spiritual suicide. Rather, we should be willing to admit our faults and turn from such shameful lifestyle and conduct. We should avoid being defensive or allow pride to keep us from accepting our shortcomings. Whenever our sins are pointed out to us, we must readily accept and correct our ways so as to be accepted by God.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 KINGS 1-2
“For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).
Many people go through life totally unaware of the privileges and benefits God has prepared for them not only on earth, but in heaven. As a result, they assume that merely suffering lack in this life guarantees a better life in eternity. Some others go as far as believing that it is the height of spirituality and indeed a virtue, to relegate themselves far below God’s expectations for their lives. Nothing can be farther than the truth. This is clearly evident in God’s dealings with Israel. For one, Israel had a privileged place in the heart of the Almighty God. He expected them to be holy and had chosen and made them special in His sight, quite incomparable to any other people on earth. God did not choose the Israelites because they merited it, but because He loved them. They were, therefore, to have nothing to do with the people He had dis inherited and whose land He had given to Israel. What God provided for the Israelites in the Old Testament has now been extended to Christians. To enjoy this privilege, we must live without sin and above reproach. We must be mindful always that He has not only chosen us from the multitude of people on earth, but has made us unique, and has conferred on us the special status of royalty. We are privileged to have the Almighty as our Father. All the provisions of heaven are at our disposal and all the promises of God are ours to possess.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 KINGS 21 – 22
Key Verse: “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me” (Micah 7:8).
Life can sometimes, appear very harsh and tough, especially when it unbundles a series of difficult situations and confounding circumstances with no help in sight. At such a time, God may seem very distant and disinterested in your experiences and you may be tempted to turn to self-help or other methods for quick solutions. It gets worse when in your challenges, you are being taunted by detractors for trusting in God. Yet, that is when God expects you to turn to Him solely, and confidently trust Him to intervene in your affairs. This was the message of Prophet Micah to Israel. He told them that God will not reject His children who had been beaten to the dust by life’s experiences. Even though they were suffering because of their sins, God would soon lift them up. At such a time, the enemies who thought their end had come, shall see the hand of God in their lives, and they shall be put to shame. You must, therefore, see tough situations as opportunities to draw close to God, recognise that He hears your cries, and that He will save you when help is most needed. God will never allow you to be destroyed by tough times, nor make you a permanent laughing stock of your enemies. You must be assured that irrespective of how long it takes, those enemies shall eventually be punished by God. Your duty is to trust Him without wavering and patiently wait for His intervention, which is certain to come.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 KINGS 19 – 20
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2).
Very often, we assume that the best way to show appreciation to our pastors is to compliment them for the uplifting messages they preach. There is of course, nothing wrong with complimenting your pastors. But that is not their greatest expectation from you, nor the source of joy to them. Pastors are happiest when members of their congregation reflect the messages they have been hearing. Apostle Paul, in this epistle to the Corinthian Christians, told them that he had no need for self-praise or human applause from them to prove that he was making a success of his ministry. He would rather like to see that they had accepted God’s holy injunctions, believed the gospel of Jesus Christ, and imbibed the words he preached to them. And that as a result, their lives had been changed for good. To Paul, all these were not the work of man, but that of the Spirit of God, to whom he ascribed all the glory, while recognizing his limitations as a human being. His ultimate joy therefore, was when he saw the extent of the positive change that had taken place in the Corinthian Christians. The greatest credit a Christian can accord his pastor is to exhibit a life free from sin and all forms of corrupt tendencies. This does not only give the preacher joy, but reinforces his faith in God, and strengthens him to work even harder for God and his congregation.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 KINGS 17 – 18
We do not appreciate the power of the experiences of life to alter our character and shape our behaviour until we face difficult circumstances. At such a time, even the strongest of men begins to act like a weakling. It could actually get worse for many people as they lose the will to live. It was not different with Job. A perfect and upright man without equal in all the earth, a man well beloved and pleasing to God. He was surprised to the point of confusion by the streak of mysterious misfortune that befell him. Satan began to work on his mind until it got to the point when he opened his mouth and cursed the day he was born, that it was better if he had not been born, since his life had turned into a ridicule and a most excruciating experience. Of course, he spoke without wisdom as he cursed his day, but even in his suffering he never lost his sense of reverence and integrity, and therefore, did not curse God. As we face challenges in life, some of which we neither deserve nor understand, we must never allow our suffering to make us question or doubt God. Irrespective of the sore experience we may be having, we must never forget that God knows about it. If He seems to delay His answer to our cries, it is not because He does not care, but rather He is working out a far more beneficial outcome for us. We must stand firm in our faith and never doubt that in due course, He will come to our rescue.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 KINGS 15 – 16
Key Verse:“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contraryto the doctrine which ye have learnt, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
One factor responsible for lack of progress in life, family or even a church, is when you strike a close relationship with persons of dubious character and intentions. In their craftiness, they soon begin to wield enormous influence over you. They are usually very critical and judgmental, self-conceited and foolhardy. It is, therefore, extremely unwise to mix up with such people. Such people may be found among so-called highly spiritual brothers and sisters, or even in the leadership cadre of the church. Paul said that because the influence of such people is corrosive and easily cancels out all virtues and good character in others, they must be avoided. Such people are not servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, contrary to their empty professions. Actually, the Roman Christians had developed a reputation as good followers of Christ. Yet, they must always anticipate the evil activities of people of questionable character and conduct. Paul contrasts such people with his companions and helpers in the work of God, prayed for more grace for believers, that they may be established in faith. The church in modern times is cosmopolitan in nature, with a mixture of people from different backgrounds and cultures. In such a setting, the tendency for good or bad influence, and indeed conflict, is high. We must promptly nip in the bud, all potential sources of division and conflict. It is only with unity of heart and purpose that we can accomplish much for the Lord.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 KINGS 13 – 14
Key Verse: “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that has a familiar spirit, to inquire of it” (1 Chronicles 10:13).
Many times when people dabble into sinful practices or revel in indulgent lifestyle, it is because they believe they can get away with it, and that there were no consequences for their actions. Saul found this out the hard way, and when it was too late. Even as the end of his reign as king approached, Saul continued to disobey and rebel against God. He ignored God’s instructions to wipe out the enemies of Israel. He failed to ask Him for guidance and direction on how to run the kingdom of Israel. Just when his cup of iniquity was full, he turned to seek counsel from God, but God refused to answer him. Actually, he became frantic and turned to God for direction only after he had exhausted all other alternatives. He only turned to God when there was nowhere else to go. When God refused to answer him, he promptly turned to a witch. Shortly after, he was mortally injured in the battle with the Philistines. As a result, he fell on the sword and took his own life when he could have followed the Saviour and obtained mercy and pardon. Every act that displeases God must be avoided. And this includes all forms of stubbornness, rebellion and disobedience committed by men. In fact, it is sinful to refuse to do what is right. It is foolish to continue in sinful practices that will earn death as wage. The right response is to examine oneself, turn from all evil ways and live righteously before God. Otherwise, death on earth and in eternity knocks at the door.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 KINGS 11 – 12
-2 CORINTHIANS 7:1-7
Key Verse: “Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Corinthians 7:6).Have you ever been in a situation where all things appeared bleak and you seemed troubled and disturbed, but all of a sudden, the visit of a beloved brother or friend brought you such an encouraging relief? Many of us can truly testify of such moments that the timely visit of a dear one turned providential. This underscores the importance of visitation. Apostle Paul shared a common experience in our text. He and his team had been faced with a very perplexing situation that had given them much trouble and concern. They had external pressures as well as internal struggles and fears. But they had such a great and soothing relief with the coming of Titus to them. Sometimes, we do not know how far-reaching the effects of a little deed like visitation can do in the lives of others. There are even times we think that our leaders and pastors do not need to be visited. This is probably because we think they do not have issues bothering them. But like we can see from the experience of Paul, our leaders need to be visited as well. This no doubt, will bring encouragement and comfort to them. If our leaders and pastors need to be visited, what about fellow believers and younger Christians? Certainly, profitable visitations will be of the essence. Reach out and visit other people. And when you visit, do not embark on a fault-finding mission. It shouldn’t be with the intention of discovering the weaknesses of the other. Rather, it should be with the mind of bringing comfort and encouragement to others. There can’t be a better way of strengthening the bonds of our fellowship than when we give one another a comforting visit.
Thought for the day: Better to be a channel of blessing than a tale-bearer.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 KINGS 9 – 10
Key Verse: “These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me” (Deuteronomy 5:22).
Books, documents and records are often subjected to periodic reviews. These are usually done to remove such information that are no longer relevant either as a result of new discoveries or as a result of changes that occur in the world. However, there remains one book that has cut across all human history and does not have any need for review. This is the Bible! As Moses repeated the Ten Commandments earlier given to the children of Israel to this new generation, he reminded them that these were the same laws God gave to their fathers. Though time may have changed and forty years passed, God’s law and demand from them still remain the same. For them to retain God’s favour and have all things go well with them, they must keep to these words. This is even more so as they were getting ready to move into the Land of Canaan. Change of environment, mixture with a new set of people, culture and practices must not make them change from this time-tested truth. There are many professing Christians today who are directly or indirectly calling for a change of the truths of the Scriptures. Their argument has been that since our world has changed in so many ways, some of the Bible truths and commandments must also change. As a result, they have taken on new practices that are alien to the word of God. They now read, understand and interpret the Scriptures in the light of present-day realities. To them, sanctity of moral life has been laid aside with prime issues of righteousness and holiness explained away. It is for this reason that the Lord reminds everyone again that nothing has changed in His word. If we are to continue to enjoy God’s favour, we must continue to keep His unchanging words.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 KINGS 8
Key Verse:“Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).
Occurrences in the world at large give serious cause to worry. Institutions that were once relied upon to help build a strong formidable society where mutual love and trust can thrive are fast collapsing. Prime communal values which once provided real succour and support for the ordinary man have been eroded. Government institutions like the judiciary and security agencies for instance, in many climes have failed as well. Worse hit is the family institution which is closest to the individual. Here too, mutual trust and dependency appear to have been lost. This is similar to the time that the prophet Micah prophesied. The decay and corruption in the society during his time was so widespread that it was almost becoming very difficult to trust one’s own shadow! Yet, with vast nature of corruption and decay in the land, the prophet resolved to keep his confidence in the Lord. If there was no one else to trust, God was still there for him. Thus, he was determined not to toe the line of the corrupt society and deviate from the holy standard of God. This is the same challenge we face today. The society we live in does not want to encourage uprightness and sincere living. There are those who want you to bend the rules, cut corners and do all sorts of unwholesome things before you can get what is legitimately yours. Unfortunately, many are already being carried away with the slogan: “if you can’t beat them, join them!” However, the Lord reminds us that though all around us may be changing, He is still on the throne. If there is no one you can trust, the Lord is available to be trusted. He is ever reliable and will not change.
It is usually difficult to ignore and resist good smells. When it has to do with food and meals, good aromas helps in salivating and stirring up appetite for the food. This is why cooks are careful to ensure that they so flavour and season their meals. Of course, we know that it is not all such meals that are necessarily tasty. Whichever way, it is still difficult to resist the pull of a good smell. Our text describes Christians as aromas of God. They are vessels through whom God spreads the aroma of the gospel of Christ. In most cases, the sinner’s only contact with the gospel is through the life and preaching of the Christian. This being the case, as Christians, we must ensure that our lives give out the right aroma. It is pertinent to examine our lives and the kind of influence our interactions have on the people we relate with. Do our lives repel others? Do we give out such a foul smell that keep people away? Or do we live in such a way that people cannot deny or resist the pull to Christ? The underlining message is that we cannot afford to live anyhow. Just as a dead fly can cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour, so will a little foolish action taint and rubbish our testimony, causing our lives to give out a stinking and nauseating smell. Be careful how you live. Let us live so close to Christ such that He rubs off Himself on us; and when people see us, they should perceive that we have truly been with Him.
Key Verse:“But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 2:5).
To find out the composition and true nature of a substance, the most acceptable way of doing it is to subject that substance to scientific test. What will be normally done is to carry out a laboratory test of the stuff where all the compositions are extracted, examined and identified. The result of the test will put to rest whatever arguments, claims or debates concerning the object. Proofs are the most acceptable testimonies to a claim. God, in today’s text, had boasted to Satan about the piety, faith and loyalty of Job to Him. Satan had contested that, claiming that Job will deny his faith in God in the face of the most severe form of trial. God gave Satan the go-ahead with the test and at the end of the day, Job proved to be genuine. There are many who are quick to own up and claim that they are Christians and love God when all things are going on well with them. As long as they are healthy, have good jobs, providing for their families and are not facing any form of crisis, it is easy to sing, worship and serve the Lord. But the true test of our faith comes when we are faced with trials. Trials reveal whether we truly love the Lord or not. There are many who have turned their backs to God and denied their faith in Christ just because of the difficult times they were going through. We must understand that God has not promised us a life without thorns. But He has promised to soothe and heal our wounds as long as we hold on to Him. There is no trial that the Lord allows to come our way that is strong enough to sweep us away. He won’t give you a test beyond your strength. What you face at the moment is just to reveal your true strength. Don’t give up! It will soon pass.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 KINGS 1-2
Often, we neglect or undermine the powerful effect of simple compliments. Learning to say “hello” or “how do you do?” and having others say that to us has a way of bonding us to them, showing that someone at the least cares for us. Though it may appear just ordinary and commonplace, the effect becomes strong when it is withdrawn. Think about living in a community or working among a group of people where there is no such exchange of compliments. No doubt, the feeling of loneliness such would bring can be imagined. Interaction and relationship in such environment will often be frictional. To enhance peaceful coexistence and promote harmony, we cannot neglect this simple and ordinary practice of exchanging greetings and complimenting one another. Apostle Paul demonstrated this very well in his ministry and epistles. Particularly, he singled out individuals (whom he had met in one way or the other and had had an influence and impact on his life) for special recognition and greetings. He also instructed the Christians in the Roman church not to neglect doing this. True Christianity does not isolate us from the rest of the people, nor does it make us uncivil. We don’t cease to be humans robbed of all natural human feelings because we have become born-again. So, it will be entirely wrong to become so withdrawn from the society where we live and refuse to interact in the smallest way as to exchange greetings with neighbours and work fellows. It is even ridiculous to observe some Christians who are too sanctimonious to acknowledge the greetings of others in fellowship talk more of reaching out to greet others. Courtesy and Christianity are not aliens – they agree together. Mutual salutations express, increase, strengthens love and endear Christians one to another
Bible Reading in one Year: COLOSSIANS 1 – 4
Key Verse: “And Ner begat Kish; and Kish begat Saul; and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchi-shua, and Abinadab, and Esh-baal” (1 Chronicles 9:39).
If you knew your son would one day turn out to become a great leader in the land, how would you have raised him? This question should send every parent and potential parent thinking. No one can rightly predict the future of a child; however, parenting provides a very unique and unequaled opportunity to prepare today’s kids for tomorrow’s responsibilities. Certainly, Kish, Saul’s father did not have the slightest premonition that that son, who did not in any way look different from other kids, would one day make history not just as king, but indeed as the very first king of Israel. As it later turned out to be, the questions are: would Kish have had any regret for the way he had brought up Saul? Would he have wished he had done better in training and preparing Saul for the eventual role he was to play in the history of Israel? Is it possible that Saul’s eventual failure as king could be linked to the way he was brought up? The story of Saul’s life and the lives of so many leaders today who were once little children is a food for thought for many parents. As Christian parents particularly, we should see it as great If you knew your son would one day turn out to become a great leader in the land, how would you have raised him? This question should send every parent and potential parent thinking. No one can rightly predict the future of a child; however, parenting provides a very unique and unequaled opportunity to prepare today’s kids for tomorrow’s responsibilities. Certainly, Kish, Saul’s father did not have the slightest premonition that that son, who did not in any way look different from other kids, would one day make history not just as king, but indeed as the very first king of Israel. As it later turned out to be, the questions are: would Kish have had any regret for the way he had brought up Saul? Would he have wished he had done better in training and preparing Saul for the eventual role he was to play in the history of Israel? Is it possible that Saul’s eventual failure as king could be linked to the way he was brought up? The story of Saul’s life and the lives of so many leaders today who were once little children is a food for thought for many parents. As Christian parents particularly, we should see it as great opportunity to send into the world change agents who will influence their time for good and the glory of Christ. We must not look down on today’s children no matter what seeming weaknesses they may have. It is better we approach child training as though we are preparing them for royal responsibilities. Let’s guard against whatever will cause us to regret the future of our children. No effort should be considered too much to exact in building these great leaders of tomorrow. Who knows what that little child of yours today would turn out to be tomorrow? Maybe another history! What you do with them today will tell. Therefore, raise that child with care. to send into the world change agents who will influence their time for good and the glory of Christ. We must not look down on today’s children no matter what seeming weaknesses they may have. It is better we approach child training as though we are preparing them for royal responsibilities. Let’s guard against whatever will cause us to regret the future of our children. No effort should be considered too much to exact in building these great leaders of tomorrow. Who knows what that little child of yours today would turn out to be tomorrow? Maybe another history! What you do with them today will tell. Therefore, raise that child with care.
Bible Reading in one Year: PHILIPPIANS 1-4
Key Verse:“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Time magazine reported (1/22/ 95) that the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, occurred when two plates on a fault line fifteen miles offshore suddenly shifted against each other, violently lurching six to ten feet in opposite directions. The result was the worst Japanese earthquake since 1923. Thousands died. More than 46,000 buildings lay in ruins. Onefifth of the city’s population was left instantly homeless. The destruction unleashed by those two tectonic plates depicts what happens when a Christian bonds unequally with a non-Christian. Two people committed to each other but going in different directions can only lead to trouble. From our text, Paul the apostle warned the Corinthian believers about the danger of intimate friendship with those who do not believe in Christ. He reminded them of the uniqueness of their faith having become new creatures in Christ and the need to maintain their distinctiveness. He concluded by encouraging those who are already entangled to come out of such unequal yoke so they can be received by God as sons and daughters. Unequal yoke can exist in friendship, marriage, business or worship. While it is true that believers cannot exist as an island because of the need to spread the light of the gospel to others, it is equally clear that we don’t have to live in sin to help sinners. Believers must know the compulsion of righteous living and how to balance the need to love our neighbours. Going all out to support, defend and join ungodly causes can cost us the friendship of God. A true believer with a godly mind must know where to draw the line in relating with people who are not saved.
Bible Reading in one Year: EPHESIANS 4 – 6
Wednesday June 15, 2016
Key Verse:“Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead” (Song of Solomon 4:1).
“Look at a poor little colourless drop of water, hanging weakly on a blade of grass. It is not beautiful at all. Why should you stop to look at it? But stay till the sun has risen, and now look! It sparkles, like a diamond! And if you look at it from another side, it glows like a ruby, and presently it gleams like an emerald. The little drop has become one of the brightest and loveliest things you ever saw. But is it its own brightness and beauty? No. If it slipped down to the ground out of the sunshine it would be only a lowly little drop of dirty water. So, if the Sun of Righteousness, the glorious and lovely Saviour, shines upon you, a little ray of His own brightness and beauty will be seen upon you. That is true beauty” – Havergal. The Song of Solomon is an excellent work of poetry. The various episodes which sound more like love notes, carry a much deeper meaning than they appear to portray in the physical. Our text contain detailed description of natural beauty which is now compared to beautiful work of God’s creation. The image presented is that of Christ’s church – His bride, so naturally beautiful because of the work of grace upon her. The Bible says He did all this, that He might present it unto Himself a glorious church, not having any spot or wrinkle, but that it should be holy (Ephesians 5:26). There was no mention of artificial aids like make-up, jewelry and toning of the skin here. We must maintain this beauty till Christ comes. It must also be kept natural as Christ our Bridegroom wants it.
Tue, 14 Jun, 2016
Cheating Is Bad
Text: MICAH 6:10-16
KeyVerse: “Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights” (Micah 6:11)
“When people cheat in any arena, they diminish themselves, threaten their own self- esteem and their relationships with others by undermining the trust they have in their ability to succeed and in their ability to be true” – Cheryl Hughes. God, in today’s text, condemned the wicked practices of the Israelites in the days of Micah the Morasthite. He also decried the violence and lies that characterised the people of those days and the idolatry which they intentionally practiced. God punished them by bringing a famine in the land, leading to hunger and starvation. Some wicked practices are so common and widely practiced in some areas that they become entirely accepted as the norm. Some people involved with the business of buying and selling have devised so many methods to cheat their unsuspecting customers. The practice of depressing the containers used for measurement, using harmful substitutes in the production process and selling inferior materials for the price of the originals are condemned in Scriptures. If we truly love our neighbours as ourselves, we won’t be engaged in the act of defrauding or cheating them. Our business practices should be so transparent and impeccable that people will see the difference and believe the gospel that we preach.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Cheating destroys trust.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: 2 SAMUEL 23 – 24
Mon, 13 Jun, 2016
How-to Of Discipline
Text: 2 CORINTHIANS 2:1-11
KeyVerse: “So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7).
A. W. Tozer, in a Men Who Met God’ wrote: “We must face the fact that many today are notoriously careless in their living. This attitude finds its way into the church. We have liberty, we have money, we live in comparative luxury. As a result, discipline practically has disappeared. What would a violin solo sound like if the strings on the musician’s instrument were all hanging loose, not stretched tight, not a disciplined’?” From our text, we see Paul the apostle asking the Corinthian church to forgive and restore the man placed on discipline in chapter five of 1 Corinthians for incest with his father’s wife. He emphasized the need to restore those under church discipline as soon as they realize their faults, obtain forgiveness from God and have a complete change of attitude with the restoration of grace. There are two extremes when considering the subject of church discipline. One is, not putting erring member on discipline at all in the name of preaching the love of God. This will incur the displeasure of God and bring about a reproach on the church. The other extreme is to impose severe discipline that is not commensurate to the offence committed and not calling off the discipline even when the offender had apparently repented and made his or her ways right. As leaders and brethren in the church of God, we must always remember that the reason for church discipline is to correct and bring the ailing member back to fellowship with Christ. Discipline should be done in love and concern for the spiritual welfare of the member in question.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Discipline with grace makes for balanced discipleship.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: 2 SAMUEL 21 – 22
Key Verse: “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22).
A small girl had been promised the privilege of climbing to a nearby hilltop where her brother enjoyed playing. But when she came within sight of the steep, rough path, she drew back in dismay. “Why isn’t there a smooth spot anywhere? It’s all bumpy and stony!” she exclaimed. “Yes,” said her more experienced older brother. “But how else would we ever climb to the top if it wasn’t? The stones and bumps are what we step on to get there”. Job seems to have more than enough of those stones and bumps. From the text, we find account of terrible calamities that befell him. Though in shock over these sudden developments, he remained calm and committed everything into God’s hands. We may never be able to find all the reasons why disasters like these happen, especially when they occur in families that are godly and prayerful like Job’s. But when they happen, we must remember the promises of God who said He will be with us in times of crisis. He may answer our prayers by taking us away from the crisis or taking the crisis away from us. But sometimes, for reasons best known to Him, He allows us to pass through the fire and the flood. But He stays right through it with us. God’s promises were still as true as ever even as Job passed through the painful experience he had. As believers, we must understand that at the end of our trials and troubles, our lives would be better suited for God’s use and we become purified as it is by the fire of our afflictions.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 SAMUEL 19 – 20
Key Verse: “But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:25,26).
In the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson diverted a fifth of America’s wheat crop to alleviate starvation in India. Food stocks had reached such a precarious low in India that they were only sufficient for another two weeks. Worse, there was nothing in transit to India at this time. Helping the needy is part of the responsibility of saints in the church. From the text, Paul the apostle was travelling to Jerusalem with certain contribution made by believers in Macedonia and Achaia for the poor saints. Giving is a necessary duty of the children of God to care for the needy ones. Although the amount contributed was not stated in our passage, it was a good and timely response to the intense persecution the saints were passing through in Jerusalem. Many were displaced; others had their goods confiscated for daring to abandon their former religion to turn unto Christ. We have believers across the world today passing through similar situations. Religious extremists have been known to burn down churches and personal properties of saints in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Nigeria and the middle east, to mention but a few. It is the responsibility of believers in relatively tolerant countries to contribute relieve materials and money to assist those in need, especially the families of martyred saints. Even more! Our effectual, earnest and fervent prayers will avail much for these hapless compatriots.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 SAMUEL 17 – 18
Key Verse: “All these which were chosen to be porters in the gates were two hundred and twelve. These were reckoned by their genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer did ordain in their set office” (1 Chronicles 9:22).
Bees pollinate many of the worlds crops – a service estimated to be worth $24 billion a year in America alone, or about a third of Amazons yearly revenue. Is it amazing that as insignificant as a tiny bee is, the value it adds to the existence of mankind is immense? Some services may appear little but very significant. From our text, we find an account of Levites who were chosen to do the work of porters in the house of God. They were said to be keepers of the gates of the tabernacle, keepers of the host of the Lord and the entry points to the city of Jerusalem. The number of porters was put at two hundred and twelve dedicated men who were under the supervision of the high priest and his children. The lesson we learn here is about the dedication of these young men and the importance they attach to their duties. They did not treat their duties with disdain or regard them as menial or unimportant. We must come to realize that our rewards do not come according to the size of the work we do in the Lord’s house; it is according to how faithful we are in doing it. Nowadays, all workers want to preach as pastors and teach at the pulpit. Such people easily forget that some of us have been ordained of God to be good ushers just to stand at the door and serve the body of Christ. Since we cannot all be pastors or evangelists, teachers or prophets and apostles, we must keep the charge over the little work we have been asked to do. There are abiding rewards in being faithful to the tasks assigned to us in the body of Christ.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 SAMUEL 15 – 16
Key Verse:“Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands” (Job 14:15).
Agronomists and scientists say that times of drought are not disastrous after all. Their findings reveal that when everywhere is arid on the surface, economic trees are driven deeper to find water for sustenance. Put in a spiritual perspective, suffering can lead us beyond our ordinary acceptance of truth to complete dependence on God for hope, life and safety. This is what Job’s concluding remarks to the submission of one of his friend’s demonstrate. The mourners who showed up at Job’s home to sympathise with him were of little help to relieve him of the catastrophe that has come his way. They rather infuriated him, insisting his sin caught up with him. His wife also provoked him, asking him to curse God and die. Estrangement from the Almighty and final death appeared to be better than the state in which Job found himself. It was in the midst of these despairing and death-sentencing circumstances that God enabled him to discover the ultimate truth. It is very much like the tree in the time of drought when it digs deeper for survival. Job also, in his moment of need, saw the glorious which New Testament believers know as Resurrection when God “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phillippians. 3:21). The great truth is that, it is not sufficient to flaunt our knowledge of the Scriptures as Christians. To claim to know Him and the doctrines of the Bible is not enough in our walk with God. This knowledge must be weighed in the balance of life’s experiences. It is the fire of challenges that would determine the texture of our faith, the depth of absorption of what we take in from the Bible. We must all come to the point where we are driven to rely only on the deep, undiluted and uncorrupted word of God.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 SAMUEL 13 – 14
Key Verse:“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
Through nine rhetorical questions in our text, Prophet Amos pronounces God’s revelation of the judgment on the sin of Israel. Warnings are wrapped in the posers, which are themselves very profound truths designed to teach deep Kingdom and relational realities. Can two walk together if they are not spiritually compatible? Would a Holy God entertain companionship with carnal man? No. The carnal man must first abandon his sinful way. If the Lion of the tribe of Judah should roar against sin, would the sinner not tremble and fear? And if the battle trumpet be blown, would there not be a flight for safety? Notwithstanding, there is God’s assurance that even in anger He is merciful. What God is telling us is that He will always use His servants to issue warnings before moving in with judgments if the need arises. Can man then murmur when swift divine judgment follows the refusal to repent? We are the architect of the evil that accompanies sin, not God. The instructive takeaway of the lesson today is that the sinner and backslider as well as the careless Christian should not handle God’s warning about the wrath to come with levity. God’s admonitions are the Father’s unique way of showing mercy to us. It is also a clarion call to the believer not to fall for the erroneous teaching of eternal security which assumes that a saved person can live a care-free life without watching against the possibility of backsliding. God’s precepts are for all and sundry. Proverb 14:16 says it all: “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.”
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 SAMUEL 11 – 12
Key Verse: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).
The scene of a grieving father standing before his stubborn and wayward son and pleading with him to renounce his destructive lifestyle would touch any reasonable person. But the picture of the patient Almighty God serially wronged by His children, calling on nature to witness His people’s sin, is an overwhelming testimony to the bottomless mercy of God as against the extreme iniquity of man. The children of Israel had behaved like the heathen, disrespecting God and His laws, thus provoking Him to anger. God had loved and pleased them at every turn. Instead of showing appreciation to Him, they were unthankful and forgetful. Their custom of addressing their sin by sacrificing to God was not acceptable. It was infuriating to Him. In our age, thousands of years after Prophet Micah, God’s standard has not changed. He has the same message for everyone today. He wants a regenerated heart from where love, justice, humility and mercy will flow. Our service to God is meaningless if we do not possess a soul that exhibits these virtues, which only a new life in Christ can create. If there is no answer to our pleas to God for peace in the home, community and nation, then we must go back to God, the Author of peace and listen to what He says in Isaiah 59:1,2,4: “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 SAMUEL 8 – 10
Key Verse: “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God” (2 Corinthians 1:21).
The story was told of a pastor who misled a group of soldiers at the funeral of a war veteran. The friends of the late soldier asked the minister to take them to the room where the coffin was so they could observe some moments of silence. They would then return through another door. But alas, the officiating pastor missed his way and led the soldiers into a broom closet instead of the casket room. This proves the saying, “As go the leaders, so go the followers.” In the case of Apostle Paul, he could beat his chest to claim that it was God that put a stamp of authority and approval on him and the pair of Timothy and Silvanus. This enabled them to lead the church effectively. Because they knew who was leading them, they could not be wrong in imparting His guidance to the church they were writing to at Corinth. They could, through the perfect counsel of God instructing them, apply the required disciplinary levers if the need arose with regard to earlier reports of immorality among the brethren. When the church is led by those who are themselves led of Christ, it is impossible for anarchy, rebellion, indiscipline and worldliness to secure a foothold among the brethren. And it would be impossible for the brethren to be misled into shallow doctrines unreflective of the mind of God. Unrepentant self-serving leaders in the church and their followers, are a foreshadow of those who will remain in the world at the time of the Great Tribulation since they are not absorbing the core of the apostolic truth. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock…feed the church of God (with Bible truths)…Not for filthy lucre …neither as being lords over them but being examples to the flock.”
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 SAMUEL 6 – 7
Key Verse: “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8).
The Bible authored by a God of order cannot contradict itself by saying God is watching over the righteous and then reverse itself to say this same God would allow righteous Job to be crushed by Satan. The occasion of a just Creator permitting controlled “calamity” to hit His righteous creature is the unfolding of the wisdom of God to prove that man’s existence is not about bread and butter, as it were. He proved that Job could absorb suffering and still remain faithful to Him. Christians need to constantly demonstrate to the world that persecution for their stand for Jesus will never be weighty enough to make them abandon Him in the face of temporary setbacks that may come through low finances, sicknesses, job loss, failed expectations and so on. In the midst of these, we must see the presence of God through the invisible hedge He has made around us with the eyes of faith. Such storms may bring down our property or business and inflict some bodily harm. But let us be assured that God does not allow such adversarial winds to fatally blow our souls. The devil or his agents cannot overrule God. But then, God expects the believer to endure in faithfulness to the end. We must vindicate God’s trust in us and put Satan to shame by not allowing the quest for fleeting material considerations to overwhelm us in times of adversities and temptations. There is a crown waiting for the overcomer in heaven.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 SAMUEL 3 – 5
Key Verse: “I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God” (Romans 15:17).
Nearing the close of his seminal epistle to the Romans, Apostle Paul goes back to the key concept of grace with which he started the letter. The book continues with the affirmation that we are saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Paul’s stand in this Spirit-driven presentation is that he became saved not by self emancipation but through the all sufficient merit of Christ. If any remarkable work for the Lord must be credited at all, the Motivator must be Christ who saved him. Put more aptly, Paul laboured so strenuously because he was saved and not in order to be saved. That should be the attitude of those who come to the knowledge of Christ. Christ simply redeemed mankind by His grace and rescued him from the broad way to hell. Once saved therefore, we need to doggedly continue in the narrow way. Such a career must be one of gratitude to the Master, without whom we would have been lost eternally. The Apostle speaks of striving to preach the gospel in far flung regions where Christ had not been mentioned. Striving suggests toiling, struggling and exertion of extraordinary effort in a given task. The church of Jesus Christ is looking for such men and women in an age with jaded doctrines of self-adulation. The church must go back to the old days when grace was sufficient for the saints and no credit was given to them for work done for the Lord. It is this motivation of the grace of the Lord that would carve in us the image of that faithful servant in Luke 17:7-10.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 SAMUEL 1 – 2
Key Verse: “Now the first inhabitants that dwelt in their possessions in their cities were, the Israelites, the priests, Levites, and the Nethinims” (1 Chronicles 9:2).
God attaches fundamental importance to His service and to His servants. Upon the return of the children of Israel from captivity in Babylon, He allowed the Priests, Levites and temple assistants into the land first. Partnering with Him to publish His laws, rules and regulations as well as engaging in temple maintenance were of utmost priority to God. As it was then, so it is today. There is distinction given to those directly involved in church work. God often focuses attention on the redeemed who, day and night, live a completely surrendered life through biblical ethics of righteous, holy and sacrificial service. Everyone who has given his life to Christ is a sacred vessel in God’s hands. He works not only in the visible church, but also in the universal one. As soon as they returned, the Priest immediately set a precedent in the service of God, making it a priority over other considerations. We are saved to serve. And God’s service must be second to none in our personal economy. God is preparing us for our heavenly home by His mercy, just as He prepared the way for the return of the children of Israel to their inheritance. Yet, He does not want us to rest on our oars. We must show appreciation to Him for saving us by enlisting in His army to spread the Good News, laying as it were, treasures, talents, time, and indeed our all on the altar of consecration. God must be number one in all things and our service to Him must be without parallel.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 SAMUEL 30 – 31
Key Verse:“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In the words of Helen Keller (1880-1968), American renowned deaf-blind lecturer and author: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart”. Conversion, in the same vein, is the greatest and most exciting experience a person may know, but it is a change that takes place within, in your heart, when you ask Jesus in earnest prayer of repentance to come into your heart. When He comes in, He cleanses your heart of sin and guilt and condemnation. He then dwells within you. Christ living on the inside of you is the reason and power for a really new life which others can see. Some folks are deluded, thinking that religious observances and self inflicted punishments would do. The hardest thing for a sinner to do is change the attitudes that originally produced sinful behaviour in them. He must be born again to really become a new creature. Being born again is more than being religious. It is more than making personal resolutions. It is a change of life to a completely new and godly behaviour made possible by the Spirit of Christ within. There are things that testify in the believer’s life that he is truly of God, namely, the absence of the old sinful lifestyle, self centeredness, unholy affairs or pursuits and such other things. Jesus becomes the very centre of his life. The change within is reflected in the corresponding good works produced without. The way we are on the inside matters so much to God. If you are new inwardly, your attitude without will be right. Are you born again?
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 SAMUEL 27 – 29
Key Verse:“Then went Solomon to Ezion-geber, and to Eloth at the seaside in the land of Edom” (2 Chronicles 8:17).
The well respected British classical scholar, Thomas Morell (1703-1784) is remembered by many for his skill in Natural History and Open Literature. One of his memorable quotes is: “The first great gift we can bestow on others is a ‘Good Example'”. God gave us a good example of perfect giving when He gave the very best that He has in heaven. Jesus is that good and perfect gift that came from the presence of the Father to save mankind from sin. Jesus, Himself gave the best that He had when His blood was shed and His life taken at Calvary. The passage we have just read pictures King Solomon giving the best that he could find for the building of a worship place for God. Solomon’s heart was at this time filled with love for God, and his giving reflected the love that was in his heart. As recipients of His grace, we also ought always to show our love, reverence and devotion to God by giving the most costly and valuable things we can afford in service to His Kingdom. When it is time to give for the work of His Kingdom, we may have to recall our treasures which are stacked up in distant places to honour the Lord. It is not appropriate for those who possess His material blessings to give only a widow’s mite. The God from whom we seek the greatest things for life and eternity has right to the greatest things of our possession and wealth. Therefore, what are you going to give to God this day? Your time, intellect, money or other material possessions? Yes, all these you may give, but remember to give also your very best, that is, your heart and your life.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 SAMUEL 25 – 26
Key Verse: “Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice” (Micah 6:1).
Hard rocky mountains and cliffs are two of the common physical features of Palestine. Sound experts tell us that these objects are among some of the most effective natural producers of sound echoes. If tested at a quiet moment, a whisper within appropriate distance of a flat, the hard wall of a cliff may be heard nearly 40 metres away. It is as though, the speaker was talking from just over your shoulder. A shout near a range of such mountains produces a repeating echo that can sometimes be heard more than seven times before it becomes inaudible. The Lord had summoned Israel to appear before some of these mountains and tell the reason for their unfaithfulness to a God who had done so much in revealing His goodness and mercy to them. God intended to judge the sins and ingratitude of Israel with the surrounding mountains and hills as witnesses. The mountains and hills have been of old and have kept their own estates not moving or removing from the place where God had planted them. There is no want of evidence or witness which God might call up against man’s sin and unfaithfulness to Him at any time. Man cannot cover up his sin well enough to escape the notice of either the sun, moon, stars, mountains or hills. The secret sins of all men will be judged openly by the Lord on judgment day. If man refuses to see God’s kindness in every situation of his life, if he begins to take God’s goodness for granted and goes away from His will and commandment, God can use even those things that are meant for man’s blessing and satisfaction as rods of punishment and witnesses against hims.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 SAMUEL 23 – 24
Key Verse: “So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. And all the earth sought to Solomon, torn hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart” (1 Kings 10:23, 24).
A major breakthrough in medicine was the discovery of the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic to render people insensitive to the pain of surgery in 1847. Behind the discovery was a medical doctor from Edinburgh, Sir James Simpsom. His discovery has saved millions of people the excruciating pains of surgery and popularised him. Later in life, one of his students at University of Edinburgh asked him what he considered to be the most valuable discovery of his lifetime. The students expected him to refer to chloroform. To their surprise he replied, “My most valuable discovery was when I discovered myself a sinner and that Jesus Christ was my Saviour. ” For what do people crave? Wisdom, wealth, fame. . . what else? Instinctively, people pursue these as a means to an end. That end is happiness. Unfortunately, the quest for worldly wealth and fame often blocks the way to true happiness. Outside self discovery in God, lasting happiness is elusive. Those who have climbed the ladders of wisdom, wealth and fame will tell the story better. King Solomon saw it all. Today’s text gives an insight into the extent of his wealth and fame which have remained matchless among men till date. In fact, he was reputed to be the richest and wisest in the world. He employed all he had for his enjoyment and the betterment of his subjects. Yet, Solomon informs us that worldly acquisitions and attainments are vain without the fear of and obedience to God (Ecclesiastes 12:8, 13). How we need to hold the things of this world with loose hands by not setting our hearts on them!
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 SAMUEL 21 – 22
A Heart-Felt Covenant
Key Verse:“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:10).
Since the introduction of writing by the Sumerians in the fourth millennium BC, it has been the most important means of communication known to man. Over the centuries, people have written on a great varieties of materials – stones, metals, leaves, textile, paper, and even bodies. But all human forms of writing have one weakness – they are directed at the brain (knowledge). Today’s passage exposes the promise of a superior form of writing – on the tables of our hearts. The old covenant is contrasted with the new covenant of grace. The old covenant made with the fathers of the Jewish nation had Aaron as its priest and Moses as mediator. It served its purpose as a schoolmaster to usher them to Christ. But it could not continue because it was inadequate. The new covenant which has Christ as its Mediator is therefore more excellent being established on better promises. One of the high points of the new dispensation is God’s promise to write His laws in the minds of His children. Once, He wrote the laws on tables of stone, but now on the tables of our hearts (the seat of intellect and understanding). This writing carries with it enabling grace by which it becomes easier to love and obey Him. He promises to be our God and we, His people. It is a covenant of grace in which there is forgiveness based on the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses from all sin. It is indeed a great privilege to live in this dispensation which was, to the old Jewish covenant, an ideal. Today, anyone who reconciles with God through repentance and faith in Christ can be a beneficiary of these privileges.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 SAMUEL 19 – 20
Regenerated Not Reformed
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
A man dies and finds himself at the pearly gates. An angel meets him and asks what he was doing at the gate. “I want to go in, ” he says. “Can I?” The angel replies, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I will give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in. ” “Okay, ” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart. ” “That’s wonderful, ” says the angel, “that’s worth three points!” “Three points?” the man exclaimed while wondering in his mind how he can meet up with the 100 points. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithes and offerings. ” “Terrific!” says the angel. “That’s certainly worth a point. ” “One point!?”, he shouted. “I started a soup kitchen for the homeless in my city and worked in an orphanage for motherless babies. ” “Fantastic, that’s good for two more points, ” he says. “Two points!?” Exasperated, the man cries, “Well, at this rate it’ll just be by the grace of God that I ever get into heaven. ” “Bingo, 100 points!” the angel said, “Come on in!” Like Paul the apostle rightly notes, in his epistle to the Ephesians, it is only by grace that you can be saved and finally make it to heaven. But while you are alive here on earth, grace takes hell right out of you and makes you sit together with Christ Jesus in the heavenly places. In fact, grace changes your position from that of a dead man to a living soul. “He hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together. ” “We cannot live where we used to live, ” Charles Spurgeon notes. “We cannot wear what we used to wear. If you had been raised from the dead, and had come out of your tomb, you would not go about with your shroud on. ” How is it that some who claim to be God’s children are still fond of wearing their grave clothes?
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 SAMUEL 17 – 18
A Pause For Children Today
Text: EPHESIANS 6:1-4
KeyVerse: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
As the world celebrates the children’s day today, it is a fact that children are the joy and delight of their parents. It is sad, however, to observe that the relationship between parents and children in some homes have turn ed sour as a result of the failure of both parties in their duties. Where there is balance in parents/children relationship, there are bound to be harmony, trust, mutual confidence, peace and progress in the family. Obedience from children to parents should be a loving submission. Their obedience is the way they respond to this love. When parents truly love their children, they will deal with them with proper understanding and tolerance. They will not have an overbearing and repelling attitude towards them. Their expectation of them will not be too high. However, this does not mean that parents should indulge their children in anyway. While they remain kind, gentle and loving, they are at the same time expected to be firm and principled. They have it as their duty to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Christian parents have it as their primary responsibility to lead their children torn the Lord through their own personal practical lives and examples as well as deliberate and consistent instructions from the word of God. If we do these, our homes will bern strong and peaceful and our societies in turn , will have less aggressions, protests and violence coming from disgruntled children whose homes have failed them.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: There is no conflict in love.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: 1 SAMUEL 15 – 16
Damning Little Horn
The last days are upon us. Weigh carefully the times. Look for him who is above all time, eternal and invisible. ” That statement was made by a Christian named Ignatius, who lived in 110AD, just a few decades after the first epistle of John was written. From our text, the visions of Daniel reveal the rise and fall of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and the Roman empires. The ram and the he-goat represent the two kingdoms of Medo-Persians and the Grecians respectively while the little horn from all the circumstances of the prediction find its fulfillment first in Antiochus Epiphanes and finally in the coming world ruler, the Antichrist. In 167 B. C. Antiochus Epiphanes, a Greek ruler, set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. He also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the abomination of desolation. He dared to occupy Jerusalem, enter the Holy of Holies, and desecrate the sanctuary. Antiochus Epiphanes serves as a foreshadow of the Antichrist to come the days ahead. The message of the Little Ho and its attack on the sanctuary is instructive. Saints are surrounded on all sides by belief systems that are an assault on righteousness by grace alone. John the beloved tells us in one of his messages that even now there are many antichrists who are forerunners of the one predicted by Daniel. Now is the time to patiently wait for Christ’s coming. Are you among those waiting for Him? Or, you are allied with Antichrist?
Prayer: “And out of one of them came forth a little horn , which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land” (Daniel 8:9).
Wed, 25 May, 2016
The Ultimate Victory
Text: 2 SAMUEL 10:6-19
KeyVerse: “And when all the kings that were servants to Hadarezer saw that they were smitten before Israel, they made peace with Israel, and served them. So the Syrians feared to help the children of Ammon any more” (2 Samuel 10:19).
During his reign as king of Israel, David had many confrontations with the people of Syria.The Israelites constantly struggled against the Syrians until King David was given the ability by God to defeat and control these people. This final defeat was between 1050 BC and 1090 BC. When Hadarezer’s armies were defeated, the other Syrian kings under his rule quickly made peace with Israel. “When a man’s way please the LORD, He maketh his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). God had given King David victory wherever he went, defeating the Syrian forces. From this passage, we learn t that those who are at war with the Son of David are but in a futile war. God has forces to send against those that set His wrath at defiance, which will convince them that none ever hardened his heart against Him and prospered. Christ’s soldiers should strengthen one another’s hands in their spiritual warfare. Let nothing be wanting in us, whatever the success. When we are conscientious in our duty, we may, with satisfaction, leave the event with God, assuredly hoping for His salvation in His own way and time. An abiding lesson is instructive in this passage: avoid the sin of rewarding evil for good like Hanun, for this is contrary to the word of God. Another important lesson can be found in Joab’s response to a very hard battle situation. Hern encouraged Abishai to be of good couragern and play the men. We also need to fight the battle of this life with courage, having complete trust in the God of all battles.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When a man’s way pleases the Lord, He makes his enemies to be at peace with him.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: 1 SAMUEL 12 – 13
Tue, 24 May, 2016
A Vesture Of Glory
Text: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:1-9
KeyVerse: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1, 2).
Paul here speaks of our body as the house’ in which our real self dwells. We dwell in our body as in a house because the real you’ is the spirit-man within. He explains in metaphoric expressions, in comparison to there spiritual and glorious body’ that is to come, that this present earthly body is likened to a fragile tent’ because it originates from that which is of this earth. Our hope of being clothed with a body from God motivates inward expectation to bern transformed from this earthly body in which we presently dwell, into the heavenly body that will dwell painlessly in the eternal heaven, which, of course, is our final goal. The greater our perception of the desired eternal heavenly dwelling, the more we understand that the burden our present body’ does not confine us to this world. Those who feel comfortable in this present dwelling’ and concentrate all their efforts in pleasing it do not fully understand the glory that will be revealed hereafter. The believer who has his mind on things above “groans” torn be relieved of the confinement and limitations of this earthly body and be embodied with the glorious body of immortality. Paul says here, that all that happens to us in time are for the purpose of transiting the faithful into a glorious body for eternal existence. We are therefore to live our lives like that of Abraham who though present in this tabernacle’, was neither subject to its allurements nor moved by its troubles because “he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The glory ahead surpasses the troubles around.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: 1 SAMUEL 10 – 11
Mon, 23 May, 2016
Obstinacy Is Damning
Text: AMOS 4:1-13
KeyVerse: “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth yet have ye not return ed unto me, saith the LORD. Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare torn meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:6, 12).
A watchful and dutiful mother looked out of the window on the snow-covered driveway. Sighting her seven-year old son sled into the street, she called him into the house and reprimanded him, “Danny, I have told you never to slid into the street!” Throughout the day, Danny heard the laughter of happy neighbourhood children as they ramped and sledded in the snow. When the day was almost gone, Danny pleaded “can’t I go out now mom?” His mother eventually relented and permitted him. As Danny dashed towards the door, mother warned, “Remember what I told you about going into the street. Stay in the yard!” They were last words Danny ever heard from his mom. Five minutes later, Danny was dead – he was crushed by a car when he sledded into the street. The Israelites occupy a special place in God’s heart. He had pleaded with them in today’s text to obey Him and repent of their evil doings. He tried to draw their attention through famine, draught, lack, pestilences and premature deaths. Despite all these, they did not return to the Lord. Owing to this persistent stubbornness and impenitence of Israel, God had to come to the conclusion: “prepare to meet thy God” (verse 12). And “who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger(Nahum 1:6). The Lord has no delight in the destruction of the sinner. If you have been resistant to His earnest pleadings, lovingkindness and tender care, even when He allows adverse situations in your life, it is to draw your attention. It is time to rethink and reverse from a life of obstinacy. It simply does not pay.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The door of grace opens not in perpetuity
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: 1 SAMUEL 8 – 9
Sunday May 22, 2016
His Glory Alone
Text: Psalm 4:1-11
Key Verse: “But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:3, 4).
A clergyman once asked some children before him, “What is holiness?” A poor little boy in tattered dress jumped up and said,”Please, your reverence, it is to be clean inside.” Could anything be truer? Holiness means “separated” or “set apart for a special use”.
In this specific case in our text, God speaks about His glory which the Sons of men had turned in to shame through their love for vanity. He turns our attention to the beautiful life of those set apart for His exclusive use: they do not live willfully in sin any longer as the nature and power of sin has been destroyed through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. The passage concludes with the gladness of heart and the prevailing peace which God’s holy people enjoy in spite of the turbulence and evil in the world. The world’s system has a way of controlling and corrupting people, be it through the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes or the pride of life. As Christians, we know that some of those things in the world system are wrong. We must therefore avoid them. We must not behave like people who don’t want to give up the world entirely; people who try to hold onto the world and at the same time remain in Christ’s kingdom. Anyone who clings to the world will surely be entrapped by it.
The way of holiness is not to import worldly principles in to Christianity. The way of holiness is to come out from among them and be separate. That means, we exist for the special purpose of being a pure dwelling for God. When we are set apart, we show forth the praises of God and sinners are drawn to His love through our lives and conduct. Remember, without holiness no man shall see the Lord
Thought for the day: Holiness is “to be clean inside”.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 Samuel 6-7
Saturday May 21, 2016
His Spotless Bride
Text: Revelation 14:1-13
Key Verse: “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4).
Some theological students were walking along a street in the White Chapel district of London, a section where old and used clothing is sold. “What a fitting illustration all these make!”, exclaimed one of the students as he pointed to a suit of clothes hanging on a rack by a window. A sign on it read: SLIGHTLY SOILED – GREATLY REDUCED IN PRICE.
He continued, “We get soiled by gazing at a vulgar picture, reading a course book, or allowing ourselves a little indulgence in dishonest or lustful thoughts; and so when the time comes for our character to be appraised, we are greatly reduced in value. Our purity, our strength is gone. We are just part and parcel of the general, shopworn stock of the world. ” The chapter opens with a specific group of people (one hundred and forty-four thousand in number) which maintain a special relationship with Jesus. They are standing with Jesus on Mount Zion, being now triumphant with the Lamb. Instead of the mark of the beast on their foreheads or their hands, these people bear the name of the Lamb and of the Father on their foreheads. They follow Jesus every step of the way and are transformed through God’s grace. While the saints were being kept in God’s presence, the inhabitants of the earth are warned through angelic ministry to reject both the mark and the worship of the beast and avoid the consequences.
Christ’s faithful followers keep away from anything that defiles and are loyal to Him exclusively, as His pure bride. The purity of the church is what distinguishes and sets her apart as Christ’s bride. When Jesus shall come to take away His people, He shall be coming for His pure bride, without spot or wrinkle.
Thought for the day: No bride turns up on a wedding day with a soiled garment.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 Samuel 3-5
Fri, 20 May, 2016
Text: ESTHER 10:1-3
KeyVerse: “For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed” (Esther 10:3).
There is a beautiful saying amongst the Irish peasantry to inspire hope under adverse circumstances: “Remember, ” they say, “that the darkest hour of all is the hour before day. ” Of a truth, (according to another popular saying), “the end justifies the means”. What a soothing summary have here today about the life and times of the once hated, haunted and troubled man – Mordecai – who transcended from grass to grace, hate to honour and death threats to the throne. A contrast to his former humiliation at the door of the palace and the ignominious death for which at one time he seemed destined. The story of Mordecai goes down in history as a heartwarming reality for believers, who may be facing similar hatred at various levels and degrees. Mordecai’s strength originated from his faith in God; hence, his unwavering commitment to his personal convictions even in moments of Haman’s threats. He did not allow society form or change his principles. His eventual future was determined by God using the same Haman as executor of His divine plan. We see here the grand plan of God to preserve His people, the seedline of Abraham, as proof of His faithfulness to His promises. Don’t allow the present damage, challenges, sleepless nights or tears dampen your confidence in God’s unfailing promises concern ing your future. A song writer says, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.The summation of your life’s story is not in what happened yesterday or today but what God has planned for your tomorrow.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: There is always hope, even in the worst of circumstances.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: 1 SAMUEL 1 – 2
Thursday May 19, 2016
The Jewel and the Dog
Text: 2 Chronicles 8:7-13
Key Verse: “And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David unto the house that he had built for her: for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, whereunto the ark of the LORD hath come” (2 Chronicles 8:11).
Revival becomes necessary when God’s people have gone far from Him and have started to do things inconsistent with His commandment. God’s servants were fully aware of this common condition, particularly that of unequal yoke in marriage, business and so on.
Israel’s economy had blossomed under Solomon’s reign. The nation had never had it so good, as no other kingdom of the world at this time in history could match Israel’s wealth and extensive prosperity. While citizens of Israel were employed for a descent remuneration, the Canaanite captives were used for menial labour as slaves. Yet, all was not well with this king, who at this time had enjoyed tremendous favour from God. Solomon’s marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter even if contracted for political gain and patronage, was clearly a contravention of God’s law. She was moved out of the temple area because she persisted in the worship of the gods of Egypt. There is little doubt that Solomon’s priority was business and political gain rather than obedience to God’s commandment.
How we need to be careful that after God has blessed and prospered us on all sides, our hearts do not to go after what He hates. The Scriptures warn clearly that when riches increase, do not set your mind on them. Solomon went ahead to marry other foreign wives who worshipped false gods. It was a question of time and the king himself did fall. Let the life of Solomon teach us timeless lessons of life on wholesome obedience to the revealed counsel of God.
Thought for the day: A fall is precipitated when a focus is taken away from Christ.
Bible Reading in one Year: Ruth 3-4
Wed, 18 May, 2016
Text: 2 SAMUEL 10:1-5
KeyVerse: “And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it?” (2 Samuel 10:3).
The Scriptures state that “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). This presupposes the counsellor or adviser is wise, knowledgeable, impartial, unselfish and God fearing. Consequent upon the evil advice of the princes of Ammon to Hanun, their lord, David’s emissaries were shamefully treated as they were mistaken for spies who were out to survey the city with the sole motive of overthrowing it. This was dearly contrary to David’s intention. The culture of Israel allows men wear full beards as a sign of maturity and authority. Thus when David’s ambassadors had their beards half-shaved, they were subjected to untold shame and indignity. Hanun took a wrong advice. When he realized his action had angered David, he prepared his soldiers for a clearly avoidable war. He would have thought through the advice and promptly apologized. People in leadership positions, be they presidents, governors or Church leaders, will of necessity seek advice concerning the execution of their duties. Such advice when given should be thought through, weighed and subjected to thorough introspection to remove every negative colouration before implementation. This will help to ensure the avoidance of tragic mistakes and the attendant unpleasant consequences such as Hanun brought upon himself and his nation. Even as an individual believer, you need not be governed by impulsive actions: your credo in life ought to be predicted upon that time-tested truism: be slow to speak, quick to hear and slow to anger.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Acting before thinking is the forerunner of a disaster.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: RUTH 1 – 2
Text: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
Key Verse: “For our light affliction which is but for moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
He sat in a corner of the staffroom, his face a picture of despondency. “John, why are you looking so gloomy or is the world coming to an end anytime from now as you always tell us?” A colleague had asked him. For a few seconds no answer came. When he answered, it was with such disdain for his new faith. “I don’t know why things are so hard for me since I became a Christian, every road I take seems to lead nowhere”.
Like the young man in the story above, many believers in the Corinthian church started facing some physical challenges as a result of their newly found faith. Paul the apostle had to encourage them not to lose heart, giving the assurance that God is able to see them through, no matter what. Afflictions are appointed for us by our heavenly Father.
However, there is a provision of support in the covenant of grace for true Christians who are suffering; for by these they are conformed the more to Him. When the suffering saint is supported by the arm of the Lord, indulged with His presence and favoured with the discoveries of His love, whatever he may be going through will compare to nothing he will get on the day of reward. So, cheer up, for the Lord will surely succour you.
Thought for the day: Religious profession without Christ is vain.
Bible Reading in one Year: Galatians 4-6
Heed the Warnings
Text: Amos 3:9-15
Key Verse: “Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground” (Amos 3:13, 14).
He called it robbing minds together as he poured out his heart to the man who sat next to him in the public bus. “It is about my first son, truly I have become fed up. He is neither intelligent in school nor domestically useful at home. He is a member of the cult. I have done everything humanly possible, including bringing in the police but to no avail”, Mr. Abel lamented. His listener who perhaps had his load of challenge merely retorted, “Sir report him to the minister of youth and culture as he has failed to listen to you”.
God was about to judge Israel but would not do so without sending a prophet/messenger to warn them. In our text, prophet Amos pictured Assyria and Egypt, its most wicked neighbors coming to witness Israel’s sins and God’s judgment. This was to let them see the enormity, gravity and extremity of Israel’s wickedness. Assyria was to become an instrument of chastisement against Israel, whose altars had become so polluted that they offered no more acceptable worship. Israel took God’s love and protection for granted. Their leaders and nobles had robbed their defenceless citizens and would now be rendered defenceless by the invading Assyrians. Prophet Amos warned them against a late attempt to repent as such would be unacceptable to God.
Israel could not have genuine fellowship with God without an acceptance of His word with prompt and consistent obedience of His commandment. They failed to do this and were scattered to other foreign countries as refuges. The question comes to us today. Can we walk in true fellowship with God without accepting His word as fundamental truth and abiding by them? The answer is a definite ‘No’.
Thought for the day: A haughty spirit heeds no danger sign.
Bible Reading in one Year: Galatians 1-3
That Day Is Coming
Key Verse:“But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap” (Malachi 3:2).
It was Franz Karka, an 18th century writer who wrote, “Only our concept of time makes it possible for us to speak of the day of judgment by that name; in reality it is summary court in perpetual session. ” We should be able to judge our actions every day before that final day. At the time prophet Malachi wrote, the Jews, back from exile, had started experiencing various forms of adversity and spiritual decline. The people had started doubting Gods love for them and wondered aloud if there was still any profit in serving God. The prophet had to admonish both the people and the priests of the inescapable demand for repentance and certainty of God’s impending judgment. The temple had been rebuilt and the sacrifices and feast had been re-instituted. A general reading of the law had been reintroduced by Ezra. But subtle backsliding particularly among the priests and the people had been observed. On the whole, the general climate was that of spiritual neglect and complacency. The people were reminded of the day of the Lord’s coming. Yes, there had been series of warning concerning readiness for this great day, when unrepentant sinners would have no one but themselves to blame for the calamity that would befall them. The warning is coming to every one of us today to be ready at all times and to be counted worthy to stand before Him
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 CORINTHIANS 10-13
Who Made You A Judge?
Text: Romans 14:1-9
Key Verse: “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).
A certain primary school teacher was fond of flogging his pupils over failed questions in hygiene. On a certain Friday, he requested a group of pupils to carry his books to his house within the school premises. This they all jumped at not for love of their teacher but because they had a mischief up their sleeves. As soon as they entered the teacher’s apartment, they requested to drink water, a request the teacher readily granted and pointed them to a water pot in the kitchen. Lo and behold the pot was without a cover. He tried to explain but the pupils who were excited by their discovery never bothered to listen. Did the teacher teach himself?
Believers are God’s servants occupying various positions in the church with various levels of responsibilities in the execution of the services, activities and projects of the church at various levels of knowledge and intelligence and complementing one another. The weak brother ought not be despised but encouraged. Though we must desist from judging fellow believers in small and trivial issues, yet in matters of doctrine, holy living and Christlikeness, faith and morals, we must be firm but fair that the weaker ones do not misconstrue our intentions as lording it over them.
To do this as true Christian believers, we must evaluate, correct and rebuke where necessary, in love and humility. Let us always remember that we have one Master to whom we are all answerable. He is the Judge of all the earth and has laid down for us all the basic principles of discipleship.
Thought for the day: A product of grace boasts not of personal triumph, but of the glory of Christ.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 Corinthians 5-9
Celebration Of Peace And Truth
Key Verse:“Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, torn confirm this second letter of Purim” (Esther 9:29).
The book of Esther, one of the two books named after women, brings to the fore a profound interplay of God’s power, sovereignty and His matchless grace and mercy. Gods will must always triumph over that of man and his evil machinations. Everywhere in the book of Esther, God’s power and providence can visibly be felt. The Jews were now engaged in the war of survival. In the other provinces, they had won their battle in one day, but the battle of Shushan lasted for two days. In both instances, however, it was beyond any doubt that their quick and smooth victory was a clear evidence that God was fighting for them. There was the need for the Lord to save and preserve a remnant for the fulfillment of His promise of the coming messiah. Our text shows clearly that in spite of cultural inhibitions among the Jews which precluded women from being loud and outspoken but merely stayed quiet and served in the home, Esther broke through these cultural norms. She stepped out, did the unexpected, and put her life on the line in order to help God’s people. Now it was celebration time and the Purim had to be observed throughout their generation by every family, province and city. No matter our station in life, God is able to use anyone, regardless of his or her place, to achieve the seemingly impossible. And for this to happen, we must be open, available and ready. Are you ready to be used of God? It is entirely up to you.
Bible Reading in one Year: 2 CORINTHIANS 1-4
A Time To Celebrate
Key Verse:“On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness” (Esther 9:17).
As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: “It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians – and I am one of them. ” The Jews had their troubles turned into triumph. The very day they were supposed to have been wiped out, their fate was turned around by God. On that same day, they attacked and destroyed only those who were guilty of wanting or trying to destroy them. Yet, this is different from Haman’s edict? Haman sought to kill all the Jews along with Mordecai. However, unlike Haman’s decree, the Jews understood that the execution of Mordecai’s edict was governed by the rules of the ancient command of holy war against the Amalekites during the days of Saul. One of the rules was that the spoils were not to be taken. How is the timing of this feast a time of Joy and celebration for Christians? Well like Haman, the devil wants us all dead. God’s righteous decree is that all who sin deserve death and His decree cannot be overturned, but the price was paid by another. That is our celebration, the decree of eternal death is no longer a threat to those of us in Christ, and we have been set free. We celebrate every time we take of the Lord’s Supper, proclaiming His sacrificial death, His propitiation for us and rejoice in the promise of His grace and mercy. O, how we need to discover that all that we need for time and eternity are in the Lord Jesus.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 CORINTHIANS 15-16
No Room For Compromise
Key Verse:“And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according torn all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 14:24).
Rev. Gene Robinson was recently elected as the first openly gay Episcopalian Bishop of New Hampshire. This has brought the issue of homosexuality to the forefront. The issue raised so much dust because it is the height of abomination; and many have a hard time with a person who says he is a “Christian homosexual” … just like a person who says he is a “Christian alcoholic”, a “Christian thief”, or “Christian adulterer”. The reign of Rehoboam the son of Solomon was tainted with idolatry. They provoked the Lord to anger by their idolatrous images even raising up images previously destroyed and building new ones. As if that was not enough, they allowed sodomites to fester in the land which eventually incurred the wrath of God. Shishak king of Egypt invaded Jerusalem and easily defeated the Israelites because God was not with them. He took away the shields of gold which Solomon had made. In shame, Rehoboam had to replace them with brazen substitutes. The word ‘Christian’ has been so cheapened in many quarters today that every Tom, Dick and Harry claim to be one. Sodomites or male prostitutes together with those involved in abominable acts will face the wrath of God. That was exactly the reason Sodom and Gomorrah together with the surrounding towns and villages were destroyed by God in the Old Testament. Believers must take their stand against the evil spirit of homosexuality and not succumb to the popular opinion in the West that condones it. We must not toil with evil. As the redeemed of the Lord, you must take your stand against every appearance of evil.
You Shall Flourish!
Key Verse:“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalm 92:12).
There are over 300 species of Palm trees growing from 3 to 100 feet tall with over 3, 000 species. The date palm produces over 300 pounds of dates annually. The African oil palm, very widely cultivated in the tropics, gives a higher oil yield per hectare than any other oil plant. It produces two quite different types of oil-that from palm kernels, used for making margarine and soap, and that from the fleshy part of the fruit, used more widely for industrial processes. This is one of the most rapidly expanding plantation crops today. Psalm ninety-two began with praise to God and ends with a testimony concerning the uprightness of God. Those who are planted by God Himself cannot be pulled down or be barren. They continue to bring forth fruit even in old age. It is very clear that we are intended by our Creator to flourish. He created us to blossom and to grow. God wants our lives to be colourful, joyful and full. Many of us think of our lives as barren. We complain that our lives are dry and deadly dull. We don’t think we have a real purpose for living. Our only plan is to stay alive, pay the bills, and just get by. God promises that out of our limitations, He can bring possibilities. Out of our weaknesses, He can bring strength. Out of our timidity and our fear, He can bring confidence. It is God’s intention that we flourish; but the most fundamental human problem is sin. The challenge really is the resultant distance from our God, the guilt we carry and the shame we bear. That is indeed what makes our lives barren and fruitless. Sin is indeed the thing that destroys the richness of life and keeps us from flourishing as God intends.
Just Turn Around
“And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. . . ” (1 Samuel 7:6).
Wabush, a town in a remote portion of Labrador, Canada, was completely isolated for some time. But recently, a road was cut through the wilderness to reach it. Wabush now has one road leading into it, and thus, only one road leading out. If someone would travel the unpaved road for six to eight hours to get into Wabush, there is only one way he or she could leave-by turning around. From our text, we see one of the greatest revivals in Bible days.The Ark of the Covenant has been returned to Israel, but Israel had not returned to the true God. Samuel, the prophet, then called all Israel to Mizpeh to repent by putting away their foreign gods and reuniting with the true God. In the process, Samuel offered a sucking lamb unto God and the people wept openly and repented. The Philistines chose to attack Israel at this time thinking they were militarily vulnerable. But God thundered against them until they were completely discomfited and entirely smitten to the ground. Each of us, by birth, arrives in a town called Sin. Just like Wabush in the story above, there is only one way out – a road built by God Himself. But in order to take that road, one must first turn around. That complete 360 degree turn around is what the Bible calls repentance. Without it, there’s no way out of town. Your Mizpeh may not be too far away from your mortal enemy; yet, if you pray sincerely, acknowledging your role in all the calamities that have befallen you, confessing and forsaking all your sins, you will definitely have mercy. Victory comes when you look away from the noise of the Philistines and fully believe the encouragement of His prophet.
Bible Reading in one Year: 1 CORINTHIANS 5-7
A Stunning Miracle
Text: John 11:33-40
Key Verse: “Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (John 11:39).
Some years ago, the notion that it was physically impossible for a human being to run a mile in four minutes was widely held. Our bone structure was all wrong, the wind resistance was too great, and our lung power was inadequate. There appeared to be a hundred and one reasons why it could not be done!
Then one day (May 6th 1954), a twenty-five year old Englishman called Roger Bannister proved that the doctors, the trainers, and the athletes themselves were all wrong. And to the unbelief of everybody, Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. Of all the miracles Jesus did, the raising of Lazarus in our text ranks as the most astonishing to the people of his time. Traditional Jewish belief had it that the soul of a dead person somehow remains with the body for three days. After three days, the soul departs finally from the body never to return, and that is when corruption sets in.
When Martha objected to the opening of the tomb because Lazarus had been dead four days, she was expressing the common view that this is now a hopeless situation. But Christ, by miracle, brought Lazarus back to life. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, knowing that our breakthrough is not tied to the status of our situation. Our breakthrough is tied to the status of our Faith! Jesus’ reply was tied to Martha’s faith, not Lazarus’ body.
So, no matter where you are and no matter what situation you find yourself today, God can still bless you. Your situation is not too hard for God. Only those who give up loose the race. Hang your faith on Christ until the final moment. Never, never give up.
Thought for the day: “Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (John 11:39).
A Unique Woman Of Faith
“And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter” (Mark 7:29).
The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet, these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with it, we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us. The Syrophenician miracle is an outstanding lesson on faith. This woman, a Gentile, came to Jesus while He was in Tyre. At first, she begs for her daughter to be healed to the point of annoying the disciples who ask Jesus to send her away. When Christ saw that she was steadfast in her faith and persevered in her determination to get her miracle, He granted her request. There are many barriers (racial, social, cultural, and spiritual) which confronted this Gentile woman. Everyone who comes to believe in Jesus and obey Him must overcome the obstacles to that faith and obedience. Some people have to struggle against the objections and arguments of friends and family. Others struggle because they see inconsistencies in the lives of Christians they know. Little faith becomes great faith as it persistently overcomes the obstacles that it encounters. This Gentile woman had no resentment or bitterness, but was willing to accept Jesus’ help on any terms He might present. She knew Jesus was her only hope. She agreed with Peter who had already voiced, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68). Why not take a cue from this virtuous Gentile, develop and manifest the kind of wholesome faith that heaven can never deny.
Bible Reading in one Year: JUDGES 18 – 21
Increase In Knowledge
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).
Our society has moved from riding horses for thousands of years to riding in automobiles and airplanes in the last one hundred years. This is so much of an exact prophecy that knowledge is now presently doubling every twenty two months. But when it comes to the knowledge of God, it may very well be decreasing. Paul told Timothy that in the last days many would be “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). The last week in Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy covers the period of the Great Tribulation. In today’s lead verses, Daniel spoke about the role Angel Michael will play in securing a remnant of the Israelites during the Great Tribulation described as a time of Jacob’s trouble. He equally spoke about the resurrection of the Old Testament saints at the end of the Great Tribulation at Christ’s coming. He concluded by highlighting one of the very clear signs leading to Christ’s Second Coming – the increase of knowledge. We are living in a very fast-paced world, to say the least. This generation is the most goals or career-oriented generation. That’s why our little ones are already learning computer skills. Instead of being outside riding bikes or playing with the dog or a toy car, our young people are inside playing high-tech video games and surfing the Internet. As we are continually dazzled by these new inventions and new studies and research in every field of human endeavour, let us equally understand that all these draw us closer to the Second Coming of Christ. How prepared therefore are you? The choice is wholly yours.
Bible Reading in one Year: JUDGES 14 – 17
Terms And Conditions Apply
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
If you are familiar with promotional advertisements, you should also be familiar with the expression, “Terms and conditions apply”. It is a phrase advertisers often use to limit their responsibilities and protect themselves from undesirable claims from respondents. In a way, God’s promises often come with the same tag, but unlike those advertisements, there are neither profits nor veiled motives in His terms. King Solomon dedicated the temple he built for God with eloquent prayer, great sacrifices and glorious praise and worship. After all these, the Lord appeared to him one night and assured him of answers to his prayer. He further promised to grant perpetual government to Solomon and his posterity. However, these promises were predicated on certain terms and conditions which are relevant to us today. As a condition to receive divine intervention in times of national crises, usually occasioned by their sins, God demanded humble repentance and prayer. Also, if Solomon and his posterity would enjoy the promised perpetual government, they must be consistent in their commitment and service to God as David was. It is true that whatever we are or possess is a product of God’s saving and enabling grace. But when a person frustrates the grace of God (rendering it ineffectual) by living a sinful life or living, as it were, independent of God, he will be deprived of the benefits of that grace. That little word, “if” remains relevant today as it was when God spoke to Solomon. When there is a manifestation of divine wrath upon a people or person, humility, contrite prayer, seeking God’s face and repentance are a necessary condition for answered prayer, forgiveness and restoration. Many professing Christians are too preoccupied with “claiming” the blessings of God even when it is obvious that their ways are not pleasing to Him. We must relate with God on His own terms, not ours. Our continued abiding by God’s terms is what guarantees continued blessings.
Bible Reading in one Year: JUDGES 11 – 13
Our Laurels At His Feet
Key Verse:“Which also king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued” (2 Samuel 8:11).
“Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world?” asks William Law. “It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms, or is more eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God who wills everything that God willeth, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it. ” These were the attributes that marked David out as one of the greatest godly men and the best king Israel ever had. After his establishment as king in Israel and putting the worship of God in shape, David embarked on a campaign to avenge the hostility of the wicked countries that surrounded them. In these wars, he enjoyed complete victory. This string of victories would ordinarily provoke a king to consider himself “self-made”. Not David. David dedicated the precious vessels received as gifts from Toi the king of Hamath and all the trophies he collected from conquered nations to the Lord. This was done as an acknowledgment of the fact that his victories came from God and not by dint of military prowess. How many times have we relished our successes and achievements by beating our chests in self-congratulation instead of laying our laurels on the feet of our Great Enabler! How much time and resources do we invest in spiritual and God-honouring ventures? Our ultimate goal in all we do should be to please “him that hath called us to glory and virtue”. The Lord certainly delights in the precious things that we “consecrate” to Him. He is actually not in need. The demand to give is only to show our token of appreciation and is a test of our commitment. Our obedience creates opportunities for greater blessings from Him.
Bible Reading in one Year: JUDGES 8 – 10
Beyond Our Nightmares
Key Verse:“So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life” (Job 7:15).
Jean Paul Richter, 18th century German writer, observed, “If there were no cloudy days, we would come to curse the sun. The ups and downs of the highway make the journey interesting. Suffering does not make men and women, but it reveals them for what they really are. God’s people may seem to endure hell on earth, but that is all the hell they will ever know. Sorrow gathers around great souls as storms do around mountains; but like them, they break the storm and purify the air of the plain beneath them. ” The full picture of pain is better seen through the eyes of one who drank from the undiluted bitter cup of earthly adversities. This man was stripped of his wealth, servants and children the same day. To cap it, he was afflicted with body ailment that brought him down with an excruciating pain. He had the company of “miserable comforters, ” who ignorantly accused him of sin. That man was the righteous Job. In today’s text, Job took his complaint to God. He was at a breaking point. The intense physical pain, emotional grief and mental torture he went through compelled him to desire death rather than putting up with the unending nightmare. Eventually, he prayed to God for pardon and timely respite. Like Job, a committed child of God may experience such a grievous setback. He/she may not have done any wrong. But a true Christian finds strength enough to bear them and to grow more Christ-like. In bereavement, he sorrows with hope and even at death, he has eternal comfort. There is therefore no basis for despair. It may be that, right now, you are passing through some perplexing nightmare as a Christian. Do not give up your faith. Quell every longing for death and look up to God who turned Job’s case from misfortune to fortune.
On The Decline
Key Verse:“But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not” (Amos 2:12)
Every form of decay has its symptoms. For instance, dentists will tell you that when you begin to feel tooth sensitivity, or noticing some grey, brown or black spots on your teeth, or experiencing bad breath and unpleasant taste in your mouth, you have reason to worry about tooth decay. Far worse than tooth decay is moral decay such as the world is grappling with today. It all stems from people’s resolve to rebel against and oust God from their minds. In Prophet Amos’ time, Israel was so degenerate that they grieved God. The symptoms of their decay as outlined by the prophet include less value for human dignity, cruel oppression of the poor, judicial corruption and abominable sexual perversions. The prophet reminded them of God’s grace in their deliverance from Egyptian bondage and the miraculous displacement of the Canaanites whose land the Lord caused them to occupy. To them belonged the law, the prophets and Nazarites – which were to guide them in righteousness. They revelled in sin in spite of these divine privileges. Their rebellion earned them terrible and inescapable ruin. Much more than the vices that Prophet Amos decried in Israel are upon the world today. People abuse every God-given privilege and practice. They delight in every known evil and are indeed inventing more. Like the degenerate Israel, they are doing everything to corrupt anyone that professes godliness – by coercion, persuasion or subtly. They resist every ray of light by attempting to drown the now unpopular voice of true preachers. But, as always, this all leads nowhere but self-destruction and eternal damnation. Despite the prevailing perversion these days, you can choose to live away from the riotous noise of the molten calf worshippers, be an incorruptible Nazarite of God, holding on to faith in Christ and living for God’s glory.
Bible Reading in one Year: JUDGES 1 – 4
From Champions To Charlatans
Key Verse:“The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity” (Malachi 2:6).
In those days when the use of wristwatches was uncommon, a jeweller had a little clock planted in his window. One day, for half an hour, at quarter past nine, the clock stopped working. Passing school children, noticing the time, hung around to play. People hurrying to the train looked at the clock and began to walk leisurely. Professional men, after taking a look at the timepiece, stopped to chat a minute with one another. Working men and women noted the time and lingered a little longer in the sunshine. They all became half an hour late just because one small clock stopped. They had depended on that clock till it malfunctioned and led them astray. Like that small clock, the priestly office in Israel had such a powerful influence on the people. They taught and guided the people in the way of God by precept and personal example. But in the days of Prophet Malachi, the priests became so profane and contemptible to the people. They corrupted the word of God and led many astray. The Lord reproved them for their unfaithfulness and showed them the portrait of a priest as demonstrated by their forefathers (Aaron, Eleazar, Phinehas, etc. ) whose life and ministry should be marked by faithfulness, humility, obedience to God, truthfulness, justice, peace and knowledge. These priests had dragged the priestly office from a glorious height to the mud and proved themselves to be charlatans instead of champions. This is the sad story of many pretentious ministers and professing Christians who instead of serving as light to others are misleading them by their precepts and/or practices. Such charlatans end up amassing divine wrath upon themselves just like the profane priests of Malachi’s day. How sad it is when ministries and churches that once maintained an enviable spiritual heritage eventually begin to produce ministers and members who are a mere shadow of their glorious past. God’s plan is that you should be a spiritual champion and not charlatan
The Path Of Peace
Key Verse:“There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle” (Joshua 11:19).
A onetime prime minister of England, Ramsey MacDonald, was discussing with one of his officials (an expert on foreign affairs) on the possibility of lasting peace. The official was unimpressed and considered the prime minister’s idea as unrealistic. He scornfully remarked, “The desire for peace does not necessarily ensure it”. To this, the prime minister responded, “Quite true. But neither does the desire for food satisfy your hunger, but at least it gets you started toward a restaurant”. The Gibeonites’ toed the path of peace with Israel when their coidolatrous Canaanites sued for war with the conquering Jews. Although they adopted deceptive strategy to achieve their aim, they had a desire for peace which resulted in their preservation. They ended up making a league with Israel and became servants to them. Other Canaanites were aware of the divine mandate of Israel and the role God played in their victories; yet, unlike Gibeon, they were obstinate and formed a confederacy to fight against Israel. They also moved against Gibeon for entering into a treaty with the Jews. But “the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel”. The world, under the influence of Satan, has ever been resistant to the will of God. Increasingly, people are picking up arms against God with so many even wilfully denying His existence. The bitter fruits of this posture are already being harvested and these “warriors” know down deep in their hearts that damnation stares at them. In the unfolding judgment of God upon this world of wickedness, only those that sued for peace and embraced God’s terms of reconciliation will be spared. A contrite acceptance of God’s provision – Jesus Christ – remains the only path of peace. He paid the price – “the chastisement of our peace was upon him” when He gave His life on the cross.
Bible Reading in one Year: JOSHUA 19 – 21
Key Verse:“But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey” (Esther 9:16).
As an English clergyman knelt beside the bed of a wealthy dying man, he requested the man to take his hand as he prayed for him in that solemn hour. Surprisingly, the dying man declined to give his hand. After his death, they turned down the coverlet and found the rigid hands holding the safe-key. The man clung to his possession till death. Unfortunately, he could not take them with him. Such is the folly of covetousness. The Jews, in today’s text, exhibited an attitude that distanced them from covetousness. They had a royal decree to destroy their enemies’ entire families in Shushan and Persian provinces and also take over their possessions (Esther 8:11). They were to do this in self-defence. The first decree authored by the wicked anti- Semitic Haman, in keeping with Persian laws, could not be reversed even when the king realised the evil it portended. There was only one option – to sign a counter-decree authorizing the Jews to defend themselves on the appointed day. The providence that handed victory to the Jews over their enemies is a well-celebrated story. One aspect of the story that is often overlooked is the fact that the victorious Jews, though authorised, did not take the possessions of the men who sought to kill them. Esther 9:10,15 and 16 stated that, “but on the spoil laid they not their hand.” Their enemies couldn’t have spared anything had they won. The Jews were guided by a higher and godly principle. They were not covetous. There is the temptation for us to exploit every perceived advantage for personal gain. But the Christian life has no provision for illicit passions like covetousness and vengefulness. A true Christian lives peaceably with all men and has a disposition and actions that are free of inordinate love of possessions and positions of this world.
Bible Reading in one Year: JOSHUA 15 – 18
Rest In His Bosom
Key Verse:“For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted” (Psalm 89:17).
The psalmist here emphasises the created world being obedient to the will of God, and focuses on God’s power over the strongest of nations who succumbed to His great power. He noted that God is capable of sweeping the universe back into its nothingness that was before the creation with just a breath. David, through metaphorical statements, describes the strength of God among all the people of the world. No man is as strong as He is because He is powerful over all things. In biblical and contemporary times, there are myriads of outstanding testimonies of God’s omnipotence and faithfulness in the lives of His people. In times of troubles when the enemy assails and his seemingly strong forces press hard, the testimonies of what He did in time past should encourage anyone to trust Him. Recounting the matchless power and faithfulness of God gives you the inner strength to keep holding on when darkness seems to surround you. Records of what God has done for others are an indication that He will do the same for you. Do not forget how He intervened in the lives of others at a point all hope seemed lost. God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Have you been forsaken by friends and relations? Does it appear you have no helper in the whole wide world, particularly in times like these when “connections” are the order of the day; when employments and almost everything depends on who you know in society? Relax; the psalmist reminds us that God is the glory of our strength and that in His favour “our horn shall be exalted”.
Key Verse:“Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:6).
There is a time in a man’s life that he sits down to count the blessings of God. David has been a man of war, conquering kingdoms and leading many people captive from various countries and provinces. In our text, He continued with his exploit; moved against Moab and subdued them; smote Moth and converted the citizens into his servants that later brought gifts to him. He moved against Zohah and smote the king. Syria also fell under his sword and he put garrisons there and the people became his servants. Then, after slaughtering those that vexed Israel and had achieved a measure of peace for the children of Israel, he began to enjoy divine protection wherever he went. Many believers today live under constant attack from unbelievers and the world. These unbelievers, in some cases, have made life so unbearable for some children of God that they are nearly confused about what to do next. Unfortunately, they do not see the need to tell God to give them a divine solution. These “enemy nations” must be defeated. But this cannot be possible except God Himself takes full control. It was when the Almighty took charge of David’s warfare against the enemy nations that he began to record victories. Today, you can begin to record victories against that sickness, joblessness and the general affliction from the enemy besetting your life. And when these victories eventually emerge, you will enjoy preservation and protection wherever you go from the God whose faithfulness is great.
Calmness During Trials
“Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11).
Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Medical doctors say those who are likely to survive crucial surgical section are people with strong faith that the operation will be successful and that they would live. Job had suffered cruel affliction from the enemy. He lost all his earthly possessions, including his children. His body was afflicted with putrefying sores. In the midst of all these, his friends vexed his soul with discouraging words. His own wife, in the midst of broken heartedness, urged him to curse God. But Job determined to take his case to the Almighty. He complained to God in the anguish of his spirit and in the bitterness of his soul. The passage reminds us that those who live righteously in Christ must suffer persecution. These light afflictions as Paul termed them, are bound to come. Yet, our attitude in such circumstances matters a lot. It is not virtuous for believers to charge at God during trials. It is true that afflictions are hard to bear; it is also true that the body is not accustomed to pain and limitless inconveniences. Those who know the source of their problems as Job did, must however realise that their problems have an expiry date. Whatever you may be going through as a test of faith, the wise counsel is to wait upon the Lord. When complaints are made, they must be only to God Who knows the end from the beginning. In the heat of affliction and when it seems the pressure of persecution is weighing heavily on us, we must remember that all elements of the earth obey His word. Remember, God’s eyes are upon those who trust Him and the rod of the wicked will never rest upon the lot of the righteous.
“Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments. . . ” (Amos 2:4).
God is immutable. From generation to generation, He remains the same. He frowns at sin and punishes sinners. Transgression of His word and commandments always attracts serious consequences. Believers are reminded that the same measure with which He visited the sinners of old, He still visits transgressors today. In our text, Moab and Judah were thoroughly punished for their transgressions. God took a decision to punish them because they despised His Law, refuse to keep His commandments, and their lies which caused them to err. No matter a believer’s position or past relationship with God, when such a believer yields to temptation and begins to transgress against the law of God, he will be visited with punishment and that, without remedy. Believers must realise that God is a consuming fire. His anger burns very hot against sinners. We are hereby, called upon to consistently fear and do God’s will to avoid His awful visitation. It is this fear that restrains us from slipping into transgression. Whatever is capable of pitching us against the Creator must be avoided. We must rededicate our lives to God and live in the light of His word. We must be firmly admonished that the Almighty is not One we can serve at our whims; we must serve Him on His own terms only, in absolute holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives.
Odour Of Sweet Smell
Key Verse:“But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen” (Malachi 1:14).
The spirit of Cain is still at work today. It is a spirit that does not believe in offering acceptable honour to the Giver of gifts. That spirit deceived Cain, led him to commit murder and also turned him into a vagabond and fugitive. In the passage today, God expressed His displeasure over Israel’s outright refusal to give Him the honour due Him. He created the nation by bringing her out of the Egyptian bondage. With a strong arm, He redeemed her and for these He thought they would naturally honour Him as the Father and Creator of the nation. God likened Himself to a master that deserves honour from his servant. But Israel as a servant to her Master did not see the reason to play this all important role. In verses 13 and 14, by their violation of that which was requested by the law of God, they showed forth that the Law was a huge burden to bear. Some brought stolen animals to the altar while the priests condoned their behaviour. And because the priests manifested a lifestyle of deceit, the people followed their example. By virtue of what they brought as offering and sacrifices to God, they were regarded as stingy and ungrateful to Him. There are many rich believers today who do not believe in giving back to God who gave them the blessing in the first place. They give Him leftovers, and in direct manifestation of lack of reverence to the Almighty, they sneer at every announcement that has to do with giving to promote the work of God. Everything we possess comes from Him. Therefore, it is sheer folly to be stingy with what does not belong to us because the Owner can decide to close the source any moment He pleases.
Bible Reading in one Year: ROMANS 13 – 16
Saturday April 23, 2016
Key Verse:“And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire” (Joshua 11:6).
The writer of the song, “If God be for us” had in the second stanza encouraged believers to be strong in the Lord. “Be strong in the Lord! rejoicing in His might, Be loyal and true day by day; When evils assail, be valiant for the right, And He will be our strength and stay. ” Refrain: “If God be for us, if God be for us, if God be for us, who can be against us? Who? Who? Who? Who can be against us, against us?” A united force of kings came against Israel. These kings thought that they had an advantage over them since theirs was a coalition greater in number than Israel. They were also more experienced and better equipped physically with horses and chariots. For this advantage, they arrogantly trusted their sophistication and military might. Even so, the promises of God are yea and Amen. Whenever He says “go”, believers must take Him by His word because He never fails. They must also be encouraged by His promises through His word. Joshua acted upon the instruction and buoyed by the encouraging words of God, the coalition of the Northern kings was easily subdued before Israel. Believers must realise that their invisible battles are daily being fought for them by God’s numerous unseen armies. We must be conscious of the divine protection around us at all times. They that be for us are always more in number and in might than those against us.
Bible Reading in one Year: ROMANS 10 – 12
A Lift From The Ashes
Key Verse:“For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater” (Esther 9:4).
It is not common for slaves to become heirs to the throne of their masters. But with God, nothing is impossible. The story of the Jews in Shushan, the palace under the reign of King Ahasuerus, is a classic one. They were common slaves taken away from their native land. By implication, they lost their rights to everything and were mortally hated by some citizens because of their “low-grade” status. But one important point that enabled the Jews to succeed and ride above their enemies was their righteous disposition. While the enemies oppressed the Jews, they were prayerful and hopeful. While Haman and his allies plotted to destroy them, the Jews were sending reports via prayer and fasting to God. In a dramatic turn of events, Haman and others were destroyed. In our text today, the Jews received the backing of the government in the land to deal with their enemies. The support from the civic leaders, army officers and all the citizens of the empire shows that Haman had personal vendetta against the Jews. His hatred was not copied by others who possibly understood the true reason why he was trying to wipe off the Jews from among the people. Stories abound of believers who were hated so much in their workplaces for standing for righteousness. As a result, nobody gave them any chance of rising to a position of responsibility in such places. Yet, suddenly and miraculously, they became bosses above their tormentors and persecutors. Those who stick to God and maintain their stand in Him in the face of persecution and intimidation by agents of darkness always laugh last. Mordecai may not have known that God was working out something great for him and all the Jews, but he kept on doing the right. Do not give in to the intimidation of the enemy. Take your case to God and see Him vindicate you. He never fails.
Table Your Request Before Him
Key Verse:“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 89:1).
Prior to the text under consideration, God had made a promise of establishing Davidic dynasty. But something tragic happened, which, to human reasoning, seemed to threaten that promise and apparently created an interregnum. According to some Bible scholars, Jerusalem was conquered, while Jehoiachin was captured and taken to Babylon along with Daniel and many other able Hebrews. A puppet, Zedekiah, a minion of Nebuchadnezzar, was enthroned as king. This was an intriguing twist no one could explain. The whole psalm started off like a song of praise to God and followed with a rehearsal of His marvellous promises to David regarding the kingship. It later changed into a lamentation. This psalm, however, teaches us the pattern of tabling our petition before God. Though there could be challenges, we should not be overwhelmed by those problems to the extent of ignoring the promises of God. We should always lean on His promises by faith, make efforts to thank Him for His goodness, exalt Him for His mercy, appreciate Him for His wonderful favour and remind Him of His promises. God has never failed in any of His promises. Are you looking for a child? He said: “Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you” (Deuteronomy 7:14). Are you looking for a husband or wife? He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him”. (Genesis 2:18). Are you looking for financial prosperity? God said: “The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure. . . and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow” (Deuteronomy 28:12). Have absolute trust in Him and your desire will be granted.
Please, Show Appreciation
Key Verse:“Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” (2 Samuel 7:18).
In life, not everybody will appreciate you. Some may, while others will not, no matter what you do to please them. They may even view you with curiosity or contempt. But we need to be always thankful to God so that His peace might dwell immensely in our lives. Our text presented David’s prayer to God. He had won all battles and God had given him rest. He had built a palace for himself and a city for his servants. But he was disturbed that he had not built a habitation for the ark of God. When Nathan the prophet came to him, David confided in him about his plan to build a house for the ark. Nathan gave him God’s message that He had established David’s kingdom forever and that his son would build the house instead of him. In appreciation of God’s goodness for establishing his dynasty, David poured his heart unto Him. David believed that the battles he won were through God’s efforts. He noted that He raised him from a very low condition to a great preferment; He gave him success and victory over his enemies and crowned him, not only with power and dominion in Israel, but also with honour and reputation among other nations. He then prayed for the performance of God’s other promises. We should never think that our achievements are by our merit. We should speak highly and honourably of the Lord’s favours to us. We should ascribe our all to the free grace of God, both the great things He has done for us and the great things He has made known to us. We should build our faith and hope upon the sureness of God’s promises. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our needs and the best to give to us. Ours is to anchor our faith on His promises, with the assurance that He will never fail.
Love With Compassion
Key Verse:“To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14).
The Vulgate, a Latin version of the Holy Bible, aptly captured the attitude of Job’s friend, Eliphaz, when it stated, “Qui tollit ab amico suo misericordiam, timorem Domini dereliquit. ” This, when interpreted, means, “He who takes away mercy from his friend, has cast off the fear of the Lord. ” Job, by all implications, deserved mercy from his friends when he was afflicted. Unfortunately, he got the reverse. Eliphaz had, in effect, despised Job, even when he should have known that “a friend in need is a friend indeed. ” Job’s friends supported one another in an attempt to smear his reputation. They felt that he might have committed some sins to have warranted such affliction upon his life. Through their approach, they promised him much sympathy and compassion, which raised Job’s expectations. He later discovered, through their conduct, that they were physicians of no value. Job described his friends as dry streams, which travellers could not rely on. When his life was good, they were good friends, but when he had troubles, they could not help him. Rather, they maligned him with unkind words and actions. There are some so-called Christians who are like Job’s friends. Normally, when a man has troubles, his friends should support him. Even unbelievers give support to their friends in hardship. Yet, some brethren use the opportunity to besmear their fellow brethren, instead of rendering assistance. We ought to support one another. The Scripture says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We should help people who need our help and also sympathise with them. You get God’s blessings when you come to the aid of others.
Punishment For The Ungodly
Key Verse:“Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever” (Amos 1:11).
From our text, God pronounced judgment upon nations who manifested hatred and fought against Israel. Amos prophesied God’s punishment that would befall Tyre for breaking its brotherly covenant of mutual respect and honour that it had with Israel. Tyre, during the time of David and Solomon, had good relationship with Israel. In spite of their long record of friendship, Tyre delivered the Hebrew slaves to their bitterest enemies, the Edomites. God frowned at it and decided to punish Tyre. Amos equally prophesied against Edomites, the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob, for their perpetual hatred towards Israel. For the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot, God also said He would also punish them for their cruelty toward the Israelites. From the accounts of our text, it is evident that sin has its rewards, negative consequences. Yet, people live a care-free life, undermining God. Husband and wife forget their marital vow, employing divorce instead of embracing peace to settle their differences. They forget that God “hateth putting away” (Malachi 2:16). In business, partners defraud each other without regards to their business covenant. Even in the church, so-called brethren manifest hatred, malice and unforgiving spirit, and cruelty against each other, ignoring Jesus’ admonition to “Love your enemies. . . do good to them that hate you. . . ” (Matthew 5:44). The punishment meted on Tyre, Edom and Ammon shows that God’s judgment is awaiting every sinner. The only way of escape is repentance from sin.
Sunday April 17, 2016
Reciprocate God’s Love Please!
Key Verse:“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour?. . . O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?” (Malachi 1:6).
The children of Israel, for the most part, forgot the love of God. Malachi knew he had an assignment to declare God’s message, which he considered as a heavy weight on him. In spite of His goodness and graciousness unto them, Israel refused to believe that God actually loved them. They were unwilling to trust Him and could not listen to His messenger. It was in this perplexing situation that Malachi, the prophet, found himself especially because of Israel’s insensitivity to God’s love and their complete departure from Him. While God’s love preserved Israel, Edom was turned into a wasteland. God used Malachi’s message to rebuke and condemn the Israelites over their unqualified assumption and reckless disposition. As always with human nature, when times are hard, it is difficult to believe God loves. The love, which He showed to Israel ought to form the motive and model of their love towards Him. Unfortunately, it did not. His demonstration of His love for Israel came with two major proofs – His sovereign choice and preservation of Israel. Today, God has demonstrated this same love for us. He has preserved our lives to ensure that we would not perish, giving us His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as a ransom for our sins. He has also given us good health and provided our daily needs. Yet, not many people appreciate and reciprocate His deep love for us. We tend to count the challenge, that we daily face, rather than count the many blessings we regularly receive from Him. Let there be a change this day. Stop denominating your life in terms of the odds you face which are indeed the means God uses sometimes to build our faith. Instead, resort to praising Him in every situation.
Bible Reading in one Year: ACTS 22 – 23
Total Victory Assured
Key Verse:“And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:42).
Our text today narrated Israel’s conquest over their enemies in battles. The nation captured Debir and its nearby villages, destroying everything, just as they had done with Hebron and Libnah. Joshua captured other towns and in each place he captured, he would kill the king and everyone else as God commanded him. He wiped out towns from Kadesh-Ba ea to Gaza, everywhere in the region of Goshen, and as far north as Gibeon. God purposely commanded the Israelites to destroy their enemies because He knew that those heathen nations might turn their hearts away from Him if they were allowed to live side by side with His people. Today’s believers cannot fight physical wars, yet there are battles of life to be fought and victories to be won. It is sheer folly to assume that life is a bed of roses. It is a theatre, a pathway laden with briers and thistles in which only the courageous can win. The beauty of all this however, lies in the fact that God has promised us victory all the way. To effectively fight every battle, a believer must use the right weapons, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Christ loves righteousness and hates iniquity; and so must we. We need to break away from sin and be totally obedient to God. The word of God, prayer, righteous living and the preaching of the gospel are potent weapons available to all believers. We cannot lose in the battle of life if we put on the whole armour of God.
Bible Reading in one Year: ACTS 20 – 21
Enemy’s Curse Reversed
Key Verse:“Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse” (Esther 8:8).
Darrell G. Vaughn, in his message entitled, “Faithfulness: A key step to happiness”, explains that the only problem that is unsolvable, unfixable and incurable is the one you will not admit having. The first major step to a turnaround and a breakthrough is for you to recognise and admit you have a problem. The next is to take your problem to the right place – God. This was what the Jews did when they were faced with adverse situation. More than ever before in her life, Queen Esther could not hold back tears, as she fell down and begged for the deliverance of her people. She felt it was time to be earnest, particularly when a decree, which was made against the Jews, had been promulgated. For her, the decree must be reversed. To override the obnoxious decree, another decree, which must be at the instance of Mordecai to protect the right of the Jews, must be put in place. Therefore, the king’s scribes were instructed to meet Mordecai to write the new decree. The new decree was not only written in King Ahasuerus’ name, it was also sealed with the king’s ring and sent to all nations. After this, Mordecai was dressed in the royal colours, which showed his importance and authority. By this development, he became second in rank to the king and many Jews were happy and confident. As the Jews fought their way through, you too can fight for your future, destiny and families. But it can only be done through prayer. The devil cannot just sit back and watch you make progress in life without a fight. So, you must also fight to be able to conquer. You have God, who can reverse every adverse situation. He can turn curses into blessing. The Scripture says the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, and He turns it whichever direction He chooses (Proverbs 21:1).
Follow God’s Plan
Key Verse:“Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?” (2 Samuel 7:5).
Sometimes, we have good intentions and make great plans for what we desire to do for God and humanity. We are so convinced of the rightness of our cause that we expect Him to approve it. And when He declines, or our plans meet with a crashing failure, we are displeased, and therefore, discouraged from trying to do any more great thing for Him. Such attitude seems to betray our hidden selfish motives. David had fought and won great wars with the help of God. And at this time, he had moved into his palace and was enjoying a reign of peace and rest from all his enemies. Recognising that God was with him in war or peace time, he broached the idea of building a temple for Him with Prophet Nathan, who promptly endorsed his plans. That same night, God came to the prophet and gave him a message to David. As noble as his plans were to build a sanctuary for God, he did not have the Lord’s permission to do so. By this singular action, God did not reject David but had a greater plan for him and his posterity. He did not want him to build the temple at this time because he had shed so much blood in war. His son and successor, who would be a man of peace, would get the permission to build the temple. God does not see things the way we do. That is what makes Him the Almighty and all-knowing God. Irrespective of our best intentions, He has better plans for us. For a time, it may seem as if He has rejected all we are offering to Him in service. We must not be disappointed or discouraged from continuing to serve Him. In such situations, we must yield to His superior wisdom and knowledge, recognising that in His own time, He will eventually make all things beautiful for His people.
Wednesday April 13, 2016
The Best Address Ever
Key Verse:“The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there” (Psalm 87:6).
Your address often says so much about you. It gives an indication of your social standing – your status in the society. An illustrious post code attracts respect and confers recognition. Indeed, it is an honour to be identified with the best in society because of your address. A greater honor awaits those who have an heritage in God’s holy mountains, also known as Zion. God Himself loves the city, and considers it incomparable to anything on earth. It is a glorious place. It is enough that you are identified with the city. The earth has had some of the greatest cities and nations. In their own right, they were magnificent; they were an expression of ultimate glamour and power on earth. Such were Babylon, Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia. In Bible days, they were centers of political power and influence, commerce and enterprise, trade and industry. On their own, they represented the best that man can build. But they were nothing compared to Zion, the new Jerusalem, the heavenly city of God. The almighty God alone will take a head count of those to inhabit that city, write their names in the Book of Life, and grant them the pleasure of a life of joy and bliss all through eternity. You should desire a place in this future community of believers from all ages. However, not everyone who desires it shall be granted residency in this heavenly city. Those to be admitted into the city must first be cleansed from all their sinful characters and conducts by the blood of Jesus Christ. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Nothing else – good works and deeds, human strength and discipline, mere religious piety – will do. You must turn from your sinful ways, accept the price paid for your sin by Jesus Christ, and be born again. Then you have a post code to envy in all eternity.
Bible Reading in one Year: ACTS 13-14
Show Compassion To Suffering Saints
Key Verse:“Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?” (Job 6:6).
Quite often in life, we find people who are going through difficult and harsh experiences. Such people always plead for help. And because it is impossible for a third party to fully appreciate what they are really going through, they tend to jump too quickly to usually wrong conclusions. Job’s friends had gathered apparently to commiserate with him for the bad fortune that had befallen him. They didn’t understand what he was going through. Their criticism or unwise counsel was like a tasteless food. Indeed, it was like a fresh dagger struck into Job’s heart. He too didn’t understand why he was suffering so much. He desired that God would show him where he went wrong. Yet, while he waited for an answer to this historic experience, he continued to trust God. But as hope daily ebbed out of him, he started praying that God should destroy him. This he thought would bring an end to his suffering. God did not grant his request, not because he wanted to prolong his suffering, but because he had better plans for him in his latter life. His friends too seemed to make his condition worse by looking for a human explanation for what was evidently beyond normal reasoning. There is nothing wrong in visiting those who are going through terrible times. But we must be careful not to criticize them, as we may never be able to apprehend all the facts surrounding their conditions. We must also realize that they need our sympathy and understanding more than our advice. Therefore, our duty is to keep encouraging them to trust the Lord and assure them of His mercy and compassion.
Bible Reading in one Year: ACTS 11-12
Stay Where God Has Put You
“The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1).
Very often, people trivialize their stations in life. They do not value who and what they are. Some even think that it is an act of spirituality to belittle themselves. Others simply user this as an excuse to avoid getting involved in activities that would otherwise glorify God. But whatever your condition in life, God has put you there for a purpose.The clearest example of this was the Prophet Amos. He was one of the shepherds and peasant farmers in the region of Tekoa in Judah. By all considerations, he did not meet the high standards and qualifications that recommended prophets in Israel. He probably was satisfied with living the very simple life that fate had conferred on him. How surprised he must have been that of all people, God sought him out for enlistment as a prophet. Recognizing the hand of God upon his life, however, Amos took up the assignment and prophesied about the imminent punishment of God upon the heathen nations that were neighbors to Israel. Their hatred, wicked and heartless action against Israel could no longer be condoned by God.Amos warned them that because of their repeated sins, God’s judgment was hanging over them. They would be conquered by enemy nations and carried into captivity. The imposing palaces of their kings would be destroyed by fire, and their land left desolate. It was a tough message from a man least expected to be ordained a prophet. Whatever our professional calling, level of education or lack of it, God knows about it. Our condition in life cannot therefore,be an excuse for us not to render service to Him. Whether we feel spiritually or physically successful or inadequate, God expects us to do His will, get involved in the task of winning souls. We must stay where God has placed us. For in so doing, He would work through us to accomplish extraordinary results.
Spice Up Your Marriage
Key Verse:“How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!” (Song of Solomon 4:10).
There are little things that add sparkle to a marriage and make it something to be cherished and enjoyed. Unfortunately, many people think they are not necessary. Little things like recognizing the virtues, beauty and attributes of their spouse, and openly expressing their feelings of appreciation tend to cement marriages. When they are absent, the couples usually begin to drift apart, both mentally, and sometimes, physically too. King Solomon was not one to be found making such a mistake. There may be many women out there seeking to catch his fancy, but he gave attention to his spouse. In this passage probably written early in his reign, when his heart was still centered on God and His word, Solomon employed very flowery, poetic words in describing his spouse. She was to him, a well-hidden secret. Her love for him was not in doubt, her devotion was exemplary and her commitment was total. She was to him like a refreshing garden of plants and fruits, flowers and suiting springs of water. How proud Solomon must have been about his wife! You must not shy away from expressing love and admiration in both words and actions to your spouse. Such loving and encouraging words add a glow to your marriage. It cements your commitment to each other. Let your conducts show that you are as cooling and refreshing to your spouse as a spring of water. Periodically, surprise your spouse by the efforts you make to appreciate him or her. When you do that, your union will become what God originally intended marriage to be.
Give God The Glory
Key Verse:“And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah” (Joshua 10:32).
We prolong our problems and difficulties in life when we seek to solve them ourselves. This is because we are grossly limited both in foresight and necessary resources for achieving lasting breakthroughs. As a result, we complain and grumble about our situations or give up hope that things would ever change. Joshua, as leader of the Israelites, had at this time come up against kingdoms that held sway in the southern part of Canaan. God had promised that all the land was meant for Israel. But now, they had no other way of possessing it than to engage in battles with the present occupants of the land. One after the other, Joshua and his army overran the kingdoms, wiped out all the inhabitants and captured the territories. Some accounts of the battles tended to ascribe the victories to Joshua and his soldiers. But in reality, it was the Lord that gave the land to Israel. He fought for them against stronger and mightier nations. He conquered all so as to fulfill the promise He had made to give Israel the whole land of Canaan. We must never make the mistake of going through life on our own terms, nor be tempted to ascribe our successes to our brilliance and ingenuity. Whatever we have attained in life, we must recognize that it comes from God. He healed us when we were sick, He supplied our need when we were in lack, He fought to keep us alive and well spiritually and physically; He alone delivered us from all our enemies. He deserves all credits for whatever we attain in life.
Bible Reading in one Year: ACTS 5-6
God Rewards Faithfulness
Key Verse:“And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman” (Esther 8:2).
The pursuit of success is often the consuming passion of many today. They seek this accomplishment at all costs. To them, the end justifies the means. They may trample on the rights of others and subvert laws and laid down guidelines. The pity is that after so flagrantly and deliberately pursuing and achieving their selfish agenda, they claim that God has blessed them. But God blesses only those who are faithful to Him.The entire Jewish population were facing a death sentence through the plot of a single man, Haman. Eventually, God intervened after Esther had fasted and prayed at the encouragement of Mordecai. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Yet, the law that was made for the extermination of all the Jews on a set day was still in force. To change it, Esther brought Mordecai before the king. He had exposed a plot by some assassins to kill the king. He was not rewarded immediately; but as it turned out, God was saving his reward for a better time. The king later remembered Mordecai’s good deed, promoted and placed him in the position occupied by Haman, the Jews’ enemy. He now had the authority to exercise royal functions. However, a tearful Esther still needed to plead with the king “to put away the mischief of Haman”, and spare the lives of the Jews. Her request was granted; the king authorized the Jews to wipe out all their enemies. Spectacular reversal of fortunes occur when we serve God faithfully and please Him in our daily lives. We do not serve Him in expectation of rewards, but “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love”. His reward invariably comes in multiples when compared to whatever service we may have rendered to Him. When we are willing to give up everything to please God, He will in return lavish His blessings upon us in greater measure.
And Where Is God?
Key Verse:“LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?” (Psalm 88:14).
There are times and epochs in believers’ lives and walk with God when they seem to be passing through the valley of the shadow of death. It would seem at such a time that God is hiding His face from them. When what they seemed to be going through cannot be traced to any known sin or any act of deliberate disobedience, presumption or self management, they become even more confused. After they must have prayed, fasted and exercised all faith on the promises of God, and there seems to be no voice and sign whatsoever, what should they do at such a time? This was the experience of the psalmist in our text today. His was a cry of lamentation and distress. He seemed to have been having a long-standing affliction since his youthful days. Friends and associates appeared to have become fed up with his situation while many have abandoned him. He seemed not to be getting any attention from God either. He wondered when his deliverance would come. With so many questions begging for answers, the psalmist still resolved to keep praying to God and not give up. Don’t give up when it seems you do not understand the reason for your present predicament. Just keep on trusting the Lord. Surely, the devil will come with a lot of suggestions, offering alternative so called solutions. Thoughts may arise to “curse God and die”. But you must keep your faith in God strong. Your resolve must be like that of Job who said: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain my own ways before him” (Job 13:15). Whatever the situation, we must be assured of the fact that our heavenly Father has a better thought and plan for us. Don’t give up.
Bible Reading in one Year: ACTS 1-2
Money Fails Afterall
Key Verse:“They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not bern able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumbling block of their iniquity” (Ezekiel 7:19).
It is generally assumed that there is nothing money cannot do. Once you have money, it is believed that you have the power to control and do whatever comes to your mind. It is often common to see people who consider themselves to be very rich brag about what their wealth can accomplish. In some places, these people consider themselves to be above the law. The worst of these is that many of them disregard God and turn themselves to gods expected to be worshiped. But a time will come when their money and power shall fail them. In fact, their wealth will become the reason for their doom! This is the truth being echoed by Prophet Ezekiel in our text today. The children of Israel had become so materialistic. The reign of King Solomon had ushered in so much wealth and prosperity in the land. Unfortunately for them, this wealth turned out to become a snare. This was because they had ignored God’s earlier warning not to set their hearts on their riches when it increased (Psalm 62:10). Their wealth made them to become so abominable that they turned their gold and silver into molten images and worshiped them. Because of their sins and abominations, judgment and great calamities befall them. The riches and wealth they had trusted so much could not save them from God’s judgment. If they escaped the human judicial system because of their wealth and affluence, they would not be able to escape God’s judgment. We ought to soberly reflect on this truth. Money is good and it is the answer to many needs of man. But it has its limits. It cannot provide you peace and rest of mind, joy, happiness, security, etc.; and it cannot hold back the chilling hands of death when it comes. Be wise!
Tuesday April 5, 2016
A Paradox Of Healing
Key Verse:“For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole” (Job 5:18).
When we understand the purpose of God in many of the seemingly unpleasant things we experience in life, we will better appreciate Him and be more rightly disposed to those things. There are quite a number of things that look negative and contradictory on the surface, but we ultimately note God’s providence and purpose in them. Take for instance, the painful surgery an ailing patient had to be subjected to in order to be made whole. Usually, surgery is not a pleasurable experience, yet the pain is necessary to make for the eventual healing and health of the person. The same is true when it comes to chastisement. Nobody really enjoys it but it serves to make us better. Eliphaz may have gotten it wrong with regards to Job in our text, but the underlying truth in the principle he revealed here is universal. God corrects to make us better and this is because of His love for us. When we stray as His children, He does not leave us to wander away unchecked. As the Good Shepherd, He makes use of His chastening rod to bring us back. Chastisement is different from punishment. Punishment only looks back at past offences and makes one pay for wrongs done. Chastisement, on the other hand, looks to the future. What it aims at is making us better. When God wounds us with His rod of correction, it is to heal us. This is why our attitude to chastisement should be that of gratitude. The ultimate goal is heaven. Whatever God needs to cut off from our lives so that we can be fit for heaven will be necessary. We should therefore, take to the counsel of the Scripture to count it joy when God corrects us. Though He may seem to wound us when we stray, it is to heal and make us better vessels.
Bible Reading in one Year: JOHN 16-18
A Misused Advantage
Key Verse:“Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!” (Psalm 81:13).
You may have, at one time or the other, expressed regret in failing to seize an opportunity when there was room for it. The bottom line of such regret shows that we take the blame for what we experience as a result of our inaction or unwise action. In today’s text, God reveals that the nation of Israel was solely to blame for their unfortunate lot in life. He had promised to fight their battles, making their enemies His own enemies. He had even done this on several occasions in the past. His intention was to give them total and permanent victory over all their foes. He also wanted to give them abundant provisions like no other nation had. But that was not to be! The reason wasn’t that God was no longer able to fulfill His promise but because they failed to meet the condition of the covenant relationship. All He wanted from them was that they obeyed Him indeed and walked in His way. Instead, they chose to do otherwise. God is able to do all He promised us if only we will keep to the conditions for His blessings. We cannot blame our lot in life on Him or any other person for that matter. In fact, He does not need the support of man in any way to accomplish His purpose for our lives. The simple thing He requires from us is that we believe and obey Him truly. Are there things in your life for which you express regret presently? Don’t you think you would have had things far better with you if you had actually allowed God to work through you? Well, it may not be too late to make things right. God forgives mistakes if they are truly regretted and repented of. He also can help you regain what you may have lost.
Bible Reading in one Year: JOHN 13-15
United In Praise
Key Verse:“It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD. . . that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 5:13).
Nothing brings down the power of God more than when His people are united, lifting up holy hands in praise unto Him. He delights in the praises of His people and He reveals Himself in the midst of people who forget entirely about themselves and focus on Him in true worship and adoration. What brings down the power of God really is not the instruments of music employed in the praise session, or the number and classes of people involved, but the hearts of the people and sincerity of their devotion. As the children of Israel dedicated the temple which Solomon had built for the Lord, they employed all they had to show their worship and adoration of the Almighty. Though different musical instruments were employed, there was not a single note of discordance. They were very sincere and united in their praise. God saw through their hearts and was moved by their worship. The cloud that filled the house signified the presence of the Lord and His acceptance of their worship. Modern worship today has taken different dimensions. Very sophisticated musical instruments aided by technology are employed. Great advancement has been made in area of voice training, projections and synchronization. Different musical genres are used in so-called praise and worship sessions. But we wonder how many of them still produce the same effect as observed in our passage today. As you praise and worship God during your family devotion or church worship, is your heart truly pure and united with others? Let’s sincerely examine ourselves and blend our hearts and voices with others in unison to praise God. This for sure, will bring down His glory.
Bible Reading in one Year: JOHN 10-12
He Fights For His Own
Key Verse:“And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14).
In the battle for independence from Britain, the American army was facing near defeat when there was a miraculous turn around that saw the British army defeated. This was attributed by the founding fathers of the American states to the miraculous intervention of God as a result of the fasting and prayer declared in the nation to solicit His help. When God fights for His people, He employs His array of natural arsenals to combat their enemy. This is what we see in the story before us today. To defeat the enemies of God’s people, Joshua needed the extension of the day. In answer to Joshua’s prayer, the sun had to stand still and the moon remained in its place to allow God’s people completely rout the enemy. This has been the pattern of God intervening for His people. Against Egypt, He used different natural phenomena to fight the Egyptian monarch and his gods to a standstill. Finally, the entire Egyptian army was drowned in the Red Sea. At different instances, God employed hailstones, thunders and lightning, storms, draughts, etc. as weapons against enemies of His people. Today, God still fights for His people. He has promised to undertake every battle for His Saints. Those who make themselves enemies of God’s people invariably make themselves His enemies. Those who attempt to fight against God’s people unwittingly fight against Him. And no one can battle with the Lord and win. Today, as in the past, God’s weapons are still very much powerful and varied. And no foe can withstand Him. Are you facing any battle at the moment? Do the enemies threaten to swallow you up? Do not be afraid or cringe. Do not even think of surrendering to the enemy or turn ing to the arms of flesh for help. Just look up to God in prayer like Joshua did and if need be, He can still make the sun to stand still for your until total victory is won. Trust in the Lord.
Friday April 1, 2016
Simply Beyond Man
Key Verse:“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
To the modern man, nothing seems impossible. Considering all the breakthroughs that he has been able to make through science and technology, man has been able to display great ingenuity. His ability to conquer nature, defy gravity, reduce space and turn the whole world to a global village is truly astonishing. These great feats simply confirm the mandate that God gave man at creation (Genesis 1:28). With all these notwithstanding, there are still some things that are beyond man. For instance, why has he not been able to conquer and subdue his environment, conquer and master himself? This is the simple truth that the prophet admits and acknowledges in our text for meditation. Looking at the calamities befalling Judah as a result of her moral and spiritual failures, the prophet acknowledges man’s most fatal weakness. It is for this reason that he prays to God to temper justice with mercy as He corrects them. Man’s inability to control and direct himself is what is responsible for the woes and troubles he suffers. It is this same weakness that makes him to turn his skills and resourcefulness to weapons of self destruction. Man can control things around him but he cannot control his temper, lusts, desires, appetites, greed, tongue, etc. This truth ought to make every man humble himself and acknowledge God in his life. God has made us in such a way that we cannot truly live without Him. Any attempt to get along in life without Him will amount to an effort in futility. We need God to help us know and master ourselves. We need Him to help us conquer those personal weaknesses that are bent on destroying us. We need Him to tell us the next step of our lives and show us what moves to make. Our learn ing, acquisitions, technologies, etc. , cannot do; we need God.
Bible Reading in one Year: JOHN 6 – 7
An Urgent Plea For Help
Key Verse:“Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry; For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave” (Psalm 88:2, 3).
A Christian called Ivan endured all the horrors of a Soviet prison camp. One day he was praying with his eyes closed when a fellow prisoner noticed him and said with a ridicule, “Prayers won’t help you get out of here any faster”. Opening his eyes, Ivan answered, “I do not pray to get out of prison but to do the will of God”. The account in our text is about someone in desperate need of help. He addressed his prayers to the “God of my salvation” calling upon Him to deliver him urgently. He described vividly the situation he was in; his soul was full of trouble and his life draws near to the grave. As his condition worsens, his acquaintances were said to have abandoned him thinking the time of his death had arrived. Hern however, continued calling upon God believing that only Him could save him. Although the psalmist did not mention particularly the nature of his affliction, it can be deduced that it must either have been a serious illness or some other grave danger that could lead to death. From his narrative, he seemed to have believed that his problems were caused by God’s wrath which he said was hard upon him. It is likely that, like Job, he was in a situation that overwhelmed him and was therefore, wondering why God hasn’t delivered him. We often feel the same way when we pass through similar trials and pains as believers. We wonder why God would allow his children go through those straits. Under those conditions, we may never find all the answers. But we can trust that for God to allow those trials, there certainly must be a purpose. That doesn’t mean we should fold our hands and refuse to pray believing our situation is our fate or destiny. Like the psalmist, we must continue praying to God until He intervenes.
Bible Reading in one Year: JOHN 4 – 5
A Looming Apocalypse
Key Verse:“And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 7:4).
There are many danger signs on our roads intended at getting drivers to reduce their speed for their own safety. These include signs about dangerous bends, rocks falling, animals crossing, ongoing road repairs, and many more. These signs are usually ignored by some drivers who for wanting to arrive early at their destinations, wilfully violate them. Many have lost their lives in the process. From our text, prophet Ezekiel was told to inform the Israelites that their end was very near. It was a warn ing of imminent danger. God was so angry with them that He gave them over unto their enemies. What provoked this was their abominations. God threatened to recompense them according to their ways. Before now, Israel had enjoyed the goodness of the Lord in the Promised Land. They apparently took God for granted, threw all caution into the air and started imbibing the ways of the heathen nations around them. They even committed more abominations in the land than the nations that were there before them, to the extent that the righteous God could no longer bear with them. Mercifully, this was a kind of final warn ing; Israel could still repent and turn away from their sins in order to avoid the displeasure of God. No matter how low one might have fallen, he could still repent and be restored. But he must seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is still near. Delay in doing this can be dangerous as the day of God’s wrath is merely a breadth away.
Bible Reading in one Year: JOHN 1 – 3
City Of Refuge
Key Verse:“Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising; That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live” (Deuteronomy 4:41, 42).
Shortly after Charles Wesley’s conversion in 1738, he sat in his study one summer day. A little bird, pursued by a hawk, flew in through the open window and sought refuge in his bosom, where the baffled hawk dare not follow. This incident led to the writing of the familiar hymn, ‘Jesus, Lover of my soul’. Part of the lyrics reads: “other refuge have I not; hangs my helpless soul on thee”. From our text, Moses appointed Bezer in the wilderness from the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead and Golan in Bashan, of the tribe of Manasseh as cities of refuge. These cities were appointed on this side Jordan in the territories taken from Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan after the Lord helped the Israelites to defeat them in battle. The cities of refuge were meant for the safety of those who accidentally kill their neighbours without any prior motive, from the avenger of blood who might want to take revenge on them. It is important to point out that the cities of refuge were by no means intended as a refuge for murderers and killers. In fact, the Lord directed that neither the cities of refuge nor His altar should be used to harbour criminals and sinners. That is why Joab did not find security at the altar when he fled there after his unprovoked murder of his neighbours. Christ is our Refuge today. Run into Him and find salvation, security and protection for your soul. To do otherwise is to remove the shield which our abiding in Him provides.
Bible Reading in one Year: DEUTERONOMY 31-34
Delay No More
Key Verse:“Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face torn shine; and we shall bern saved” (Psalm 80:3).
In his book “I Surrender”, Patrick Morley writes that the church’s integrity problem is in the misconception “that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behaviour. ” He goes on to say, “It is revival without reformation, without repentance. ” From our text, we find the psalmist praying for the restoration of Israel. In his plea for restoration, he mentioned the blessing of God’s divine presence in the good old days. God, as Israel’s Shepherd, protected her under the security of His presence with the pillar of fire and cloud. The psalmist observed that God was very displeased with Israel because of her sins – resulting in her being exposed to the ridicule and oppression of their neighbours. He pleaded for God to stir up His strength and save Israel from her depraved condition. The realization that we have gone astray from God is a significant first step in the process of restoration. Those who are indifferent and oblivious to their spiritual condition cannot obtain His mercy and forgiveness. Repentance is very important in the process of restoration. There is hope for the sinner if he or she can still cry out to God with a penitent heart. Those who are satisfied with their condition and find no need to urgently call upon God are still far from restoration. Take a few moments to reflect on today’s passage, and not put off salvation till a more convenient time. That time may never come.
Bible Reading in one Year: DEUTERONOMY 28-30
Love That Is Real
Key Verse:“It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me” (Song Of Solomon 3:4).
During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier’s fiancée had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell’s heart was touched and he said, “Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!” The Song of Solomon is one of the poetical books of the Bible. It teaches certain lessons which inspire virtue and true love. In our text, the beloved goes to bed and in her dream, she left the security of her home and at night searched for her lover in the city. The watchmen couldn’t help her. But she persisted and when she eventually found him, she wouldn’t let him go. Her desire was for them to get married; so, she brought him to her mother’s house and into the very room where she herself had been conceived – the same way Isaac brought his wife Rebekah into his mother’s tent – and there, consummated their marriage (Genesis 24:67). Stories like these are found all over this book, making some to conclude it is a book about love and relationships. But looking closely at those stories, there are lessons about our love and commitment to Christ whose beauty, charm and love is unparalleled and unequalled. Like this lover in our text, we must seek after Christ with every determination, and when we have found Him, we must stay with Him for the rest of our lives. We must show commitment in return for His selfless sacrifice on the cross at Calvary.
Bible Reading in one Year: DEUTERONOMY 25 – 27
Key Verse:“Little leaven has the capacity to adulterate an entire landscape.”
According to Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States of America, “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die”. How true that statement credited to Herbert Hoover is from the events recorded in today’s text. Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, gathered along with him four other kings of the Amorites to make war against the Gibeonites because they thought making peace with Israel was both cowardly and an act of betrayal. When Joshua was informed about the development, he enquired from God, and having obtained clearance, invaded the five kings that attacked Gibeon and defeated them. Apart from those that were slain in battle, many died under a rain of great stones which fell from the sky; it was a great victory for Israel. It is hard to find the justification of these five kings coming together to attack a sovereign nation for pursuing what it sees as its national interest. Making war with a nation that has not acted in any way provocative to other nations is an act of aggression. War should be a last resort after all diplomatic avenues have been exhausted. It is not an option to be decided upon without reason or justification. Many needless wars that were started hastily in history has resulted in the death of millions of young men and women. We have had some modern-day Adonizedek in the persons of Adolf Hitler, the bloody fuhrer of Germany and Benito Mussolini of fascist Italy to mention but a few. Watch out; the conflicts you initiate today may end up destroying many souls and at the end claim your life also. Be slow to ignite a flame of passion whose unintended consequences might simply spiral out of control.
Friday March 25, 2016
Folly Of Idol Worship
Key Verse:“They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be born e, because they cannot go. Bern not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good” (Jeremiah 10:5).
St. Augustine wrote in the 4th century that: “Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to bern used or using anything that ought to be worshiped”. With this definition, education, beauty in whatever form, money, etc. , can become an idol. Technology, certainly, is a major idol of the modern society. Even the church and religion can be an idol. These are gifts of God, means to an end, but idolatrous when made ends in themselves. From our text, the Lord warn ed His people against the practice of idolatry. Speaking through Prophet Jeremiah, He told them not to learn the ways of the heathen nations around them who are in the habit of observing extraordinary appearances like eclipses and comets as indications of calamities on earth. They also worship carved and molten images which they carry about as gods. Jeremiah warned the Israelites against the practice of worshiping and bowing down before dumb idols which cannot save. Idolatry has been with mankind almost from the creation of the world. Man has always craved for things to worship, signs to observe with almost everything, including animals, reptiles, birds and insects becoming objects of veneration and worship. Unfortunately, some churches encourage the worship of images of saints – though they provide laughable reasons for their teachings. The Bible however, roundly condemns it. Even angels of God are not to be worshiped, as seen from the teachings of the Scripture (Revelation 22:9). God’s word is very clear on the subject of worship. We are commanded to worship God in the very first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-6). Jesus said in Matthew 4:10, “. . . thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”.
Thursday March 24, 2016
Sword Of His Judgment
Key Verse:“Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries” (Ezekiel 6:8).
When God’s pendulum of judgment swings from favour to punishment because of sin, His hand does not stay forever on the whip. God stands on the watch, expecting godly contrition on the part of the transgressor. In other words, He does not apply the rod to destroy the sinner but to bring the person back to Himself. This is the core lesson in our passage today. Israel had committed spiritual adultery by the worship of false gods, thus splitting their loyalty between Jehovah and idols. This was a travesty of the first commandment and it carried the death penalty. No man who truly loves his wife would tolerate her whoredom. He would press for a restoration of the sanctity of the conjugal union. No less would God do for the idol-chasing children of Israel. Although the Almighty decided He would subject them to the scourge of invasion and captivity, He said, “Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries” (Ezekiel 6:8). It was a severe pronouncement that reflected how “hurt” God was to see Israel reject their Maker and Redeemer and turn to powerless idols. It is inevitable that God’s fury would come upon the wicked for correction and discipline. But while this mercy of God waits, the sinner must make haste to take advantage of it before it is too late. The door can be shut soon as it was in the days of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, Ananias and Sapphira. The Bible is clear about this seemingly limitless stay of God’s judgment (2 Peter 3:8, 9). The sinner and backslider should not refrain a second longer from repenting while the believer must constantly watch against sin to avoid being drawn into eternal perdition
Bible Reading in one Year: DEUTERONOMY 13-16
Enduring The Cross
Key Verse:“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22).
The picture of the ravaging destruction that followed the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonian forces of Nebuchadnezzar in 586BC is vividly given in the Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah. It is a funeral dirge that at once captures the tragic result of rebellion and disobedience of God’s laws and the mercy of the Lord as He spares some of the people and offers hope for better days. This pairing of chastisement and divine mercy is typical of the relationship between God and His people. Thus, although we have every line in the book drowning in tears of anguish, we also have sublime statements that soothe the mourner and give the assurance that hope is not lost. “The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not… Though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies…”. When God punishes transgressors, He does not do so to derive pleasure but to correct and bring the remorseful offender in line in the race to eternal life in His Kingdom. It causes our Lord pain also to see us in the trouble we bring on ourselves through disobedience and sin. But if He is a true and loving Father, He must do what it takes to restore us to the path of rectitude. Jeremiah promptly realised this and sai: “it is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Our Lord’s promise that: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7), should encourage believers to despise every challenge and look through the smoky space to discover the glory waiting above.
Bible Reading in one Year: DEUTERONOMY 10 – 12
Overcomer Of The Crafty
Key Verse:“He disappointed the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise” (Job 5:12).
The intriguing story of Joseph best illustrates God’s providence in neutralizing the devilish intentions and acts of the wicked. His elder brothers sold him into slavery, not expecting him to survive for long in the hands of Egyptian human traffickers. He would be chained in the 30-day trip to Egypt and be treated as a piece of merchandise. But God overruled this cruel act and motive. Genesis 50:20 declares: “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive”. God is ever watchful over the affairs of men to halt them from the path of evil. He sees them in their minds and in their closets where no one else notices them or perceives their malice. God is there, observing their moves, meant to afflict the righteous. He knows all their stratagems are incapable of outwitting heaven, even if they outsmart seemingly full-proof rules and regulations of the law enforcement agencies in society. At the right time, God will move in to thwart and frustrate the mischief of all Satan-inspired machinations. The text under consideration depicts God as the unchanging God Who has the capacity to save to the uttermost. The author therefore, chooses to cast his lot with this Unique Being. Verses 8 and 9 states in part: “I would seek unto God. . . which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number. . . “. Verse 12 states, “. . . He disappointed the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. . . “. Surely, only God truly delivers from every trouble. This is the reason the followers of Christ ought not to fret at temporary setbacks and seeming disappointments or failures. God is at work on such occasions, hastening the fulfillment of His lofty promises
Bible Reading in one Year: DEUTERONOMY 7 – 9
Our Eternal Fortress
Key Verse:“The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).
On 14 April, 1912, the ship called Titanic set out on its maiden trip from Southampton, England to New York City in the United States. Touted as the fortress of an ocean liner which was “unsinkable”, it had 2, 227 happy-go-lucky passengers and crew. Late in the evening of April 14, the “impregnable” vessel hit an iceberg; it rapidly took in massive water and sank in the early hours of April 15. Only 705 persons survived the ship’s collision with the icy rock. The Titanic could not fulfill the responsibility of its appellation as a fortress, where the perishing could seek refuge or help. It failed its passengers most woefully when they needed deliverance most. On the contrary, the psalmist knew God, the Invincible Fortress, the Unfailing Refuge, where the oppressed and tormented can receive succour and safety. David got his victory in his battle with the Philistines by trusting in this God of all gods. He is the God that cannot be defeated or toppled by the storms of life. He does not ignore the cry of those who genuinely seek Him in penitence and meekness through Jesus Christ. When you serve and rely on Him, He can wield His power to tame the raging tempests of life. David’s experience is a proof that God is a faithful Witness. Indeed, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). He is in the company of all those “who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope (Jesus) set before us” (Hebrews 6:18). The tragic fate of the Titanic challenges the unbelieving to forsake their hold on worldly fortresses that come in the form of political and economic philosophies, religion and science without the totality of biblical guidance. Let them abandon these erroneous doctrines to avoid a fatal shipwreck in the whirlwind of life.
Bible Reading in one Year: DEUTERONOMY 4-6
Life in the Kingdom
Key Verse:“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
This Sermon by our Lord Jesus on a hillside near Capernaum at the start of His ministry has stood the test of time. Its spiritual profundity not only tore into shreds the legalism of the religion of His day, it also established what was dear to God’s heart. Simply put, obedience to His rules is the corn stone of an abiding and true relationship with God. Jesus presentation contradicts the philosophy of the world which emphasises position, authority, prestige, worldliness and wealth. Hern asserts that real and enduring blessedness lies not in material acquisition but in self-abnegation. The kingdom of God, He says, is only for those whose preoccupation is to mourn for sin and thirst for righteousness in expectation of comfort and the arrival of the Kingdom. His notion of joy – willing to make peace, to be merciful, to love when others hate, to help when others abuse, to give up your own rights in order to serve others means more than ephemeral happiness. The Beatitudes point to a state of rest and peace where the soul experiences a peace that “passeth all understanding. ” It is the manifestation of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. The sermon, the longest by our Lord, disavows the aggressive spirit that has led man into a rabid rat race in pursuit of power, position, influence and wealth in the world. This madness has plunged man into wars, conflicts, and the development of weapons of mass destruction. It is obvious then that only a resort to the demands of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount can save mankind. The Lord urges those who have decided to follow Him and His injunctions to stick to Him and reflect the best which He has imparted to us. We must let our lives influence the world as salt makes a difference in food.
Saturday March 19, 2016
Walking With Christ
Key Verse:“Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed” (Proverbs 13:21).
As it is with every line of inspired Scripture, the book of Proverbs delivers wisdom-laden instructions, designed to uplift man both on the spiritual and physical levels. One ignores them to one’s peril. But because God desires that we live and not perish through ignorance, he packaged life-saving instructions; firstly, for the sinner to appropriate and be saved. Secondly, for the backslider to consider and retrace his steps and lastly, for the redeemed to read and stay on course in the narrow path leading to heaven. Verse 18 of today’s text speaks of the dire consequences of rejecting the discipline of God’s instruction. But those who heed correction are honoured. How about the sinner whose manual is the article of conduct produced in the devil’s workshop? Verse 21 says misfortune will pursue him. The righteous will take over his wealth eventually. Prosperity, however, is the reward of the righteous. There is a word for the child-pampering parent. Unknown to a mother or father, they hate their child if they refuse to apply the rod of correction when the child errs. You show a right balance of training and discipline when you reveal the tough side of chastisement. That is the work of true love according to the Lord: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19).Above all, the Scripture makes it clear that one can only be wise when he walks with wise men. The scriptural application is that we can only receive great nuggets of wisdom brewed in heaven when we walk with Jesus Who is Wisdom personified. Why not strive for the fullness of God which is embodied in our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ?
Friday March 18, 2016
On Whose Side Art Thou?
Key Verse:“But let him that glorieth glory in this, that her understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24).
Israel, in the days of Jeremiah,thought and acted in ways completely opposite the principles of Jehovah God. For instance, dating back to the time of Abraham, circumcision stood as a symbol of Israel’s covenant relationship with God (Genesis 17:9-14). But at the time of Jeremiah, they had forgotten the spiritual significance of circumcision, even as they continued to perform the physical ritual. The practice became as superficial as that of the pagan nations whose act was at variance with God’s command. This led God to put “circumcised” Israel and uncircumcised heathen nations like Egypt, Edom, Moab and Ammon in the same bracket of uncircumcised nations. Israel was “uncircumcised in the heart” (verse 26). As a result of this spiritually defective heart condition, the people had wrong priorities in serving Him. They admired fallible man and his so-called virtues. They honoured human wisdom, power (strength), kindness and riches. These were short-lived carnal considerations. So, the Lord admonished Jeremiah to urge the people to get their priorities right. God puts higher premium on knowing Him personally and living a life that reflects His love,righteousness, justice and mercy. “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight. . . ” (Jeremiah 9:23, 24). We must examine ourselves to ensure that we are circumcised in the heart. When we have such a purified heart, it will be impossible to operate at cross-purposes with the heavenly vision
Bible Reading in one Year: NUMBERS 33 – 34
Serving On His Terms Only
Key Verse:“Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them” (Numbers 8:6).
Serving the Lord is a very unique and privileged opportunity. It is not a service into which every Tom, Dick and Harry can enter. Those who are selected to serve here are specially qualified though, not by their own merit and making but by the gracious provision of God to which they have appropriated. There are however, many who wish to enter into this service. They do many things to make themselves qualified. They get actively involved in religious attendance and activities; some even get enrolled in seminaries and theological schools to receive formal trainings, not realising that these in themselves do not qualify them to enter into this great service. To get qualified to serve in the courts of God’s kingdom, one needs to be cleansed. This is the main thrust of the text for meditation today. The Levites have been specially selected to carry out divine service for God. But before they can be truly fit for that service, God instructed Moses to cleanse them. This is a form of purification which they must observe. It is to make them realize that the service to which they are about to enter is a sacred and holy one. Hence, they were to be holy. They cannot give room to any form of defilement if they hope to render acceptable service to God who will bring the expected blessings on the people they serve and on themselves as well. The service of God today requires no less condition. Many people desecrate the service of God and make it of no effect. Many have turned it into a venture through which they can pursue their personal desires and ambitions. Of course, God does not recognize such people as serving Him. If you wish to truly render your service to the Lord, understand that this is a good desire. However, you must first get cleansed. God’s service is a holy service and requires nothing but holy servants.
Wednesday March 16, 2016
Little, Yet Deadly
Key Verse:“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour” (Ecclesiastes 10:1).
Journalists are trained to look out for unusual events because such have more news value. Oddities easily engage our attention and appeal to our sense of curiosity. As is often cited, to report that “dog bites man” is a common event and therefore, doesn’t excite our curiosity and interest. But that “man bites dog” is odd and makes more news because t is unexpected. In today’s text, we can find sparks of wisdom that will help to light the dark alleys of our everyday life. A major spark here is the truth about the high cost of unguarded moments. “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour”. Simply put, a dead fly inside the perfumer’s oil easily spoils the perfume and makes it send out offensive odour. Likewise, a person that is reputed for wise and righteous behaviour easily gets tarn ished by a momentary moral slip. The believer is the light of the world and salt of the earth; a peculiar person and God’s standard bearer. Much is therefore expected of him by “a crowd of witnesses” that watch his life everyday. That is why a momentary slip by him will make a headline. If his “little folly” can send out “stinking savour” and cause much damage; how much more if he indulges in scandalous sin! That is why we are exhorted: “But fornication , and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient…” (Ephesians 5:3, 4). Every appearance of sin and whatever is unbecoming of a Christian’s character must bern avoided like plague. If you are a victim of “little folly”, it accords with true wisdom to reconcile with God. If you have courted the wrath of the King of kings, penitently submit to Him today
Rewards Beyond Imagination
Key Verse:“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and torn the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4).
King David was a wise man who did not allow the culture of pomp and power of the throne to befuddle his mind. He did not permit the magnificence of office to prevent him from thinking about the eternal future. He offered precious time to deliberate on weighty questions about eternity and where he would spend it. The king desired to be on God’s side, after earnestly concluding that earthly glory and wealth would not be of any value after death. So, he posed the all-time questions: “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” (Psalm 15:1; 24:3). In both cases, the answer is that only “he that walketh uprightly”, “that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully… He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation”. In Revelation 14:1-5, the Bible presents some of those that “hath clean hands and a pure heart”, who would abide in heaven. They were not “defiled with women… for they are virgins. ” It simply means those who shun sin and refuse to be part of the corrupt world system. They are fully consecrated to holiness and love God. They do not subscribe to the spirit of the Antichrist, but daily look up to the coming of Christ, their Lord. God is preparing to reward righteous people with eternal habitation in His Kingdom. The redeemed will sing a new song with angels around the throne of God where Christ is seated on His right hand in heaven. The name of the heavenly Father will be written on their foreheads. What a glorious experience. Will you be there?
Ingratitude As Poverty
Key Verse:“Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: But turn ed back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turn ed aside like a deceitful bow” (Psalm 78:56, 57).
A grateful heart is rich in praise for he remembers at all times, He who is the Giver of all good gifts. The unthankful is not so. Hern cries to God for help in trouble, and if there is a little delay, he forgets past providence, turn s around and bites the hand that fed him. His ingratitude is evidence of great spiritual poverty. This picture aptly depicts the unfaithful and repeated attitude of the nation of Israel in their chequered history and relationship with God. The psalmist, in the passage under consideration, recollects the impending judgment of God upon Israel for relapsing yet again into sin after God had dealt kindly with them in many ways and at various instances since they left Egypt. The problem of Israel was their serial disobedience to God’s word by refusing to separate from the idolatrous people of the land. They chose the children of Canaan in marriage, were attracted to their heathen festivals and ways of life and longed after their abominations. The believer who hopes to see the Lord must not walk in the way of sinners. He must separate from the world and its allurement and cling to Christ only. He must take his stand against inordinate earthly pursuits and unmitigated ease of life which make many to trust in themselves and neglect God and His service, thereby increasing their exposure to sin and the hardening of the hearts. For a Christian to go back to living in sin after all that Christ had done at Calvary is the most despicable form of ingratitude. It exposes a culprit to a most fearful retribution.
His Banner Over Us
Key Verse:“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love” (Song Of Solomon 2:4).
Modern -day flags were developed from their medieval equivalents, known then as standards and banners, commonly used by the military to announce the presence of an army on the battle field. They were also used to indicate the presence of an important personality at occasions like tournament s and ceremonies. A banner would naturally bear the insignia of the person or nation which it publishes. The flags of the modern nation-states are not much different. It is a national symbol, the focus of national unity and loyalty. Its general features are usually symbolic expressions of the nation’s history, geography and aspiration. The body of Christ is a nation of priests, and an army of the Lord. We have an indisputable banner, though not material, it is real and eternal. This banner of Christ inspires true Christians to manfully fight on to the very end. His love is our banner. King Solomon and the nation of Israel have tasted of the love of God. He seems, in our text, to be making allusion to the love of God that brought Israel out of the Egyptian bondage into Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. It was not their power that got them this exquisite green land; it was the unmerited love of God. Jesus, having rescued us from the power of the wicked one, brought us to the banquet place where He bestowed upon us graces and gifts which we merited not. He did it for us because He loves us. Hern commands us to share God’s love with others, not only by preaching but also by loving all men the same way He has loved us. This wicked and sinful world requires our compassion and love more than our scorn and vilification. Therefore, let us be filled with Christ’s kind of love, and keep sharing same with others, marching on till He calls us home to rest.
Home-Grown Saints In Demand
Key Verse:“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1).
Godly parents are a storehouse of good advice to their children. If such advice comes by the help of the Holy Spirit, they are of immeasurable blessing to the recipient. Even so, the children must be properly nurtured to profit thereby. The nurturing starts in the home where children are shown tender love, good examples, good prayer life and discipline. Children who find it difficult to obey instructions either at school or in the church must have been indulged at home. Such children grow up being delinquents and a pain to their parents. Dutiful Christian parents can help correct such anomalies. Our text talks about the wise and the foolish sons, the secret of life and some contrasting classes of men. Genuine Christian parents are the most effective teachers of morals and religion in any community. The influence of parents surpasses that of the teacher in church, school or any other person for that matter. Some parents foul up what the children are taught in the church by their bad examples at home. When their children begin to scoff at morals and doctrines of God’s word, they play the innocent. One wonders why the stream is bitter when we ourselves have poisoned the fountain. It is great to train a child in the way he should go, but it is greater still, if we walk that way ourselves. We must grow up the children right from home. We must share with them the excitement of our relationship with God. We must establish in every home, the tradition of passing the joy of the Lord from father to child from generation to generation. Pray that every child from your home will be wise unto salvation and become the man or woman God uses.
Friday March 11, 2016
Degraded By Envy
Key Verse:“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him govern or overEgypt and all his house” (Acts7:9, 10).
John Mason, in his insightful book, “The Impossible Is Possible”, observed that “when you make your mark in life, you will always attract erasers”. This truth will remain applicable for as long as the fallen nature of man continues to reflect. Stephen had been spitefully accused by the Jews of blasphemy in speaking against Moses and the temple held as sacred among them. In his defence before the great council of the Jews, he showed his in-depth knowledge of the history of God’s dealings with them, starting from Abraham to the gospel era. By this, he not only aligned with the divine origin of Mosaic religion, but also brought to the foreground the meanness of their fore fathers which his present persecutors were re-enacting against Christ and His disciples. In today’s text, Stephen reminded his audience of the envy and hatred meted out by the patriarchs to Joseph, their favoured brother, who ended up as a slave in Egypt. Apart from the special favour Joseph enjoyed, he had a dream of being the greatest in the family. The dream was the main object of his brothers’ hatred. In spite of their malicious treatment, Joseph prospered and eventually became a Prime Minister in Egypt. He also became a saviour to both Egypt and Israel, as a type of Christ. Envy is such a mean feeling that leaves a terribly bitter taste. It made Cain the first murderer and fugitive in history. It led Korah, Dathan and Abiram into rebellion and sent all their families to a nearly grave. It turn ed Haman into a frustrated man and hauled him to the gallows. It made the Jewish leaders reject their Saviour. In all cases, the envied ones triumphed. Pretence and religious activities cannot relieve anyone of this heart affliction. Sincerely pray for the love of God to saturate your heart this day.
Bible Reading in one Year: NUMBERS 14 – 15
A Just Recompense
Key Verse:“I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. Surely against me is he turn ed;he turneth his hand against me all the day” (Lamentations 3:1,3).
One of the terrible consequences of living in sin is loosing favour with God. Jeremiah was grieved at the sin of the nation and wanted them to repent.Retribution is a process of meting out merited requital – punishment for evil or reward for good. It involves the act of paying someone back according to their behaviour. Thus,many (incorrectly) think that “divine retribution” means only an expression of God’s wrath. “Divine retribution,”however, involves reward and punishment, blessings and curses.The Bible depicts various characteristics of God. He is described as unlimited and boundless, merciful and forgiving. Also, He is depicted as a relentless and fearful God. Those who do not fear Him and sin with impunity, risk His punishment. There were blood shedding,oppression, power corruption, abuse of slaves and the weak in Jerusalem before its fall. God had sent His prophets many times to His people to reveal their sins, demanding repentance. Those prophets were persecuted or even killed. The fall of Jerusalem came after numerous judgmental proclamations.Although God is merciful, He also punishes those who disobeyHim. He does not spare the rod. On several occasions, He turn edHis back against Israel and they suffered defeat in the hands of their enemies. The frequent disobedience of the children of Israel and their habitual murmuring against God, resulted in the death of many of those who joyfully left Egypt for Canaan.Our relationship with God can be restored today through prayer of repentance. Though individuals and nations act as if there is no more punishment for sins here and hereafter, God is immutable and will not alter His word and consequences for sin.
Bible Reading in one Year: NUMBERS 11 – 13
A Taste Of Adversity
Key Verse:“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel”(Exodus 1:12).
That ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ is an age-long saying. The ‘cloud’ over the children of Israel here was the hard labour they were made to endure under the leadership of anew Pharaoh who neither knewJoseph nor reckoned with his great achievements in Egypt. Unknown to most oppressors, great things usually emerge during crises and adversities;and at such times, the best of a man often easily becomes obvious.Although the new king did not receive any news of provocation from the Israelites, his policy was born e out of fear which led to Israel’s oppression. This proved counterproductive. The Israelites were meant to be kept down, but they grew. Their strength was to be whittled down, but it increased. One thing was not clear to both the oppressors and the oppressed. And this is why those undergoing oppression should have the right attitude. God wanted the nation ofIsrael to grow, but it seemed, hitherto, that the growth was slow.What if God, in His wisdom, permitted the oppressors to enhance the growth in some ways? During more than 200 years, while Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived at liberty, the Hebrews increased slowly; only about seventy persons went down into Egypt. There, in about the same number of years, though under cruel bondage, they became a large nation. This wonderful increase was according torn the promise made unto the fathers. Though the performance of God’s promises is sometimes slow, it is always sure.We are therefore, admonished today to be careful how we interpretour current experiences of hardship, lack, sickness, ill-treatment,deprivation, victimisation, for “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”(Romans 8:28).
Bible Reading in one Year: NUMBERS 8 – 10
Lesson From Royalty
Key Verse:“And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions” (1 Kings 10:1).
Most cultures place high value on spices and seasonings. It was the quest for a shortcut to the spice- producing nations of the East that resulted in Christopher Columbus’ voyage of 1492 and his discovery of America. It was intended to discover a shorter all-water route to China and India than the route around Africa that was being opened up by the Portuguese. From our text, the Queen of Sheba came searching for something too. Her aim was not to acquire material things; she had enough. Somehow, she knew that Solomon’s success was due to his relationship with the God of Israel. So, she came to see for herself the blessings that Solomon enjoyed. She arrived with great pomp and wealth. Her camels were laden with gold and spices for Solomon. When she met with the king, she plied Solomon with difficult questions. Of course, Solomon had no problem answering any of these, impressing the Queen who exclaimed that the report she heard in her own country about his achievements and wisdom was true. The Queen of Sheba wasn’t just impressed with Solomon’s wisdom, she was also impressed by his riches and how he used those riches for his people. It is amazing that she made the long journey to Israel. What could she possibly want to ask King Solomon that could not be asked of someone in her own pagan country? She would have had “seers”, “astronomers”, “clairvoyants”, “magicians” at her service. The subject of utmost importance that warranted a trip of this magnitude was “concerning the name of the Lord”. What impressed her more than his position, power prosperity and prestige was his relationship with his God. When she learned that Solomon’s God was the One responsible for his glory, she wanted to know more! What is the object of your search, your journey and your desire in the world?
Bible Reading in one Year: NUMBERS 5-7
Lest We Forget
“When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God. Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues” (Psalm 78:34,36).
Mary was in the labour ward to have her first child. The nurses around were trying to ease her tension by cracking jokes with her. Immediately she entered the labour room, her mood changed and she suddenly became touchy. It was not too long before the pain of labour became unbearable. In the agony of labour pain, she made several proclamations – including that after her first child, she would not have a child again. Contrary to her declaration during child birth, six months later, Mary was at the same hospital to register for antenatal. “Unbelievable!” One of the nurses shouted. “Human beings forget things easily”. This was the case of the children of Israel. Anytime they went astray, God allowed them to be punished for their disobedience. In their suffering, they would call on Him and plead for His mercy. God is merciful and He did answer them. “But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath” (verses 38,39). It is unfortunate today that many people only remember God when they are in difficulty. Going through a difficult situation makes them to become humble and therefore turn to God. Multitudes are seeking God today for solutions to their problems. But when those problems are solved, they do not only forget several promises and commitment they made to Him; they also forget His laws. Those who take God’s mercies for granted shut the door against future divine intervention.
Bible Reading in one Year: NUMBERS 3-4
Key Verse: “My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi” (Song of Solomon 1:14).
In the passage today, the gracious answer which the bridegroom gives to the request of the bride shows how ready God is to answer prayer. Note how affectionately he speaks to her: “O thou fairest among women”. Believers souls are fair in the eyes of the Lord more than any other thing, as He sees in them the beauty of holiness and righteousness. The high encomiums which the bridegroom showered on his spouse is worthy of note. He calls her his love, friend and companion. He compares her to a set of strong horses in Pharaoh’s chariots. One instance of the beauty of the spouse mentioned is that she has doves’ eyes, a humble modest eye that portrays simplicity and godly sincerity. Those who are low in their own eyes are amiable in the eyes of the Lord. Observing and following the footsteps of the Shepherd is very important for the follower of Jesus. It will not serve to sit still and cry, “Lord, show me the way,” but we must bestir ourselves to enquire about the way by deliberate commitment and consecration to the Master. There is a unique sweetness in Christ and an abundance of it for those who receive Him; there is a bundle of myrrh and a cluster of camphire. The word translated camphire is copher, the same word that signifies atonement or propitiation. Christ is a cluster of merit and righteousness to all believers; therefore, He is dear to them because He is the propitiation for their sins.
Bible Reading in one Year: NUMBERS 1-2
Nothing But The Truth
Key Verse:“Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy. Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight” (Proverbs 12:20,22).
A store manager heard his clerk tell a customer, “No, ma’am, we haven’t had any for a while, and it doesn’t look as if we’ll be getting any soon.” Horrified, the manager came running over to the customer and said, “Of course, we’ll have some soon.” Then he drew the clerk aside. “Never”, he snarled, “never, never, never say we’re out of anything – say ‘we’ve got it on order and it’s coming’. Now, what was it she wanted anyway?” The clerk said, “Rain!”. Truth, according to the Scriptures, establishes and entrenches righteousness while lying will bring the displeasure and judgment of God. The Proverbs also paint a beautiful picture and wonder of carefully chosen words that are devoid of deceit. When the truth is maintained, there will be joy and peace in our relationships and life will become less burdensome. Our society use different methods and equipment to find out whether an alleged criminal is lying or not. But the most sophisticated technology cannot really detect lies or truth. Spouses lie to one another in the name of keeping the peace; parents lie to their children and vice versa; employers and employees do the same. Advertisers lie to sell products. Politicians lie to spin things their way. The lying spiral is endless. Believers must believe, tell and live out the truth. Christ is Truth personified and truth is the character of God. No one can possess this nature of God without the new birth experience. So, making efforts to stop lying will be futile; all you need is a total surrender of your life to Christ today.
Bible Reading in one Year: LEVITICUS 25 – 27
Gloom For Glory!
Key Verse:“Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:22).
The children of Israel were the apple of God’s own eyes. They were His beloved. In love and faithfulness, the Almighty honoured His promises to their fathers from generation to generation. Special favours of God had always been showered upon them; yet, they remained very unstable in their relationship with Him. In our text, God shows His displeasure over their stiff-neck attitude and sinful disposition. He said, “I will surely consume them… there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them” (Jeremiah 8:13). The Almighty so much afflicted them that their health, which they had taken for granted, began to decline. They had gloom for their glory. They lamented that they “looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble” (verse 15). According to them, despite the manifestation of God’s healing power and great provisions, they did not see their signs; “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (verse 20). As His people today, the Almighty has made provisions for our good health and other good things of life. But to enjoy these benefits on a continual basis, we must ensure we are constantly in the centre of His will. Some believers are not enjoying these privileges, partly because of disobedience. To enjoy God’s blessings, we must humbly return to Him, amend our ways and accept His offer of salvation through faith in Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. Then shall we be able to enjoy the fullness of His fatherly love and the blessedness of His glory.
Bible Reading in one Year: LEVITICUS 21 – 24
The Glory Of The Lord
Key Verse:“And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:3).
In our text, Solomon had ended his prayer and fire came down from heaven to consume the sacrifices, “and the glory of the LORD filled the house”. Clearly, the fire from heaven was a signal of God’s acceptance of the offering that was made. The glory of the Lord was the visible manifestation of His presence and spendour. The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s offering; the evidence was the fire that came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. In dedicating the house of God, Solomon bountifully offered twenty two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. What a way of giving back to God part of what He has blessed him with! The dedication of the temple afforded the king the opportunity to bring all the children of Israel together to have fellowship and to offer sacrifices before the Lord. Today, while it is good to build magnificent places of worship for the people to worship the Lord, it is more important and acceptable to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Our bodies must be preserved for God’s use. We should also be willing to sacrifice all that He has blessed us with, including our very lives, on the altar of His service. This way, we will always experience the glory of God in our assemblies.
Thought for the day: The believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Don’t Be Left Out
Key Verse:“Moreover the old gate repaired Jehoiada the son of Paseah, and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; they laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof” (Nehemiah 3:6).
The work of the Kingdom is every believer’s business. Shying away from the work of God casts doubt on our claim of serving Him truly. Throughout His earthly sojourn, Christ was always doing His Father’s bidden. In our passage today, we are confronted with the exploits of Nehemiah and his kinsmen after he had a clear picture of the level of devastation at Jerusalem. Faithful men were appointed to rebuild the walls that had been broken down. Despite the taunting by Sanballat and Tobiah in the preceding chapter, Nehemiah and his men were determined to enlist in the urgent task of rebuilding the walls. Duties were allocated to different men who faithfully executed them. There was a division of labour. Failure of one person could have delayed the entire project as some people’s duties depended on the completion of others’. As believers, there are various duties God, through his ministers, has assigned us. How well are we carrying out such assignments? How diligent are we in delivering without causing a hiccup in the chain of progress in the Lord’s work? Those appointed by Nehemiah never slept on the job, they knew time was of essence. How responsive are we to the call to build the house of God where we worship Him in truth and in spirit? The good job done by these men was responsible for the documentation of their names, which today serves as a challenge to us. Note that everyone willingly accepted the task given to him and worked faithfully to ensure the work was done at record time. Those who choose to remain idle when the call is made for the Lord’s business run the risk of incurring His wrath. Believers are hereby reminded of the urgent task of evangelism which is the very heartbeat of God.
Bible Reading in one Year: LEVITICUS 15 – 17
Cleave And Live
Key Verse:“…For all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you. But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day” (Deuteronomy 4:3,4).
The book of Deuteronomy consists mainly of Moses farewell messages in which he reviewed and renewed God’s covenant with Israel for the sake of the new generation of Israelites. God had led the people out of Egypt and they were on the verge of entering the Promised Land. For the most part, this new generation had no personal recollection of the varied experiences of the past. They therefore, needed an inspired recounting of God’s mighty acts, His covenant, Law and faithful dealings with His people. The past generation of the children of Israel had lived a life of sin, disobedience and rebellion. This new generation needed to know about their covenant-keeping God, His word and commandments. To live in Canaan with assurance of God’s blessings and abiding presence required a sin-free relationship with Him. They were to hold fast to the LORD, fear Him, teach His ways to their children and seek Him always with all their hearts and souls in true faith and love. They were not to add, subtract, diminish contradict or modify God’s word. The nation of Israel was expected to draw other nations to God by abandoning their sinful and wicked ways. This, they could only effectively do by total obedience to His commandments and trust in Him. They were to understand that a diligent persevering conformity to God’s way and commandments was the most effective way of passing a spiritual inheritance to their children. As New Testament believers, we are God’s own possession. We should by our Christian The Bible conduct show forth the goodness, mercy, love of His lordship and great power. We can do this by living a life free from sin and worldly practices.
Bible Reading in one Year: LEVITICUS 12 – 14
Destined For Elevation
Key Verse:“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4)
Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.Though the world has had great heroes as history-books have showed; but never a name to godown to fame compared with that of Jesus Christ. What a mystery revealed in our text today! It is hard to understand how God could accept us; but because of Christ, we are made holy and blameless throughHis redemptive work on the cross.We are not saved because we deserve it, but because God is gracious. By reason of sin, we were captives to Satan and could not be released from captivity until Christ gave His life for the remission of our sins. This redemption we have in Christ is through His blood. And all our spiritual blessings flow down to us from that stream.God is sovereign; He is in charge. When your life seems chaotic, rest on this truth. His purpose to save you can not be thwarted if you yield your life to Him. His purpose to make you great cannot be overthrown by anyone. Only faith in Him will guarantee your success and divine upliftment. Without His grace, none can be great. Grace isGod’s voluntary and loving favour given to those He saves.Remember, your greatness begins when you heed the call to salvation and maintain a consistent walk with God in holiness and righteousness.
Bible Reading in one Year: LEVITICUS 8 – 11
Key Verse:“Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept” (Song of Solomon 1:6).
We are enjoined by the Scriptures to love our neighbours as ourselves. In fact, we are to love all, especially members of the household of faith, and also our enemies. Yet, nothing should come between us and our love for God and the work we are to do in the Kingdom. When we love someone else more than ourselves – something definitely has gone wrong because our capacity to love others must be measured by our ability to love ourselves. Our text deals with the pathetic case of someone who was made to serve others at her own detriment. The cruel brothers of the maiden forced her to guard and care for their vineyards, something she could not do for herself. The work was an outdoor job, and beaten by harsh weather, her body turned black. While now in the city of Jerusalem and in the presence of other girls, her sun-famished skin made her look different from the city girls in their beauty and radiancy. However, despite the terrible exposure and the hard work, the sun did not destroy her beauty. The lesson is clear, legitimate work regardless of how tasking never kills. Also, her assertion that: “I am black, but comely…” shows that the Church is sometimes black with persecution, but comely in patience, constancy, and consolation, yet amiable in the eyes of Christ.
Bible Reading in one Year: LEVITICUS 5-7
The Posterity Of The Wicked
Key Verse:“A man shall not bern established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved” (Proverbs12:3).
Proverb is defined as a compact saying or question that expresses a principle and observation about human behaviour or nature and life. King Solomon is reputed to have spoken about 3000 proverbs and is largely credited with writing the book of Proverbs.Young people and adults are to benefit from the many lessons and counsels in today’s text. It begins with the brutishness of haters of reproof. At one time or the other,reproof and correction become inevitable as without them society will become vain and proud.Righteousness does not discriminate between humans and animals. Our text posits that a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast. This means that God’s way of righteous living includes kindness to animals which are useful to man in terms of companionship, some forms of labour and as food. Dishonest people who twist the fact to support the claims they make are likely to be trapped by their own lies. Retaliation encourages trouble and increases feelings of animosity.Our text, as well as the rest of the book of Proverbs,emphasizes the indispensability of wisdom. It advises us to develop our personal relationship with God on the basis of sound wisdom and understanding. We are encouraged to work hard, and to understand that God views success as having a good reputation, sound moral character and a spiritual commitment to the obedience of His word and commandments.
Bible Reading in one Year: LEVITICUS 1 – 4
“Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return ” (Jeremiah 8:5).
Backsliding is reverting to sin or wrongdoing. It is a believer’s downward movement into the sins and evils he had once destroyed upon conversion.The nation of Israel, taking undue advantage of God’s faithfulness to His promise torn Abraham, had an unenviable history of backsliding. And each time they did, they would cry unto God after suffering avoidable hardship. He would forgive them and raise a leader to lead them back to Him in repentance. But their repentance, not backed by reverential fear, would not endure. Jeremiah’s vision was about the impending desolation of the nation. Their fate was now a consequence of the people’s rebellion. When a believer falls or realizes he is headed torn a wrong direction, wisdom should dictate to him to get up and change direction. But Israel chose to trust the words of false prophets, not minding how God felt.There is danger when leaders and members in Christian assemblies are close to the level of Israel’s apostasy; when they reject God’s word, teach as doctrine the commandments of men, and present rich men as models of righteousness because of financial support. Blasphemous teachings are being dished out from many pulpits today and sound doctrine have been relegated to the background. Yet,God is watching. Backsliders need torn repent today before it is too late.
Bible Reading in one Year: LUKE 23 – 24
Hunter And Hunted
Key Verse:“The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand” (Esther 9:10).
Man, while succumbing to his darkest impulse, have plotted and hatched unprintable evils against his fellow man. Adolf Hitler and his associates, in their madness in the early 1940’s, killed about six million Jews in the over crowded concentration camps and the gas chambers. It was the most heinous of crimes to be committed against humanity in the history of the world. Examining the consequences today, many of Hitler’s henchmen have faced one nemesis or the other as they sought to run from one continent to the other – never quite able to hide themselves from the long arm of justice and calamitous death that is reserved for evil doers.From the text, we see the divine hand of providence changing a previously hopeless situation and turn ing the hunted Israelites into the hunters in the drama that played out in the days of Esther, the Queen. Haman, the son of Hammedatha, in a ridiculous overreaction to Mordecai’s disrespect, had hoped torn wipe out the entire Jewish population, but it turn ed out that himself, his own children, supporters and all the enemies of the Jews faced the exact punishment prescribed by Haman.Everyone should know that what goes round comes around.Those who concoct wicked acts against their neighbours must be ready to play host to the very evil they hoped to unleash against others. Those who set aside the laws of God in order to reorder society according to their own dogmas cannot escape the wrath and punishment of God. The incorruptible Judge is watching over the good and the evil.
Bible Reading in one Year: LUKE 22
Key Verse:“A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy righthand; but it shall not come nigh thee” (Psalm 91:7).
An army lieutenant and his buddy were sent on an important and dangerous mission. Suddenly, the enemy appeared! The lieutenant prayed, ‘Lord, the responsibility is now yours’. A blast from the enemy struck him in the chest and bowled him over. His comrade thought he was dead, but he wasn’t. Later, he wrote, ‘My buddy thought I was dead,and was amazed when I tried to getup. Dazedly, I took my Bible from my shirt pocket, over my heart. Silently I looked at the jagged hole in its cover.A bullet had ripped through to the ninety-first Psalm and stopped at the verse which reads, ‘A thousand shall fall at thy side … but it shall not come nigh thee!’ In profound gratitude I said, ‘Thank You,precious Lord!’Apart from the incident related above, many other stories about amazing and supernatural deliverances through the protection that can only come through the Lord Jesus abound. The psalmist highlighted the benefits of dwelling in the secret place of the MostHigh – that is, living under His protective care and doing His will always. This, according to the psalmist will bring about deliverance from evil arrows and darts of the wicked, long life, victory and peace.The testimony is the same as the Lord protected and shielded the Israelites from the many dangers in the wilderness and saw them through many barriers until they got to the Promised Land.Life is filled with problems, some small and some great. Psalm 91has been and continues to be a source of strength, hope, promise and encouragement. This means that you should not lose heart when you come to the end of your resources and the problem you face looms as large as ever. Bern encouraged, because God is working out a deal greater than you can ever imagine. RememberJoseph.
Bible Reading in one Year: LUKE 20 – 21
Milestones Of Victory
Key Verse:“So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left torn him remaining” (Deuteronomy 3:3).
In our text today, Moses rehearsed the victory of the Israelites over Og,the king of Bashan, and his well trained army before the whole congregation of the children of Israel.In the previous chapter, he had earlier narrated their victory over Sihon, the king of Hesbon, and his host(Deuteronomy 2:32,33). These milestones of victory, as related byMoses were meant to encourage the children of Israel to forge ahead in their mission to possess the land.There is always a period of painful preparation between a promise and the possession. The period of pain is the period of adjustment and conformity to the image and will of God. If the lessons intended by God are not quickly learnt during this period, then the possession of the promise is delayed.This explains why an 11-day journey eventually became a journey of 40 years for the children of Israel. God wants His children torn learn vital lessons when they go through certain unpleasant situations.This is one of the reasons for the several battles the children of Israel fought on their way to the Promised Land. Another reason is because God wanted to train them in the art of war so that they will be able to drive out the inhabitants of the land when they get to the Promised Land.The period of pain is meant to toughen believers and prepare them for a greater purpose. When faced with any challenge as a believer, always remember the faithfulness of God in the past and encourage yourself in the Lord. The children of Israel fought many battles but the Lord gave them victory, and on the long run, they possessed the Promised Land. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Psalm 34:19; Romans 8:37).
Bible Reading in one Year: LUKE 17 – 19
Manna Without Manners
Key Verse:“Behold, he smote the rock,that the waters gushed out,and the streams overflowed;can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people? Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth…” (Psalm 78:20,21).
There was this discernible recurring cycle in the history of the children of Israel. They repeatedly oscillated from rebellion to retribution, then torn repentance, to reconciliation with God, and then to righteousness and back to rebellion after they must have regained some comfort. Their relationship with God was unidirectional – they always wanted to receive from God without any corresponding faith, loyalty and devotion to Him.As revealed in today’s text, God did several wonders amidst the children of Israel that should have made them believe that He could do all things. But rather than praising God, they kept asking for more and tempting Him until they provoked Him to anger. This narrative concern ing the children ofIsrael is an evidence that what God does in man is far more important than what He does for him. What God does for man, such as the provision of food, clothing, shelter, etc., are mere transient physical blessings which are not bad in themselves. But what He does in man such as the circumcision of the heart and crucifixion of the flesh are spiritual and rewardable blessings with great eternal benefits.If they had been circumcised in the heart (Deuteronomy 30:6), they would have been more patient, contented and grateful to God for His blessings and would have escaped His judgment.This account of the Israelites was repeated by Apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 10:1-12, and there are several lessons to draw from this.First, physical blessings do not necessarily mean that a person is spiritual. Second, no matter what God does for a man, if nothing is done to change his sinful nature, that man will always rebel against Him. Third, spiritual blessings are more valuable than physical blessings. Therefore, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
Sunday February 21, 2016
At A Crossroads
Key Verse: “And Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.” (2 Kings 3:14).
Dottie Rambo, a multiple award winning American gospel singer who lived between 1934 and 2008 will be remembered for one of her most notable songs titled “I go torn the Rock”. She developed an early affinity for country music and learned to play the guitar. At 8, she started writing songs and at 10, she was singing and playing country music cover tunes on a local radio programme. She became a born -again Christian at 12 years old and made a commitment to write and sing Christian music. The decision led her to a crossroads at such a nearly age. Her father gave her an ultimatum – “give up Christian music or leave”. She left home and went on the road. She started living with Pastors’ families. This experience must have inspired the lyrics of her songs which have blessed so many lives over the years. Moab was subservient to Israel under the reign of Ahab, but after the death of Ahab, the king of Moab rebelled against Israel. Mesha,the king of Moab stopped paying the regular tribute to Israel. In order to regain his lordship over the king of Moab, Jehoram the king of Israel formed an alliance with Jehoshaphat the king of Judah and the king of Edom. They raised a formidable force and embarked on a journey to battle against Moab. Along the line of their journey , they came to a crossroads. They were left confused and disorganized.Jehoshaphat’s counsel became providential.Crossroads are inevitable in life but when in such situation, the wisest thing to do is to seek divine help. There are those who will choose to accuse God like Jehoram did (2 Kings 3:10). This will only lead to destruction. But, like the presence of Jehoshaphat made a difference, you can be a beacon of righteousness, radiating the glory ofChrist to your neighborhood and providing security to your acquaintances with your abiding faith in God.
Bible Reading in one Year: LUKE 11 – 12
Key Verse: “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion” (Proverbs 11:22).
Physical beauty without strength of character is like a robust coconut with a black content – it is worthless. As there is nothing great in the world but man, there is nothing truly great in man but character. Character fortified with the knowledge of Christ is the only charm which attracts favour with God and man (Proverbs 11:27). This is the true beauty, and it is internal, rather than external. True beauty is tantamount to righteousness, but physical beauty without any relationship with God is wickedness against Him in scriptural parlance, as seen from our text. “A jewel of gold in a swine’s snout…” refers to a beautiful woman that is void of any moral sense and purity. Some women and ladies take to the streets nearly naked in the name of showcasing their beauty. Such beauty is vain and it is wickedness and abomination in the sight of God. The eminent Apostle Peter enjoins: “… giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off…” (2 Peter 1:5-9). These are indices of the true beauty. Other elements of the inner beauty are liberality and soul-winning. Liberality is the art of giving – giving to God and for the good of others (Proverbs 11:24-26). True beauty also attracts others to godliness and holiness in form of soul-winning (Proverbs 11:30). Jesus Christ is the Source of true beauty. He still transforms the worst of sinners to the best of saints if given a chance.
A Rebellious Generation
Key Verse:“But this thing commandedI them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be yourGod, and ye shall be my people… But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear,but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward” (Jeremiah 7:23,24).
King Solomon, in his repository of wisdom, remarked: “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). This was the situation of the children of Israel at this time as stated in the text today. They had blatantly and completely turned away from the commandment of God. They gave themselves to the worship of idols and did a lot of abominable things in the sight of the Lord. Here, they were in captivity in Babylon but showed no sins and rebellion that led them to signs of repentance from the captivity. Instead, they grew worse in idolatry and wickedness against God. They ignored the avalanche of warnings from several prophets concerning the looming judgment of God upon them. Surprisingly, even in their moribund spiritual condition, they never ceased to offer sacrifices unto God. But of course, such sacrifices were an abomination unto Him because He was more interested in their simple obedience to His commandments than mere ritual observance of abominable sacrifices (Jeremiah 7:21-23). Today, like the children of Israel, many still take God for granted and make jest of His ministers. The word of God has become a tired echo in their ears even though they attend Sunday Services in their various assemblies. These are the days when comedians and worldly musicians are invited for entertainment during worship services. God’s standards are ever the same. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). If you continue to spurn the warnings of God through His servants, then you may never escape eternal punishment in hell. You can be set free from the bondage of sin and rebellion through the grace that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Bible Reading in one Year: LUKE 7 – 8
A Squandered Privilege
Key Verse:“And I will do in thee that which I have not done,and whereunto I will not do any more the like,because of all thine abominations” (Ezekiel 5:9).
The Late Scottish minister and author, William Barclay, told what is regarded as one of the great disasters of history which took place n 1271. In 1271, Niccolo and Matteo Polo visited the Kubla Khan, who at that time was a world ruler. He ruled all China, India, and the entire East.The monarch was attracted to the story of Christianity as Niccolo and Matteo told it to him. And he said torn them: “You shall go to your high priest and tell him on my behalf torn send me a hundred men skilled in your religion and I shall be baptized. And when I am baptized, all my barons and great men will be baptized and their subjects will receive baptism, too, and so there will be more Christians here than there are in your parts”. Nothing was done for about thirty years!Eventually, two or three missionaries were sent – too few and too late. Situation had changed. Consider what a difference to the world it would have made if in the thirteenth century China, India and the East had been given to Christ! Squandered privilege!When it comes to this, Israel is a case in point as depicted in today’s text. They disappointed God. Jerusalem was designed,geographically, constitutionally and spiritually, to be the centre of the whole earth and lighthouse to point direction to other nations. Instead of serving as spiritual benefactor to other nations, Israel slipped into idolatry and rebellion against God. In turn , they earned His severe punishment. Today, Christians are the light of the world and salt of the earth. They are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” whose holy lives should shine as a light in honour of God. Israel missed it and got punished. If one backslides and becomes profane, “of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought…?” (Hebrews 10:29).
Of Penitential Prayer
Key Verse:“When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain,because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them” (2 Chronicles 6:26).
As observed by R. A. Torrey, American evangelist, pastor,educator, and writer, “Prayer is the key that unlocks all the store houses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is, and all that God has, is at the disposal of prayer.”King Solomon was certainly conscious of this truth when he offered the long and powerful dedication prayer at the launch of the temple he built. It will be useful torn recall the mood of that occasion. It was a most glorious event that was attended by representatives of all Israel. The ark of the Covenant was set in its permanent place (holy of holies). Innumerable sacrifices were made. Sacred music and praise rented the air as gifted instrumentalists and singers united in worshiping God. It was so moving and glorious that God manifested His presence and power by a cloud that covered the whole temple. It was after this thatSolomon went on his knees and with stretched forth arms, offered this inspiring prayer.In this prayer, Solomon, among other things, interceded for the people and sought God’s grace and favour. Mindful of Israel’s tendency to relapse into sin and the concomitant divine punishment,he prayed for divine leniency. It is pertinent to observe Solomon’s acknowledgment of the link between sin and disaster, defeat and distress. Israel had such a peculiar favour with God that guaranteed for them, preservation, provision, protection and power. The only thing that could make this provision inoperative was sin – rebellion against God.Solomon recognized the ruinous effects of sin; he also recognized the steadfast love of the Lord that never ceases and therefore appealed to it. Today, a most irresistible prayer is one that comes deep down from a penitent offender seeking pardon and reconciliation from God.
Bible Reading in one Year: LUKE 3 – 4
At His Word
Key Verse:“And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin torn possess, that thou mayest inherit his land” (Deuteronomy 2:31).
Walking with God is one of the most difficult but satisfying things in life. Often, He makes us torn do some things that our natural instincts resist either because they seem unreasonable, intimidating or impossible. But one thing is sure: Hern is All-knowing and is looking at the big picture.When God instructed Israel, enroute the Promised Land, to overrunthe country of Sihon the Amorite, kingof Heshbon, Moses was on a familiar page. They had earlier been commanded to spare the Edomites (Esau’s descendants) and Moabites (Lot’s descendants). Moses was used torn walking with God and knew that the only reasonable thing to do was to obey. Israel acted on God’s word and posted a powerful victory over the Amorites and possessed their land. This was a fulfilment of a longstanding plan of God to punish the Amorites for their wickedness (Genesis 15:16).Observe the attitude of king Sihon when Moses requested for a peaceful path through his territories. He sued for war. He was so used to rebelling against God that He allowed him to work out his own ruin. It is, indeed, a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). God enabled Israel to destroy Sihon and his cities. As Moses rehearsed this and other Israel’s Exodus experience to the new generation, he intended that they would see and imbibe the virtue of absolute obedience to God.Today, our victory does not lie in killing people or dispossessing them of their possessions. God has given us a different mandate – torn reach men and women in every part of the world with the gospel of salvation. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but if we act at His word,He will give us the heathen for an inheritance and a whole lot of other possessions.
Bible Reading in one Year: LUKE 1 – 2
The Paradox Of Ephraim
Key Verse: “The children of Ephraim,being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle”(Psalm 78:9).
The French Foreign Legion is said to have a motto that reads, “If I falter, push me on. If I stumble, pick me up. If I retreat, shoot me”. This isa statement of commitment that befits all soldiers of the Lord. Its implication is clear: turn ing back is not an option.This is why, in the Christian armour,there is no provision for the back.The children of Ephraim acted out the direct opposite of what it means to be committed and courageous.Many Bible scholars have attempted to pin down the particular historic incident in the annals of the Jews that verse 9 of Psalm 78 refers to.But such details are not as important as the lessons that leap from the verse. The children of Ephraim had a most wonderful pedigree,occupied a significant spot in Israel and were reputed for gallantry.Here, they were kitted with the best armour of their day, but in the day of battle, they cowardly turn ed back. They lost honour and reward.The experience of the children of Ephraim is not far from what we see in the lives of many professing believers today. They are gifted with spiritual resources necessary for an overcoming life. But in “the day of battle” when it matters most, instead of gallantly standing up for Jesus, they yield or turn back. How did Ephraim come into such a terrible state? They had apparently lost their moral and spiritual bearing – as reflected in the subsequent verses. Their life had become characterized by unfaithfulness and ingratitude to God who had done so much for them.No matter how spiritually and intellectually fortified we are, if we relapse into compromise and sin, we are bound to suffer defeat. Sin weakens the very fabric of our being (Proverbs 28:1). But consistent life of holiness gives us the spine to face daunting challenges and the enemy.
When “Better Than” Is Not Enough
Key Verse: “And he wrought evil in the sight of the LORD; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made”(2 Kings 3:2).
An athlete desirous of winning in a race will rather focus on the finishing line than on fellow competitors. Even so, winning athletes do glance at their competitors’ progress to determine their performance. In life also, there is an irresistible tendency to measure our performance by comparing ourselves with our peers. In the Christian race, it is not so. Our eventual rating is not relative to other people’s performance. It is measured on God’s standard only. Jehoram fared better than his parents, Ahab and Jezebel because he,at least, put away the image of Baal set up by them. He also performed more impressively than Ahaziah, his predecessor. Ahaziah was a devoteer of Baalzebub and also lacked the courage to confront the Moabites who rebelled against Israel as soon as Ahab died. Unlike his parents and brother, Jehoram subscribed to the worship of the God of Israel.When Moab withdrew their annual tribute to Israel, Jehoram rose to the occasion. He arranged a confederacy to subdue Moab to compliance.Verse 2 of our text, however, opens with a verdict that summarizes the performance of Jehoram: “…he wrought evil in the sight of the LORD”. One major area where he failed was the sustenance of the worship of the golden calves set up by king Jeroboam in his bid torn cut Israel clear from Judah where true worship was domiciled. Jehoram’s comparative goodness was not enough to earn him a place in the hall of fame of godly leaders. Neither was his half-measure of piety enough to stave off the judgment of God earlier pronounced on his family which was fulfilled in his days.We cannot serve God half-heartedly and expect to be approved of Him. Compromise weakens the will and renders one unsuitable.God demands whole-hearted devotion from all.It is only when we give it that we will enjoyHis presence, preservation and power.
Between the Heart and the Tongue
Text: Proverbs 10:11-21
Key Verse:“The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth”(Proverbs 10:20).
It was the English non-conformist, Puritan preacher and author, Thomas Brooks, who observed thus: “We know metals by their tinkling, and men by their talking”. This truth remains real today as it was in the seventeenth century when Brooks made the assertion.
It serves torn highlight the close connection between the tongue and the heart. The book of Proverbs is full of contrasts between good and evil or virtues and vices. Today’s text has a lot to say in relation to the tongue of the righteous set in contrast with that of the unrighteous. The mouth (or tongue) of the righteous is associated with positive influences and outcomes.
First, it is “a well of life” – a spring that constantly issues forth refreshing words that edifies people. It is seasoned with wisdom. It is properly bridled. It is choice silver (precious) and, therefore “feed many” (useful and impactful). On the contrary, the mouth of the unrighteous is marked by violence, hatred, foolishness, destruction, malice, flattery and talkativeness. Observe that verse 20 contrasts the outcome of the tongue of the righteous, not with the tongue but with the heart of the wicked. This only goes to show that the tongue does not act independently of the heart (Matthew 12:34).
The tongue is the key outlet of the heart. Incidentally, the heart of man is so depraved that education, exposure and civility are not enough to fix it. It takes a heart regeneration that comes through spiritual rebirth to fix the problem of the heart. You may, today, use what sincerely comes out of your mouth and their effects on people to measure the state of your heart. If they do not match the characteristics associated with the righteous, you will do well to penitently take your heart to God for a spiritual heart transplant. Managing it not only makes you less useful to others, but will eventually land you in eternal damnation.
Thought for the day: The problem of a faulty tongue is in the heart.
Bible Reading in one Year: Mark 7-10
Our Debt Of Love
Key Verse: “Owe no man any thing,but to love one another:for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).
An admirer offered a highly gifted old cobbler five pound sterling(which meant so much at that time).The money was an unsolicited loan for the expansion of the cobbler’s business. The money was accepted with thanks. However, after three days of wrestling with the thought of owing such a huge amount of money,the old man return ed the fund intact to the lender with the explanation that he had lost his peace because of the loan. Indebtedness is such a miserable experience that, in every culture, there is an axiom that speaks ill of it. In the same vein, Apostle Paul enjoins Christians to “owe no man any thing”. Whereas it is not a sin to owe money or material, the Christian should as much as possible, stay out of debt. It is wicked to fail to pay a debt that you are in a position to pay. In the same breadth, we are told here of a necessary debt that we owe our neighbours which we must continue to pay. It is the debt of love.Even though the world has grossly abused the term “love”, the Bible clarifies the concept. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Genuine love will make us not to even think or plan any evil against others, let alone doing things that can hurt their person or fortune. For the Christian, love is not only a restraining influence but a constraining one. True love constrains us to do good to others as much as lies in our power. In a world that is terribly darkened by hate, racism, injustice, greed and selfishness, your show of genuine love will brighten the corn er where you are.Religious profession and devotion that is bereft of love that springs from a renewed heart is worthless. We must examine ourselves in the light of this reality, especially considering the shortness of time at our disposal, and shake off every work of darkness.
Bible Reading in one Year: MARK 4 – 6
He Who Is Unique
Key Verse:“Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works” (Psalm 86:8).
In his book, Tough Times Never Last,But Tough People Do!, Robert H. Schuller encourages believers torn name their problem, and then “your possibility!” He shows believers how to build a positive self-image,regardless of what their problem is.No matter how tough times get, those who know their God have the potential to achieve the best of life.In our text, David poured out his heart because he was in despair. He realised that the source of his economic poverty was his poor spiritual state and that he needed help from God. And because he had wholly given his life to the Lord, he called on Him to intervene in other areas of his life. David also pointed out why believers must hope only in God. He confessed, “Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works” (Psalm 86:8).The passage reminds believers of the awesome power of God,noting that God is able to respond to prayers from sincere hearts.The Almighty never fails. Therefore, believers need to pray and commit their life challenges to Him on a daily basis.Although David was wholly committed to God, there were yet certain areas of his life in which he needed divine intervention. Being a child of God does not immune one from challenges. In fact,experience has shown that the more committed a person is to God,the more the individual is likely to face the arrows of the wicked one. But the good news is that He never sleeps that keeps His own.If you have any burden today, lay it down for Jesus; He is our BurdenBearer.There is no need to weep and groan in pain.Bow your knees in prayer and pour out your heart to God. He will either lift the challenge immediately or provide you with the needed grace to contend with the situation.
A Consuming Fire
Key Verse:“How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!” (Lamentations 2:1).
Most times, people complain of their calamities and wonder why such fate should befall them. But they rarely beam their searchlight on their iniquities that may have attracted God’s displeasure. Many times also, circumstances that are blamed on the devil are direct consequences of man’s actions and inactions. Prophet Jeremiah saw the poor spiritual state of the children of Israel. Their calamities came suddenly and such afflictions were allowed by God Himself. The prophet reminds us that it is just with God to cast down those who debase themselves by sin. With the special favours God bestowed upon Israel, they still dishonoured Him. They even misused His prophets. These sinful acts became painful to the almighty God, and He decided to visit them with miseries. In the text, God is identified as the One who has worked against Jacob (Israel) and Judah in the time of their apostasy. He was the One who poured out judgment upon the people. Because they had rebelled against the will of God, they fell into His hands, and thus experienced His wrath. The temple was torn down by the Babylonians. The religious symbol in which they had so much pride was taken away. God brought the strength of Israel to a close. The glorious temple of stones and glamour was swept away. The civil head of state and the religious leaders were terminated. The identity of the nation was taken away; thus, Israel could no longer be identified as an independent state. Like Israel of old that bragged about their beauty, many people today go against the law of God because of their beauty, thinking that they will not pay for their acts of indiscretion. Please, do not play games with God anymore. Whatsoever you sow, you will surely reap. Beware!
A Changed Vesture
Key Verse:“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou bern little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).
Life is not static. Stories abound of people who moved from rags to riches. Early in their lives,nobody gave them an opportunity to succeed by virtue of their poor parentage. But they managed torn break the yoke of poverty and become sought-after in their communities and countries. They changed their stories.According to our text, Israel would eventually be redeemed out of the nations to which they would be sent in captivity. Before the redemption however, the people were exhorted to prepare for battle against the invading Assyrian army.In the travail of their captivity, Israel would eventually give birth to the incarnate Son of God, the One who had given the rebellious Israelites over to those nations in the first instance.Now, the emphasis in the context is on the One who is brought forth in Bethlehem, whose coming would result in the birth of the Church of Christ and thus the spiritual remnant that would be born out of physical Israel.Jesus is in perfect control of all things and God, through Him,is working out His perfect will in His children. Through Israel,God was working all things for the salvation of all men. Israel was the avenue through which God brought the Saviour of the world. He worked through the prophets in order to preserve Israel for the redemption of all nations. How wonderful will it be for you and for humanity if you allow God to work through you also for the fulfillment of His divine purpose.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 26
Never The Same
Key Verse:“And Huram made the pots,and the shovels, and the basons. And Huram finished the work that he was to make for kingSolomon for the house ofGod” (2 Chronicles 4:11).
Sin is a destroyer! And an opportunity lost cannot bern regained. By consistently sinning against the almighty God, Israel profaned the temple of worship; God sold them into captivity and had the temple destroyed by invading armies.The almighty God is great and deserves to be worshiped in the beauty of His holiness.In our text, Solomon set out torn build a house for God. The details given in reference to all that he did torn build the temple was to remind believers about the initial condition of the house, which was later destroyed by the Babylonian soldiers.This was because of the sin of Israel. Their state of apostasy resulted in the destruction of the great temple Solomon built. Never again in history would such an elaborate temple be built by Israel and never again would the nation be able to accumulate such great amount of silver and gold.The temple was rebuilt when the remnants return ed fromBabylonian captivity, but not with the splendor of bronze, silver and gold with which Solomon had built. Another temple was built during the reign of Herod the Great, but again not with all the bronze, silver and gold that Solomon used in the building of the first temple.The first experience of salvation is always the best. Like Esau, who lost his birthright and sought with tears to reclaim it afterward without success, those who have at anytime lost their personal experience inChrist can testify that even though they got it back, it was never the same. It is damning to be reticent in our walk with Christ. This is why believers must guard jealously all their spiritual experiences and ensure they are not stolen by the devil or lost over a mere mess of porridge.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 24 – 25
The Miracle Worker Please
Key Verse: “So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake” (2 Kings 2:22).
A miracle is a boost to a revival. It provides the launching pad and momentum in the drive for revival.Without miracles, signs and wonders, revival will not have an impactful bite. From the way Elisha turn ed the unpleasant situation of the city, it can be deduced that genuine miracles are not products of incantations or superfluous ceremonies. Our God is simple and does not require ceremonies in His worship. The Bible is replete with great miracles performed by Jesus Christ, His disciples, or those who came before Him or after, just by the spoken Word. Believers must shun every act aimed at dramatising the wonders of God in the lives of people. The miracle of purifying water happened to establish Elisha as one through whom God worked. The prophet simply called onGod to purify the waters and it was done immediately.True servants of God know how they commune with Him. These days, we see more of drama than result. All through the ages, spoken words have always worked wonders. God has not changed and His words remain the same. Immediately after the miracle of water purification, some children began to mock Elisha. They began to jeer and sneer at the man of God. The children were old enough to assume responsibility for their disrespectful behaviour towards a man of God.They reaped the consequences of their insults as they received immediate judgment pronounced on them by Elisha.Believing parents must train their children to be respectful. Our children must not be hooligans who follow miscreants to foment trouble in the streets. By the same token, we must trust God for miracles with simple faith,giving more allegiance to the Miracle Worker more than the transient miracles themselves.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 22 – 23
Key Verse:“A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1).
Someone has said that the essence of warn ing against “false balance or unjust weight” is to enable us not to conduct our businesses in an unjust manner. To have an unjust weight or scaler means to show partiality or deceit in business exchanges in order to deceive others to profit yourself. When a weight is just, it conforms to the universal standard of measurement. Some people want to be rich by all means. Competition is rife in society on who drives the best cars, owns the most beautiful mansion and other aesthetic but ephemeral acquisitions that define status symbol. For this reason, a lot of people are cutting corners and doing all manner of unethical things. Sadly, many so-called believers are caught in this rat race.In some climes, truth is a scarce commodity as business people and service givers rip their customers off by rendering services that are below standard or half measures. Those who sell products give lower measures than they claim to give. Corruption is just the order of the day. In our text, we are told that the contrast between the righteous and unrighteous manifests in the blessings that come from righteousness. God abhors dishonest and unjust measurements. Lack of integrity is repulsive. It can erode the confidence level of a man. If you cannot do without cheating people, you can as well do without meeting people.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 20 – 21
Obedience Is Key
Key Verse:“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1).
A story was told of a Christian woman who was in the habit of defying the state’s law on environmental sanitation exercise every last Saturday of the month. Her excuse was that she was not bound by the laws of man because she was doing God’s work. So, anytime the environmental exercise was on, she would go about with megaphone, preaching on the streets. She was eventually arrested and taken to the court where she was tried, found guilty and sentenced to one month imprisonment with hard labour. As she was being led away into prison, she was screaming that she was in the will of God. In our text today, Paul the apostle saw the need to correct a wrong impression among some believers who think that government authorities were demons and needed not be obeyed or respected. He pointed out to them that no government would be in existence if God had not ordained it for a purpose. He encouraged believers to subject themselves to the authorities as such powers are God’s instruments. It is shocking that some believers disobey constituted authority by refusing to pay taxes and other legitimate dues. Such people also refuse to take part in other civic activities for the good of society. Those who resist civil government are actually resisting God who instituted government in order to maintain order in the society. The fact that rulers of civil government are corrupt and wicked does not invalidate the necessity of civil government and one’s obedience to the laws of the land. Every citizen, irrespective of religious background, must abide by the laws of the land. Disobedience to any law is only welcome by God when such law is in direct conflict with the divine law. Even at that, there is still need for divine wisdom to always act right.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 17-19
A Cry For Mercy
Key Verse: “He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in” (2 Chronicles 4:6).
Not many people have the privilege to build for God. Some yearn for it, but they have lost out of His favour. Yet, some who have the special privilege do not build according to pattern. To this, Marvin Ashton advised: “Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.” Solomon, the son of David, had a privilege to build a temple for God, a favour his father never had. However, the temple, in a way, violated some of God’s specific commandments. For instance, the bulls, calves and oxen were the usual images, which the Canaanite used to worship their fertility god, Baal. Some Bible scholars, who reviewed the structure, condemned Solomon for the use of the images, pointing out that the Scripture expressly condemned it: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4). Apparently, in the building of the temple, Solomon allowed some exuberance which God seemingly winked at. Thus, the glory that came down at the dedication of the temple. This is a pointer to many of us, who try to have true fellowship with God. We should be careful of what we bring into the service of the Lord to avoid offering strange fire on His altar. One cannot offer proud “sacrifices” and expect Him to accept it. He seeks those who come to Him in humility, ready to sacrifice their pride and lay before Him humble and contrite hearts. As New Testament believers, we must worship God without additives and encumbrances. God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 14 – 16
Lamentation Of The Wicked
Key Verse: “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me,wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger” (Lamentation 1:12).
Nobody can explain the gravity of sin better than the person who has experienced the wrath of God.This is an experience the inhabitants of Zion would not like to remember.From our text, they lamented over their suffering. They were in pain and sorrow, resulting from their sins.Their sorrow was so great that they were even astonished. They were not only weak and weary, but also became an easy prey for their enemies. Unable to bear the weight of their misery any longer, they cried out in desperation to a traveller, who walked the busy trade routes near Jerusalem, “Is it nothing to you? Do you not care what has happened to me? Have you no sympathy to offer me?” They challenged these passers-by to name one city which had suffered what they had gone through. They apparently felt that their suffering was unparalleled.They knew, ab initio (from the beginning), that it was God, who administered the painful and fatal stroke to them. But they acknowledged that it was due to their sins, pointing out that God, at the appointed time, convoked a solemn assembly of foreign powers to destroy them. Their mighty men, including youths, were cast into the winepress of God’s wrath,while their undefiled ladies were trampled upon.They could not blame God for their situation, as they admitted that they were justly punished. In prayer-like fashion, they called upon the neighboring people to hear their wail and behold their sorrow. There are always reasons for mishaps that came to man. Most of these are always self inflicted.Let not the wicked and impenitent think they can escape the wrath of God, even if it is delayed. Repent of your wickedness and impiety, and find solace in Christ.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 12 – 13
His Mercy To The Rescue
Key Verse: “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth” (Micah 4:13).
God’s acts of mercy are boundless. He is always ready to advance His goodness to the penitent.In our text for meditation today, the enemies of Zion had assembled and were rejoicing at the calamities which befell the city. Zion was to be a light to other nations, but its inhabitants went into sin, which earned themGod’s chastisement. The Assyrians came and defeated Israel in war. God sent the people of Judah to Babylon,where they spent a long period in captivity. The people at Jerusalem, the modern city of Zion, went into pain and cried as if they had no Helper.From our text, Micah, however, brought a message of hope, stating that God would deliver His people. Their enemies would not understand that their gathering against Zion was for God to destroy them, just, as sheaves are gathered to be threshed. God’s people would be strengthened to beat their enemies to pieces.This message of hope is still for us today. Though the enemies may gather against us, their plan will be to their own destruction.The designs against any child of God, his family and the Church will not stand.All we need to do is to live right and have good relationship withGod. He told His people, “Arise and thresh”. Today, God is still speaking the same language to His children. Instead of fearing the enemies and fleeing from them, boldly set upon them and take the opportunity. When God has plan and work for His people, He furnishes them with strength and ability. When He does that, His children must exert the power and execute the commission.Rejoice because the enemies of your soul have been defeated.
Be A Better Builder
Key Verse:“He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in” (2 Chronicles 4:6).
Not many people have the privilege to build for God. Some yearn for it, but they have lost out of His favour. Yet, some who have the special privilege do not build according to pattern. To this, Marvin Ashton advised: “Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.” Solomon, the son of David, had a privilege to build a temple for God, a favour his father never had. However, the temple, in a way, violated some of God’s specific commandments. For instance, the bulls, calves and oxen were the usual images, which the Canaanite used to worship their fertility god, Baal. Some Bible scholars, who reviewed the structure, condemned Solomon for the use of the images, pointing out that the Scripture expressly condemned it: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4). Apparently, in the building of the temple, Solomon allowed some exuberance which God seemingly winked at. Thus, the glory that came down at the dedication of the temple. This is a pointer to many of us, who try to have true fellowship with God. We should be careful of what we bring into the service of the Lord to avoid offering strange fire on His altar. One cannot offer proud “sacrifices” and expect Him to accept it. He seeks those who come to Him in humility, ready to sacrifice their pride and lay before Him humble and contrite hearts. As New Testament believers, we must worship God without additives and encumbrances. God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 8-9
Reward Of Consecration
Key Verse:“And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so” (2 Kings 2:10).
James Calvert, a missionary to Fiji Islands, which was noted for its cannibalism, consecrated himself to follow God through. When he and his fellow missionaries landed on the island, the captain of the ship, in an attempt to discourage them, tried to turn back. “You will die, the men with you will die, if you stay here,” the captain cried. After a moment, Calvert, while being point-blank that they had crossed the Rubicon, replied, “We died before we came here”. Calvert’s ardent disposition toward God’s calling aptly explained Elisha’s unusual commitment of his service to God. Right from the outset, he refused to leave Elijah, wanting to be with him for as long a time as possible. Prior to that, he was a successful farmer. When Elijah cast his mantle upon him, Elisha, without hesitation, bade goodbye to his parents and followed Elijah. Many Christians, today, treasure their career and family engagement more than following Christ unreservedly. Some people even get tied down by tradition and religion of their parents. The unwavering disposition of Elisha towards God was outstanding. He never allowed anybody or anything to distract him. His focus was definite – he would continue to be Elijah’s servant until the end. In our Christian journey, some people, even brethren, may try to distract us with a lot of worldly enticements, but our determination to serve God to the end will help us to overcome every temptation and enticement from the devil. Many Christians do not know that for them to make a headway in their heavenly journey, they need total consecration, a single-minded devotion to the high calling of the Almighty. That is why you need purity of heart. If you want to be spiritually strong, you have to enter into a permanent consecration with God. Consecration makes the spiritually weak strong.
Consequences Of Sin
Key Verse:“Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins” (Jeremiah 14:10).
Nothing else attracts God’s wrath upon people more than sin. Yet, the people of Judah failed to realize this and wandered away from God. They not only worshiped false gods, they also contracted political alliances with Babylon and Egypt, and drifted far away from God. But He poured His wrath upon them. Rain ceased for a period and the people suffered. Their elites were not left out. Their servants could not even get drinking water, which caused a sad and frightened situation in the land. Farmers’ crops could not yield fruits because of lack of rain. This made the land hard and unproductive. Animals that gave birth could not feed their babies. There was no grass for the animals to graze, neither was there water to drink. They could not see clearly as they were dying. The people of Judah cried to God, but He deliberately ignored their cry. Jeremiah then offered prayers on their behalf. First, he admitted they were guilty of many sins, as they turned away from God and failed to obey Him a number of times. He appealed to the Lord to show His love and pity upon them. But God said to Jeremiah, “Pray not for this people for their good”. That is the reward of iniquity. No sinner will go unpunished. The calamity that will befall sinners at the end of time will be worse than what the people of Judah suffered. Today, many people deliberately offend God. They can tell lies, cheat during examination and in tax returns, secretly indulge in pornography, bear malice, etc. Some will even describe their sins as little, deluding themselves that God is “loving” and He would overlook little faults, lapses and indiscretions. They fail to realise that sin, in every aspect, is sin, whether big or small and will be punished by God ultimately. The only remedy against sin is repentance and newness of life in Jesus Christ.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 4 – 5
Perfect Love For All
Key Verse: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9).
Paul the apostle, in our text, reiterated Christ’s position, evidently describing genuine love as a cardinal virtue of a Christian life. He noted particularly that it must be sincere and devoid of hypocrisy. Aside from the fact that Christians must see themselves as a family, which will enable them to adequately appreciate true love, Paul pointed out that in living it out, they must equally honour other people, even more than themselves, and hate evil. Apostle Paul equally asserted that Christians must work hard in God’s service with hope, patience and prayer. They should also be hospitable and generous, forbearing insult, sympathising with other people, living in unity with others and avoiding retaliation, no matter how they may have been hurt. The pertinent question is: how many of us, who claim to be Christians, actually live out these virtues? Do we really see ourselves as a family in the Household of Faith, bearing one another’s burden? Today, quite a lot of people, even Christians, manifest hatred towards others. Some, because of position-seeking in the church, see others as rivals and enemies. Animosity and disunity now creep into their lives and the church. Some are never sympathetic to their fellow Christians’ predicaments. Instead, they rejoice in their affliction and suffering. Repentance is the principal thing. God abhors unholy relationships. Hatred is evil, but love is comely. Being kind to your enemies may make them regret their actions. You do not need to hate your enemies. A Christian who hates The Bible others is not a true child of Christ. Evil deeds cannot defeat someone who is evil. So, Christians can only overcome evil powers when they do the right things.
Bible Reading in one Year: MATTHEW 1 – 3
God Answers Prayers
Key Verse:“Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee” (2 Chronicles 6:19).
We often search for solution to our problems everywhere else except where it matters most: from the prayer of thy servant, and God. Our problems blind us to our best interests, and they make God appear so distant or even unconcerned about our pressing circumstances. Yet, genuine succour can only come when we talk to God King Solomon knew this. He had in prayer about our needs. just completed the building of the temple in Jerusalem. He wasn’t going to throw the doors open to the public without first praying intensely to God. To do this, he knelt down before God in the sight of his people. It was an act of total submission and subservience to the higher authority and sovereignty of almighty God. He repeatedly introduced himself to God as “thy servant”. He at once began praising God for His faithfulness to his father, David, and the people of Israel. He then prayed that God should fulfill all that He had promised David, hear his cry, prayer and supplication. He pleaded with God to answer all the prayers he and the people of Israel would make in the temple from then onward, and that He would, as necessary, forgive all their sins. We must never forget that the almighty God is compassionate towards us. He loves and cares for us; and He is concerned about all the challenges we face in life, irrespective of how difficult they may seem. He desires the best for us as His children. He, therefore, wants us to pray and trust Him not only to hear, but grant our requests. However, we must ensure that we know Him as our Father, and that we are doing things that The Bible please Him always. For only then can He reach out to us when we appear before Him with our prayers.
Joy In God’s Presence
Key Verse:“For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10).
The greatest desire of man is to find peace and happiness in the things that make life fulfilling. Unfortunately, for many people, this remains an empty aspiration because all their efforts are in the wrong direction. Such people go through life without realising their dreams or enjoying the true essence of living. The psalmist was different. He yearned to get away from the daily hustle and bustle of life to find a place of rest and quiet meditation in the presence of the Lord, in His house. He recognised that those who dwell in the house of the Lord were blessed, especially because they tended to draw strength from Him and obtain grace to walk in His ways. Often, they begin to thirst more for God because of the experiences of life which are likened to a walk through the “valley of Baca”, a period when God seems far, when prayers seem unanswered and when hopes for a change seem to fade away. Yet, those who persevere in trusting God and walk uprightly before Him at such a time will find, not just satisfaction, but strength to continue in life’s journey. God becomes “a Sun and Shield” over them. He gives them more grace and withholds no good thing from them. Whatever trial and tribulation, struggles and tears we experience in life, when we are in the presence of God, we not only draw strength, but discover that adversities have become stepping stones to God’s faithfulness and blessings. When we pray, God answers and grants all we need to live for Him.
Bible Reading in one Year: EXODUS 37 – 38
Let Christ Reign In Your Life
Key Verse: “And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever” (Micah 4:7)
Very often, some people settle for things that bring some benefits without having to work for them. They conclude that these must be blessings from God, though they live in complete disobedience to His rules and guidelines for life. In the event, they take God’s mercies for granted. God’s desire is to be Lord and Master over the nation of Israel. But the people seemed to have forgotten this, having been buffeted by the bitter experiences of life. Yet, the Lord assured them that at the end of the age, He will reign as King over all the earth. And Jerusalem which had been invaded, occupied and destroyed so many times, will be the seat of His power. Many people on earth would flock there to be taught the right way to live to please Him. At the time, all wars will cease, and the Lord will rule in peace. All people will go about their daily business without fear; the people will make Him their God forever. At that time, the Lord will gather victims of the world’s wicked system; those that had been exiled to the furthermost parts of the earth. He will forgive their sins, receive them to Himself again and reign over them forever. Unfortunately, at this time, many people on earth will continue to call on the name of their gods, but Israel “will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever”. As it will be at the end of time, so it is today. Real peace, happiness, joy and security can only be found in the Lord. His blessings are of superior quality compared to anything men may get elsewhere. But this is only for those who have entrusted their lives into His hands, who are now guided by God’s command and have made Him their Lord and Master. Once He reigns over one’s life, the best on earth and in eternity becomes his possession.
Beautify Your Life For God
“And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty: and the gold was gold of Parvaim” (2 Chronicles 3:6).
Many people are often frantic about looking good and acceptable to those they meet in the society. They go a great length to cultivate what they consider to be acceptable culture and standards. Unfortunately, the best efforts of men often fall flat when subjected to the intense scrutiny of God’s holy expectations. King Solomon was not to be guilty of such a charge. He had a task to accomplish: to build a house in Israel for the almighty God. His father, King David, before passing away, had made ample provision of materials for the work. He had also produced both the architectural and structural designs of the building. But this was not enough. Like every building project, the work required a wise master builder, a person who would see through the eyes of God. If there was any man qualified for the job at this time, Solomon was the person. God had endowed him with wisdom, riches and peace. He focused on the task, and sought to erect the most magnificent edifice ever built. The exact measurement of the temple – its height, length, breadth – was to be meticulously followed. It was to be ornately decorated with the finest quality gold ever. It was a house to inspire awe and reverence of the almighty God. Today, the best edifice you can build for God is your life – spirit, soul and body – which is “the temple of the living God”. Your heart must be free of sin, your body must be holy and righteous. Your whole life must, at all times, be presented to God as a living sacrifice. You must be pure in thought and action. The best part is that God has made all the necessary provisions for this character to be attained in your life through our Lord Jesus Christ. All you need to do is to come to Him, abandon your old ways and accept the new life He gives.
Focus On Your Goal
Things that are significant, enduring and greatly beneficial, do not usually come easily. They demand hard work, dedication and focus. They require that you are painstaking, single-minded and shun all distractions, even when you do not fully understand how your objective will be achieved. Prophet Elijah had known that his ministry on earth was coming to an end. Years earlier, he had, at God’s command, appointed Elisha, a successful farmer, to assist him. God knew that Elijah had trained him enough, and that Elisha would continue with the work begun by Elijah. Yet, Elijah did not presumptuously hand over power to Elisha. He decided to put him to test to see if he was prepared for the task ahead. As his departure approached, he initiated a journey from Gilgal, first to Bethel, then to Jericho, and eventually to Jordan. From the beginning, he sought to discourage Elisha from embarking on the journey with him. But he would not be dissuaded. Even the students in the training school for prophets, the so-called “sons of the prophets” also keep taunting him about the imminent departure of his master. But if they thought that would discourage him, they too were disappointed. Elisha himself knew that his boss was about to go to heaven, and he had a goal in mind: to receive the final blessing of his master. So, he was unflinching in his resolve, as “they two went on” the journey. Heaven is the goal of all genuine Christians. Therein lies the blessings untold which God our Father has prepared for us. But in the journey to heaven, we would run into disappointments, discouragements and distractions. But whatever we experience in life, we must focus on getting there. We must live righteously, obey God completely and serve Him fervently as He commands.
Pride Is Dangerous
Key Verse:“But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD’S flock is carried away captive” (Jeremiah 13:17).
One of the deadliest effects of pride is that it shuts a person’s senses to good reason and blinds him to his weaknesses and limitations. It makes him think he is more important than other people. Such a person does not see any need to change his ways. As a result, he ends up suffering defeat and experiencing severe setbacks in life. In his numerous entreaties to the people of Judah, Prophet Jeremiah warned them to abandon pride, listen to, and obey God’s commands. He urged them to humble themselves before the almighty God. He warned them that they were toying with the danger of being forcefully sent on exile as captives in the hand of a merciless foreign power. Their land would be stripped bare of men and animals, and left desolate because of their pride, arrogance and rebellion against God. He wondered why they were unwilling to change their ways, especially considering the danger that awaits them. He could not understand why they continued to disregard God and believe in the false hope that no harm would come to them for their actions. Yet, for their rebellion and numerous sins, God rendered them helpless and brought them to shame before their enemy. Like the men of Judah, pride still hinders people from abandoning their sinful and indulgent lifestyles. They look down on God, just as they do to other people. They leave no room for God in their plans. Such people are so set in their behavior that they lose the desire to change their ways. This is a very dangerous state to be in. The only option open to people in this condition is to recognize their folly and quickly repent, else, face dire consequences of their action.
How Do You Rate Yourself?
Key Verse: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).
Many people often have an exaggerated opinion of themselves. This may be because of skills they possess or their high attainments in the activities and professions of the world. For some, it may be due to their illustrious family background. Either way, a bloated self-esteem is dangerous, as it can blind the mind to good reasoning and conduct. Unfortunately, this is not just a problem in the world, but also among Christians. Hence, Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prescribed practical guidelines on how Christians should live. They must present themselves as living sacrifices to God. They must be holy, for that makes them acceptable to Him. They must not conform to the standards of the world, but be transformed and renewed in mind. They must moderate their self-esteem, recognizing that God has endowed everyone differently. They must function as parts of the human body which, though separate, are inter-related and work in complete unity. Each person has a different gift, and God expects Christians to use their gifts according to the proportion of faith in them. We should neither under-estimate nor over-estimate ourselves. Actually, the basis of our self-esteem is not in evaluating ourselves by worldly standards of success, but in recognizing that what makes the difference is our identity in Christ. Without Christ, we will fail all tests by scriptural, eternal standards. Whatever our talents, we must recognize that they are incomplete without the support of other people’s gifts. The earlier we realize that no one person can do the work of God alone, the better for us, and the more realistic we become in assessing ourselves.