GOD’S WARCRAFT – ITS OFTEN ILLOGICAL & IRRATIONAL

Whenever I watch a movie that pits a small force against a larger enemy, I always look for the battle strategy by which the smaller army conquers the larger one. It excites me to see a bigger enemy, who comes into battle confident of gaining the upper hand because of the sheer number of people on their side, made to bite the dust by a smaller opponent through their sharper wits and smarter battle plans.

It thrilled me to watch: Prince Caspian’s force emerge from beneath the ground to encircle the enemy in the film of that name; Scottish King Robert Bruce vanquish a larger English force by impaling the enemy cavalry with spears hidden in the muddy terrain in the movie The Outlaw King; the American Robert Martin hoodwink and rescue his men from the English Lord Cornwallis in The Patriot and other such clever strategies in military and combat movies.

Interesting though these warcraft are, nothing can beat God’s battle strategies and plans that help His people win over foes stronger than themselves. The instances portrayed in films can be appreciated, the superb planning involved marvelled at and, even though these appear as unexpected twists in the tale, they can be fully understood. However, when compared to the art of war in the Bible, these pale in contrast to that which is exhibited by the Lord. God’s warfare and strategies are truly out of this world because they are often dependent on irrelevant and irrational actions that are precursors for victory or defeat.

Take, for example, the time Israel fought the Amalekites in the desert after the Red Sea Crossing as reported in Exodus chap 17. Fresh out of Egypt, rescued from bondage through ten miraculous acts of God that brought the then world power to its knees, led by an able warrior, Joshua, Israel had the ability and mental capacity to overcome this attack. Yet their victory and defeat did not rest on such strengths, but were hinged on their leader Moses holding his hands raised in the air or not while watching the battle from a hilltop. It seems such an irrational way of winning a battle, but that was how God worked it out for them!

Why did God make such moves as the battle turning for good or bad depending on whether Moses kept his hands raised or not? The reason is not hard to figure out: Four hundred years of bondage under a violent and harsh nation would have taught them the efficacy and advantage of brute force as well as strength. Israel was chosen to be God’s people, His royal priesthood and the people of His pasture. They had to learn to do everything not by might nor power but by Him.

They had to understand that their dependency on Him would be the reason for their success or failure. They were to cleave to Him and obey Him fully and totally. They had to learn this lesson before they entered the promised land and started live among others who did not follow Yahweh. God was teaching them this lesson and inculcating this into their beings so that when they were among other people groups, they would function as His people. Israel had to learn the secret of their existence – their relationship with Yahweh and their allegiance and obedience to Him!

Consider another time when they had crossed over the river Jordan to the land God promised to them through their ancestor Abraham. The first city they had to conquer was Jericho, one of the strongest cities of their times, a walled and defenced city, strong enough to withstand any invasion. It was a veritable fortress and conquering it would be the key for their conquest of the whole land.

Joshua, their commander is met by the commander of the army of God who then outlines the battle plan to conquer the city they are targeting. He tells Joshua that for 6 days the whole army of Israel should walk silently around the city once each day. On the 7th day they must go around 7 times, 6 times in silence as before, but the 7th time they must shout and charge straight ahead of them at the sound of the trumpet.

Any commander would consider seeking out the weak points in the battlements and using them to attack the city as the logical battle plan. God asks Joshua to do something that looked foolish in the eyes of men. The people of Jericho must have first looked on with incredulity, then with astonishment and finally with ridicule at the spectacle of an army marching in silence around the city they wanted to conquer. Israel had to bear it all and quietly rest in their tents, without reacting to their taunts and mockery.

Nothing is more difficult to bear than ridicule and it is hard to stand by or keep quiet or be without reacting at such times. Israel could not allow itself to be triggered into action or do something to prove they are not sissies. They remained faithful to the strategy given them by God through Joshua and won a great victory. They did not allow their own doubts or misgivings to distract them and they did not allow their own thinking to disrupt their obedience to God’s battle plan.

In the case of the Jericho strategy, it was not Israel who had to learn a lesson, but the nations around them. They had go know that Israel had a supernatural protecting force that would fight on their behalf. Israel was coming into the land as new settlers and the nations around had to be made aware of them being the people of Yahweh, so that the other nations would beware His power and allow Israel to dwell in safety and security. It was an object lesson for the nations around and indeed the Gibeonites came to make peace for this reason and because of the demonstration of God’s power on behalf of Israel!

It would often seem that God is a poor general and indeed this is a comment by Rameses, Pharaoh of Egypt in the movie Ten Commandments when he finds Israel trapped before the Red Sea. Pharaoh thought he had the Israelites under his mercy for he didn’t understand God’s battle plan. The Lord totally destroyed the Egyptian army, burying them in a watery grave under the waters of the Red Sea when they thought they could easily overpower Israel by their military prowess. Egypt that day ended up, not only losing its firstborns, but also its army, one that was feared for its invincibility during that period of world history. Moses’ song at that time declares His might: The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone. Your right hand, the Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, the Lord, shattered the enemy (Exo 15:3‭-‬6).

To answer the question why God allowed this confrontation and made Israel go throw this crisis when they had just escaped 400 years of tyranny and bondage is again answered in Moses song: In your unfailing love, you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength, you will guide them to your holy dwelling. The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; terror and dread will fall on them. By the power of your arm they will be as still as a stone – until your people pass by, Lord, until the people you bought pass by. You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance – the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established Exo (15:13‭-‬17). This is what exactly happened!

God never wastes His moves, but is always completely in control of the fight. He is an able General, a Master Strategist and Victorious Veteran of many successful missions. He knows what He is doing or how He is directing, and as His people we need to fully trust Him. The way He directs or plans the fight will be contrary to ours, often incomprehensible and seemingly foolish.

Apostle Paul well puts it in his second letter to the Corinthians and answers the question of why God’s combat operations are different and His plans appear nonsensical. It is because We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. He points out that this so since We are not fighting against human enemies. Instead, we are fighting against the rulers and the powerful spirits that have authority over this dark world. We are fighting against the bad spirits who live in the heavens (Eph 6:12 EASY).

God’s war mode may not fit our thinking process or our working style, but it brings total vanquishing od the enemy. It is ok to not be able to comprehend His strategy, but it is very important to obey it. If you want a complete rout of the enemy, you better hear and obey His strategy, unintelligent though it may seem to you. God knows what He is about and He plans with a far reaching eye about what is to come, who is to be touched, how it should effect and where it should impact. Therefore, it behoves us to follow His instructions implicitly, even when we don’t fathom them. He has more experience and expertise than anyone on earth or heaven. We must trust that God knows what He is about, even if we don’t!

In this pandemic period, let’s take care to follow His leading in our daily fight against negativities and negative situations of life that we are seeing and facing, daily!

*Pics courtesy Shutterstock and Google images

WHAT IS IN YOUR HAND

We are people who need hard evidence to feel safe and secure. We need to see money in the bank, cash in hand, provisions in the home, etc to feel comfort and comfortable. We are living in times and seasons where hard evidence in hand is needed for us to feel protected.

Yet, that’s not how our God works or seeks to assure. He is beyond and above the natural, the physical and the visible. His works are inspite of appearances and evidences, independent of what you see or hear or feel. His works transcend the natural senses and normal answers.

For example, in the Bible we see the prophet Elijah is sent to a widow in Zarephath during a famine. When Elijah encounters the woman picking sticks in order to cook her last meal for herself and her son, before succumbing to death as she is down to her last bit of flour and oil, The prophet tells her to share her meal with him and declares to her “For this is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’ ”1 Kings 17:14 NIV. We see that indeed that’s what happened She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:15‭-‬16

The way of the Lord is always diammetrically opposite and contrary to the belief system of this world. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts far removed from ours, as far as the heavens are from the earth. That’s the gap between His thinking process and ours, a world of difference!

To live under the economy and provision of God and His Kingdom, you don’t need concrete evidence or hard facts. You just need to have faith, which of course is the real evidence of things invisible and substance of things unseen.

Let’s see more evidence of such working of God in the history of the prophet Elisha, the protege of Elijah. A prophet’s wife whose husband, a faithful man of God, was dead approached Elisha for help to save her sons from the money lenders who had come to take her sons in lieu of her debt. Elisha simply asks her what do you have in the house. When she replies she has a little oil, he asks her to borrow vessels from neighbours and pour out the oil. She obeys him and finds the oil run out only after she has filled all the vessels available. He then tells her to sell the oil and pay the debt. The point is that the prophet took what was available to birth a miracle by God’s power that rested on him.

God doesn’t need evidence of abundance to do a miracle or to supply your needs. He just needs  and uses what is available to meet the need of the hour. He doesn’t see what is not there, but sees what you have in hand and will use that to meet your lack. He never will condemn or chide when something is not there, but will always increase what is available or what you have with you. So don’t focus on what you don’t have, but focus on what you she for that is enough for God to meet your needs.

God is never constrained just by lack but also evidence about it. He is constrained only by a lack of faith and never by lack of resources! Nothing can prevent His power from flowing or His munificence from meeting our needs, except lack of faith! His hand is not shortened nor His arm restricted that He can’t provide care for you, but you can prevent or tie it up by your lack of faith!

Take another example, when hard evidence declares an emergency situation and shows what is in hand is insufficient to meet the current need. Jesus asks His disciples to feed the multitude, about 5000+ people, and all they have is 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. What they have in hand is, in the opinion of His disciples, not enough to feed the people, but Jesus is unfazed by the meagreness of what is in hand. He just lifts what is in hand to God in prayer, blesses it and asks His men to distribute to the multitude. They end up not only feeding all the people, but also gather up 12 basketfuls of leftovers, one for each of his team to carry home to their families. God is not limited by what is at hand nor hampered by what is seen to meet our needs, not frugally or beggarly or miserly,but royally and abundantly!

The economy of His Kingdom, His rule and reign are not based on or dependent on lack of evidence or concreteness of visible facts, but on the capacity and the capability of His power and glory. You cannot draw from His store or His benefits without an exchange or a currency. The currency by which His Kingdom operates and by which you can get His provision is simple and easy. It is faith that is the hard cash that will enable you to live off and from His storehouse.

You don’t need cash in hand, money in the bank, investment in stocks or even a healthy financial portfolio to be cared for by Him or fed by Him. All you need is faith, faith in His ability, faith in His capacity and faith in His propensity to meet your needs. You just need to trust Him and live every day under His patronage through faith. He has promised to take care and He will, inspite of circumstance, lack of visible evidence or even your ability to provide.

He has enough and more in His hand to supply all our needs and the heart to bless His children with good things, day after day.

So don’t be disturbed by what you don’t have or depressed by what the little you do have, but be thankful for what you do have since that is enough for God to use or reuse!

Just trust Him and submit to Him, totally. Throw yourself illy on Him and He will protect, provide and please you with His Providence and beneficial munifence.

Don’t be disturbed by what you see or what you hear or what others say or even by what you know to be true to your sense and commonsense!

Just learn to walk by faith and not by your natural senses!

Don’t be limited by what you have in hand.

Be thrilled by the blessing of unlimited supply by a limitless God!

Saturate yourself, not with daily news reports or news analysis, but soak yourself totally in His Word for we need it to live in these times.

Do not live by what is evident, but live by His Word, daily!

Feed on it and live by it daily and you will see evidence of His care, concern and compensation, every day, day after day!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com, shutteestock.com and google images

GOD’S WAY OF PROVISION DEFIES REASON & LOGIC!

Mathematics is called the queen of sciences because of its precise and accurate nature. It is something that stays true in every place at every time and for every person. One plus one equals two holds good whether you are in Africa or Antarctica, whether you are rich or poor, whether you are erudite or ignorant, whether you are western or eastern and whether you are GenX, GenY or GenZ!

However, in the Bible we often see that when it comes to how God provides or supplies the needs of His people, mathematics and numeracy do not seem to work or fail. Constantly, His way confounds and baffles human comprehension. Consistently, His work defies and denies calculations and computations.

The God of the Bible seems to take complete pleasure in surmounting logic, vanquishing reasoning and breaking through all the precision of mathematics!

Take, for example, the case of the prophet Elijah at the time he declares a famine in the land for a space of three years. God directs him to a place of seclusion and hiding by the River Jordan, telling him that He would send ravens to feed him while the river would provide drinking water. The Bible says in I Kings 17:6 that The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Now ravens or crows (same family) by nature considered unclean birds because they feast on carrion and other rubbish. When Noah sent a dove and a raven as the first to find out if the waters had receded, the dove returned as it did not find a place to rest. The raven did not return because it found sustenance and sustainability in the aftermath of the flood. Knowing this, causes a question to rise: Couldn’t God find other birds or other means by which He could supply His prophet?

Obviously, the raven must have pilfered it from a rich person’s table for only they would have food during a dearth. To use such a bird as a means of provision seems quite illogical and irrational, to say the least! We do not know why God used a raven, but He does and Elijah  doesn’t turn up his nose up at God’s way of provision. He simply receives his provision and uses it, even if he may have his own inhibitions about it!

After the brook dries up due to extended time of drought and famine, God again, contrary even to His own laws and directions, sends Elijah to Zarephath to be cared for by a widow, in the region of Sidon, traditional enemies of the people of Israel. In fact, Jesus cites this incident when His hometown rejects Him, to drive home the point that a prophet never finds acceptance among his own kith and kin.

Widows were and are part of those marginalized ones whom God instructs His people to take special care of as to their provision and upkeep. It must have been therefore really hard on the prophet to digest or accept this direction of the Lord, probably causing him to wonder at His leading. Elijah doesn’t waste time disputing God’s guidance, but implicitly follows instruction and simply obeys. God will never fit to a box of our making, but will always transcend our preconceived notions of Him!

In another case of defying and breaking natural and empirical laws, Jesus the Son of God feeds 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, garnering 12 basket full of leftovers and 4000 with 7 loaves and few fishes, with 7 baskets of leftovers. The equations that will puzzle mathematicians would be: how can such a multiplication happen and how can these satisfy our understanding of ratio and proportion? These will indeed plague those who live by economics, because here it is not a query of numbers but a question of meeting the needs of those present with what is available at hand by the power of God!

The principle operating here is not one of logic and reason, but one of the dynamics and principles of the Kingdom or rule of God. God knows how to baffle the wisdom of the world and how to delight those who trust and obey Him with His own Kingdom economics and arithmetic. After all, He created them and so, obviously as the Creator, He could overcome or surpass any limits or limitations!

Lets analyze another instance of provision in the Bible by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When His mother requests His help and intervention regarding a lack of wine at a wedding, He simply asks the servants at the place to fill 6 jars to the brim with water. He then commands them to take it for testing by the steward of the feast. The steward, astonished at the quality of the wine, congratulates the man of the house for starting something new viz., that of reserving and serving the best wine for the last, since no one but the servants knew the origin of that wine. I wonder what were the apprehensions felt by the servants in carting a cup of water for wine tasting! I am happy that they chose to obey the Lord, despite their reservations about their task.

The point is that God knows how to care and provide for His people and is not limited by any lack of sources or resources. He tells Peter to catch a fish to find a coin in its mouth for to pay the taxes. He is never at a loss in finding ways and means by which to help those who do His bidding, even if they are in a place where they must hide from the repercussions of obeying His will. His hand is not shortened that it cannot provide nor His store emptied that it cannot furnish those who trust in Him. The only issue, if at all there is one, is in accepting His modus operandi!

He can make water to come out of nowhere in a desert when three kings were stuck on battleground without water, cause food/manna rain from the sky, meat come on wings wafted by a wind, open a passage in a sea, enable water to flow from a rock or fire to fall from heaven. His provision and His methods of provision are limitless and endless!

This is not just something that happened of old, for even today, we have people reporting of finding money in their purses, healing happening in an unexplained manner, missing persons being found, storms suddenly clearing up, as well as other miracles that do not fit rhyme or reason.

God knows how to meet our need when we need, what ever maybe that need and wherever we may have that need. Whether it would be by reasonable and logical ways or by seemingly irrational and irreprehensible means is His prerogative. We must not be puzzled by it, but just simply expect it!

Why does God delight in such defying and destroying of precise methodologies that He Himself created and built as an integral part of this His created world?

I believe the answer to that lies in I Cor 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Also, v 28 of the same chapter: God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are…

Another answer as to the why of it is that God has to be allowed to be God and not be confined by our assumptions or to our conceptions and notions. God transcends human conjectures and mortal conceptualizations. He has to be so, otherwise He can’t be God, but only a figment of our imagination or a projection of our thoughts.

If we don’t allow God to be God or try to understand Him, we will only falter in faith. If we try to box or confine Him, we will only end up creating images and idols of our choice. If we get angry that He doesn’t fit or fails to live up to our expectations of Him, we will only turn away from Him and end up hurting ourselves in the bargain.

God is unpredictable and incalculable, but not fickle, erratic or volatile. He is the only sure ground and stable foundation in an uncertain, unreliable and oft-changing world. He is the one solid and steady reference point in chancy times. Trust in Him at all times in all seasons and in all locations. You will never be let down or left alone!

What can you do with and about such a God who seems to delight in being incomprehensible and interstellar?

Just enjoy Him and His provision, without resisting Him! Just take pleasure in Him and delight in His ways! Just revel in His works and take complete pleasure in being His child! Just experience the thrill and satisfaction of an adventurous ride through life with Him as your Father! Hold tight to Him and rejoice in obeying Him, totally!

A note of caution here – God can, will and may choose to break rational, reasonable and regular ways of doing things, but He will never break His principles and laws of moral standards or righteousness. He may overcome or function beyond and above the natural laws of maths, physics, chemistry and biology, but never will He work past or sideline His laws of what He has defined as right and wrong. The only predictable thing about God is His nature – holy and compassionate, outstanding in purity and love, totally other in divinity and sanctity!

Let’s not limit God by our mechanical computations or by our estimation figures and number crunching.

Let’s not tie His hands by our assessments and evaluations, but learn to marvel at His wondrous works on our behalf.

In this pandemic period, don’t try to live by economics or mechanics of calculations, for they will all fail. Seek to live by faith and trust in God, looking to Him for necessities of existence rather than luxuries of this age. He Who provides for the sparrows and cares for grass of the field, will surely take care of you and yours, even when all seems lost.

God is not limited by any circumstance or any lack of resources, but will provide or multiply what is at hand. Let’s not limit Him because He doesn’t fit into the box we have made for Him, but release Him to be the Lord of all.

Lets not be limited by our understanding or hampered by our limiting ways of thinking.

Lets just allow God to be God and simply accept His provision, not being concerned however He chooses to provide, accepting with humility His ways of working!

Just accept His provision, however it comes, with joy and wonder!

SYMBIOSIS AND COVID

Symbiosis involves interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association. It denotes a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups or species.

Symbiotic relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together. There are three basic types of symbiosis: mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.

Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship in which both species benefit. Bees and flowers have a mutualistic relationship as well. Bees get the nectar they need to make honey by traveling between flowers. The bee brings pollen from one plant to another, resulting in pollination.

Commensalism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species benefits while the other species is not affected. One species typically uses the other for a purpose other than food. Tree frogs using plants for protection, golden jackals, once they have been expelled from a pack, trailing a tiger to feed on the remains of its kills, goby fish living on other sea animals, changing color to blend in with the host, thus gaining protection from predators, are all examples of commensalism

Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species (the parasite) benefits while the other species (the host) is harmed. There are many types of parasitic fungi that will attack various plants, fruits, vegetables, and even animals.

In the Bible, we see precedents for all these three types of symbiotic relationships existing, especially in the church.

In Acts 4:32 we witness mutualism when we read that All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Israel was instructed by the laws of God to care for the widow and the orphan, the poor and the needy as well as for the foreigner and alien who.lived among them. The Church also lived by this principle, a clear demonstration of commensalism.

Apostles Paul, Peter and Jude warn of parasitical people in the church who are blots and blemishes in their feasts, people who use and misuse the goodness of others in the Body of Christ for their own needs. In the Old Testament too, God warns the shepherds through the prophet Ezekiel for not searching for His flock but caring for themselves rather than for His flock and living off the flock (Eze 34).

I believe the best illustration of symbiosis occurs in II Cor 8 & 9 when the Apostle Paul commends the Macedonian churches for their generosity towards other churches in need and recommends that the Corinthian/Achaian churches follow suit. He points out the cycle of mutual benefit that results from such caring and sharing when he writes This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
(II Cor 9:12‭-‬15).

In these days of Covid, churches can follow this principle and demonstrate community concern and consciousness to a watching world through the acts of positive symbiosis. Not just commensalism symbolized in caring for those adversely affected, but also in partnerships of beneficial mutualism.

An example of such a relationship would be for larger churches with extensive technological resources to help the smaller ones, who lack such amenities, use their facilities to record and propagate their online services. The prayers of the latter will surely bless the efforts of the former and God’s love will be exhibited in a very practical way in a greedy and selfish society, making hearts sensitive to receive the gospel!

Churches do reach out to those in the community being hurt by the pandemic, such as migrant workers or those who have lost their income. However, church communities haven’t yet begun helping one another enough to warrant a community impact that will open doors and hearts for the gospel. Unless a community cooperation and coexistence is perceived, people around will never understand Christ’s love for the lost.

A city church adopting a struggling village church, serving it in times of need will go a long way in showing solidarity between members of the same family of God to those around. Just as the conduct of individuals and families is to adorn the gospel, the attitude and deportment of churches towards their needy brother/sister churches would provide context for the content of the gospel.

Not just churches, but Christian businesses and businessmen/women can also adopt and emulate the Biblical model of mutuality or commensality. This is not the time to behave like vultures to swallow up others because of the opportunity for acquisition, but rather exhibit charity in every way.

God’s way is for the mountain to be used to fill the valley so that a highway be made for all. He had this in mind when He told His people to care for the poor: Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Deut 15:10‭-‬11

Symbiotic relationships are showcased in nature to clue in us to God’s plan for mankind, as individuals and communities.

Let’s not be cunning as jackals or ravenous as wolves, but pure as doves and innocent as lambs, especially in this pandemic crisis!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and google images

BATTLE STRATEGY: COVER YOUR BROTHER’S BACK!

I always love the scene in the movie Gladiator where a band of poorly armed slaves ward off and win over an attack by a group of heavily armed horsemen. They stand shoulder to shoulder and win the fight, simply because they guard each other’s backs and protect one another from danger. What a perfect illustration of what we should do and how we should stand for one another in this battle for spiritual survival!

In Ephesians 6:10-16, there is one part of the body that doesn’t seem to be covered by the armor: the back. The apostle Paul, after describing the various portions of the armor of God, concludes with a request to pray for him and his team that they would be granted the boldness to speak the gospel (Eph. 6:18-20). Prayer is needed not only to activate the armor, but also to provide protective armor and cover for the others’ backs in the warfare against the principalities and powers of darkness!

This passage in Scripture points out that our fight is not against people, but for people, against principalities, powers and rulers of darkness. We are not to fight people but wage warfare against spiritual forces of evil. We are not here to massacre one another nor stab each other in the back, but to fight a common enemy.

In our Christian faith walk, we are all members of the same household bearing His Name, not enemies or rivals. We are blood brothers and sisters, of the same family, bearing the same DNA, the gene of Christ. How can we then compete or clash with one another and anyway, why should we? We don’t have to be jealous nor strive for the attention of our God, for He loves and cares for all of us equally and without partiality.

We all have a Father Whose home is large enough for all of us. We have a Father Who considers each one very special to Him. No one can take another’s place nor can anyone push another out of His heart. Why then do we cross swords and lock horns with one another? He shows no favoritism and He cannot be manipulated or hoodwinked. Why then do we harm and hurt one another?

In this world there is much cutthroat competition and base thievery. In Christ, however, there is much quietness and confidence because of acceptance and acknowledgement. We all have a part and a portion in His Kingdom and His purposes. Why then should we tackle and tussle with one another as though we have to fight for our position with Him?

We have all been given the same commission and the same task: Be a witness for Him and rescue His people from bondage. In this charge, we are all engaged in battle against a common enemy and we must concentrate on defeating him, not one another. Our closing ranks to maintain an united front will be anathema to our wily enemy whose major battle strategy is: Divide and rule! Our unity will sound the death knell to his rule and that’s why he turns us against one another. Foolishly, without understanding this, we resist one another rather than resisting him, the father of lies!

Our prayers, which is our true battleground and combat arena, should serve to provide protective armor for the backs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our prayers are never to be used as weapons to wield or brandish against our own kind. The petition on our knees should not be daggers to stab our kith and kin in the back, but to rout and scatter our common foe. Instead of turning against one another, we need to walk in forgiveness towards one another so that together we can turn against the enemy and prevent him from gaining even an inch of space.

The book Hebrews says that the blood of Jesus spoke better things than Abel’s blood, why? It is because the blood of Abel cried out for vengeance and vindication, while the blood of Jesus calls out and pleads for forgiveness and reconciliation. If this so, we who are His brothers and sisters, called to imitate Him, how can we cry out for retribution and retaliation! That’s what Stephen, the first martyr did, when he prayed for forgiveness for his accusers even as he fell dead under their stones.

What is your blood and voice crying out for – revenge or restitution?

Covering our brother with our love and prayers is a family trait that’s already engraved and ingrained in our very deepest structure. We have been bequeathed with the nature of Christ and all we have to do is to walk in it. All we need to do is accept this fact and live by it!

Then we won’t behave as though we don’t have the same hereditary and heritage!

What if my brother or sister treat me as enemy, even when I don’t? Then you have the opportunity to exhibit the right behavior, even if they don’t! It only proves you are your Father’s child, even if they don’t behave as one!

Point out to them that they are of the same family and have been born of the same root. Ask them if they have been born another blood or borne by another father! Point out their error in love, still holding on to your stance without compromise – always protecting their backs.

Of course, it is not an easy thing to do so, but it is the right thing to do!

In combat, soldiers of a battalion guard each other’s back, especially on an attack mission. They depend on each other and defend each other, watching each other’s back. They become a band of brothers by learning to protect one another against the assault of a common enemy.

If this is the norm in a country’s army, how come we who are already a band of brothers/sisters who have to fight the same foe end up crippling one another and wounding one another?

You are indeed your brother’s keeper!

Let us remember, in a battle we stand together to win the war. United we stand, divided we fall!

When we reach home, we can settle our grievances and our differences!

For now, protect your brother or sister’s back.

Don’t stab them back or stab them in the back!

*Pics: Courtesy unsplash.com

THE KEY FOR PROLIFERATION AND MULTIPLICATION – A PATTERN

MacDonald’s is a name that’s recognized all over the world, even in seemingly remote places. The phenomenal growth MacDonald’s achieved has made it not just a business or a brand, but a symbol of a country and its way of life, specifically its food.

One of the reasons for the success of the MacDonald’s chain of restaurants is the quickness of their service and the quality of their product, maintained the same in every place they have opened up. Their fanatical obsession to maintain their quality and sameness has contributed to the explosive growth of their franchisee.

The key to their near-perfect replication of their product lies in their strict adherence to the same production process in every location they are found. They discovered and refined a way of doing things and then religiously stuck to that way everywhere. Their insistence that the same process is repeated every time, all over, is the key to their phenomenal expansion. MacDonald’s owes its growth to the sameness of its process that has resulted in the sameness of the end product delivered in the same interval of time!

What has made this business expand and be outstanding is that its profit has been achieved everywhere and every time. The key to such effect is the ability to reproduce through replication, not duplication, of its product and process. Nobody likes a duplicate for it is the imitation of the real thing. However, if the real product can be got with the same quality and in the same quantity, that’s the key to multiplication into multiple locations. The crux of such an achievement is thus having a model, prototype and a pattern to emulate, and then following it strictly.

A pattern and a model enables easy way to multiply, expand and establish. If there is no pattern, then the original prototype will become submerged and lost in the milieu of possibilities and modifications. Only when the integrity of the design of the source model is maintained, the reproductions will be true to the prototype and can be validated as that product. Otherwise, you will end up with imitation that looks like the original but does not retain its integrity. Only when its integrity is safeguarded can the product be trademarked.

The key for an industry to grow and impact with its product is this same thing, a pattern or a model or a prototype. This is especially true in the textile industry where multiple garments can be tailored using a key pattern. This is indeed crucial for the export of such garments, for each and every piece must be the same as the model they showed the buyer. The colors may vary, but the pattern and sizes ordered must not very from the original that was exhibited while receiving the order. Every industrial product goes through the same process, including big one’s such as cars and trucks!

In the Bible, we see both in the Old and New Testaments a pattern of worship and life given to the people of God to live as a community of faith. Through Moses God gave Israel a manner of life in very minute detail, including their worship, their holidays, their occupation, their diet, their justice system, their education, their family life etc. Since they were the people of God, their life revolved around worship and expressions of their faith. Their allegiance to Yahweh permeated every part of their existence and the sociocultural as well as economic and political construct of their lives was ordered by His instructions, communicated to them as His laws. Irrespective of the places they migrated to, they maintained their identity and their distinctiveness through this pattern of worship places, practices and lifestyle!

Similarly, in the New Testament Christ, as the Apostle and Architect of His Church, gave Paul His administrative plan for those who follow Him to exist as His people on earth. In order for them to be the community of faith, He gave them a distinct blueprint and pattern for their lives so that would be witnesses of His death, burial and resurrection. The way they lived as individuals, families and community would communicate the good news of His love for all to the world around. This pattern was for all times, providing a sociocultural framework for His followers that would distinguish and set them apart as the adherents of His teaching.

Paul and other apostles faithfully communicated this framework through their teaching and their letters, urging the people of God to follow the pattern of life and inward transformation. This was what would set them apart and brand them as Christ’s, worthy to be called His people.

The question to ask today in our churches is this: Are we following the pattern shown and showcased by the Apostles and the early church? Is that a core reason that we haven’t multiplied and expanded the way they did? What if returning to the way of Christ and the Apostles is the need of the hour and the appropriate step to take if church has to shine with the glory of God?

After all, the blessing inherent in creation for multiplication is: each kind bringing forth its own kind!

*Pics: Coutesy shutterstock.com

BE THE LIGHT OR BE IN THE LIMELIGHT?

Jesus told His disciples that they were the salt and light of the world. The similarity between salt and light is that both create an impact, wherever they are placed, but become inconsequential in so doing. They have to lose themselves in order to cause any difference to their surroundings.

Salt is well-defined in substance and is felt rather than seen or identified as such. It is often quite easy to comprehend being the salt of the earth, for its role is well-defined and its boundary marked.

To be the light, however, needs a clear understanding of purpose, priority and pose. The purpose of light is not to draw attention to itself, but to bring in to sharp relief what is hidden in the shadows. The priority of light is to shed its illumination so that what is not seen becomes uncovered and exposed. The pose of light is to dispel darkness and impart comfort in visibility.

The issue in being the light is that we often confuse it with being in the limelight. Most often it is construed that to fulfil the role of being a light, one needs to have exposure and elevation. We think that when Jesus said that no one lights a lamp and puts it under the bed, but on a lampstand, it means being placed in a position of prominence. We assume that when He said that a city in a hill cannot be hid, that advancement is needed for influence. We decide that to be a force to create a ripple, one must be placed in positions and posts of visibility.

The good news is that to be the light one doesn’t need authority or power or control. Light, by its very nature, will alter its surroundings and empower all around. So also in this dark world, you don’t need special recognition or position, because being the light talks about conduct not position. Jesus said Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.

Being the light is to draw attention to God and elevate Him so others can reach the safety of His presence. All you need to do is just shine in the darkness so that others can see and be helped.

Light is basically energy that will do a work, viz. destroy darkness, irrespective of where it is found or placed. Coupled with the sense of sight, light is a primary tool for perceiving the world and communicating within it. A tool will serve its purpose for whatever it is created to do, irrespective of its circumstances.

Light can be ensconced in a humble lantern or beam out of a mighty lighthouse, yet however and wherever it is placed it will cause a change in it’s surroundings. So also it doesn’t matter who you are and where you are placed. Just be the light and do the work of light – clear out darkness.

Light, like salt, has to disperse itself into the medium to accomplish its work and fulfil its task. So also be willing to be unknown as you actively fulfil God’s mandate in life. The One Who created you acknowledges and appreciates you being the light. Those around you know the role you play in their lives and will appreciate and thank God for you.

Do not fret that you are not in the limelight, for you are in good company. The stalwarts of faith, Elijah, John the Baptist, Simeon, Anna, Ananias who baptized Paul, etc were all people who had no visibility or position. Yet God saw them and recognized them in His graces.

The greatest example of light, Jesus Christ, lived unknown for thirty years in the quietness of a middle eastern hamlet. He Who came to be the Savior of the world and the greatest Man to live on planet earth, lived in obscurity and invisibility for about 80% of his life.

If you are one who lives a hidden life, unknown and unsung, remember you are in good company – in the company of the Son of God!

Continue to be the light without worrying or fretting that you are not in the limelight!

Being the light is not synonymous with being in the limelight!

*Pic courtesy unsplash.com and google images

BEING & BECOMING THE SALT OF THE EARTH

Jesus told his disciples that they were salt and light of the world.

The similarity between salt and light is that both create an impact, wherever they are placed.

They both diffuse and disperse themselves into the medium they are placed to add (flavour and illumination) to their surroundings. Both dispel something (tastelessness and darkness) through their influence on the environment. Both do not draw attention to themselves, but are known by the effect they create, viz. taste and sight.

The difference between them is that salt needs to melt away into oblivion, its substance never evident but felt. Light, on the other hand, needs to be lifted up to be evident to all, if it is to bring sight and comfort all around.

Salt has the ability to combine everything together into a cohesive whole, while light by nature separates everything into two different entities.

Jesus said that if salt loses its saltiness (its nature) it is only fit to be thrown in the dunghill because it has lost its ability and nature to cause change.

Similarly, He said that a lamp is not lighted to be put under a bowl (covering), but is kept on a stand to be true to its nature (to illuminate). In other words, light becomes useless when it is not placed in a position from where it can be seen.

For a lamp to be in placed on a stand means to be placed in a position that will facilitate and help it do its work, viz. to illuminate and make bright. Only if the way is made for its brightness to be seen can light dispel darkness and bring into sharp relief the things that are hidden.

In our walk with Christ, there are different seasons in life wherein we alternate as salt and light. There will be times when we are hidden away with no one even being aware of us. We will be doing our work and influencing others in quietness, without publicity or fanfare. It is easy to be light, to be seen and acknowledged, but hard to be salt, unknown and unsung!

Salt purifies and preserves, but in so doing, has to lose itself. To be salt is to be felt and often not known or acknowledged. You will be needed but not maybe appreciated or thanked, just taken for granted. No one places or levate to a place of prominence, though it is valued and stored as being essential to life.

So also you maybe taken for granted or unacknowledged, but take heart. Do not fret at such times, just continue doing what you do, for Heaven sees what you do, even if men do not or acknowledge not!

You are in good company for many of the prophets began in hiding before they were know. John the Baptist was n the wilderness many years before he came on the scene. Elijah suddenly appears on the national scene to confront the king. family, before being recognized and anointed as King by Samuel, lived in quietness with the sheep, the youngest and considered the most insignificant of his family. We have no idea of the depth and background of Ananias who anointed Saul (who later became Paul) and yet he had the privilege of bringing healing to one of the great apostles of all times, the Apostle of the Gentiles!

Jesus Himself was unknown until He was baptized in the Jordan and was identified as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist. Thirty years He lived in obscurity, without doing doing a miracle, preaching a sermon or having any followers. In fact, His brothers did not acknowledge or accept Him His ministry and He was rejected by His own townsmen.

Yet Heaven noted His progress and watched over His growth. The Bible says He grew in stature, gaining face with God and man. He did not walk in arrogance as Son of God, but humbly behaved as Son of Man, learning the lessons God put Him through, fighting His battles over sin in secret, ‘learning obedience by the things He suffered’ and was shaped as the perfect vessel that brought salvation to all in the fires of loneliness and in the crucible of affliction.

If you are one who is hidden and unknown, do not fret but take courage. You are known and your worth is recognised not on earth by in heaven and by heaven.

If you are in a season of obscurity, seemingly forgotten, placed on the shelf and hidden away, do not lose heart. Many a prophet was formed and forged in the backside of the desert before brought into the open, like Moses.

Strengthen yourself with the realization that God knows our address and is privy to all we go through in secret. He is aware of our tears and bottles them up as precious.

Remember certain flowers open only in the night and are often ignored, though the perfume the night with their pleasant scent. They bloom and bless wherever they are because that’s the place and time ordained for them by their Creator!

If you are in the season of being salt, rest secure in the thought that God knows where you and what you do. He understands and appreciates who you are, considering who you are and what you do precious.

Be the salt of the earth, influencing the world around, in quiet confidence and gentle blessedness!

*Pic from unsplash.com and google images

SHIFTING GEARS – LEARNING TO DRIVE ON DIFFERENT TERRAIN

In the Bible, in the history of the nation of Israel, there are two distinct phases of life and distinct ways of existence.

One, while in the wilderness, after being delivered from slavery in Egypt and two, when they settled down in the promised land, after driving out those who lived there.

The difference between these two seasons of life was the way in which He provided for them and the manner by which He met their needs! 

God was their Source and Guide, not just in the wilderness, but also in the land of their settlement.

Between these two ways of life, between their nomadic lifestyle and their settled state, there lies a difference. In what was uncharted territory for them, their needs were met day by day, as the need arose and when the moment arrived, neither early or late but on time, supernaturally. In the permanency of settled land, their needs were met in a year-by-year/life of seasons, an ordered cycle and pattern of living befitting a stationary way of being. 

Settlement is marked by a regular, predictable and sure way of existence with a natural rhythm of life, whereas wilderness walk is always marked by uncertainty, monotony and anxiety. It is a totally different, unusual and other way of life and living.

Wilderness is a place of simple fare, just-what-is-needed-for-the-day supply, deficient of variety and with just sufficient provision-for-the-day being the only guarantee!

Desert drive or wilderness walking could be a place of trials, traversing an unknown terrain and facing an unfamiliar way of life!

In these COVID days and in the aftermath of the quarantine days, we have moved from a predictable cycle of life to not knowing what tomorrow brings. We have moved from certainty to uncertainty, from variety of choices to a modicum of monotony and from sedentary placidity to unexpected changes and challenges. It is time to understand what stuff we are made up and gird ourselves to walk a new model of living.

We went through a season of financial constraint and had to depend on the supernatural provision, whenever and wherever the natural fell short! 

It is time for us to know, understand and accept that our seasons have changed. It is time for us to trust in God for everything and not depend on our regular sources/resources, but adapt to an unusual way of life!

It is time for us to explore and get used to unexplored vistas and different terrain!

It is time for us to shift gears and learn to drive anew and afresh!

DIG DITCHES!

In the Bible, an incident is reported where three kings come together to battle a fourth one and get stranded in a desert without adequate water supply. An entreaty is made to the prophet who is unexpectedly found in their midst, to petition God to save them and plead for a solution from Him. The prophet heeds their cry, prays to God and returns the answer “Dig ditches all over this dry stream bed. Even though you will not see any rain or wind, this stream bed will be filled with water, and you, your livestock, and your pack animals will have plenty to drink.” You can read the full report in 2 Kings 3:16‭-‬17 (GNB).

In a recent insightful article on the World Economic Forum website, Bill Gates talks of the possibility of a COVID vaccine being ready in an 18-month period. However, for it to be effectively administered, he astutely points out that governments need to plan and set in place the machinery and structure needed to mass produce and administer thousands of doses at the same time. He says that the time to prepare appropriate protocols and be ready with necessary infrastructure to handle for the influx, both of the medicine and patient treatments is now. In short, begin to dig ditches now, not when the flow begins!

An important natural cycle in Egypt since ancient times is the flooding of the river Nile. As rainfall is almost non-existent in Egypt, the floods provide the only source of moisture to sustain crops. Every year, heavy summer rain in the Ethiopian highlands send a torrent of water that overflows the banks of the Nile. When the floods go down, they leave behind a thick rich mud (black silt) which is excellent soil to plant seeds in after it has been ploughed. Though clueless in the very distant past, Egypt today has set in measures to monitor and prepare for this cycle of overflow and receding of the waters. The country has harnessed and turned a natural ‘disaster’ into a potential wealth and renewable resource for itself. Egypt has learnt to dig ditches!

As we go through this period of quarantine, we can so easily be caught up with the past, of how good we had it. Or, be preoccupied with the present because of all the reports and statistics as the pandemic runs its course in the city, nation or the world. Its okay to look back with nostalgia and keep abreast of the current happenings so as to be sensitive and well-informed, but if we do not at least consider the future, we will be doubly lost.

If we do not look ahead, but just be obssessed with these, we will waste our time lamenting or we will just wait for the day of release out of social distancing to rush headlong into another type of disaster. If we do not use this time wisely and profitably to plan for literally a new world – what we should do, how we should do, when we should do, etc – we would be clueless and caught unawares when that time dawns. We need to look to the future and plan for a new way of life. It is the time right now to dig ditches!

The ditch you may need to dig could be a plan on how to ease into a normal day-to-day routine; it maybe to understand how to handle the economic fallout or downturn that is inevitable; it maybe to prepare for the extra load that will ensue in the workplace as companies rush to catch up on business; it maybe the need to revamp investment or insurance portfolios that will surely need a change or upgrade; it may be knowing how to help kids and senior citizens transition back to normal life; it may be just learning to understand how members of the family, especially spouses, will react to the change.

It is not just governments and those in authority who need to be aware of and take notice of the future. Each and everyone of us – individuals, couples, families, companies, corporate firms and churches need to sit down and draw up a game plan for the time to come. Now is the occasion and the opportunity to do it, rather than later. Such an attitude will also help to boost our morale and well-being since we are looking ahead, rather than behind or around.

Dig ditches to be ready and prepared to conserve what will come or lose the overflow that is sure to come and is just ahead!

*https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/united-states-coronavirus-bill-gates

*http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/egypt/nile.htm

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and google images