Category Archives: Thoughts

Magnanimous Generosity: The Kenyan Church Loving its Neighbor!

PhotoCredits: QuoteMaster

It is now over a year after the first case of COVID 19 was reported in Kenya. Since then, today’s official government reports indicate that over 6000 people have tested positive for the virus.

To curb the spread of this pandemic, the government of Kenya instituted physical (not social) distancing, the mandatory use of masks in public, the washing of hands, the establishment of quarantine facilities for those traveling from high-risk contact areas, the restriction of passenger travels from abroad, the suspension of all forms of social gathering including religious gathering, the implementation of a dusk to dawn curfew and the cessation of travels to and from Nairobi, among other measures. The net result of these measures has been the paralyzing of all non-essential services and travels.

While the government’s daily briefings focus on those infected with COVID 19, it does not reveal the number of Kenyans whose lives have been affected due to the pandemic by means other than direct infection. Reports indicate that in Nairobi alone, 84% of its 5 million residents have had their daily lives greatly impacted by COVID 19. More particularly, the 54% rate of unemployment is largely attributed to the pandemic. A report released on the 30th of June by TIFA Research shows that “among those who had been earning prior to the crisis, almost all (96%) report that they are now earning either ‘very little’ or ‘nothing’ relative to what they had been earning before”. This report also reveals that the economic interventions by the government to buffer Kenyans against financial hardship have not been felt by the ordinary citizen. With no direct and concrete social aid from the government, life has become more arduous for the poor majority.

In the midst of this, the church in Kenya has stood with their communities and continued to shine the love of Jesus Christ through various activities aimed at alleviating the pain of its neighbors. In a recent report by Shahidihub Africa, 56.67% of the churches across the 33 counties surveyed were involved in helping the poor with food; 42.86% had a targeted support of basic needs to the most vulnerable including the elderly and the people living with disabilities; 21.08% extended help with basic needs to those affected by natural calamities, while 17.56% offered similar support to Children Homes within their neighborhood.

The material support highlighted above is significant as the church itself has been financially hit by the crisis (For more on this, see Shahidihub Africa). Their own financial vulnerability has not, however, deterred them from generously tending to the vulnerability that surrounds them. The survey found that 11.71% paid rent for those who had lost their jobs. Of note is the fact that the survey does not show whether the beneficiaries were Christians or not. These churches have given materially, not because they are financially rich but because they love giving. Like the Macedonian churches in the midst of severe suffering and trials, their extreme poverty catalyzed rich generosity (2 Cor.8:1-5).

More importantly, it is precisely this love and generosity that validates their commitment to the gospel. Beside material support, churches have also enhanced spiritual services to foster spiritual growth, comfort, compassion, and reconciliation. Some of the noted activities include prayer support [82.20%], counseling (personal problems, conflicts, job losses) [64.40%] and the sharing of the gospel [57.61%]. The heightening of spiritual services and engagement during this pandemic indicates the Church’s hunger for God and its deep-rooted hope. Through prayer, support, counselling and sharing the gospel, individuals and families have had their lives considerably ameliorated in the face of what is proving to be a difficult time.

Lastly, through reaching out to those affected, the Kenyan Church has demonstrated the integrity of the gospel. It has embodied the idea that the gospel does not concern solely of the sharing of the word or meeting the needs of the people but dynamically is comprised of both. They have shown that their presence in a community is not simply to target individuals with a religious agenda but to extend love having fully considered the personhood of the individual. The depersonalization of a human being is irreconcilable with the revelatory and transformative encounter with the person of Jesus. Therefore, though church buildings remain closed and gathering for worship services remain suspended, the church according to this survey, is as active as it has ever been. As Deon K. Johnson, Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Missouri, so succinctly concludes:

“The work of the church is essential. The work of caring for the lonely, the marginalized, and the oppressed is essential. The work of speaking truth to power and seeking justice is essential. The work of being a loving, liberating, and life-giving presence in the world is essential. The work of welcoming the stranger, the refugee and the undocumented is essential. The work of reconciliation and healing and caring is essential. The church does not need to “open” because the church never “closed”. We who make up the Body of Christ, the church, love God and our neighbors and ourselves so much that we will stay away from our buildings until it is safe. We are the church.” (Bishop-elect. D. K. Johnson, June 2020).

Guest Contributor: Birgen K. M. Araap Cheruiyot;

Ph.D (Religious Studies) Student; McGill University, Montreal, QC.

Research Interests: Hebrew Bible; Old Testament Ethics; Immigration & Public Policy

 

Birgen K. M. Araap Cheruiyot

Equipping and Empowering the Laity for Ministry Support

PhotoCredits: Lay RenewalMinistries

The recently released poll report by the ShahidiHub Research & Consulting (under ShahidiHub Africa Ltd) shows various ways in which the church has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It reveals how pastors have continued their connectedness with their members after the ban on religious gathering, as a health measure against the spread of Covid-19.

The report shows pastors/church leaders who did not transition to online platforms, followed up on their members through WhatsApp (69.29%); Phone Calls (58.05%), and SMS (50.56%). However, 13.11% expressed that it has been hard to follow up on their church members during this period.

Other ways in which pastors and other church leaders have reached out to their members include cautious home visits; provision of hard copies of Bible study/ family devotional materials to members; follow-up through the leaders of life/Cell-group (home churches), and availing to members the preaching/sermon texts with guided questions.

The survey further found out that the church has continued to spread of the good news during this period. The outstanding activities to the society during this extraordinary period include: Prayer Support [82.20%]; Counseling (personal problems, conflicts, job losses)- [64.40%]; Reaching out with the Good News [57.61%]; Helping the poor with food stuff [56.67%]; Pastoral presence during bereavement process and burials [55.50%]; Supporting the vulnerable (Elderly, persons living with disabilities) with basic needs [42.86%]; Helping deal with matters of domestic violence [34.19%]; Helping those affected by natural calamities with basic needs [21.08%]; Supporting Children Homes with basic needs [17.56%]; and, Paying Rent for those who’ve lost jobs [11.71%].

Having these statistics in mind, it is evident that pastoral care has been a necessary and urgent need during this Covid-19 season. The closure of churches did not result in the lessening of pastoral activities. In fact, it has emerged that pastors and ministry leaders have become busier during this partial lockdown period. The question then is, with the current overwhelming pastoral ministry needs, how can the church effectively dispense its pastoral duties to its members? My proposition is that laity training/equipping, and empowerment are necessary for effective pastoral ministry and discipleship.

The church needs to cultivate the laity’s ability to theologize in order to mitigate some of the pastoral challenges currently being experienced. Equipped and empowered laity will be beneficial for several reasons. First, empowered laity will compensate for the strained pastor-congregation ratio. Many churches in Kenya (especially in rural areas) experience this ratio mismatch of pastors and congregations. These churches do not have enough pastors to provide leadership and shepherding to every group in the church. In this widespread scenario, the few available pastors are already strained and overstretched.

Therefore, there is a need to empower the laity to lead, teach, and support other church roles and responsibilities. It is lamentable that some churches are not utilizing some of the resource persons in their congregation. If Apostle Paul’s analogy of the body is correctly applied, various gifts in a congregation will be fanned into flame and have a vibrant body of Christ. Overreliance on the clergy overburdens them thereby making them ineffective in the ministry. Such ministry ineffectiveness produces milk-dependent and spiritually immature Christians.

Second, empowering the laity is not only for their personal good but also for the good of their circle of friends. It should be appreciated that in Africa generally and Kenya in this case, most people get their social support from friends and family members. Seeking professional counselling has not yet found wide societal acceptance in our context. Since most counselling happens at the peer and family level, there is need to train and empower the laity in order to enhance effective social support. Their training should encompass basics of counselling.

Third, laity empowerment will strengthen believers’ spiritual growth. Emphatically, the Great Commission mandate is about making disciples. Biblical teaching is a necessity for effective discipleship making. The COVID-19 situation has pointed out the weakness of pulpit and clergy-centered ministry. Believers should be empowered to personally gain their spiritual muscles and growth from the mines of the scripture, and not over-rely on Sunday-to-Sunday spoon-feeding.  However, this does not undermine the place of the pulpit ministry. If properly utilized, the pulpit offers a strategic platform for empowering the laity and promoting the priesthood of all believers.

Fourth, by training/equipping and empowering the laity, the church will be implementing the biblical principle of delegation. It took Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, for Moses to make sense of the delegation principle. Moses kept doing ministry from morning till evening to the detriment of his self. Jethro advised, “…what you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:17,18 NIV). Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy and Titus also reinforces the place of delegation in church administration (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-10, Titus 1:5). Therefore, equipping and empowering the laity will not only ease and make pastoral work effective but also delightful.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR:

Name: Leonard Too

Education Qualification: Bachelor of Education (BED-UON)-2014; MDIV-BS (AIU)-2018; PhD Biblical Studies Student (Africa International University). 

Leonard K. Too

“…it is evident that pastoral care has been a necessary and urgent need during this Covid-19 season. The closure of churches did not result in the lessening of pastoral activities. In fact, it has emerged that pastors and ministry leaders have become busier during this partial lockdown period.”

“It is lamentable that some churches are not utilizing some of the resource persons in their congregation. If Apostle Paul’s analogy of the body is correctly applied, various gifts in a congregation will be fanned into flame and have a vibrant body of Christ.”

“The COVID-19 situation has pointed out the weakness of pulpit and clergy-centered ministry. Believers should be empowered to personally gain their spiritual muscles and growth from the mines of the scripture, and not over-rely on Sunday-to-Sunday spoon-feeding.”

Exploring the Use of Whatsapp Cast Model to Reach Out to Children in Your Church

The recent poll results by ShahidiHub Africa showed that 64% of pastors/church leaders think that children of ages 0-11 years have not been given adequate attention through online and offline platforms during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As a Sunday school teacher, this is worrisome because during this age bracket (0-11) children are open to learn about God, Bible, faith, and about the gospel.

While this can be attributed to the fact that children have no access to online platforms, children ministries can respond by using inexpensive mediums of sending gospel messages to children, through their parents. I propose the use of the WhatsApp cast model and SMS. Teachers can prepare and share gospel messages to parents and children’s caregivers and share it with their children.

WhatsApp cast is a recorded audio, word and visual illustrated files shared to users on WhatsApp platform and short messenger service (SMS). These services are easily accessible and inexpensive to use. It further allows teachers to send a word or audio file directly to their contacts. Each contact receives a personal message.

How to Start Whatsapp Cast

Know your audience in this case children ages 0-11 years– Segment children according to age and determine the content of your message that is age appropriate. Prepare age appropriate scripture verse activities that are simple, practical and fun. You can consider theme lessons for teaching a series of Bible lessons e.g. lesson series on God’s attributes or ten Commandments etc.

Organize your content– Make a list of what your cast will be about. This is important to keep you on track and help you avoid duplicating your topics.

Record and share your content– You have two options: record directly on WhatsApp or record the audio separately and then upload to WhatsApp.

Build your audience– Send the WhatsApp Cast, first to those in your contacts and then encourage the recipients to share the message with individuals in their contacts. Invite feedback to help you improve your content.  

Pray for the outpouring of the Spirit to guide you to choose your topics and execute the plan.

Given the widespread use of the Whatsapp, this alternative can greatly help churches reach out to the children at their homes. The Whatsapp feature is easy-to-use, accessible, and affordable to many, even during this period.

“…children ministries can respond by using inexpensive mediums of sending gospel messages to children. I propose the use of the WhatsApp cast model and SMS. Teachers can prepare and share gospel messages to parents and children’s caregivers and share it with their children.”

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR:

Mercy K. Maina, M. A. Biblical Studies;

Part Time Lecturer: Kabarak University, Teaching Bible Courses. Service: Sunday School Teacher CITAM Karen;; Interest: Bridging Teaching Skill Gaps among  Sunday School Teachers

It is Not Yet Madaraka for Kenya: ‘Let My People Go…’

Kenyan flag

Fifty-seven years ago, Kenyans first celebrated their hard-won independence from British rule. Certainly, this never came easy. It came at a great price. Many freedom fighters lost their lives, their all; and some lived to tell of the tortured, imprisonments, and injustices inflicted against them and their families. Madaraka Day is a time to pause and remember their exemplary sacrifices, their fighting spirit for a free and united Kenya, and their heroic courage. It happens that many of them never made to our history books.

The dawn of an independent Kenya must have been an ecstatic experience. Kenyans, at the time of independence, must have been thrilled to realize that the oppressive colonial rule had finally come to an end. They cried tears of joy in disbelieve; knowing that the new dawn was coming with future possibilities and promise. Indeed, it was a sundown for the colonial rule, but a sunrise for indigenous rule.

The optimism and aspirations of the generations of Kenyans at independence were articulated in the national anthem. The pioneering Kenyans at independence anticipated a nation that would be characterized by blessings and plenty. They envisioned a nation that upholds the ideals of justice, peace, unity, and liberty. They idealized these values as the foundation of a prosperous Kenya. They recognized that realization of this dream will take concerted efforts, each Kenyan involved. Presumably, each time they sang and prayed the words of the national anthem they challenged themselves to arise and build the envisioned Kenya as one people. They envisioned a brighter future against the backdrop of illiteracy, widespread poverty, and a small economy.

From the national anthem, the generation of Kenya at independence KNEW the meaning of the colors of the Kenyan flag. They knew what we have forgotten. They knew what they formerly fought for. They knew what the new Kenya should look like. They knew what they should expect from the Kenyan-ruled governments. They simply had a vision and a clear knowledge of the path for their future.

From the national anthem, the generation of Kenya at independence KNEW the meaning of the colors of the Kenyan flag. They knew what we have forgotten. They knew what they formerly fought for. They knew what the new Kenya should look like. They knew what they should expect from the Kenyan-ruled governments. They simply had a vision and a clear knowledge of the path for their future.

The Great Let Down

Sadly, the joy of independence was short-lived as people realized that the new African leaders were no different from the colonizers. As a result, the people felt a sense of betrayal; their hopes were crushed. The enemy was no longer “them.” Rather, the new, hard-to-deal-with enemy became one of “us.” After the white colonizers exited, the black colonizers took over and continued the colonization. The people who were entrusted leadership position became less and less interested in furthering the vision of the ‘Kenyan kingdom;’ instead, they became passionate in establishing and flourishing their own kingdoms of self, power, and wealth. During the ensuing years, politics of vengeance, deception, hatred, and exclusion became a new norm. Apparently, this has continued, even into our times, to characterize the political landscape in Kenya. Greed, injustices, corruption, violence, and tribalism became normalized in land allotment and distribution, occupation of public offices, distribution of public resources, and so forth. As a result, the divide between the poor and the rich has continued to increase.

As Kenyans Mark Fifty-Seven years of Independence

Fifty-seven years later, admittedly, the post-independent Kenya has made some strides in different sectors of economy. However, Kenya largely continues to struggle to remain true to her dream. The fight against theft of public resources is not yet won; the politics of betrayal, deception and exclusion continues unchallenged. So, where is the problem?

Approximately 3000 years ago, the biblical Moses was called to deliver the people of Israel from the then oppressive Egyptian regimes. The nature of his liberation was all-encompassing; his liberation call “Let my people Go” was spiritual, social, economic, and political. He was to liberate the people to be free to worship, free to rule themselves, free to work to build their own economy, and free to be a people with a distinct identity, purpose and destiny. Moses, as a skilled architect, laid a moral foundation as the pillar for the social, economic and political prosperity of the nation. The moral compass, founded on the God-given Law, became the constitution and basis of reference for leaders occupying any public office. It became the basis of social justice. Moses’ successor Joshua, as a faithful leader and steward, transitioned the nation to their Promised land and fairly allotted the Promised land to the people. As a faithful leader, he never (ab)used the leadership position to amass wealth. Rather, he used it as a trust, and tool for service. In my opinion, one of the main problems that Kenya has faced since independence, can be identified as failed leadership. The elected leaders have always failed to be faithful to the trust given to them. The type of the leaders “we” elect make it hard for Kenya to realize her dream.

Fifty-seven years later after official independence, the truth remains that the Kenyan people, like citizens in many other African states, still need to be liberated from the bondage of heavy taxation, hopelessness, violence, police brutality, tyrannical leadership, plunder of public resources and from the suffering of the people. Other than doing our part in the building of the nation, we can only HOPE that someday God will raise a Moses and a Joshua for our country, to deliver the people and to bring them into a land of abundance; a land where justice, unity, and peace are celebrated.

Possessing Your Possession

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In Joshua 6:1-10, after crossing the river Jordan, the nation of Israel was in for a colossal challenge. Their first assignment after crossing the River Jordan was to possess their inheritance; the first on the list was the city of Jericho. A great ancient city fortified with gates of iron and bars of brass. However, this was not going to be normal military warfare. They had to pick some instructions before attacking the city.

The Lord ordered them to march around the city with all the armed men for six days. The priests were to carry the trumpet of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. Upon hearing the sound of a long blast on the trumpets, all the people were expected to give a loud shout. Then the wall of the city would collapse, and the people will go up and possess their possession.

The land of Canaan was Israel’s rightful possession. On one hand, God was judging Jericho for its sins, but on the other hand God was handing over to Israel what was due them.

Today, God has promised us so much him; we have an inheritance in God (Eph. 1:14); Col. 1:12; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:4), but many end up not possessing what has been promised to them. Not all people end up inheriting the glorious inheritance that God qualified them for. why? because of some necessary conditions.

Biblical conditions required for possessing what God has promised us:

  1. Possessing God’s Promise(s) (v2, 5), remembering God’s promises and acting on it. The Lord told Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” God has already won the battle. ‘It is your possession.’ The wall of the city shall fall (Josh 6:5). It was only a matter of time and the promise will be fulfilled!

God’s promises never fail (21:45; 23:14).

In his word, the Lord had promised to send fear before them; and to cause confusion among all the people to whom they will come across (Ex. 23:27).

The two spies sent by Joshua confirmed that the people inside the city of Jericho were in a panic and were sure that God was handing over their city to Israel (Josh. 2:9-11; See Deut. 2:25; 7:23; 11:25; 23:27).

The promise of God must have given Joshua courage. That the task ahead of him has been counted as done. The victory is already won! The Lord is a mighty warrior.

It was great and powerful cities like Jericho that had convinced the ten spies sent by Moses that they could never conquer the land (Num. 13:28; Deut. 1:28). From their eyes, it was mission impossible. But the two spies remembered God’s promise.

A promise always comes with a challenge. God promised Israelites the land flowing with milk and honey, but an enemy city stood in between.

Are we aware of God’s promises about our lives and situations around us today?

As God’s people, we must know God’s promises and claims it for ourselves. We must know what God has promised in his word: Ps. 23; Jer. 29:11; Matt. 28:20; Jn 14; 16:33; Rom 10:17; Heb. 13:5.

Consider this:

-God never promised us the absence of strange and confusing times but promised his enduring presence; I am with you always, to the very end of age, Matt 28:20

-God has not called us citizens of this world but called us aliens and His ambassadors; we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us 2 Cor. 5:20

-God never said that he is making the world a better place but promised that he’s gone to prepare us a place; And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am Jn 14:3

-God never promised that things around us will not grow from bad to worse but promises to make all things new; I am making everything new! Rev 21:5

-He never guaranteed a world devoid of trouble but spoke comfort saying, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33

-God never promised a Christendom in this world but promised a kingdom of people called unto himself, the church; But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light, 1 Pet 2:9

-God did not promise the comfort of religious freedom but warned of hate, persecutions even death. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own Jn 15:18

  1. Obedience (to the Lord’s leading)- We need to accept the Lord’s strategy (vv. 3-5)- The command to march around the city for six days, blowing trumpets, and shouting might have looked absurd. But it was the Lord’s strategy. The directions might have sounded illogical to people who solely rely on logic. It might have looked foolish and ridiculous to many military minded people. But it was the strategy had God approved for his people to inherit their possession.

Note that before the battle, God already pronounced a victory, he gives the strategy; not vice versa. I have given you this, but this is the strategy. …. job, addiction, degree.

Key to possessing our inheritance is obedience and heeding of God’s voice.

The Bible instructs, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5).

Joshua did not rely on human tactics; though he could have relied on his military strength.

The Bible records many people who were commanded to do what we might call strange/ridiculous. Abraham being called to go to an unknown land. Gideon was called to downsize his arm to 300 against an army of 135,000 (Judg. 7,8). Prophet Elisha told Naaman, the military commander of Aram, to go to the river Jordan and wash himself seven times in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:10). Jesus asked Philip where they can buy bread for 5,000 people, (Jn. 6:5-6); Philip wonders, but Andrew fronts an idea of a boy with two fishes and five loaves of bread. At the wedding in Cana Mary told the people around to do whatever Jesus tells them (Jn. 2:5).

God’s plan may look foolish; but in it is divine wisdom that the world does not comprehend (Isa. 55:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:26-29). God may choose the unexpected to educate you through university and close the expected doors! In such a case, will you force your way or heed God’s voice/leading. He is a God of surprises!

We need to develop in our obedience to God and trust his plan for our lives.

We should obey and follow because we know the identity of the one calling us.

  1. Faith in God- (v. 6) Israelites had to trust the God who commanded them.

In this, they were required to walk by faith and not by sight. The author of Hebrews (Heb. 11:30) retrospectively looked at this victory as a triumph of faith. Faith against all evidence.

The people had to take a faith step, to their possession.

As they laid the city to a siege, they needed to walk by faith and not by sight because they had never attacked any city in this manner- singing and blowing of trumpets.

You will note that fear had caused the inhabitants of Jericho to close their gates; instead of trusting in God, they trusted in the strength of their walls. They were not willing to surrender because their hearts were hardened. They lived inside walls of unbelief/doubt. They found security and refuge not in God but in their walled city.

Through faith, there is no situation is that is too great for the Lord to handle, and no problem is too much for him to solve.

Faith makes us be still and know that God in control and will fight for us (Ps. 46:10)- the Lord is a chain breaker, miracle worker, way-maker. The battle belongs to the Lord.

We need to trust God for the impossible things in our lives. Have a look at the following verses.

  • Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” (Gen. 18:14)
  • I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
  • Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”(Jeremiah 32:17)
  • For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).
  • With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt.19:26).
  • I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

In Jericho, the Israelites stared at walls of impossibility. Conquering this city needed God’s enabling power. It was going to be brought down not by powerful arsenal, or by military strategy or by strong men; but by faith in God.

Those impossibilities in various areas of life are opportunities for God to display his power.

Concluding Thoughts

God has given us numerous promises in his word. But we need courage to believe in what has been promised; that the one who has promised is faithful. We need to know God’s promises concerning our spirituality, finances, relationships, and families.

We need to believe that the battle shall be won, the iron gates shall be opened, that the mighty walls shall come down tumbling because the Lord has said it. Because the Lord has said, then we shall inherit the land occupied by giants.

Many times, life can present to us some ‘walls’ that seem unconquerable. In such cases, we need faith to conquer what is impossible. Faith laughs at impossibilities. Hudson Taylor: three stages in God’s work: Impossible…Difficult…Done

Faith in God compels us to focus on God who is bigger than any mountain/challenge we face in life.

A CALL TO SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

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In this write-up, we are looking at the call to spiritual leadership, through the example of Moses (in Exodus 3:1-14). We will reflect on the life, and call of Moses- the prophet, priest, lawgiver, and leader.

Moses’s 40-year leadership experience has a lot to teach us today on how God raises, equips, and uses leaders to accomplish his purposes.

This all happened in a context when the people of Israel were facing oppression in a foreign land. The goal is to learn some leadership principles that we can apply in our lives, families, church, and workplaces.

Leadership principles we can learn from the life of Moses:

I. Spiritual Leadership Begins with an Encounter with God

Moses’ call to leadership began with an encounter with God during the burning bush experience (Ex. 3). Moses heard God’s voice and responded to it.  In Mt. Horeb, God revealed himself to him…

God’s call comes with demands. Often God’s call to himself demands that we leave a life of sin, self-centeredness, and pride and cling to God. Moses’ calling involved liberating the nation of Israel in Egyptian slavery.

God begins by working/renovating the heart of the leader. This is an important step in spiritual leadership.

Read: Hearing God Speak

Read Hindrances to Hearing God

II. At His Timing, God Raises Leaders-

God raises/sends leaders at God’s appointed time in history (Read Ex. 3:7-10).

Israelites had cried to God for over 400 years for their deliverance from the tyrannical powers of Pharaoh, but, it took several generations for that to happen. In other words, they had to wait for the revelation of God’s appointed time.

God had- Seen their misery…heard their cries…and was concerned… and had come to rescue them. Even now, God still lives, cares, and delivers…

Moses had prematurely sought to correct an injustice by killing an Egyptian but it backfired, because he was doing it his own way (not God’s way), and at the wrong time.

In leadership, the concept of timing (seasons) is important. David understood this truth when he refrained from killing King Saul, when the right opportunity presented itself. David knew that he had been anointed by God, and although king Saul hunted him down, David knew that Saul’s hatred would not erase God’s anointing over his life. He exclaimed, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” 2 Sam. 24:6

Severally, during his ministry, Jesus sought to maintain secrecy of his work (Mk. 5:43; 7:36; 8:25), and identity (Mk. 1:25,34; 3:12; 5:7). Why? Although he had nothing to hide about his work and identity; Jesus knew that his time (God’s appointed time) had not yet come. God executes his eternal plans at his based on his calendar, not ours.

We need wisdom to be able to understand the timings; and in most cases, to slow down for our own good. It is possible that you may be a God-appointed leader, but you need to wait for God’s timing.  Present failure may not mean disqualification or denial by God, but that perhaps you have to wait, or ask God to prepare you more, or God is calling you now to another assignment.

God plans what we are to do and also, he has organized the right time for us to do it.

As we seek wisdom on God’s timing for us to lead, we need to remember to support those God has presently chosen to be at the front-line.

III. God Raises leaders for Particular Situations

All situations are in God’s hands. In the hands of God who is all-knowing and wise. And based on this, God, in his wisdom and knowledge, raises leaders, and equips them will requisite skillset and ability to confront the situation at hand.

The situation at hand in Moses’s case was the mistreatment Israelites were going through. God raised up Moses through his life experiences to be able to face this task when the time has fully come. God shapes/prepares leaders to be able to handle people, and situations of success and failure.

Preparation period for service took 80yrs, in these years God equipped him for his next assignment. In the household of Pharaoh, he received good education, though pagan. In the wilderness, he must have learned in solitude to conquer self and be a servant (Ex. 2:16-17).

He prepares us by equipping us with what is required in order that his purposes prevail. In the time of Esther, he gave Esther beauty and orchestrated events in order she may be elevated to the palace, so that she may rescue Jews from the danger of annihilation. He gave Nehemiah to administrative skill, and position at the kings court in preparation for the rebuilding of the broken walls of Jerusalem.

Remember, that also God can raise evil/pagan leaders! He can use them to judge, or to display his power and purposes (he is the same God who raised up Pharaoh, and Moses).

He raises leaders with a heart for a cause at hand. Often, these leaders have gone the same journey (in one way or another) God is asking them to take others.

So, some leaders are raised to bring healing, peace, manage, justice, expand, and other are raised to punish sin, restore, destroy. God knows when and how to raise these leaders at various seasons. He raised Moses to lead the nation of Israel through wilderness but chose Joshua to settle them in the promised land. He gives these leaders grace to manage, and steer through the challenges of leadership.

These leaders identify a cause/need and within it create their legacies.

IV. God often Chooses the Unlikely-

Men look for qualified people, but God chooses the unqualified so that he can qualify them.

Based on his self-assessment, Moses felt inadequate to lead the nation of Israel. He knew he was not a perfect leader. It was, ‘no way,’ ‘not me.’ ‘wrong address.’ He lacked self-confidence.

He Gave a Number of Excuses (Ex. 3:11-15; 4:1-16)

  • I’m a nobody– ‘Who am I?’ (3:11)- He thought of himself as unworthy and inadequate. He did not have any to appear before; he cannot command a hearing. But God promised his presence (3:12).
  • I don’t have all the answers (3:13)- This was an hypothetical question (suppose…). He imagined people asking him questions about God/theology… in response God revealed his name and that Moses’s role will be of a messenger (3:14).
  • Will they really listen or believe? Fearful or ridicule or embarrassment, Moses wondered if he will win their respect (4:1). But this was also an imaginary scenario of what if… such and such/so and so…. See Lord’s response in 4: 2-4, 6-7.
  • I’m not gifted in speech (4:10)- See Lord’s response- 4:11-12. If you’re here and this is your excuse, then count on God’s power.
  • I’m not qualified as others (4:13)- He was simply saying ‘God send/use someone else.’ I’m from the villages of Midian; I’m busy; there are many others who are qualified; nani (Swahili for so and so) has grown up children; nani has a degree/or is a consultant in that area; nani did that program before; I have never gone to a bible college etc Here, God accommodated Moses’ desire (4:.14-17) but Aaron later became a snare to Moses(Ex 32:4; Num. 12:1-2). Moses didn’t need Aaron but God himself.

Gideon also felt inadequate like Moses. He was fearful and certain that he did not have any influence over his family, clan, tribe (Judg. 6:15). So how could he lead the entire nation? But just like to Moses (Ex. 3:12), God promised him his presence (Jdg. 6:16).

As Paul puts it, God chooses the “weak of this world” to accomplish great things for his glory (1 Cor. 1:26-29). He raises the inadequate so that they can depend on him. He chooses the humble so that he can, in his own ways, raise them up in a way that confounds many.

Today, we have wronged concluded that a leader has to be persuasive, have good looks/voice, dynamic, well-polished accent, TV type, and with high social media following.

Leaders who feel inadequate (who feel they need God or else they fail) end up being the best leaders ever.

AW Tozer wrote, “A true and safe leader is likely one who has no desire to lead, but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and by the press of the external situation.”

They are willing to lead after God. Such leaders lead with spiritual understanding of themselves, people, work, and God.

V. When God Raises Leaders He Also Raises Helpers-

In Moses’ case, God raised Aaron and Miriam. He raised people who can complement Moses in his gifting, abilities, and personality.

In the life of Paul, God raised ministry associates like Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus etc.

But be cautious suggesting other people to God because a calling is an individual matter. Moses pushed God to a compromise, and as a result he was given Aaron who later became a thorn in the flesh.

From time to time God brings along our way people to support the God-given vision entrusted to us.

We may not all be leaders at the frontlines, but we need to support those the Lord has anointed at a particular time.

Concluding Thoughts

God still raises spiritual leader even today! But sometimes, sadly, we trash God’s choice and enthrone our own!

Raising of spiritual leaders in every generation is a sign of God’s faithfulness to his people.

May we rely on God and seek his guidance as we suggest and elect leaders to lead God’s church in our generation.

Spiritual leadership is God-appointed, not self-assumed.

Have you ever felt that God was calling you to do something beyond you? I.e. be a BS/SS leader, to church council/board? Consider the life of Moses and be encouraged to assume the task.

Related Leader as Shepherd 

Also read: Leader as Servant 

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PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

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Previously, we looked at Paul’s complete shift of basis of confidence (from confidence in the flesh to confidence in God) as a result of his encounter with Christ. In Philippians 3:12-21, Paul continues to exhort Philippians concerning the gift of salvation. He uses an athletic metaphor to show how a Christian should live in respect to the time past, present, and future.

Read Christian Life as a Race

Past: “Forgetting what is behind”- (v13b)

In respect to the past, Paul reveals, “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind…”

“To forget” does not mean failure to remember, amnesia/loss of memory, or some sort of brain malfunction. Rather, it means “no longer to be influenced by or affected by.” So, when God forgives us our sins, he promises to remember them no more (Heb 10:17), or no longer hold the sin against us.

Paul found the right antidote to the past. And this was, to simply forget! to bury the past in the past.  But this is not easy process because interestingly, as human beings, we easily remember what we should forget and easily forget what we should remember.

In the former section of this chapter, Paul’s encounter with Christ resulted into losses, in his past life. He lost: Jewish privileges/heritages, status as an educated Pharisee, his fervent zeal to persecute Christians, and cultural/ethnic identity. He lost all for the sake of Christ. Now, he no longer boasted in them but in Christ. Paul chose to let go of this past by forgetting. This wasn’t easy; but it was necessary for him to put off every weight in order to win the race. Clearly, he had to deal with his past in order to enjoy the blessings of God in Christ.

In his past life, Paul was a blasphemer, and a persecutor of the church. This was enough to hold Paul backward. But his surrender to the lordship of Christ unleashed upon his life the abundance of God’s mercy and grace (1 Tim 1:12-17).

Each one of us has a past, some good and some not good. What should we do with it? This Scripture exhorts us to leave the past where it belongs, behind.

Obviously, the past can positively bring some value/wealth of experience, memories of joy, victories, and gratitude to God.

But at the same time, the past can negatively hold memories of failure, loss, sorrow, sin, guilt, grief, regrets, defeat, discouragement, and difficulties.

Satan, the liar and accuser of brethren, would always like to capitalize on this; reminding and burdening believers with the cares of the past; and blinding believers from the marvelous freedom in Christ.

Today, many Christians are weighed/held down by regrets of the past; and as a result, they run the race looking backward like the man ploughing and looking back ((Lk 9:62). If you don’t deal with it rightly, one’s past has the potential to bring a negative force or enslaving/controlling power against you. So apart from forgetting, how else can we deal with our negative/evil/shameful past, once and for all.

We need to confess our sin/curse and put our faith in Jesus- the curse breaker, chain breaker, forgiver, and liberator. You need to confess and renounce your ways of darkness, your hidden involvement with the dark world, your covenant with demons or cultural ties that bring curses, and shame.

The Bible says, “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed” (Acts 17:29-31)

It is good to remember that “we cannot change the past, but we can change the meaning of the past.” For example, when Joseph was in the land of Egypt he looked back at the evil committed against him by his brothers and interpreted, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). The evil action committed against him, in the past, did not change but Joseph’s understanding of the event changed. He understood the past in light of God’s sovereign power. As a result, he was unable to hold grudge against his brothers.

Don’t limit God’s power upon your past experience, because he can transform it for your own good. He can bring something good out of it. He can give you a good name. He can give you a new song. He can refresh and fill your life with good things. Your best days are not in the past, they are yet to come…

Brethren, to be able to run the race effectively, we need to break the power of the past, by living for the future. This power/force is broken by Jesus Christ. At the same time, we need to extend grace to each other, knowing that the Holy Spirit is working within us to make us new.

Also Read : Reasons why Jesus Did not allow stoning of the Adulterous Woman

Present: “Pressing on”- (v12, 14)

Apostle Paul left the past to belong to the past so that he can concrete on the present. Yesterday’s successes, victories, failures and challenges are irrelevant today. He pressed on like a hunter eagerly pursuing his prey. He truly had a true sense of self-awareness of who he was. He knew that:

-He had not obtained all that has been promised. He had only received a deposit of the full payment, the first fruit of the harvest, and a foretaste of what is to come. So, it is clear in his mind that he’s not received the full blessings of salvation. Meanwhile, according to the previous context (3:9-11), Paul sought:

  • To gain Christ.
  • The righteousness of Christ (v.9; cf. Rom 3:21, 23,25) – Paul did not want self-righteousness but a form of righteousness that comes through faith in Christ.
  • The knowledge of Christ (v8)- Paul confesses “I want to know Christ.”
  • The power of his resurrection
  • The fellowship of Christ-(v.10-11.
  • Becoming like him in his death- (Phil. 1:29-30; 3:21; Gal. 2:20).
  • Attain the resurrection from the deathPaul believed that the death would be raised (Acts 24:15; 26:6-8; Phil. 3:21), and that he will attain this resurrection.

It should be noted that when Paul wrote this letter, he was already a Christian for over three decades. Despite all this, he still pressed on, in this life-long journey. He desired the fullness of Christ. He was justified, but still desired to go to the deep end of sanctification, knowing Christ more intimately.

Paul knew he was not yet perfect. He was still work in progress. He knew that he had not attained freedom from sin, deliverance from trials and temptations, and had not received glorified body.

He knew he still needed to: battle spiritual battles, manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit, pray more, follow God’s leading, read God’s word more, fellowship more, be more alert because the enemy prowls around looking for someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8).

Paul had no sense of entitlement or the feeling ‘I have arrived.’ It is wrong that some Christians today feel that they have arrived. As a result, they think they no longer need to read their Bibles, go to church, preach the gospel, pray, attend fellowships. Paul’s desire reminds us that we should seek to constantly grow spiritually and not to settle on spiritual mediocrity.

Paul knew he has not yet obtained all that is promised at the end of the race.

-He knew he had not yet been made perfect– this is an important admission.

The tough experiences Paul had faced had not made him fully perfect. He still desired perfection and completeness in Christ.

But presently, believers were to realize that the journey to perfection has both dangers and opportunities.

Dangers/Threat: There are Judaizers, “those who live as enemies of the cross of Christ” (3:18). Believers in Christ should beware of this group which:

  • Their destiny is destruction- They oppose the word of life/true gospel.
  • Their god is their stomach- Not interested with honoring Christ but satisfying their selfish-interests (Rom. 16:18).
  • Their glory is shame- They glory in things which they ought to be ashamed of.
  • Their mind is on earthly things- They seek them, and their minds and hearts settled on them.

Opportunity: Believers in Christ are invited to emulate the example of Paul and other faithful believers in Christ (3:17). He had renounced all confidence in the flesh and trusted in God.

Future: Hoping

Believers should have an active hope toward the future.

Paul presses on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called him heavenward in Christ Jesus. How does he achieve this? He focuses on one thing!

But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” (v.13b).

Paul had learned the secret of singular focus. This is a secret to success. His focus is on winning the prize! That singular thing focusses his energies and defines what is important (Neh. 6:3; James 1:8).

Many Christians get involved in “many things” or “everything” and by doing so, they get distracted in the race. Only one thing is needed (Mk. 10:21; Lk10:42; Jn 9:25; Ps 27:4).

Related:  Singular Focus in Life

He focuses on:

  • Finishing and Wining- He eyed the victorious end (Acts 20:24); therefore, he had to leave everything that hinders him (Heb. 12:1-3). Like God, we need to deliberately finish what we initiate.
  • Crown/prize- The glorious crown. His eyes focused on the crown. The incorruptible crown.
  • Heavenward identity and calling- Paul lived his dual citizenship responsibly. He also longed for the revelation of the holy city of God (Heb. 11:9,10,14-16).
  • Appearance of Jesus Christ- Eagerly waited for the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:19, 23,25; 1 Cor. 1:7; Gal 5:5; Heb 9:28).
  • Bringing of everything under one head-
  • Change of our lowly bodies- He longed for a spiritual body that is not subject to weaknesses, disease and death (1 Cor. 15:44).

Related: Faith, hope and Love

Also read: Living in Anticipation of the Lord’s Return

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SHINNING LIKE STARS (IN A DARK WORLD)

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The first half of Philippians chapter 2 deals with Jesus Christ, our example in love, humility, suffering, compassion, and obedience. Believers are exhorted to have the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus (2:5).

But Philippians 2:12–30, a text of focus in this write-up, shows how believers can shine like stars in the universe. The key question that this pericope raises is: How can we shine like stars in a dark world (see Phil. 2:15b; Matt. 5:14).

Paul reminded the Philippian believers that they lived in a “crooked and depraved generation”. A language drawn from Deut. 32:5, 20 describing the wilderness/tangatanga generation. A generation that did not shine for God but were characterized with ungodliness and rebellion. It was a generation that was ungrateful, always complaining, and unbelieving. Jesus also talked of a “perverse generation” (Matt. 17:17), and apostle Peter talked of a “corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40).

But in what sense are we today living in a “crooked and depraved generation”? People live as enemies of God, do not value or believe the truth… Most people have turned their backs on God.

So, we have a unique role to fulfil in a dark world- That is, not to leave but to live and shine the light of Christ.

Biblical Principles that can help us shine like Stars in a Dark world:

  1. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (v.12-13)- Our God-given gracious gift of salvation requires some working out. It is like a baby that should be nursed to maturity, it is like a investment that needs to be multiplied, it is like a farm that need to be cultivated…. This is a daily activity.

Salvation is such a precious gift from God that we should hold it dearly and treasure it.  It should be done “With fear and trembling”- knowing that by our own, with our weaknesses and unworthiness, we cannot make it (Jn. 15:5). But that God works in us… to accomplish his good purpose.

The external world may be full of darkness, but our hearts are continually lit by the light and hope of salvation. The Spirit of God works in us to bring to completion the good work that God has begun.

So, we have a responsibility to nurture our spiritual lives. Thankfully, God enables us in this process.

Spiritual growth does not happen by chance or by wish. It takes hard work. Beware of the real danger of being nominal and lukewarm. Maturity and Christian character is not achieved unless we take deliberate steps of denial and sacrifice.

Read:  The Role of Holy Spirit in the Spiritual Formation in the life of a believer

  1. Do everything without complaining or arguing (v. 14-15)– Note that these verbs are in present tense highlighting the idea of continuity of the behavior. Paul might have been thinking about the wilderness generation who complained to Moses and to God (Ex. 16:7; Num 11:11; Cor. 10:10). Most likely Philippians were complaining (to God and each other) and arguing (with each other); which is a sin. God hates complaining. Complaining makes us unholy and impure. We cannot shine like stars in our generation when in our speech we are always full of complaining like everybody else around us. We need to develop a grateful spirit.

Through all trials and suffering Jesus underwent, he did not complain. Do (much of the complaining/discontentment deals with things we ‘do’- see the story of Jesus, Mary and Martha) everything without complaining. The root cause of complaining is rebellion and disobedience; Israelites for example complained because they did not want to do what the Lord wanted them to do.

Remember, Jesus, our example, went through trials and endured without complain.

Related: Complaining Spirit Vs Thankful Spirit

  1. Hold fast/firmly the word of life (v. 16)-

The word is the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). It is a powerful word that is able to transform people’s lives. It is the word that brought things into being that were not (Gen. 1) and calmed a raging storm (Matt. 12:13).  It is the word that can release divine power in our lives. The Thessalonians received this word and treated it specially, not as words of men (1 Thess. 2:13). It is powerful and authoritative word in matters of faith and practice. It reveals, nourishes, perfects.

The word of God is qualified by ‘life’ (cf. 1 Jn. 1:1). The word gives life (it is the spiritual food that sustains a Christian- Jn 6:63). It is the word of life because it proclaims the true life in Christ; it is a message of salvation and new life Acts 13:26; 5:20). It is what offers life in a lifeless world. It is what brings light in a dark world.

Philippians, just like us today, were reminded to “hold firmly”/believing this word till the return of Christ.

  1. Always Rejoice, be glad (v. 17-18)– Whatever outcome of the trial Paul rejoiced in Christ because the name of Christ will be eventually honored. God’s control over every circumstance should cause us to always rejoice.

Paul viewed his death as imminent; and saw himself being “poured out like a drink offering” (being an act of worship); a similar language used in 2 Timothy 4:6. But still Paul counted all possible eventualities joy!

  1. Honoring good examples in our midst (v. 19-30)- Paul singled out Timothy and Epaphroditus for their critical role in his missionary life and activity. These two were unique gifts from God to paul and his ministry. God gave Paul a vision but he also raised people to support him.

TimothyHe was a spiritual son of Paul, who had joined him during his second missionary journey. He was raised us by a Jewish mother and a Gentile father. Paul had something to mention about him.

Paul confessed “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare”. In a generation where young men took care of their own interests first, in a world where preachers preached what people’s itching ears wanted to hear, Timothy stood out as one who dearly loved God and His people.

Paul had certainly observed this over time to have said this of Timothy. Paul must have noticed his genuine concern and passion for God’s people and for the growth of the churches planted.  To Paul, Timothy was a rare example to be honored and emulated. He had God’s people in his mind and earth. Paul hoped to send him so that he can receive news about the Philippians.

To be able to administer to Paul in his difficult situation, Timothy must have had a servant heart. He is an example to all even today.

Epaphroditus– He was a Gentile believer who had been send by the Philippian church to attend to Paul’s needs and to deliver church’s “gift” (financial support) to Paul (Phil. 4:18). Paul highly commends this individual, he is a: brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier, and messenger.

He became ill, when with Paul, and almost died but God had mercy on him.

The church of Philippi and these two individuals were among the key churches and associates of Paul behind Paul’s successful ministry among the Gentiles. As God gives a vision, he also brings right people/groups to support the mission.

What were Philippians supposed to do with them? The Philippians were to honor and welcome such men- people who risk their lives (all) for the sake of the gospel and ministers of the gospel. A fake shepherd would not risk their lives for the sheep.

They were to emulate and honor them. The world may not accord honor, value, or recognize their efforts but the church and believers should. They were diligent and faithful servants of God. They may not lay them a red-carpet or scrubbing of streets; but should be received honorably and heartily.

Like Jesus, these two took the roles of a servant. How many of such people do we have today?

Concluding Thoughts: 

Sometimes we feel the darkness around us is overwhelming. But we are called to shine like stars in the universe. Don’t be bothered by darkness around us, stars shine brighter when it is darker. Darkness brings them out. May God raise godly and resourceful people along our paths to nurture the gift of God in us into fruition. Those who shine for God NOW, will in the coming kingdom shine like stars forever (Dan 12:3)

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Related: making a difference in an ungodly generation

Also Read: How can we sing a Lord’s song in a strange land

Making a Difference in an Ungodly Generation

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As we live in the world we are reminded that this is not our home. We are children of light in a dark world (Eph. 5:8).

What does the Bible teach us concerning the world?

  • It is fallen and with fallen people; far from God; and full of evil.
  • It has values/ways of this world are opposed to the kingdom values.
  • We are in this world but not of this world (Jn. 17:14-16).
  • Satan is the prince of this the rule of this world (Jn. 12:31; Eph. 2:2)
  • Its structures are against godly values
  • The world is passing away
  • It not the ideal place…
  • The truth is, we can influence the world or still it can influence us….

In this world, people have become:

  • Disobedient; drifting from truth
  • Lovers of themselves and pleasure, and not lovers of God
  • Immoral- degeneration of morality; empty
  • Biblically illiterate
  • Materialistic- pursuing money as the ultimate goal
  • Selfish and do not think of others or God

As a matter of fact, it is very easy to live, talk, and think according to the patterns of the world or according to the ways of the people who are of the world are; especially if we often interact with them more than God’s Word.

So how can we live in such a world as and remain Christ followers? In other words, how can we shine our light in a dark world? How can we live godly lives in the present evil age?

Paul in his letter to Ephesians 5:15—20 and Titus 2:1–14, helps us to practically address this question:

  • Be Careful How You Live (v.15)

By being wise, watchful, discerning/cautious to avoid danger.

Watchful of our belief and conduct. Christians should be wise people.

Being cautious that the waters we are swimming have crocodiles, the path we are walking have mines and thorns.

Be careful not to lean of your own understanding- Prov. 3:5

Be careful if we think we are firmly standing, 1 Cor. 10:12.

Once again, be careful not to fall into the deception of the enemy…

Living not as unwise but as wise– Bible exhorts us to be wise. Wisdom can be attained through asking (Jas. 1:5); through read and applying God’s word (2 Tim 3:14,15).

The word of God is able to guide you, build you up, make you wise, make you grow, cleanse you and shape your character and attitudes. At its base, wisdom is the fear of God (Prov. 9:10).

Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil (Rom 16:19).

Be watchful and wise about the company you keep (2 Cor 6:17).

  • Making the Most of Every Opportunity (V.16)

Time and chance happens to all (Eccl 9:11)

Opportunities are seized. Grab every opportunity to grow, know Christ.

Make use of time and opportunities to be a blessing, to touch lives, to participate in big things, to serve God, to improve your present situation….

Why? Life is short (Ps. 90:12); and the days are evil (present times are full of temptations, evil people).

Be like the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1 Chron. 12:32).

  • Understand the Lord’s Will (V.17)

God created us for a special purpose; but we need to discover/seek to understand and APPLY that purpose for our OWN lives.

The will of God is revealed in His Word. It is the will of God that you should be sober, holy, and steadfast.

It is the will of God that you submit to the Lordship of Christ. It is the will of God that you should be committed in the church. We seek to know and accomplish what pleases Him.

It has never been easy thing to be a true Christian in any generation…

What does God want you to be if you live to be 80?

  • Be Filled With the Holy Spirit (V.18)– Have the God-influence over your life, by allowing God’s Spirit to indwell, control, and transform you. “Drunk” with the Spirit.

The Spirit of God enables us to receive strength, overcome evil forces of the enemy (Ep 6:10-18;) overcome sin (Rom 8:13). Overcome flesh (Gal. 5:16, overcome the word (1 Jn. 5:4).

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit the fruit of the spirit will be manifest.

  • Be Joyful and be Thankful (V.19-20)

One of the characteristic of people of the world is that they are both ungrateful and have no true joy.

Encourage one another; speaking to each other, enjoying the fellowship of one another and praising God.

Be thankful to God for all things or all persons- including your family, situations… Acknowledge God, the one who has graciously gifted you with unmerited favors. A grateful and joyful heart makes a lot of difference.

 

Jesus Christ- the ONLY Precious Name

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The book of Acts chronicles several miraculous acts that were performed by the apostles in THE NAME OF JESUS.

In Luke’s account, “the name of Jesus” carries a lot of significance as he narrates the working of the Holy Spirit through the apostles as the gospel was proclaimed to the uttermost parts of the world.

It is important for us today to comprehend the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. For by knowing Jesus, we know the Father; “now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (Jn. 17:4).

In Acts 2:37—4:13, Jesus is presented as: the Jesus the author of life; the promised messiah; the descendant of Abraham; the prophesied One. But more so, the name of Jesus Christ is given a lot of significance.

 In this this context, the NAME OF JESUS is the ONLY Name that:

  1. Men are forgiven of their sins– “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38)

It is on the account of this name that sins of men can be forgiven, once and for all. As God’s anointed one, Christ did not sin and so able to forgive sins. He is the High Priest who needed no sacrifice for his own sins because he was sinless.

In this name, those who come to him in faith and repentant hearts are forgiven and their sins remembered no more.

Even the vilest sinner can be forgiven by calling on this name… On the account of this name the adulterous woman was forgiven… Also, by calling on this powerful name, tax collectors, sorcerers and murderous were forgiven and given a new name and identity…

  1. Has power to heal– “Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6,16;4:10).

The apostles healed the man crippled from birth, by calling on the name of Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus is the ONLY name that is able to deliver humanity from weaknesses, diseases and infirmities.

In this name is both physical and spiritual healing.

Medical practitioners treat but God heals.

Yahweh revealed himself as Healer- “I am the Lord who heals you” (Ex. 15:26).

Call upon this name today for him to heal your body, soul, relationships, wounds…

  1. The dead are resurrected- (Acts 4:2)-

Through the name of Jesus Christ, the dead resurrect.

The dead hear his voice; the death Lazarus responded to Jesus’ call (Jn. 1:43). Believers will also resurrect in the future because the same Spirit who lives in them is the same Spirit that resurrected Jesus from the dead.

Through this name there’s life. Jesus gives LIFE. Eternal life.

By implication, he can breathe life to your lifeless situation…

  1. Men can be saved- “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The name of Jesus is the ONLY name that men can be saved.

Are there other ways men can be saved apart from Christ?

Scriptures clearly affirm that there is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved (Jn. 3:16-18, 14:3; Rom. 10:13-15). There is ONLY ONE way to the Father- Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life.

It is a hard truth and there is no other way around this exclusive view; there is no salvation without accepting and believing in Christ, the author of life, as the one who died for our sins and rose again (Acts 3:15).

Other religions and philosophies that claim to have truth are only false and empty.

Although we have established the fact that Jesus saves, we should also underscore the fact that one has to respond to Him in faith. And this is by calling on this name for salvation.

The Scriptures are clear, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

Since there is only one Savior, the church should move with urgency in spreading the message of the gospel to the world lost in sin.

  1. Should be proclaimed(Acts 4:17-18) They taught and spoke in his name. for people to come to salvation in thousands. Their numbers were added increasingly.

This is the name that the apostles testified. It is the name they propagated. They never went about creating brands for themselves, but they proclaimed God’s kingdom and exalted Christ in their preaching, teaching, doctrine and conduct.

Are our ministries today built around our own names or on the name of Jesus…

Are the organizations founded upon this name still actively proclaim this name?…

Are our teaching or preaching ministries Christo-centric?

  1. It is the name through which miraculous signs and wonders can be performed- (Acts 4:30)

It is through this name that demons were cast (Acts 16:18); for it is the name that even demons submit to (Mk. 16:17; Lk. 10:17)

By implication, we have power and victory over the devil and demons through the name of Jesus.

  1. We should prayJesus told his disciples to ask anything in his name (Jn. 14:13-14).

It is through the name of Jesus that we should present our requests known to the Father.

Our prayers are only answered by the Father in Jesus name (Jn. 16:23-24).

This is not a magical formula but a powerful name in which we plead to God. He is our advocate, high priest, and intercessor in heaven.

Therefore, we should not pray through angels but through Christ alone.

It is through this name that through prayer, the lowly are lifted up and the proud are humbled. It is through this name that some rise and some fall…

  1. In his name we serve

Believers in Christ have opportunity to serve God in whatever profession by doing whatever they do in Christ’s name.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).

Read Biblical principles on work

Finally…

The name Jesus Christ is a precious name: By this name the vilest sinners are delivered, by this name addict can be made sober; and the lost get found.

At the mention of this name demons flee, through this name kingdoms have been built and armies have been destroyed. At this name impossibilities turn into possibilities. By this name lives are transformed.

This name is a safe refuge: it is a strong tower that the righteous run into and they are safe (Prov. 18:10).

This is the name that someday every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth; and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11)

THE NAME OF JESUS, THE NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME

Read also Satan’s thesis statement, Jesus’ offer

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