The New Nigeria – Entering In – Part 2

39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ” Luke 5:36-39

My heart is filled with an overflowing joy this morning as I write this piece. I am excited and almost giddy with laughter and joy as I muse and write. God is doing something quite profound and I want you to enter into this joy too. I think, I have a sense of what Jesus must have felt when He announced the inauguration and accessibility of the Kingdom of God on earth. He must have been full of joy. The New Nigeria is like New Wine. It just gladdens the heart.

In times past, I have entered into debates, like most of us on the future of Nigeria and how this nation can be changed and transformed. These debates and conversations mostly ended with a lot of unresolved conundrums. We all just left to resume the next time we gather. When most Nigerians gather for whatever purpose, we always end up on the state of our nation and we all talk about possible solutions etc, but never have we all agreed on a course of action to transform the nation.

But, I recall on one of such occasions, I had a distinct impression in my heart, that the problems of Nigeria were foundational and we as a nation had built a huge edifice on a faulty foundation. How do you fix the foundation of a 60 plus storey building, without bringing the whole building down. Here lies the deep enigmatic question, that hopefully I would try to answer today.

We have all been immersed in the Old Nigeria and the New Nigeria cannot rest on the template of the Old. It must have its own pure foundations. All of us, have imbibed the Old Nigeria. Some are drunk on it. We were born into it, raised in it, and became fully immersed in it. It is in all of us, regardless of tribe, tongue or creed.

It is in all of us, regardless of tribe, tongue or creed.

It will take God’s mercy to cleanse us from the Old and grant us access to the New. It can only come to the truly repentant. Some of us are so acquainted with the Old Nigeria, we do not even see it as a sinful contraption. We think it is the right way to be or the right thing to do. The Old Nigeria is diametrically opposed to the New. They have nothing in common. By the time, the New Nigeria is fully manifested, some will not even remember the Old Nigeria. It is so different.

Now let’s go a bit deeper and explore some of the characteristics of the Old Nigeria and consequently understand what we need to repent of and what we need to renounce and then what we need to embrace. In short what we need to do to enter into the New Nigeria.

In Joshua 4:1-9, God instructed Joshua to take 12 stones from the midst of the Jordan and build a memorial in the promised land with those stones, whilst they took 12 stones from the promised land and place them in the midst of the Jordan river. This is a very significant action. 12 is the number of God’s government, Apostolic Government/Council. It is Governmental. So God was helping them establish a Government in the promised land, whilst they were to fully subdue all the governments in the land.

In our case, we will use this model to determine the 12 things we need to overcome, kill, destroy, for us to leave the Old Nigeria and enter the New Nigeria and the 12 things we must manifest in the New Nigeria.

These are not in any order of importance, nor can I say exhaustive.

 Old NigeriaNew Nigeria
1Esau (Profane), CainJacob, Abel (Holy)
3Corrupt, DeceptiveHonest full of Integrity, Truth
6CarelessCareful and Considerate
7Oppressive, Unjust, UnrighteousLiberating, empowering, Just, Righteous
8Short sighted (Now, NOW!)  Long Sighted (Invest, nurture)
10Want to be servedWants to serve and serves
11Love of MoneyLove of God
12Idolatory, Witchcraft, InpunityFear of God, True Reverence

Just consider the list above. I am sure you can identify.

In the days ahead we will unpack each of them and discuss them contextually, so we can repent and renounce from a place of understanding.

Before the Joshua Generation could even begin to conquer the promised land, the Lord ordered a mass circumcision of the new generation. Yes, I know it was about the covenant, but I also want to say it was about God cutting out of them the vestiges of the Old Order and the ‘Slaves’ who came out of Egypt, who had all died in the wilderness. This is what the Lord said in Joshua 5:8-9 – So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal[e] to this day.

Again, we can look at 2Chron 7:14 – If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

If, means conditional. ‘turn from their wicked ways’. Here again we see the call to repentance. There must be a turning from to enter the New Nigeria.

Here is where I truly feel the Church in Nigeria needs to concentrate to first be shorn of all the Old Nigeria vestiges. The Church needs to accept its complicity in the failed Old Nigeria. The Church needs deep repentance and renunciation. Then the Church can then start to lead the nation in the New Nigeria. Today, I call the New Nigeria Church to come forth!

Luke 5:36-39

36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one [g]puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, [h]and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, [i]immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is [j]better.’ ”

WARNING: Jesus used the expression ‘No One’ three times in the passage above. No one means nobody. If you do not forsake the old, you cannot possess the new. You cannot hold on to the old and make the transition into the new. You have to forsake one for the other. This is a warning I plead with you to consider deeply. Out of the over 600,000 men that came out of Egypt, and wondered in the wilderness for 40 years, only two are recorded as part of that generation that made it into the Promise Land. Joshua and Caleb. God patiently waited for the rest to die off. But I am convinced of better things pertaining to us in this context. I am convinced of God’s goodness and His abundant grace, that will be made available for us to make the internal and mental change that will enable us cross into the promised land of the New Nigeria.

Now back to the building. You and I are that building. We have to tear down the old building in our hearts, by repenting and renouncing all that we have seen above, and then consciously, intentionally build the New Nigeria building in our hearts, by apprehending and assimilating the new characteristics as stated above.

39 And no one, having drunk old wine, [i]immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is [j]better.’ This verse warns us of the inertia, reluctance and resistance to the New, not from anyone external, but in our selves, we find that resistance to the new, because the Old is still very much alive in us. So, be ruthless with the Old in you, so the New can live!

The New Nigeria is New Wine and it requires New Wine Skins. The Old order cannot be patched up to fit the new. We must completely depart from one to embrace the other. It is a returning to God’s original intention for Nigeria. It is the God ordained Nigeria. This is the New Nigeria.

The door to the New Nigeria is wide open. Can you find it? Will you enter in?

Grow New Nigeria, Grow!

Let’s Pray: Father God, we cry out today for your mercy. Visit us and help our hearts to depart from the Old Nigeria into the New. Lord, grant us the gift of repentance, so we can truly change our ways. Examine us deeply by your Holy Spirit and convict us. We desire to be in the New Nigeria, please help us to be part of it, In Jesus name. Amen. (This is a short prayer, but I recommend you take these model and work through it. God will help us all and we will be in the New Nigeria.)

The New Nigeria – Part 2 – Entering In.

“At last the fulfillment of the age has come! It is time for God’s kingdom to be experienced in its fullness! Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!” Mark 1:15

Around the year 2000, our church in the UK received a strong prophetic word that we were to become a major discipling Centre in the UK and Europe. It meant we would have to shift our emphasis from a program driven church into an intentionally disciple-making church. As we prayed in the leadership, we felt distinctly led by God to go and understudy a church in Bogota, Columbia, who had transitioned into a full disciple-making church and were running what was called the G12 vision. At the time our Snr Pastor invited all the leaders of the church to come with him for two weeks to experience and study this revival and its distinctive discipleship model. The day we arrived in Bogota; we all went to a very big meeting of about 50,000 people. Now that was a lot of people in a church, coming from London. The presence of God was so thick. The worship was so intense, and we noticed that there was something quite authentic and genuine about this move. Most of us just wept and cried out to God for His grace. We were so desperate for God to replicate this in our City and Nation. Whilst on my face weeping and sobbing before God in that hall, I heard the Lord say to me, that there is only one way into this vision, and it is through the route of repentance. Repentance. It was crystal clear.

Over the next 10 days, we immersed ourselves in the mechanics, modalities, terms etc of the vision. We asked many questions, and the leaders of the Colombian church were ever so gracious. They painstakingly explained things to us. They gave us notes, tapes, etc. They invited us to all kinds of meetings. We experienced the vision in full flow. It culminated in a mega-rally at the stadium, with clearly over 100,000 people present. All disciples of Jesus. It was simply sublime. We went back to London and immediately dismantled our program based structure and began to replace it with the modalities of the G12 vision. We were extremely professional. We created all manner of materials to promote this new vision. I remember at one of our leadership meetings, the Lord spoke to me again, this time with a bit more detail. He said, this vision is a heart matter. It is not so much about your head. It can only truly work if the heart has been touched by The Lord. He then said, repentance is the only way to enter this vision. At this stage, I really started repenting of all my preconceptions of church and how it should be. I repented that I had never really seen the great commission of Matt 28:18-20, as the Lord gave it to us. I asked the Lord to forgive me for trying to build the church with my own ideas. I also told our leadership what I had received and how God says we should not spend too much time trying to master the dynamics, mechanics and modalities, but we should cry out for an impartation of the heart of the vision.

We eventually went to Bogota again after about three months, now with a much larger team, our disciples etc. I kept on telling people, that the mechanics is not as important as the heart or the Spirit of the vision. I was sitting down one late morning on my own outside one of the halls, when I began to sense God’s intense presence coming upon me. I simply asked the Lord to come even more as I was hungry for Him. Next, I saw a vision of a flaming torch coming towards me. The torch came and went straight into my heart and stayed there. The Lord then said I have made you a leader in this vision and I have given you the torch of discipleship, you will now be able to walk in the fullness of this vision. What happened next was that my wife also got a major impartation at one of the meetings and we went back to London. From that moment on our cell groups began to multiply, we began to have many disciples and our group became the group everyone wanted to belong to. People asked us what we did differently, and I just kept on repeating that this only came through an impartation arising out of deep repentance. By the way, repentance is also a gift from God, and it is his goodness that leads us to repentance. So, no credit to the person repenting, but to the Lord who grants a heart of true repentance.

I recounted this long story, to simply say, the New Nigeria can only be accessed through a genuine repentance. What is REPENTANCE? The Greek word is metanoia, which simply means change your mind or the way you think. Whilst I understand this meaning, I am afraid I don’t fully subscribe to this definition, because it is premised on the Greek mindset, which is all about logic and thinking. It is important to think and be a thinker, but the seat of real transformation is the heart first, then the mind. The next word is Hebrew. The word for repentance is Teshuvah. It simply means to return. It goes beyond a mere confession of sins. It goes further than feeling pain, remorse, or angst for error of missing the mark. It includes all this, plus a metanoa or change of mind or thinking, and it also means to move away from something or change direction from one way to the other. So, In Israel every year during the High Holydays, Rosh Hashannah to Yom Kippur, the entire nation goes into active Teshuvah in what is often referred to as the ’10 days of awe’. This is why I subscribe more to true repentance as teshuvah. Now, since Teshuvah means to return, what are we then returning to? Primarily, it is returning to God. Just like the young man in the parable of the prodigal son, returned to his father, so we are all called to return to God first as a Person and then to His plan and His ways.

We have all been immersed in the Old Nigeria and the New Nigeria cannot rest on the template of the Old. It must have its own pure foundations. All of us, have imbibed the Old Nigeria. We were born into it, raised in it, and have become fully immersed in it. It will take God’s mercy to cleanse us from the Old and grant us access to the new. It can only come to the truly repentant. Some of us are so accustomed to the Old Nigeria ways, that we do not even see them as a sins. We have become so expedient in our actions that, the conviction for sin is almost non-existent. We think it is the right way to be or the right thing to do. The Old Nigeria is diametrically opposed to the New. They have nothing in common. By the time, the New Nigeria is fully manifested, some will not even remember the Old Nigeria. It is so different.

The door to the New Nigeria is wide open. Can you find it? Will you enter in?

Think Repentance. Think Teshuvah

Grow New Nigeria, Grow!

Let Us Pray: Father God, I cannot force my way into the Kingdom, without following the protocol. So, also I now understand that to be in the New Nigeria, the way in is through repentance. Father grant me the grace and mercy of repentance. Starting now, begin to convict my heart by your Holy Spirit of the vestiges of the Old  Nigeria that is still within me. I surrender my heart to Your dealings and I thank you for helping me, make it into the New Nigeria. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Kindly share with everyone you know needs this.

The New Nigeria – Part 1 – The Baby Has been Born!

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. Luke 2:40

If I say I am excited, happy, joyful and at peace, I know some may find it difficult to relate! But the truth is I am. On Saturday, after the voting exercise, I left the polling unit to go back home and await the final results. As I walked towards my car, I had an epiphany. It reminded me of the day I got born again. Something had changed drastically, fundamentally in this country. I knew without a shade of doubt we would never be the same again. I became even more conscious of the atmospheric shift from the old Nigeria to the New Nigeria. I knew that the baby just took its first bold step.

I guess, for a lot of people, the events of the past few days are depressing and disappointing, shambolic and disgraceful. But I am not fazed or perturbed. You also should not be perturbed. Perspectives are everything!

The Lord has been ministering to me for a while now about the fact that there are no emergencies in heaven. So, if I see chaos, confusion or what one may refer to as an emergency on earth, I only need to pull back and look up at the Lord and gain His perspective on the matter and I would immediately lose my panic and regain my peace, but also know what to do! Perspective is everything.

Many are erroneously looking at the natural to interpret the spiritual. This is the wrong order. The spiritual perspective helps us understand the natural world. So, why do I say the New Nigeria is already born.

The New Nigeria was not born on Saturday the 25th of February 2023. No. It was born a while back. God first spoke to us about the New Nigeria as far back as 2004. My wife and I were driving and listening to some worship on the radio in our car. Suddenly my wife began to prophesy. A New Nigeria will arise out of the ashes of the old corrupt Nigeria. She went on to say that there would come out of Nigeria a new sound that would literally affect the world and that our Adire and Ankara fabric will become mainstream on fashion run ways and catwalks across the world. (Full prophesy will be published in future blogs).

Just over two years ago, during the Lekki Toll Gate protests turned massacre, the Lord called a few of us to start daily intercession for the New Nigeria. So, for the past 28 months, we have been praying everyday for the New Nigeria. Our motley group, made up of mostly Nigerians from and in the diaspora and other nationalities, that have been called to intercede for Nigeria, stand daily before God to affirm the New Nigeria and pray His will.

So, the New Nigeria. What is it? To understand the New Nigeria, you must understand the Kingdom of God. Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

First point you cannot access the Kingdom of God without repentance. It is accessible only through a repentant heart. So, is the New Nigeria. You have to change your thinking to access it.

Luke 17:20-21 – Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

20 Jesus was once asked by the Jewish religious leaders, “When will God’s kingdom come?”
Jesus responded, “God’s kingdom does not come simply by obeying principles or waiting for signs. 21 The kingdom is not discovered in one place or another, for God’s kingdom realm is already expanding within some of you.” Luke 17:20-21 TPT

Next, Jesus said the Kingdom of God does not come with observation. What? I thought He said it was at hand. Well here lies the conundrum and why people miss the Kingdom and also miss the New Nigeria.

The New Nigeria is not so much a physical geographic expression as it is the following: An Expression. A State of Being. A Consciousness. A Set of Values. An Ideal. A People. A Paradigm or Mindset. It is a firm sense of a definite future state of a people about who they are, what they are called to be and what they will become. It is a heart condition that we have been righteously afflicted with and would never recover from. We will only get deeper in it.  With every passing day, the immersion gets more profound. The New Nigeria is a mystical or spiritual experience or state. It is within us. It is atmospheric. It is among us. It is growing every day. It cannot be killed. It cannot be shot at. It cannot be legislated against. It is enigmatic.

It is a phenomenon.

It is an incurable, beautiful affliction. It is us as God ordained and empowered. It is that which sends terror into the devil’s heart. It is God’s expression of Nigeria in the hearts of His people. It is unstoppable. It will gain full expression. Because it is more than the New Nigeria.

It is primarily not about us. It is about those whose liberty, expression, identity, and destiny has been inextricably linked to the emergence of this phenomenon called the New Nigeria.

It is about the propagation of God’s Kingdom on earth. It is about the New Apostolic order. It is about the third Reformation. It is about the triumphant Ecclesia. It is about the end time harvest. It about the Army of God in these last days. It is about the Youth. Young people! It is about Gen Z++++. It is also about Joshuas and Calebs.

Don’t get me wrong. It will have physical expressions. It is already having it, but its primary manifestation is not physical. It is an ideal whose time has come.

So, why should we lose our peace because some people refuse to let go? Ask Pharaoh. Ask the Egyptians. Ask Herod. Ask the Philistines. Ask King Saul. Ask the Emperors. Ask the Demagogues. Ask the Tyrants. Ask Hitler. Ask Franco. Ask Napoleon. Ask Stalin. History’s highway is littered with the tattered decomposed relics of all these and more. They all failed and woefully too. So, why should we be discouraged? When we have the future in our hearts and flowing in our blood. No one in their right senses will stand in front of a freight train at full speed, trying to stop it.

Let me end this first part with this scripture.

2Sam 3:1- Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.

A long war. In warfare, there are many battles that makes a war. As battles go, there are some you must fight to win the war. There are some you ignore, because they are what we call ‘skirmishes’. They appear important, but they are not consequential to how war plays out. But great generals often use skirmishes to distract their opponents and cause them to lose sight of the purpose of the war. They use skirmishes to cause a diversion of resources and a dissipation of energy. This is a marathon, we must not run it like a sprint. The house of Saul  is diminishing daily, growing weaker every minute, but David is growing stronger and stronger with every passing day.

The Old Corrupt Nigeria is wasting away. Decrepit, old, frail, failing, bumbling, spent and incoherent. It is on its way out! The New Nigeria on the other hand is rising in strength, growing in stature, growing in favour, wisdom and grace. Full of life and vitality. What an irony. What a vignette! What a parody as we even today observe our nation. What a parable!

Grow New Nigeria, Grow!

Let us Pray: Father, thank you for the New Nigeria. Thank you for the revelation and reality of the New Nigeria. Thank You for bringing me into it. Lord, deliver me of all the vestiges of the old, corrupt failing Nigeria. I renounce all its ways and embrace those of the New Nigeria. Lord, give me strength to play my role in the New Nigeria. I am so grateful that the best is yet to come. In Jesus name. Amen.

Obed-Edom – From a Gittite to a Levite – The God of No Impossibilities! Awamaridi.

 1 Chron 26:15 – to Obed-Edom the South Gate, and to his sons the storehouse.

God specialises in great outcomes! I think I want to say that once again. GOD SPECIALISES IN GREAT OUTCOMES!

Luke 1:37 says with God nothing shall be impossible. Jer 32: 27 – God says’ behold, I am the God of all flesh, is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah also cried out in Jeremiah 32:17  ‘Ah Lord God, You have created the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.

Who you align with; who you serve; who you worship; who you fear; who you follow and who you submit to, has a great implication of who you end up becoming in this life!

Such is the curious story of Obed-Edom. How can a Philistine, a sworn enemy of God, a pagan, an idolater, under divine judgement, end up among the Israelites and even more profoundly, a Levite? Levites are from the tribe of Levi and they are exclusively separated unto God for the temple worship and caring for the tabernacle. Out of the Levites, you have the priests, and only they can offer the sacrifices in the Old testament. All Priests are Levites, but not all Levites are Priests. Such was the exclusivity of these roles, that only one family were made priests. The family of Aaron. So, how does Obed-Edom and his sons end up in the tabernacle as Levites?

1 Chron 26:1-8 Concerning the divisions of the gatekeepers: of the Korahites, [a]Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of [b]Asaph. And the sons of Meshelemiah were Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Eliehoenai the seventh.Moreover the sons of Obed-Edom were Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sacar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth; for God blessed him.Also to Shemaiah his son were sons born who governed their fathers’ houses, because they were men of great ability. The sons of Shemaiah were Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad, whose brothers Elihu and Semachiah were able men.All these were of the sons of Obed-Edom, they and their sons and their brethren, able men with strength for the work: sixty-two of Obed-Edom.

In the previous blogs, I have explored possible reasons why God blessed Obed-Edom and his household. I have also considered the level of sacrifice Obed-Edom and his family expressed as they took the Ark of God into their house.

It has just also occurred to me that Obed-Edom was not a random choice for David. David knew this man quite well. He must have become one of David’s men, whilst David was a fugitive in the land of the Philistines. He must have shown David unusual loyalty, dedication to service and to God, to warrant David bringing him along into Israel and giving Obed-Edom a place in Jerusalem.

But after the three months of looking after the Ark, and God having blessed him and his entire household, David established an elaborate Levitical system of worship, appointing roles to different Levitical and Priestly families. He then drops inside this exclusive family of Levites, the man Obed-Edom and his sons. A Gittite. A Philistine. They were appointed gate keepers of the of the South Gate to the tabernacle area, and in addition, they were also appointed as the store keepers of the tabernacle! Wow! This is like double promotion.

A non-Jew, non-Israelite, ends up as a Levite! How does that happen? Simple answer, God. Obed-Edom allowed God into his life, altered his setup to accommodate God, like I said, made room for God, and God completely transforms him and his family and grafts them into an exclusive family, with incredible privileges in Israel. This is our God. This is the God we serve.

He took Ruth a Moabites and turned her into the great grand Mother of King David and consequently the Great, great, great, great grand mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ruth today is seen as a matriarch in Israel, not as a foreigner. The day Ruth decided to follow Naomi and align with the God of Naomi, that day her destiny changed and her eternal status changed.

How about Rahab? A prostitute from Jericho, a Canaanite woman, became the mother of Boaz and also ends up in the genealogy of David and Jesus the Christ. The day Rahab chose to show the Israelite spies favour and habour them in her house. The day she aligned herself with Israel and consequently the God if Israel, her destiny changed forever.

Now, let us not be in doubt. God can take anyone from anywhere and make them whoever he wants them to be and use them wherever He so desires to use them. God will render all protocols, discrimination, prejudices, nuances, preferences and preconceptions useless, if he so chooses to use you or make you! No one can stop Him.

We have a saying in Africa, that God can choose to fetch water in a basket, just to disgrace a bucket. He can decide to crack a palm kernel with an egg, just to disgrace a stone.

We call this AWAMARIDI. Unsearchable God. What is the most preposterous thing you can imagine. God can do it!

But this narrative will not be complete, if I fail to let you know, that God specializes in great outcomes and for some of us, He has already performed the impossible.

We were gentiles, pagans, unbelieving, idolaters and sinful people. But we heard the gospel of His Kingdom, we believed in the perfect atoning work of Jesus on Calvary. In that moment, God transferred us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. He made us earthlings into citizens of heaven. He grafted us into the commonwealth of Israel. He adopted us as sons and gave us a place next to Him. He made us heirs along with Jesus of His Kingdom. He made us Levites like Obed-Edom,  who can access the temple, but He went further and made us Priests, so we not only can worship before Him, we can handle the holy things of God and not get struck down like Uzzah! But He went even further and made us kings. What can I say? All I can say is THANK YOU LORD!

1 Sam 2:8 – He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes And make them inherit the throne of glory. “For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, And He has set the world upon them.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

It seems a ‘no brainer’ to give all our hearts to God. It seems a bit obvious that if we allow God to rule our lives, we will reign in life. So, why don’t we all submit to God without reservation? I am not going to answer this question, because it is rhetoric.

All I would say is be wise! If you are looking for a great outcome! An ‘awamaridi’. Then go with God with all you have. He still specialises in GREAT OUTCOMES!

Let us Pray: Lord today, I just want to thank you for the radical transformation you have already wrought in my life. I am amazed at how You have taken me from being an enemy to being a son of Yours. I want you to do the same for anyone who is reading this and has not yet committed their heart to you by believing the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that the will also experience the joys of the new birth in Christ Jesus. I also pray today, that you will make us who You want us to be. You will take us where You want us to go and You will establish us in whatever position or estate in life You so desire for us. I anticipate Your AWAMARIDI in my life. In Jesus mighty name, I pray. Amen

Raising Significant Children Obed-Edom – Part 6

1 Chron 26:6&8 – because they were men of great ability.  

All these were of the sons of Obed-Edom, they and their sons and their brethren, able men with strength for the work: sixty-two of Obed-Edom.

Today, looking at these sons of Obed-Edom and how they turned out, makes me want to reflect on why these sons became so significant. Was it the fact that God blessed Obed-Edom’s household? Was it what Obed Edom did with these sons of his? Was it just a fluke? Really why were all his sons so great, that the bible records it twice?

I have lived over 60 years on this earth. I have seen many people show great promise and end up ship-wrecked and I have seen others born into dire circumstances and without any hope of becoming significant, yet they have transcended their seemingly disadvantaged backgrounds and become great people. Do good homes naturally produce good children and vice versa? This is not a simple conundrum. It baffles the mind.

The ark was in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years and not one of his sons was captured by the bible as significant. Samuel was a great prophet, used so mightily by God, yet his sons were not great men. Aaron was the father of Nadab and Abihu, who offered profane fire before the Lord, Eli was the chief priest in Israel and his son (Hophni and Phinehas) were referred to as sons of Belial (sons of the devil, wicked and worthless). David had sons like Absalom, Adonijah and Ammon. He was also father to king Solomon. Yet David was a man after God’s own heart. Jabez was born in pain and misery, yet the bible reflects that Jabez was more honourable than all his brothers and God heeded his cry for transformation. Esau and Jacob were twins. One was loved by God and the other was referred to as a profane man. Cain and Abel were most probably also twins. One was righteous and the other a murderer. Jacob had twelve sons. Ruben the first born defiled his father’s bed by sleeping with his step mother. Simeon and Levi were known for their cruelty and anger. Yet they had a brother, Judah who was full of integrity, Joseph who was full of mercy.  Rachael was beautiful, yet a crook and an idolater (she stole the family idols) and Leah was a woman of delicate eyes and seemed to have become the matriarch of her time.  She was buried in the same burial place, Abraham and Sarah were buried, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah in Hebron. What an incredible testimony. Judah had two sons God killed because they were wicked. The list goes on.

Let me clear. Upbringing, family circumstances, values, discipline and training all have a way of affecting lives and making people turn out right. Also, God’s grace, favour and mercy is probably the most important reason for doing what is right and ending up being upright and righteous. Education, friends, acquaintances and even your spouse can be instrumental in how your life goes. But, none of these is an exact science and cannot be a cast-iron indication that one will end up right.

I have a theory, or maybe it is a hypothesis, that personal choices are the most important determinants in how a life is lived.

You can be born and brought up in the most abysmal situation and end up a resounding success in life. Whilst on the other hand one could be born with all the right genes, right family, right values, discipline, education and training and still end of a disgrace to your family. So, the choice as to what one does with one’s life is most important. Obed-Edom must have given his sons the right teachings etc, but these men must have heeded the instructions and made individual personal decision to follow the way of the Lord. This to me is the defining factor. At some point, parental input will cease and children will have to make their way in life. It is at this stage that the heart of the child is exposed and the Lord is able to transact and deal with that child on their own personal choices and relationship with Him.

Let me quickly bring a character into this narrative today. His name is Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron. His uncles, messed up before God and were destroyed. Let’s read the account of what he did in Numbers 25:1-15 – 251 

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them. 4 The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.” 5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.” 6 Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; 9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000. 10 The Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. 12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.” 14 The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Kozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.

Phinehas, at this moment showed his heart for God and undertook and action that stopped the plague that had killed 24,000 people. God spoke to Moses and singled Phinehas out as the one who stopped the plague and also blessed him and his descendants with a covenant of shalom and a lasting priesthood.

It seems that parents need to teach their children to fear God more than anything else in this life. It appears that the ability to stand for God is the defining posture that makes people stand out and be ‘successful’ in godly terms.

The sons of Obed-Edom were called ‘men of valour’, men of ability, men with strength to do the work. Perhaps the greatest legacy of Obed-Edom was his ability to transmit to his sons, the singular heart to prioritise God in their lives.

So, it does not matter so much what your past or antecedents have been, it matters most what you do for and on behalf of the Lord. Children from good homes end up bad and those from bad homes end up good. It boils down to the heart of the individual and their decision making before the God who sees and knows all things.

Let us Pray: Father God, today I want to ask you to give me the grace to love what you love and hate what you hate. Grant me the grace to always choose what pleases you even if I am unpopular and people reject me. Lord, help me to stand unshakingly for You in my generation. Let this quality be passed on to my descendants. Let my generations to come have this legacy that they are god fearing and will never compromise on God’s standards, no matter the personal cost. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

This is Love!

Key passage: Song of Songs 8: 6-7 – Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised

Key Text – Song of Songs 8:7 – Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.

If you follow the secular media, especially the tabloids and lifestyle/celebrity magazines, you would clearly get the impression that love is some fleeting, whimsical feeling that wafts into your life and leaves almost as quickly as it came. You get the impression it is an unpredictable phenomenon like the British weather. The ease at which the celebrities fall in and out of love, and the frequency of their love cycles is quite alarming. They give the impression that love is transient. Nothing can be far from the truth. Love never ends.

One is really burdened, because the bible says in Hosea 4:6 “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. People have been fed with junk and lies and as such many people have broken lives and relationships, because they are no longer in ‘love’. The big question is was there love at the foundation of the relationship or infatuation or just plain lust? Love is not what you feel, it is something you do, and you give. It is a deliberate act of your will and once you commit to real love, you never pull out. It is for life. It is cast iron.

One of the reasons for the misconception is the general application of the word love. Love in the Greek  has at least four meanings.

1. Eros – from where you get the word erotic and that has to do with sexual love, which is purely a physical thing and must not be confused with the sexual intercourse shared between two married people, which is a consummation of their love and in a very deep spiritual way the two become one flesh. Eros is another word for lust. Because people feel sexually attracted to each other, does not mean they are committed in love. That warm fuzzy feeling, that weakness you feel around the knees, that light headedness, the sudden palpating wildly heart thing you feel is not love at all. It is simply an attraction. That attraction can often be misinterpreted as love and when it is no longer there, people then say they no longer love. Complete error. That is not love!

2. Phileo – This is the where we get the word filial love which is the love friends have for each other. It is delighting to be in the presence of another, a warm feeling that comes and goes with intensity. This type of love requires some level of commitment, but it is still not the love that should exist between man and woman or more specifically husband and wife.

3. Storge Love – Storge is the natural bond between mother and infant, father, children, and kin. William Barclay states, “We cannot help loving our kith and kin; blood is thicker than water”

4. Agape or Agapa, this is the love of God shed into human hearts. It is the love that is totally unconditional, without prejudice and without expectation from the recipient by the giver of the love. Agape is the highest purest form of love. It is the love that God loves us with, and He expects us in turn to love others with such love. It is this love that makes marriages endure.

There are four aspects to agape love that will help us to discern it.

a. It is voluntary – The giver gives without being compelled or coerced. It is free from the giver’s will.

b. It is sacrificial – Agape is always willing to give everything to the object of love, even if it means you losing something. It is ready and willing to go through inconvenience and pain to express love and keep loving. Just think of Jesus going to the cross!

c. Love anticipates the needs of others and meets it without any request from the one loved. Love is always looking for a way to serve the other. How can I bless her? How can I help him? Love focuses on the one being loved and almost instinctively knows what to do to love the one they love!

d. Love’s reward is in loving. This is perhaps the least understood. The world teaches reciprocal love and I am not against it, but it is diametrically opposed to real biblical agape love. Agape love is not looking to be loved back. Agape love is not looking for the one loved to reward them for loving them. Agape love is fully satisfied by the act of loving. When you love the agape way, the cycle or loop is completed by loving. Nothing else to add.

Our text today shows us that the flames of love are  most vehement flames. They cannot be quenched by a deluge of water, nor can it be drowned in floods. Love has in-built in it the capacity to overcome the worst life can throw at it and still come up looking bright and beautiful. Love is not whimsical, Love is rugged, dogged and can never die. Love is eternal, because it comes from eternity. Love never fails. It never stops and never runs dry.

Jeremiah 31:3 says “The Lord has appeared [a]of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
od’s love for us is not a fleeting love. It is everlasting, that is why God is so committed to us His children.

Romans 8:37-39 shows us “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The bible tells us nothing; absolutely nothing can come and separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 49:15-16 says Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;’ This is one of the most profound illustrations of God’s love to us His people. He asked if a breast-feeding mother could forget her child and not breast feed him? He said even if she can forget, He would never forget. He went on to say He has engraved us on the palms of His hands. WOW!

 I suggest to you that this was a prophetic word about Jesus Christ whose hands were pierced at the cross. The wounds are love marks and every time He reaches out to do anything with His hands, He is reminded of His love for us. If you really want to know how much God loves you, just look at Jesus on the cross. If you want to know how committed God is to you, look again at the cross. This was no whimsical, fleeting act. This was an indelible, deliberate, permanent decision. God loves you and I.

This is LOVE!

This is an updated version of a blog first published 15/02/2014

Let’s pray: Father, give me a fresh understanding of love and help me to receive deep within my heart your love so I can love people with the same love. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Obed Edom Part 5 – The Man Who Made Room For God & Got Stupendously Blessed – 2 Sam 6:1-12

12 Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.”

A proverb says, “Great Doors swing on Little Hinges”! Sometimes a little right but inconspicuous action can lead to a life altering, forever blessing in one’s life. That is why we have to be very careful and intentional in all our actions. Most big opportunities in business and commerce come on the back of doing a small inconsequential work very well. I have two stories to share before we look at Obed-Edom again.

Ramon, yes Ramon. A Moslem man. He has been my electrician for over the last 20 years. Ramon did everything with an unusual excellence. He came to me through my brother who recommended him to do the electrical wiring for our first house. I watched this man work, quietly, unobtrusively and diligently, that he stood out in a context of very poor artisans, who simply were out to rip you off and deliver shoddy work. Ramon was a revelation, and I took note of him. When the opportunity arose for another building project, I did not even have to contemplate. He was hired immediately. Now there is another huge project, and I cannot imagine anyone else doing it. All his work for us has stood the test of time. Whilst we have had problems with water, roofing, plastering and other little niggling matters in the last 12 years, Ramon’s work has remained untainted, and we have no complaints. If you want an excellent electrician, please send me a private message.

Another case is that of Rene ( Pronounced Renae) Coco. Rene was our missions driver in the Republic of Benin. We bought a car and gave it to him to maintain and use to carry me and other leaders around Benin when we were in town. Every time I came to town the car looked newer than when we last saw it. Rene is pathologically neat. He is an excellent man. He was also my translator, because he spoke all the local dialects in Benin, plus those from neighbouring Ghana, Nigeria and Togo!  He was a polyglot and very accurate in his translation. He could easily have been the evangelist in those days. It was a joy to work with Rene. When we were about to wrap up our missions work in Benin, I called Rene and told him the job was coming to an end. I asked what I could do for him. He simply thanked me for the opportunity to serve and said he was fine. I then proceeded to pray for him. I asked that God will remember him and reward him for the excellent way he served us. We left for the UK and Rene stayed in Cotonou. Three months later, Rene got a surprise call from his old boss. An ambassador to Benin, that Rene had worked for. This ambassador had left many years prior, but never forgot Rene, and had now been appointed to represent his country as the ambassador to the USA. He had options of selecting his staff and he immediately remembered Rene. He asked if Rene will come and work with him as his chauffeur in the US. Of course Rene agreed, he was able to take his wife and children with him. Renee and his family were able to complete their education, Rene earned a Master’s degree and only the Lord knows how much his life and lot has been transformed by his seemingly inconsequential diligence and excellence.

Obed-Edom was such a man. Though the bible did not say much about his character or the way he treated the Ark of the Covenant, it is obvious that he must have excelled, because the bible records that God blessed him and all his house hold. This blessing was so visible, that it was reported to king David.

How was he blessed by God?

In three months, it became the talk of town that the house of Obed-Edom is blessed. One can only imagine. Visible, tangible prosperity, unusual favour, protection, incredible joy and celebrations, children doing well, perhaps his family business suddenly broke through. One can only imagine, but it was something people took notice of. But there are three blessings I see here in the scriptures about Obed-Edom, because of the Ark.

  1. God Blessed His Sons – One of the ways God blessed Obed-Edom was in giving him many sons—eight to be exact. 1 Chronicles 26:4–8   Moreover the sons of Obed-Edom were Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sacar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth; for God blessed him.Also to Shemaiah his son were sons born who governed their fathers’ houses, because they were men of great ability. The sons of Shemaiah were Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad, whose brothers Elihu and Semachiah were able men. His sons were men of great ability and able men. The bible does not embellish. So, if the bible says some men were men of great ability, then they were exceptional. This word is the word we use when we say a ‘Mighty Man of Valour’. They were mighty men of valour. They were men of חַיִל ḥaiyl; probably a force, whether of men, means or other resources; an army, wealth, virtue, valour, strength. They were definitely not insignificant. The bible says they were ‘able’ men. Again it is the same word, Haiyl, strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army strength ability, efficiency, wealth, force, army! Let’s just say these men were men of incredible stature!
  2. God Blessed His Grandsons – Apart from his eight sons, he had a total of 62 men in his family as at the time of recording this scripture. Sons and grandsons. The bible described these 62 men as ‘able men with strength for the work’! These men had another quality, they had KOACH meaning firm; vigor, literally (force, in a good or a bad sense) or figuratively (capacity, means, produce); also (from its hardiness)— ability, able, force, fruits, might, power(-ful), strength, substance, wealth. So, this blessing was not confined to one generation, it became multi-generational. That is just so like God. To bless your descendants for your faithfulness. Remember the Ark was only in Obed-Edom’s house for just three months, but the effect of the Ark lingered for possible eternity.
  3. God Blessed His Lineage Forever – I will not treat this in this post, but will look at it as a post all by itself, because it deserves such major attention. Just a little teaser. How does a Philistine from Gath (Goliath came from Gath), end up in Jerusalem and in the tabernacle as one of the appointed Levitical priests in Israel? This is a most intriguing question and I promise I will do my best to answer it.

To conclude today, I think we can safely say a few things. God’s blessing truly makes one rich and add no sorrows to it. The little inconvenience we sometimes endure to serve God, may be working for us a far weightier glory that we can ever imagine. The blessings of God are generational. What you do for God in one generation can keep yielding fruit of blessings in many generations to come. Like God promised that He would bless up to a thousand generations of those who love and serve Him.

With a logical mind, I want to say Obed-Edom was most likely inconvenienced for just three months and he ended up with a blessing that would last forever.

Contrast that to the house of Abinadab, over 20 years with the ark and no visible impact, or an even more interesting one. The man who refused Jesus’ parents room in his Inn. What a great miss? I like to think. What would have happened to that hotel? Would it probably not be the most sought-after hotel room in the world today. What revenues would have come into this family? Today we don’t even know who the man was or his family?

We really need to pray: Father God, please do not let me miss my day or hour of visitation. Help me to always remember that a little right act can lead to a generational blessing. Help me to be willing to be inconvenienced to serve you, so that I will not forfeit a blessing you had reserved for me. Lord thank you for discernment and discretion in my life. In Jesus name we have prayed. Amen.

Obed-Edom – Part 4 – Why Uzzah? Why?

7 Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. 2 Samuel 6:7

Reading the comments on ‘poor Uzzah’ and the seeming severity of God’s apparent swift judgement on Uzzah, I decided to spend an extra day on exploring the story of Uzzah and see if we can learn something fresh from this rather tragic story. (This is a long read, so get a cup of tea!)

I want to start with a few statements. God is never unjust. God is never vindictive. God never does evil. God’s actions are always full of integrity. God always does right. Let’s settle this. Having established this, we can move forward without risking irreverence and blaming God.

Who was Uzzah? Uzzah (his name simply means strength). Knowing the Israelites always name their children like most Africans, based on prophetic revelation of something they perceive as a feature of the child, Uzzah must have had some type of strength or was a strong guy), we will leave that for now. He was one of three sons of Abinadab. (Ahio, Uzzah and Eleazer). Who was Abinadab? Abinadab was a Levite who lived in Kirjath-Jearim.

How did the ark end up in the house of Abinadab on top of the hill? Due to the apostasy of Israel, the Philistines captured the Ark for seven months, God plagued the Philistines and they wanted nothing to do with the Ark anymore. They returned the Ark to Israel on a cart driven by oxen. The Ark arrives in a place called Beth-Shemesh (House of the Sun). The oxen of their own accord brought the Ark to Beth Shemesh and the people of Beth Shemesh were so happy to see the Ark. The Levites came and took the Ark down and set it up and sacrificed before the ark. Then, the men of Beth-Shemesh looked into the Ark and God struck them, a total of 50,070 men died as a result of this irreverence. Please take note of that number. They then sent for the men of Kirjath-jearim and they brought it to the house of Abinadab, then they consecrated one of his sons, Eleazar to keep the ark.

Now this is where the story picks up. The ark was in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years.

He had a son named Eleazar (God is my helper), who was consecrated and set aside for the care of the ark? Why was he not involved with bringing the ark into Jerusalem? Why was it Ahio and Uzzah his brothers, who now took charge? Did they have a conflict? Did Eleazar warn them not to do it the way they chose to? What happened? We can’t say for sure.

One thing we know for certain is that God judged Uzzah for his error.

Uzzah had the ark in his father’s house for 20 years. Had he been irreverent towards the ark? Remember he was not consecrated to look after the ark. Was he too familiar with the ark that he had lost the awe the ark demands? They say familiarity breeds contempt! Did he muscle his way into this position, pushing his brother aside? Remember this was a very big event. All the important men of Israel were assembled. Did he advice king David to use the methods of the Philistines, cart and oxen to move the ark, because if he had followed the prescribed order, he would definitely not feature in the procession?

One can only wonder and ponder. What really happened is in the realms of mystery until God decides he wants us to know

. I am particularly intrigued by the simple fact that the Ark was in their house for 20 years and nothing was mentioned about the house being blessed. Contrast that to Obed-Edom who only had the ark for 3 months and his house was blessed.

Is this an indication that they were irreverent, though, Eleazar appeared to have done his work well, perhaps the other brothers were definitely not as dedicated and clearly, not consecrated. Why did they choose Eleazar to look after the Ark among the three brothers? These are questions that begin to give us a clue.

I want to make some personal assumptions here.

1. Uzzah must have been a forceful guy, strong man. The Ark was supposed to be carried by 4 priests on their shoulders. Uzzah was going to carry the ark alone. Hmm!  The Ark weighed quite a bit, enough to warrant four men carrying it.

2. He was most likely a man who used the flesh and fleshly means a lot. How did he take the place of his anointed and consecrated brother?

3. He must have been over familiar with the ark. (Like some say, he had began to treat the Almighty God like his buddy). God loving us and condescending to behold us, does not and can never give us the license to dishonour Him. Whatever you do, never dishonour God. It cost Moses the promised land. It caused the death or Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu. God must always be honoured and hallowed.

4. He touched the ark, which was strictly forbidden. At this stage, it is a culmination of many acts irreverence and willful, fleshly attempts to help God. Before the Ark came to their house, Uzzah must have known that the Philistines were seriously plagued and the over 50,000 men of Beth Shemesh were killed for looking into the Ark. Where did his fear of God go?

5. If God struck him for his error. God saw what we did not see. God sees beyond external actions; he sees the state of the heart. What was in Uzzah’s heart when he touched the ark?

I saw this entry by Pastor Francis Chan and thought I align with his perspective, so I have reproduced it here (I hope he does not mind).

“To us, many situations in Scripture involve a punishment that was too severe for the crime. But why do we feel this way?

We don’t understand what it means for something to be “sacred.” We live in a human-centered world among people who see themselves as the highest authority. We are quick to say things like “That isn’t fair!” because we believe we deserve certain rights as humans. Yet we give little thought to the rights God deserves as God. Even in the Church we can act as though God’s actions should revolve around us. The stories in Scripture are meant to show us that there exists something of greater value than our existence and rights. There are things that belong to God. Sacred things. His ark of the covenant, His command to Moses, His offerings in the temple, His Holy Spirit, His Holy Communion, His sacred Church. In all the above situations, people rushed into something sacred and paid the price. We shouldn’t be surprised; we should be humbled. We have all done things more irreverent than those mentioned above. Let’s thank God for His mercy and tread more carefully into sacred matters.”

Francis Chan, Letters to the Church (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2018).

What can we learn from this tragedy?

1.       We must always do our best to let the Holy Spirit lead and we should depend of God’s Spirit for God’s work. The arm of flesh will fail. It is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.

2.       Let’s not get too familiar with God that we lose our fear of Him. I mean reverential fear of God. Because God loves us does not mean will not judge us. We have to remember that God has absolute integrity. We must remember the basis on which we stand in His presence. It is the blood of Jesus alone and may we never lose sight of that and begin to think that we have some type of privileges because we did somethings for God.

3.       We live in the dispensation of grace, but it is never a license to sin. Quite the opposite. Grace empowers you to live right and to shun sin. I said this to answer those who say, ‘that was God in the Old Testament’. God has not changed. He remains the same. Let us not abuse His grace. I love the grace of God. It is why I am who I am. I will always depend and draw on His grace, but may I never take the grace for granted.

4.       God striking only Uzzah and not the entire procession is an act of both His mercy and grace. By the mercies of God, we are not consumed. The Hebrew description of how God dealt with Uzzah implied Uzzah basically exploded. So, God restrained himself to one man, perhaps the one man who truly initiated the error. He covered the rest of the 29,999 men and gave them an opportunity to get it right. Thank God for His mercy!!!

5.       Today we can walk in liberty and freedom, because the blood of Jesus has been shed for us. The provision of the blood of Jesus precedes all our predicaments. All our sins. All our errors. This is mercy. But the blood also releases God’s abundant grace, so we are empowered to avoid costly errors. (We shall explore this deeper soon).

Finally, a view of the Cross is important here. Jesus was sinless. He took upon himself the sin of man. God released the full punishment upon Jesus for our sins, in order to fulfil His righteous judgement, yet in the same act, he protected us from His wrath, absorbed our punishment, whilst extending mercy and grace to us. That is why, to ignore the Cross of Jesus, and refuse its provisions, is to tell God he does not know what He is doing. That is why, the bible says in John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Let Us Pray: (Make it personal today) Lord help me to always honour You and revere You! Help me never to become too familiar with You that I lose the sense of Your Awesomeness. Help me to always remember to ask for the help of The Helper, The Holy Spirit, so I am not operating in the flesh. Let me always remember the provision of the cross and appropriate both the mercy and grace it provided for me. Thank You for the continuous speaking of the blood of Jesus for me. Amen

Obed-Edom – Part 3 – God is Holy! Holy! Holy!

2 Samuel 6:3 So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new [c]cart.

Today, we will look at another aspect from the story of Obed-Edom, but not focusing on him as the hero of our story today. But like I said from the previous entries on this man, there is a lot to learn.

Good ideas. How many good ideas have ended up in disaster?

This was one of those moments in history when a good idea was just not good enough. This all started out very well. David had decided the Ark of the Covenant needed to be close to him in Jerusalem. He was convinced it was the best thing for him and the nation. Nothing wrong with desiring deeply the presence of God and wanting closer proximity to God.

So, David assembled 30,000 choice men of Israel, great number of musicians, with a diverse array of instruments of fir wood,  harps, stringed instruments, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals. Knowing David’s love for music and worship, this must have been a great day. They proceeded to bringing the Ark out of the house of Abinadab, with his two sons Ahio and Uzzah in charge. They put the Ark on a new cart and got oxen to pull the cart with the Ark on it.

It all looked very well planned and excellently executed. Then, disaster struck. They came to Nachon’s  threshing floor, the oxen stumbled, it appears the Ark was going to fall off the cart, and Uzzah reached out his hands to steady the ark. Then the bible records that God struck Uzzah for his error and he died there by the Ark of God. Very sad indeed.

I have often read this story and felt this was severe. You feel sorry for Uzzah, because he was only trying to help. His intentions were noble or so it seems, until you read the scriptures carefully again. The bible says Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his [e]error; and he died there by the ark of God.”

God struck him for his error! Error?  What was the error?

The entire procession was wrong. The error started way before the oxen stumbled and Uzzah took hold of the ark. It started with not consulting the Lord on how the ark should be moved, not following God’s prescribed order and process, not allowing the designated people to carry the ark. God had stated in  many verses of the bible, Exodus 25:14, Numbers 4:15, 7:9, how the Ark must be moved. Not on a cart, not a cart driven by oxen (that came from the Philistines), but on the shoulders of specially dedicated men, Levites, who were to use golden poles to carry the Ark on their shoulders. No one, absolutely no one was allowed to touch the ark. Not even the Levites. This was the error that culminated in the death of Uzzah.

Hear what David said later on, once he realized his error.

1 Chronicles 15:2 –  Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” 

11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; [b]sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. 13 For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him [c]about the proper order.”

14 So the priests and the Levites [d]sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.

What can we learn from this story?

Good intentions may not necessarily be God’s intention. Good ideas may not be God’s ideas. God is Holy. God is Holy! Holy! Holy! He is the Sovereign of the Universe. He is the only Potentate! If earthly kings have protocols, should not the Monarch of the Universe, The Creator of Heaven and Earth have protocols?

Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

This leads me to a point of reflection. As a Christian, we are called to follow the Lord and walk by His word. There seems to be a lot of ideas and practices that believers follow and carry out today that are not based on God’s word, but are simply traditions of men or at best good ideas. We need to be very careful; we are not doing what we feel God wants, not what He prescribed. We must do what God wants, not what we think He wants. A good idea may not be a God Idea. Be careful of good ideas that God did not request. – 1 Sam 15:22 – Obedience is better than sacrifice.

Jesus said in John 14:6 – I  am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.

Acts 4:10-12 “…let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

God has His prescription for humanity and all good ideas are dead in the water. Only what He prescribed will adequately deal with the dilemma of humanity. Jesus is not one of the ways, He is the Only way!

Let’s Pray: Father God please forgive us for our assumptions that we know what you want. Forgive us for pushing men’s ideas as Your ideas. Please help us to seek Your counsel and ask for Your pathways. Grant us the grace to retrace our steps where we may have gone wrong. Above all today, help us to recognize afresh, that You are Holy! Holy! Holy! In Jesus name we have prayed. Amen

Obed Edom – The Right Man in the Right Place with the Right Attitude – Part 2

So David would not move the ark of the Lord with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.  2 Sam 6:10

There are moments in God, that He draws you closer and reveals life altering truths to you. These moments need to be treasured and not glossed over. I was listening to my wife speak on a certain day and she mentioned Obed Edom and the Ark in an illustration and right there and then, the Lord arrested my wandering mind and heart. He basically told me the story of Obed Edom is pivotal for these days and I was to study him. So, I am sharing what I have gleaned from the life of this unusual character in the bible.

The Ark of the covenant had been in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years. Nothing was reported about God’s interaction with Abinadab and his family, yet the ark was in Obed Edom’s house for three months and God blessed him and all that was his.

I have a few thoughts to share with us in this second part.

How did the ark coming to Obed Edom disrupt his life? What adjustments would he have made? Did he have time to prepare?

  1. Where did they place the Ark in his house? Was the Ark now in His living Room? Meaning it became the center of all their attention. Or did he give up his bedroom for the Ark to have a resting place.
  2. How did he reorganize his house and family to look after the ark? In what ways was the family life and routines disrupted to host the Ark for the three month? Did they develop a new family rota, involving Obed-Edom and his sons, taking turns to watch over the ark?
  3. How did they deal with the stigma of hosting the Ark? Remember everybody was afraid of the Ark and feared it. So, most of their friends and family would probably have skillfully avoided going to visit the house of Obed-Edom.
  4. Knowing the sanctity of the Ark and the power it carried, how did they deal with holiness issues in the household, knowing God could break out against sin anytime? Did they have to sacrifice animals and apply the blood every day to cover for errors? What did that cost the family?

Just a few questions to ponder. But allow me just a short observation.

God is never a convenient alternative. God is always the only viable option and allowing God into your life will mean radical changes. We are in danger of believing that God must work in our own ways and His dealings will suit our lifestyles. That is an error. God will disrupt your cozy life, albeit for the better. God will take center stage. God is not as interested in your comfort as he is in your character development. God on our own terms is idolatory and not worship. God on His own terms is the foundation of true worship. God is number one and no one or nothing can or should take His place.

Jesus coming to redeem us was not a convenient exercise. The cross was not comfortable. Far from it. His humiliation, condescension, crucifixion were all deeply painful and challenging. But He willingly endured for our sakes. Thank you, Lord!

Obed Edom was willing to alter His life, be inconvenienced and make sacrifices for accepting to host the Ark. Do you now he had no idea how long the ark will be with his family?

So, we also must be clear that when God calls us or we have to host the glory of God, it will never be convenient, comfortable or on our own terms. We must be ready to make room for Him and remain joyful for the opportunity to serve the owner of everything including our own lives.

Any wonder why God blessed him and all that was his.

Tomorrow, we will go a bit deeper and consider this matter from another angle. Have you ever considered the Inn Keeper that refused the parents of Jesus a birth place in his hotel? Was he wise or foolish?

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, help us never to allow the error of convenience rob us of the immense benefits of serving you. Help us to learn from this man Obed Edom and help us to be willing to make any sacrifice to accommodate You. Lord Here Am I. Hineni Adonai. Thank you for grace! Amen.