Friday, April 25, 2008
IT IS NECESSARY FOR THE MAN OF GOD TO PREPARE HIMSELF WELL TO BE ABLE TO RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE WORD OF TRUTH. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT REV ESUOLA IS DOING AT HIS OFFICE SO THAT LIFE CAN BE IMPARTED INTO THE CHURCH. JOIN US AT OUR SERVICES TO ENJOY THE LIFE TRANSFORMING MESSAGES FROM THE PULPIT OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OYO.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
EXPLORING THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Written by – Rev Dele Kolade
This material is the sole property of the GLOBAL DELIVERANCE TEAM (GLODET). Unless special permission is given by the president, it must not be recopied by any means by anybody.
EXPLORING SPIRITUAL GIFTS
The body of Christ primary function through the divers grace given gifts she is blessed with. The ministry role of believers in the church is rooted in spiritual gifts. The church cannot actively function according to the divine structure unless we acknowledge the spiritual giftedness of the members. The scope of this study is (therefore) to dispel ignorance concerning spiritual gifts and to help participants discover and rightly use their God’s given gift of grace.
As our working definition, spiritual gifts are special abilities given by Christ through the Holy Spirit to empower believers for the body ministry. Since the gifts are given by Christ through the Holy Spirit, we shall do well to locate the unfolding presence, power and actions of the Holy Spirit through ages:
HOLY SPIRIT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT ERA
- His presence and action in creation – Gen. 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void;…and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water.” It is interesting that the Scriptures began with the fact of the active presence of the Holy Spirit right in creation. When the beginning began, it met the Holy Spirit already in existence and at work. In the episode of creation, He was actively present. He is indeed God in action.
- He was the Old Testament Instructor of the saints. Neh. 9:20 “Thou gavest also thy good Spirit to instruct them…” Israel as a nation was distinct from any other nations in that they had divine instruction and direction through the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Old Testament church had the Holy Spirit as her instructor.
- Spirit’s unction for function – Jud. 3:10 “And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he judged Israel…” The Holy Spirit enabled men and women in the Old Testament to function in various capacities. The anointing of the Spirit is not new, it has been active through ages in fulfilling divine counsel, through men and women of faith.
- Holy Spirit equipped people in the Old Testament for vocational and creative abilities – Ex. 31:1-4 “And the Lord spake to Moses saying see I have called by name Bezaleel…and I have filled him with the Spirit of God…in all manner of workmanship.” The Holy Spirit is an expert in every field. Apart from “Spiritually” oriented functions, he also equipped people to variously function in other aspects of life sometimes considered secular.
- Holy Spirit, the life changer – 1 Sam. 10:6 “And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee…and shalt be turned into another man.” There is no person in the scriptures who had encounter with the Holy Spirit that did not experience radical change of life.
From the New Testament era, the activities of the Holy Spirit has become pronounced. Many scholars of the scriptures has described this age as the age of the great manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Some of activities of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament include the following:
- Holy Spirit, the revealer of divine mysteries. 1 Cor. 2:10 “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” It is clearly evident that the Holy Spirit unveils the counsel and the mysteries of God to the saints.
- He convicts us of sin. Acts 2:37 “Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart and said unto Peter and brethren, what shall we do? Jn. 16:8 “And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin.”
- The Holy Spirit regenerates life. Titus 3:5 “…by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” 2 Cor. 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all this are become new.”
- Holy Spirit is our witness. Rom. 9:1 “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” Rom. 8:16 “The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.”
- Holy Spirit adopts us unto God’s family. Gal. 4:6 “And because ye are sons, God hath senth forth the Spirit of his son into your hearts, crying Abba father” (Rom. 8:15).
- He delivers us from the curse of law of sin and death. Rom 8:2 “For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath sep me free from the law of sin and death”.
- Helps us in prayer. Rom. 8:26-27 “Likewise the spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought…” (Jude 1:20. Zech. 12:10)
- He fills us with Joy Peace and boldness. Rom. 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (2 Tim 1:17).
- Holy Spirit; our sanctifier. 1 Pet. 1:22 “Seeing ye have purified our soul in obeying the truth through the Spirit into unfeigned love of the brethren…” 2 Thess. 2:13 “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit…” (Rom. 15:16, Rom. 1:4).
- He will quicken our mortal bodies. Rom. 8:11 “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
- He is our comforter. Jn. 14:26 “But the comforter, which is the holy Ghost whom the father will send in my name…”
- He intercedes for the Saints. Rom. 8:27 “…because He maketh intercession for the saint according to the will of God.”
- He teaches. Jn. 14:26 “…He shall teach you all things…”
- He empowers believers. Lk 24:49 “…tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endowed with power from on High” (Acts 1:8).
- He confirms the gospel. Heb. 2:3-4 “…God also bearing them witness, both with sign and wonders and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost according to His own will.”
- Fills believers with love. Rom. 5:5 “…because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
- He justifies. 1 Cor. 6:11 “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God”.
- He seals us till the day of redemption. Eph. 4:30 “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” Eph. 1:13 “…ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.”
- Holy ghost commissions. Acts 13:2 “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them.”
- Helps us to bear fruit. Gal. 5:22-23.
- He inspires worship and adoration of God. Jn. 4:23-24, Phil. 3:3.
- He puts Satan to flight. Jn. 4:7
- He authored the scriptures. 2 Pet. 1:20-21
- He interprets the scriptures. Jn. 16:14.
FOUNDATIONAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
It is necessary that we set the paradigm of understanding the gifts of the Holy Spirit right so us as to have sound and firm foundation. We should keep in mind that it is our understanding that determines ours standing. To have a right and strong standing, we must have a right understanding. The following truths are fundamental to a right discovery and use of the gifts that we are studying.
- As you are born of the Spirit you must be filled with the spirit to be able to manifest spiritual gift. As it was necessary for the disciples to tarry at Jerusalem to be endued with the spirit power in order to be effective witnesses for Christ, you must also be clothed with the same power to be able to function effectively for Christ. Let’s explore the following scriptures together: Jn 14:17, Acts 2:38, Acts 8:14-17, Acts 19:1-6.
- Spiritual gifts are “given” and not won. It must be well understood that the prerogative of whom to be given what gift rest solely on the Christ/the Holy Spirit Himself. 1 Cor. 12:11, Heb. 2:4. nevertheless, spiritual gifts can be desired genuinely by believers (1 Cor. 12:31). The place of impartation of the gifts by a spirit led minister can also not be ruled out (2 Tim 1:6).
- Gifts operate at different levels depending on the unction given and the level of faith of the recipient of the gifts Rom. 12:6.
- There are differences or varieties in spiritual gifts, meaning that we are variously gifted. No Christian is a carbon copy of another (Rom. 12:6-8, 1 Cor.12:7-11). There is no one who is a member of the body of Christ that does not have a gift. The use of the Greek word ‘hekasto’ really means ‘each’ of us is gifted.
- Apart from the fact that there are diversity of gifts – that gifts differ from one another, they also fall into distinct categories. The Greek pronouns “allo” and “hetero” translated another in 1 Cor. 12:8-10 clearly shows the three categories of the listed gifts marked off by the twofold occurrence of “hetero” (“allo” – another of the same kind, “hetero” another of a different kind). In this sense, spiritual gifts can be categorized into groups like: power, utterance, revelation, and auxiliary.
- The concept of differences in administration of the gifts must also be well understood and appreciated (1 Cor. 12:5-6). It is possible for two people to have the same kind of a gift of the Spirit but operate and administer it differently. That we have the same kind of a gift of the Spirit does not mean we must administer it exactly the same way. Nevertheless, all operations and administrations must be in agreement with the written word of God.
- The manifestation of the gift of the spirit is what brings the profit to the recipient of the gift and the entire body of Christ at large. A gift that is discovered and developed but not deployed will soon be “destroyed” (1 Cor. 12:7).
The Greek’s noun “phanerosis” translated “manifestations” can literally render the text “To each one the Spirit – produced exhibition is given” especially if it is seen as subjective genitive of “tou pneumatos.” It can also be rendered as “Gifted individuals show forth the Holy Spirit through their charismatic acts.” If it is seen as objective genitive of “tou pneumatos.” The principal thought conveyed through the use of “phanerosis” is the element of display – an outgoing activity that touches other lives. The idea is that the manifestation must be seen, head or in some manner experienced by at least one person other than the gifted one. The manifestation is “of the spirit” and must be for the common good.
There is the possibility of having dormant spiritual gifts in some people and this is not the full counsel of God. We must bear in mind that spiritual gifts are not just for ‘knowing’ but also for ‘using’.
- The believer has the responsibility to seek to develop and enhance his/her spiritual gifts. Through spiritual exercises, right association with other gifted people of God, service in the house of God, and faithfulness to God, the disciple can enhance him/herself in the particular area of giftedness. There is the need to “stir up” or “fan to flame” the gifts of the spirit that you have (2 Tim. 1:6). It will be improper to neglect the gift of God in one’s life (1 Tim. 4:14).
- The under girding principle for using the gifts should be the motive of love. If we seek to discover gift without the motive of love, even our seeking will be hindered. Gift and ministries without love are worth nothing. ( 1Cor 13:1-3).
- Gifts are better discovered and enhanced in the chamber of prayer. you do not have because you do not ask (Jam. 4:2). We should ask in prayer for good gifts (Lk. 11:13) and God is committed to answering us if we ask according to His will (1 Jn. 5:14).
Apart from the foundational thoughts about the discovery and use of the spiritual gift, the gifted believer must equally beware of the following pitfalls in the exercise of spiritual gifts.
- Gift projection syndrome – This is a situation where Christians who think their particular gifts are more important project these gifts outwardly to make others feel inferior to them (1 Cor. 12:14-20).
- Gift denigration – this is a “put him down syndrome.” Some members of the church that are regarded “weak” or “feeble” may be looked at like having no significant gift and the overly confident and overly independent members may fail to see how much they need to be ministered to by the so called weaker members (1 Cor. 12:21-25).
- Over-Individualization – That the gifts are given to the individual does not mean they are given for private use. Gifts are given for the common good and the edification of the entire body of Christ. The community of faith must act as the controlling context for the exercise of spiritual gifts. The kind of spiritual maturity encouraged is maturity in community and not maturity in isolation (Eph. 4:12-13).
- Consumer mentality syndrome – There is the danger of “parasitism” – a situation where some believers only think of receiving and never giving. There are contexts where only pastors are the performers and the members are spectators. This mentality must be discouraged and all members must see themselves as contributors and participants.
- Institutionalism – One of the problems the church faced before the sixteenth century reformation was that some of the gifts became associated only with the clergy consequently rendering church members passive and uninvolved. Through leadership legalism in the church, the danger is still very much there today that some gift may be discounted by the leaders in the church.
- Rationalism _ The liberalizing trends of the 18th century is playing down the supernatural elements of the Christian faith. The problem with many is that they equate spiritual gifts with natural aptitude and talents. This problem of rationalism has partly made some conclude that power and revelation gifts are no more in existence today.
- Emotionalism – This is another extreme situation where the gifted person focuses attention more on personal experience rather than the objective dictates of the scripture. Charismatism and Pentecostalism face more problem of emotionalism than any other groups of believers.
For the purpose of clarity, the gifts of the Spirit shall be discussed under four categorizations. It must be well stated here that the identified gifts under these headings may not be exhaustive of all the gifts in the new testament but that there is no gift aside these can not fit into those so identified. In each of the gift observed, a definition of the gift will be given, scriptural explanation, characteristics of the user and potential pitfalls.
REVELATORY GIFTS 1COR. 12:4-11
A. WORD OF KNOWLEDGE – Bob Whitaker is right in describing this gift in the following words “Is not about intellectual ability or learning; it is an inner knowing or intuition such as was seen in Jesus ministry when he knew what his critics were thinking, feeling or plotting and then spoke in response as though he had read their minds” (Mk. 2:8, Lk 6:8, 7:36-47;9:47). The Greek word used to describe this gift literally mean “deep knowing.” It must be understood that this kind of knowledge is not parallel to that special revelation of the Bible. It is not intended to add to the scriptures. This is a divine, special, and supernatural revelation of facts through the Holy Ghost, about situation, people or thing which otherwise or depending upon carnal mind could not have been known. Lets examine the following scriptures to know the gift better: Gen. 2:21-23, Acts 5:1-4, Lk 4:17-19, 2 Kgs 5:20-27, 2Kg 6:32-33, Jn 4:17-18.
The pitfalls to beware of as a recipient of this gift is the tendency to become puffed up because of insights discerned and messages revealed. The other danger is communicating publicly a word of knowledge that was meant to be private. Some may even go the extreme by faking the word of knowledge when no revelation has come.
B. WORD OF WISDOM
This is a special spirit given ability to see situations and issues from God’s perspective and to apply God-given insight to specific areas of need.
Genesis 41 presents a good example of the demonstration of this gift. In Jesus’ ministry, the word of wisdom shone through in the perspective answers he gave those who tried to implicate him (Matt. 21:23-27; 22:23-33, Lk. 20:20-26). The recipient of this gift is able to apply spiritual knowledge in practical ways. Solomon sorting out the quarrel between the two women fighting over the living baby is another good example of the demonstration of this gift. The recipient of the gift are usually good as a member of a counseling team and can guide the church through a troublesome time.
The dangers potentially inherent in the use of the gift is the tendency for the user to become over confident, think of himself more highly than he ought to or become impatient with those who do not listen to his/her sayings.
C. DISCERNING OF THE SPIRIT.
This is a special Spirit-ability to distinguish or differentiate between spirits. Put in a different way, it is the ability to know whether a particular word, action or motive has its source in God, sinful flesh or Satan. Let’s explore the following passages of the scripture to understand the operation of this gift better: Matt. 16:23, Acts 8:9-25; 16:16-18, 1Tim. 4:1, 2Pet. 2:1-2, 1Thess. 5:21.
The potential liabilities of this gift include tendency for the user to become overzealous heresy hunter, overcritical about everything or withdraw from church to church.
A.GIFT OF FAITH 1 COR. 12:9 – The gift of faith is the first gift in the category of the power gifts and it provides the unifying factor in this new group. The gift of faith is not the same as the saving faith possessed by every Christian (Rom. 3:22; 5:1). It is a special Spirit-given ability to know with certainty that God wills to do something and is certain to do it. Simply put, knowing what God want to do, coupled with the utter confidence that He will do it. Let’s observe the manifestations of this gift from the scriptures: Gen. 22:8, Jn. 11:23, Matt. 14:29, Acts 27:21-26. the potential problem usually associated with people operating this gift is the tendency to exercise the gift without love (1 Cor. 13:2) or be impatient with those who are quite cautious.
B. GIFTS OF HEALINGS
It is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to serve as an instrument to bring physical, emotional and spiritual healing in an extraordinary way. What should be specially noted in regards to this gifts is the plural words used, and this suggests a variety of abilities relating to various maladies and diseases, 38 recorded scenes of healing in Jesus’ earthly ministry is given in the New Testament and 17 in the book of Acts by Apostle Paul and others. It is epistemologically fraudulent for anyone to conclude that this gift has seized. Let’s explore the scriptures: Ex. 15:26; 23:25, Ps. 103:3, Matt. 9:35, Mk. 6:56, Acts 10:38, Heb. 2:4, 2Kg 20:1-7, 1Tim. 5:23, Jn 14:11-14. the identified liabilities of the person’s using the gift include:
· Trying to heal at any time without discerning spirit guidance
· Use of rigid methods not confirmed in the scriptures
· Making healing dependent on the sick person’s faith
· Becoming impatient when healing does not happen.
C.WORKINGS OF MIRACLES – 1 Cor. 12:10
This is a display of divine extraordinary power, overturning the law of nature to express the power and presence of God in the affairs of man. We are still very much in the age of the miraculous and there are men and women of faith so gifted in this display of God’s power. The following scriptural texts attest to the demonstration of this gift. Acts 13:8-11, Acts 2:22, Mk. 6:2, Lk. 10:13, Gal. 3:5, 2Cor. 12:12, Matt. 12:28, Jn. 2:1-10, Mk.. 4:35-41, Mk 5:21-43, Lk 7:11-17, Jn. 14:12-14, Heb. 2:3-4. exorcism of demons is within the context of the gift of workings of miracles.
The potential liabilities of the user of this gift include the tendency to want to operate without Spirit guidance and taking personal credit for what really belong to God
- GIFT OF PROPHECY – 1Cor 12, 1 Thess. 5:20, Matt. 7:15-16
This is a special spirit-given ability to receive and communicate a message from God so that believers may be edified, encouraged and convinced 1 Cor 14:3-5. prophecy has a dual nature of revelation and utterance. The Greek word for prophecy literally means “to speak forth.” There is the dimension of “forth telling” and the “fore telling” Acts 11:27-28; 21:10-11; 13:1-3, 1 Tim. 1:18, Rev. 1:3, Rom. 12:8. prophecy is in three dimensions of “edification,” “encouragement” and “consolation” (counseling) 1 Cor. 14:3,9. That you have the gift of prophecy does not necessarily mean that you are a prophet. The pitfalls to watch out for include:
- Deviation from the scripture
- Being too blunt or ministering without wisdom
Prophecies must be tested using scriptural litmus Deut. 18:20-22
B. DIVERS KINDS OF TONGUES – This gift seems to be the most controversial among all the gifts of the spirit. If this gift is not put in the right perspective it can be disruptive and divisive. It can simply be put as a special spirit-given ability to speak in utterances previously unknown or unlearnt by the speaker. You should take a special look at the plural form it is put in 1 Corinthians 12. From the text of the scripture the following should be observed:
· 120 believers spoke in tongues on the Pentecost day Acts 1:15; 2:4.
· Family of Cornelius after responding to Peter’s sermon Acts 10:46.
· A group of Ephesians’ believers Acts 19:6
· Paul also spoke in tongues 1 Cor. 14:5,18
· There is the “tongue” that is solely ministering to God (private).
· There is the “tongue” that is meant for ministering to men. This seems o spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 (public) study 1 Corinthians 14 very carefully.
· Observe the tongues of “men” or of “angels” in 1 Corinthians 13. The person with this gift must beware of:
· Exercising the gift without love
· Making tongues the norm for spiritual maturity
· Using the gift for self glory.
C. INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES 1 Cor. 12:10
This is a special spirit-given ability to interpret into known language a message spoken in tongues. The interpretation may be supplied by the tongue-speaking person (1 Cor. 14:5,13) or by another person (1 Cor. 14:27). When interpretation is given the tongue spoken edifies not only the tongue-speaker but also all who are present. The interpretation may not be word for word translation but rather giving sense of the message. Tongues, once interpreted, are basically equivalent to prophecy. The pitfalls to avoid is giving words not from the Holy Spirit, taking glory for the manifestation of the gift or feeling superior to others who do not have this gift.
A. ADMINISTRATION/LEADERSHIP 1 Cor.12:28, Rom. 12:8
This gift consists of a special skill in administrative direction that enables the gifted one to steer the flock of God into channels of effective service. The Greed word translated administration in 1 Cor. 12:28 means “one who guides or directs towards a goal.” Through the leadership skill the user sees and sets the goals and through the administrative skills he devises the plans to accomplish the goals. Explore the following texts of the Bible: 1 Thess. 5:12, 1Tim. 5:17, 1Pet. 5:2-3, 1Tim. 4:14, Heb. 13:7,17,24. The user of this gift must beware of the tendency for “using” people and thinking of projects and programs more than people.
B. ENCOURAGEMENT/COUNSELLING (Rom. 12:8).
This is the spirit-given ability to effectively encourage, comfort, challenge, or rebuke others to help them live lives worthy of God. The Greek term “parakaleo”, translated encourage in Rom. 12:8 denotes “standing-alongside another person to encourage, support or console as well as to challenge, urge or rebuke, where necessary, for spiritual growth and to spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). For further insight, study: Acts 14:21-22; 4:36; 11:25-26; 13:5; 15:37-39, Lk. 22:32, 2Tim. 4:2 and Jn. 14:16.
The danger are that the user may:
· Create inappropriate dependencies by getting too involved in people’s lives
· Neglect his/her spiritual life in the bid to help others.
C. GIFT OF GIVING (Rom. 12:8)
This is contributing significant personal, and material resources to the Lord’s work. The Greek word used in Rom. 12:8 places emphasis on “giving or sharing of ourselves” as we give. Examples in the scriptures include the poor widow (Lk. 21:1-3), and Dorcas (Acts 9:36-39) 1 Thess. 2:8.
Possible liabilities include
· Being proud of giving
· Condemn those who do not give sacrificially
· Unduly critical of how others spend their money
Spirit given grace to love, welcome and graciously serve guests and strangers so that they feel at home 1 Pet. 4:9-10, Acts 16:15, 1Tim. 3:2; 5:10, 3Jn 5_8, Rom. 16:23.
Potential dangers associate with this gift is the tendency for the user of the gift to allow people take undue advantage of him/her, and also not being able to say no when ought to.
E. SHOWING MERCY (Rom. 12:8)
Ability to feel genuine empathy and compassion for hurting people and translating that feeling into cheerful acts of service. Some dangers of the user include:
· Being over sympathetic without objective censoring
· Over protective of those cared for
· Guided more by feeling and emotion rather than facts and scriptures w.
With what attitude should this gift be used? Rom. 12:8.
Explore the use of this gift from Lk 4-8. what can we learn from Acts 9:36, Lk 6:36 and Jm. 2:15-16, Matt. 25:35-45
This material is the sole property of the GLOBAL DELIVERANCE TEAM (GLODET). Unless special permission is given by the president, it must not be recopied by any means by anybody.
Written by Rev Dele Kolade
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
FROM LEPERS TO HELPERS
(Written by Rev Dele Kolade, Member First Baptist Church Oyo)
How can a horrible terrible negative situation be turned around to become positive and admirable one? What are some of the divine principles to turn our negative situation around for the best? We shall textually explore 11Kgs 6 and 7 to identify the timeless radical revolutionary ideas that will help us unlock the hidden virtues and potential in us which can accelerate our breakthrough, and catapult us to the level God wants us to attain. We shall take a retrospective excursion to (Samaria) the capital of Israel in the days of Elisha the prophet and see how the power of God can turn negative situation to positive one. Come along –
The Shakings are for your Makings – One of the problems we have is getting the right definition of our situation, understanding what we are passing through. Sometimes we wrongly conclude that every negative situation we go through are meant for our destruction, but the truth of the matter is that some shakings are for our makings. Jesus’ comment on the man who was born blind, that his situation was meant to glorify God was not only a misnomer but also a big challenge to the popular worldview of his day. Jesus is by this comment bringing a new perspective to the way we see situations and interpret events. Some seemingly negative situations are meant to accelerate our progress. Some of the challenges you are going through rather position you well to receive the supernatural touch of God. Your current problem makes you the right specimen for miracle. Lets get down to Samaria to x-ray the situation and the intervention.
Besieged but not Deceased – Samaria was besieged by the Syrian army, the resources from the outside seized, and the movement of the people curtailed. The intention of the enemy was not only to limit the people but to also psychologically suffocate them and reduce them to less than nothing. The Samaritans were surrounded but they never surrendered. One good thing about problem is that it help bring out all that is in you. Sometimes when you are confined you are better defined and refined. You can not know all you are capable of doing until you are squeezed beyond your limit. Hunger and sufferings in Samaria revealed the cannibalism in some people, some mothers, in order to survive went as far as eating their own babies. It is problem that can separate disciples from the multitude. Values and morals are better revealed in problem situations.
Why this and why me? – In the midst of problems, actions are taken and questions are asked. The questions of why? become very prominent as people try to understand what is going on with them. One important thing about the Samaria situation is the fact that the problem was not linked to any particular sin of Israel. It was not that they sinned against the Lord that they were besieged. The question of sin is out. There are things you go through that are not as a result of some sins committed. It is good that we ask questions in our problem situation but it is better we wait for divine answers to those questions also.
Intervention by Information – If there will be a release there must first be a decree. Right information is a prelude to transformation. The first verse of the chapter seven introduces a radical transition by an authoritative declaration of the prophet. “Thus says the Lord” is the key to unlocking the transition and the transformation. It doesn’t matter what others says, including your reasoning, what matters most is what the Lord says. What you are saying, what friends are sayings, what doctors and scientists are saying are only hypothesis, its only God who have the final say. What God says will surely stand, and no one can decrease what God decrees. We shall believe the report of the Lord and not the comments of men, for God watches over His words to fulfill them even to the punctuations. Divine submissions may sometimes not fit well into your human “logarithm” of doing things, it can simply blow up your mind. The unnamed senior minister of Samaria who disbelieved was cut off the provision of God because he ignorantly underestimated the divine ability. You can not figure out what God can do or limit Him based on your human understanding. He works beyond the locus of human reason.
Tomorrow by this Time – No matter the situation, if you are by God’s side, there will surely be a dawn of a new era, a new beginning and a turn of the tide. There will be a sanction from heaven, that your sorrow must end with an immediate effect. God gave a 24hour ultimatum to the Samaria’s sorrow, and that settled it. Be rest assured, no matter how humanly absurd it may sound, God will not start a thing He has not finished. What is written in His word is settled and finished already, it is only left for you to proclaim and claim the provisions in His word. God is not limited by time or by space, but because we live in time and space, He has married His purpose with His time. To experience God, you must know Him, know His purpose, and understand His timing. You need to wait for Him for he will not tarry. Hasting brings wasting, but those who know their God will patiently wait on Him for He makes everything beautiful in His time.
Lepers by the Gate – One of the things we do when we encounter difficulties is to compare and complain. We are tempted to think that we are going through the most difficult situation in the world, but the truth of the matter is that we are not alone, there are people with bigger trouble than we have. We have a lot to discover and learn from the situation and action of these 4 lepers by the gate of Samaria. There are some key things we must discover from the lepers before we can recover the divine supplies for us. Lets examine them succinctly –
Ø Their Situation – We must first note that the lepers seem to be the most disadvantaged. They couldn’t stay in the city because they are socially unfit to even stay inside the besieged city. Their problem seem to appear in the capital letters. They are outcast, voiceless, and in human terms most hopeless.
Ø Their Location – The issue of location is of a great importance when it comes to receiving your divine allocation. Transition, and transformation are relevantly related to locations. In human terms, the lepers were in a more dangerous location, giving the fact that they were not within the security of the wall of the city. In reality, although they stand the danger of many things, they were closer to the blessings than those within the walled city. Strangely enough, the first hard lesson we have to learn here is that most of the things that keep us from God’s touch are things that we rather think secure us from danger. We are not yet ready for the divine move until we are ready to let go our “self”, “shell” and “wall”. The confines must be removed to enjoy the divine. There is nothing more limiting than the self made wall we have constructed around our own selves. The threat of the enemies without is not as powerful as the wall we build around ourselves. Deliverance from self is more challenging than deliverance from demons. What you seriously need to urgently discover as an individual is the self made wall you have made around yourself. It may be an ideology or an habit that God will first want you released from.
Ø Their question – The lepers engaged themselves in self interrogative conversation. They questioned themselves, their actions and values. The popular saying that an unevaluated life is not worth living is a strong assertion. You need to ask yourself questions about your values, position and actions. Sameness is a cancer that must be eradicated for progress to commence. Some of the problems we have are problems of the mind and perception. Some of us need a complete overhauling of our worldview, mindset and perception. Why do we do what we do? Why are my not getting results? Instead of asking ourselves questions we are comfortable with shifting blame of our failure on others. Any time there is a problem we tend to immediately look without instead of first looking within. The lepers did well in that they were frank to challenge themselves instead of blaming others for their woes. Their question was not about the city that is closed against them, or the army ahead of them but rather about their own action and position. You are your own biggest enemy, and not until you conquer yourself, you will not be able to move forward.
Ø Their Options – Every day we make choices, and it is these choices we daily make that determines the direction and situation of our lives. The fact still remain that you choose what you become. Even when the beginning is rough, you can maintain the roughness or change the tide with your choices. You can choose to be a looser or choose to be a champion. The lepers had three options, to go back and force their way into the city and die of famine, to sit still and still die or to move on and either be killed by the Syrian army or be spared by them. Usually, in most situations, we are faced with similar options, to move on, go back or do nothing. It will interest you that indecision is also a decision, it means you have chosen to sit still. When you withdraw into yourself the meaning is that you have gone back into the city where you stand the danger of being killed by famine. Some people, when the fall, they make their falling ground to become their burial ground, they throw up their hands and easily give up any attempt to get up and get going. Life is about challenges, options and choices and it is your decision that determines your direction and condition in life.
Ø Their action – We sometimes fail not because of lack of dream or vision but because of lack of action. It is not enough to wish or dream, it is necessary we take action when required. Large number of people are still where they are because they are living in the dream land and busy planning to be and to do without actually reaching out to work out their dreams. Procrastination is a liability that disguises as an asset. It has been described as a thief of time but it is also a destroyer of vision and aspiration. It is a waster that must be fought with all whim. The lepers were not just day dreaming, but in a twilight, they really got up and practically went forward. There is an action the Lord want you to take now and you must discover it NOW!
Ø Their assumption was an Illusion – Do you know that most of what we are afraid of, in reality don’t even exist. What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of being afraid or trying out a new thing? Do you know that those who are afraid of death are not qualified to live? What is stopping you from reaching forth is not in existence, it is a fiction and figment of mere imagination. The reason why you don’t know it does not exist is simply because you have not yet taken a step forward. Your fear will fizzle out as you reach out of your cocoon. Hear this, “And when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria , behold there was no man there”. What a great discovery to the lepers! Your fear do not exist, that is the reality, but it will take a walk of faith forward to discover this. You can not know until you move.
Ø The ally’s Intervention – It is most soothing to know at the time you feel most lonely that afterwards you are not alone. Before you set off the Lord has set in already. In this journey of life, you must know that you are not alone. There is a power beyond you that is around you to both protect and fulfill you. The Lepers were not alone, for the Lord had already fixed the problem before they reached the camp. What was the arrangement here? God made the Syrian go round, gather a lot of resources from nations around, and dump them at Israel’s door. When God sets into a negative situation, He turns it around for our positive promotion.
Ø The Lepers’ Propagation – It is not enough to be blessed by God, the blessing must make you go beyond yourself. Life is what you can give and not just what you can grasp. You must be able to impact others with what you are given by the Lord. Have you ever thought of what you can also share that you are not sharing? You must proclaim what you have discovered, recovered and acquired for the benefit of the whole humanity. Not until you begin to proclaim and impact others you have not yet attained.
STRATEGIC DISCOVERY PRAYERS
Based on what you have learnt so far from the passage, navigate in prayers to appropriate divine touch and blessings in the following prayer points –
ü Lord help me understand who I am and what I am going through currently.
ü Help me see the positives in my negatives
ü Speak into my situation oh Lord!
ü Bring an end to my pain and sorrow.
ü Help me oh Lord to make right decision that will accelerate my breakthrough.
ü Let all set backs of my life become setup for my greater breakthrough.
ü Take me beyond myself and make me positively relevant to others.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH P.O.BOX 9 OYO NIGERIA
(a.k.a SANCTUARY OF PRAISE)
Is one of the oldest Baptist churches of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, founded in 1858 AD and strategically located along Iseyin bye-pass, Isokun Oyo. The evangelistic foundation of the church is traceable to the pioneering work of Rev T.A. Reid (1858-1864), Rev P.A. Eubank (1889-1891), Rev S.G. Pinnock (1891-1909), and the indigenous mission work of Rev J.A Taiwo (1933-1963) and others that followed him.
MISSION AND VISION STATEMENT
The overarching vision of the Church is to seek to reflect God’s eternal purpose in the Church contemporary situation.
The vision of the church shall be fulfilled by seeking to make First Baptist Church :
ü To be a covenant fellowship of Christians empowered by the Holy Spirit to share Christ people in our community, nation and the entire world.
ü To be a worshipping fellowship, experiencing awareness of God, recognizing His holiness and majesty, and responding in joyful and loving obedience to His leadership.
ü To be nurturing fellowship of Christians who experience a growing knowledge of God and man.
ü To be a church whose purpose as individuals and a body is to be Christ-like in our daily living by emphasizing total commitment to life, personality and possessions to the Lordship of Christ.