“Righteousness Exalteth A Nation

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Prov. 14:34
Not too long ago, my two children were travelling alone to a neighboring country for a holiday. Now, that was something like a one-time experience for them, so they were very excited. When they arrived at our side of the border ready to cross over, they were calmly and immediately processed through. When they reached the other country’s border station, just a few feet away, they encountered a totally different experience. The immigration officer there demanded a mandatory inoculation certificate, which was supposed to have been given to them on our country’s side of the border.
My daughter told the officer that she and her brother had forgotten all about it and she asked him to let them go back and take the inoculation.
To which the officer replied that they could not go back because they had now crossed the border. They were now on a one-way ticket, he told them, and there was no turning back. In other words, they were now this immigration officer’s prisoners.
The only way he could help them, he told them, was for them to give him a certain amount of money.
My children love watching detective stories and by now they knew exactly where this was headed. They realised they were trapped. My daughter immediately took out the money and gave it to the officer, and they were let through.
When my daughter later told me this story, I was angry at first. But then the Lord opened my eyes to see the bigger picture and what I ended up with was deep sadness.
I know a thing or two about the country my children were visiting. One of the things that I know is that this country is deeply corrupt. Now, we all know that corruption is everywhere but, by every account, this country has taken corruption to “the next level”. That’s a fact.
The other thing that is open news is that this country is rife with deep internal problems, including racial divisions. Every few years internal wars flare up and people get killed, displaced, etc. Moreover, there are all kinds of problems both in government and within civil society itself. Crime – murders, robberies, etc. – is a byword in this country.
I had never connected the two – until I heard my children’s saga. That was when the Lord opened my eyes to see why a nation that thrives on corruption is going to have all the problems this country has.
In the Old Testament, the Book of Isaiah talks about righteousness probably more than any other book. One of the things we read there is:
“In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.” (Is. 54:14)
That’s basically saying the same thing as our key scripture in Proverbs 14:34. You can pray all you want, you can be the most “Christian” nation on the entire planet; but if you are not walking in righteousness, you will not be established. Just in case you are wondering what the Bible means by “established”, it simply means that the things the Bible talks of here will not be within your borders:
“thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.”
Sometimes we wonder why there are wars and turmoils in certain countries and not in others. Unless it is a clear case of persecution for their Christian faith, the reason, in most cases, is clear: there is no righteousness in these countries. People are corrupt, or they are immoral, or they are anti-God in a variety of ways. That is what we are witnessing in the West also: a rejection of God and an increasingly brazen embracing of immorality. The outcome of these things for a nation is calamity, a broken and hurting society and terror on every side.
Jeremiah 4:2 also says:
“The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.”
Notice that both in Proverbs and in Jeremiah, the Bible speaks about a nation. It is not enough for a nation to call itself a Christian nation. We must work righteousness, and this, for a nation, applies firstly to its government. The first thing, therefore, that believers in every nation should do is to pray for that nation; not that there be no drought or famine or any other calamity; rather, chiefly, that the leaders and the people of that nation might exercise righteousness. That is exactly what the Bible says in 1 Timothy chapter 2 verses 1-4:
“1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Notice, “… first of all”.
Prayers and supplications are to be made for all men, but especially for kings and for all that are in authority (like that immigration officer) – for what purpose?
“… that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
Godliness and honesty within government are the pillars of an established nation.
Let us pray.
“Lord, You reign in righteousness. You love righteousness and you show yourself the protector and defender of all who are righteous. We pray for our nation, Lord, that its people may love righteousness, right from our leaders down to the man in the lowest dungeon so that we in this nation may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. We pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

[Below: A local community meeting in Singida]

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A Life is Required

During his first meeting at the Nairobi Leaders’ Conference tonight Brother Miki Hardy spoke about relationships, drawing from the fact that this was a leaders’ conference, and there is no way we can talk about church leadership without there being true, solid relationships.

He read from Philippians chapter 1 verse Php 1:3-7 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”

Miki said he would be talking on Paul’s words, “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all…”

Paul could not have carried that kind of heart if he had a judgmental, critical attitude. It was not as if the Philippians were perfect. But Paul had faith for them, even if they were weak. He could see ahead and have patience with their weaknesses, trusting God for them. It was the same with his relationship with the Corinthians. Most striking was Paul’s attitude towards the Galatians who had backslidden completely and for whom he had every reason to despair. But we see him willing to start with them from scratch as he declares in Gal 4:19: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you”.

As Miki spoke the Holy Spirit quickened me and I saw clearly why Abraham was called the father of faith. The faith of Abraham had nothing to do with material things! It had a lot to do with his Godly character. It had to do with his being a patient man, as we see him in his dealings with his nephew Lot. He surrendered all his rights to Lot. Abraham’s faith also had much more to do with how we see him sacrificing his life by going to rescue Lot from his captors.

That is what Biblical faith is all about! It is about laying down our lives so that others may gain life! It has nothing to do with material prosperity at all – for those who harbor such thoughts about Abraham’s faith! Personally, I would hate to think that God would consider someone a great man of faith simply because he owned a herd of smelly camels!

I prefer to think that there was something else, much more profound, that made God to consider Abraham a great man of faith. And since God is spirit, that means that Abraham’s faith was spiritual. It had to do with matters of the heart, not material things. Otherwise, scripture would contradict itself!!

I could see that it was for the same reason that Paul, too, became a spiritual father to many, including Timothy. It was not just because he preached to them the gospel, but it was due to the manner of life that he lived among them, being an example himself of the Godly life.

If there is one thing lacking in Church today it is men and women of God who are willing to lay down their lives and be an example for others to follow. There are too many “servants”, but few “fathers”. Fathers give their lives. In many of the cases where preachers decide to become examples it is all in the wrong things: prosperity, success, etc. But Paul became an example in the things that pertain to Godliness. He says in 2Ti 3:10-11: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured…”

If there is a preacher today who can stand up and claim the words of Paul for himself through the life that he lives then we can begin to see the beginnings of the Church of Christ.