The Family

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Col. 3:18-4:1

We should be extremely wary of the flesh, especially in relation to our families. You notice in this scripture that Paul is not talking about relationships within the church, but within the family. And here the Apostle Paul makes it clear that even a servant is a part of the family.

The reason for this need for vigilance is because it is the easiest thing for us to cast ourselves into a mould, where things become ‘normalised’ and we are no longer running the race we have been called to. The whole concept of salvation, including our relationships, is a daily race, and a gritty one. It is a race of the Spirit vs the flesh. But it is with the family that God is most concerned and it is with the family that this race must begin.

My son is a slow learner, and much of the time (at least, according to my estimations) he does things contrary to the instructions I give him.  I am well aware that there was some delay during his delivery and this was what caused his condition. But this knowledge does nothing to calm my high-strung calibre and much of the time, the things that my son does have me clawing up the wall, literally.

And so it was that one day I was watering my garden and I asked him to carefully move the hose for me between the young plants. Instead of picking the part of the hose I had shown him, he picked the wrong one and in the process he ended up breaking one or two of my precious plants.

To talk of a sonic boom here would hardly do credit to the bellow I let out. If you ever saw Disney’s animated “Beauty and the Beast”, well, the Beast’s roars there are a downgraded version of what occurred that afternoon. My son stood still as I went on the warpath and blasted him into Neverland.

But the Lord is good and I thank Him for His mercy towards me. After my son had left the crime scene, the Lord quietly came to me and showed me the rot that was in my heart. As I lay on my bed that the evening, I called my son.

“Joe”, I said, “I want you to forgive me for what I did to you this evening. I am truly sorry and please know that I love you.”

I was sorely tempted to add, “But please, please try harder at doing things right”; but with all the effort I had I bit my tongue and held my peace.

Notice the Bible says, both in Colossians above and in Ephesians 6:4, that fathers should not provoke their children to anger. The Bible here is not talking of the small children that we in our selfishness are wont to spoil. Rather, when children reach a certain age, when they are in their teens, it is the time that their independence begins to assert itself, and it is here that parents need to be very careful to not to stamp out that independence. It is this independence, nurtured in the love of God, that will lead your child on to maturity.

There are any number of scenarios with regard to our lack of vigilance. It is the easiest thing, for example, for the wife or husband to enter into an adulterous relationship with another person, not for any other reason than that they have not been vigilant in their relationship to their spouse. But it requires a daily death to the flesh for that relationship to stay renewed in the Spirit.

The same goes for every other relationship within the family. The parents need to die for their children; and the children, likewise, for their parents. The servant needs the death of the cross to work in him for him to serve his master as he would serve Christ; likewise, the man and woman of the house towards their servant. If the work of the cross is not in them, they can easily look down on or mistreat their servants.

It is the easiest thing for the pastor to run about pastoring everyone else except his family. He never spends time with his wife or children! It is no wonder, therefore, that many pastors today stand accused of having adulterous affairs with other women, because they were unable to pay the price needed to take time with their wives.

It is the easiest thing for the mother to be busy, oh! inviting over and welcoming all those beloved brothers and sisters in Christ – but never having a thought for her children. And the children become rebellious and she wonders why!

It is the easiest thing, as I said, for us to allow the flesh in its various forms to take over control of our families. It is the easiest thing for us to become selfish and to look only to our own interests: the father, to his own pride; the child, his/her own independence, etc. But the Bible in 1 Peter 5:8 says:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…”

It talks about the devil there, but it might as well be talking of our flesh. The flesh is always lying in wait for us, ready at any moment to step in and take control the minute we lose our vigilance. That is why we need to be very vigilant in our relations with our family members.

The church setting is meant to overflow with the love and selfless sacrifice of Christ. And it has to begin with the family. As one of my friends used to say, you cannot jump to No.2 before you are done with No.1. The family is the Number One place where we are required to deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily and to follow Christ.

[My family. The highest responsibility I have is both to my wife and children, to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Eph. 6:4]

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A Message For Today’s Youth

One of the most revolting piece of news that of late has been making headlines in one Western country is the story of an off-duty policeman who was attacked by a group of teens, aged between 13 and 15, as he was arresting one of them for illegally crossing his lawn. The story is accompanied by a video, and in the video one of the teens can actually be seen attacking the policeman. The teen rushes the policeman WWE-style and when he falls down the group of teens surround him. This being the crime-riddled country it has become, it is anybody’s guess what could have followed with an incapacitated cop lying on the ground surrounded by devil-knows-who. But the cop was not willing to wait and find out; instead, he pulled out his gun and fired a warning shot.

When asked why he attacked the policeman, the 13-year boy said that the policeman had cursed his girlfriend!

Tell you what: I couldn’t care. I couldn’t care if the policeman had slapped both this spoiled brat and his so-called girlfriend. The policeman is an adult and he has a right to teach these damaged youths any lesson he deems fit to teach them. That’s what we were taught as children, and I wouldn’t exchange that lesson for any amount of dollars.

The second, even worse thing I read was that people – grown-up people – were protesting in the streets because the policeman fired his gun at those ‘children’. I think there are too many lazy bones in this country. Always on the streets, protesting.

This police officer is a very mature and intelligent man. He did not hurt any one of these youngsters, which he could if he had wanted to. But, talking of their age, I personally couldn’t care what age they were. Considering their lack of discipline and their lack of respect for an adult, I couldn’t care whether they were 10 year olds. In the Bible we read about the Prophet Elisha coming from escorting Elijah as Elijah was taken up into heaven. The Bible says that as Elisha was walking on his way, some rude kids accosted him and began taunting him on account of his baldness. The account reads:

23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” (2 Ki. 2:23-24)

Yes, I know that that is the Old Testament, and I know also that we are living in the New. But this scripture clearly shows us the heart of God (and God never changes). There are some things that God simply does not put up with. We love children, especially little children, don’t we? Well, God killed 42 of them. Yes, 42 “little children”.

I think this country is killing itself. It is killing itself with stupid laws and ungodly attitudes. There are attitudes – and laws – in some countries that are as stupid as stupid can get.

Not too long ago I read also of a pastor in this same country who was arraigned in court for disciplining his own daughter. The charge read that he had choked her. After which she called 911 and the cops came to pick up her father. Her father!!

The judge released the pastor on bond and ordered him not to so much as argue with his daughter!

Seriously, I don’t know what moronic country can create and uphold such laws.

But with this particular case in this country, it is the fact that adults are protesting in favour of spoiled, indisciplined – and violent – teenage brats that is so absolutely stunning. It portrays a total breakdown of societal norms. But, even more dangerously, it goes against the Word of God.

No one loves liberty more than God Himself. And yet God wouldn’t have defended those kids. God would have sided with the police officer. God does not fear or hesitate to use the law when He deems fit. The Bible says that God used the law to curb lawlessness in His people for centuries. Galatians 3:23 says:

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”

And notice, in 1 Timothy 1:8-11:

8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”

In other words, according to the glorious gospel that was committed to Paul, the law is good; and we can see exactly the kind of people it has been set aside for. God recommends the law for people like these ruined teens.

It is therefore against God to support the kind of behaviour that these kids showed to that adult man. This incident will come to haunt these kids – and their parents – in the distant future, if they make it that far. Whatever you sow, you will reap. But remember, you sow the wind, but you will reap the whirlwind.

But God always has a way for His people for He loves them. There is a way out of this cursedness. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:1-3:

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

The Humility of Naaman

Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 2 Ki. 5:14

This is the story of Naaman.

But first… There is a popular story from one of the tribes in our country about a certain elderly man. The story goes that one day, as this man was out herding his cattle in the fields, one of his cows gave birth to a calf. By the time he was ready to take his cattle back home, the new-born calf was strong enough to stand on its own and move about.

The man began walking his cattle home; but now the cow and her young calf would not move from the place they were. The mother’s attention was fixated entirely on her calf, while the calf was entangled about his mother’s legs seeking for her teat. The result was that, as the man tried to shoo both the cow and her calf home, they instead kept turning about in circles.

The man got angry and he began to beat the cow with his herding stick. He kept on beating her mercilessly. By this time, the rest of the herd had put a considerable distance between themselves and the man and his cow. His got more exasperated and he beat the cow even more ruthlessly.

At about that time, a small boy who was about twelve years old came upon the old man punishing his cow. The man was beating the poor beast as if he was on the warpath. The boy observed him for a while. Then he walked up to him and said,

“Excuse me, Sir. Please, Sir, if you would take the calf and carry him in your arms, the mother will follow along.”

The man considered the distance the rest of the herd had moved on and made up his mind. Without further ado, he took the new-born calf in his arms and, to his surprise, the minute he began walking away, the cow swiftly followed along, mooing loudly.

When the man reached home, everyone in his household was surprised to hear him complaining loudly that he could not allow himself to be shamed by a little boy. He kept repeating these words over and over again. As he spoke, he moved about in fast, furious motions, and it was clear to everyone that something deeply unsettling had happened to him. Of course, with the disposition that he was in at that particular moment, no one dared ask him what had befallen him. All they knew was that the father of the house was breathing murder.

Soon afterwards, his lifeless body was found dangling on a rope from one of the trees in his compound. The man, in a blind rage, had gone off and hanged himself.

Later, after the facts had been gathered together, it emerged that the man had hanged himself simply because a small boy had “taught” him how to do something right. This elderly man decided he could not live with such an affront to his pride and he took his own life.

In 2 Kings chapter 5 we read about Naaman, a captain of the Syrian army. The Bible declares about Naaman that he was

“a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.” (2 Ki. 5:2)

Notice that Naaman had achieved his many victories by the hand of the LORD. That little fact is central to our lesson here. But, as we shall see later, though it be of the Lord, it is not the doing that is important with God; rather, it is the attitude of our hearts.

Although Naaman was a great and mighty warrior, yet he was a leper. Despite all his victories and all his glory, Naaman had no joy in his life. So he went down to Israel for he had heard that he could receive healing of his leprosy there. But he was a proud man and when he arrived in Israel he met with a series of events that progressively undermined his pride. The final insult was when the Israelite prophet, Elisha, instructed him to go dip himself in the muddy waters of the Jordan seven times and he would be healed. Naaman decided he had had enough and he turned to go back home.

But praise God, Naaman had servants who truly loved him. They came up to him and besought him, saying:

“My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (v.13)

At which Naaman hearkened to them.

“Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”

I have heard songs sang saying, “Speak, Lord! Speak, Lord”, etc., meaning those singing them are ready to obey God at the touch of a button. This imaginary readiness comes about because people have a romantic view of God and of His calling.

But there is nothing romantic about the call of God upon one’s life. The call of God to obey Him is one of the most difficult things in our lives, simply because it of necessity touches our pride. We are born with the seed of pride in us.  It is good and OK to sing out our eagerness to obey God, but remember the devil also sang (as all angels do); but still he allowed pride tot come into his heart, and he ultimately rebelled against God.

Moreover, according to the lesson that we learn in the story of Naaman, you can do many extraordinary things for the Lord but still be proud. That is why there are many men of God who do miracles and wonders in Jesus’ name, but they have pride in their hearts and are burdened with sin in their hearts. Jesus said of these people that He will tell them on the last day:

“I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mat. 7:23)

It is not the doing; rather, it is the attitude of our hearts that is important with God. God had to heal Naaman of his pride first before He would heal his body.

The Bible says in Romans 8:7:

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

Pride breeds anger and every other work of the flesh and it is incapable of doing the will of God. Ultimately, it brings death upon its bearer.

That is why we need to crucify the flesh, or the carnal mind. Without crucifying our flesh we cannot truly obey, or please God.

No man got to learn this lesson first-hand than Naaman himself. He had set out to ‘obey’ God on his own terms, where his pride would remain untouched. But God brutally turned the tables on him, and he was left to decide whether he would obey God on God’s terms or not. His healing lay in that single fact. He had to choose between nursing his pride or rejecting it and receiving the healing for his body.

That was under the old covenant. Under the new, the gospel has to do with the healing of our souls. We therefore have to choose between defending our pride and receiving God’s eternal life.

Ultimately, Naaman’s spiritual legacy lay, not in the many victories that he won on the battle field (although it was the LORD Himself who wrought these victories through him). Rather, he will be remembered in eternity on account of his conversion through humbling himself.

“15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel… thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. 18 In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. 19 And he said unto him, Go in peace.” (2 Ki. 5:15-19)

[Below: Obedience is key to receiving eternal life]

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“Whatsoever He Saith Unto You, Do It.”

1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. Jn. 2:1-11

This scripture is without a doubt the best-loved  scripture in the entire world – but it is for all the wrong reasons. Many people imagine it is an advert for Heineken and other beers and wines, and the world loves this interpretation. But this scripture is not talking about beer or wine. This is God speaking, and God does not get drunk on beer or wine, for He is Spirit and holy. The Bible tells us:

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).

We are not to get drunk with wine because God does not get drunk with wine.

Everything that Jesus did while He was here on earth were metaphors – spiritual metaphors. We are to interpret everything that Jesus did in the Spirit and apply it to our hearts. If anything we read in scripture does not translate into something that has to do with our hearts, then we should realize we have neither grasped its meaning nor its significance.

That is why we are called to walk in the revelation that the Holy Spirit gives us (Eph. 3:3). If we do not walk in revelation, we shall interpret scripture just as the world interprets it – in its lusts.

And so here we see Jesus’ mother telling them to do “whatsoever he says to you”.

So what is the allegorical meaning of this scripture? It is that we are to do whatsoever Jesus tells us to do. The problem with us is that we do not do what the Lord Jesus tells us. If we did whatsoever Jesus told us to do, we would have the best lives ever. That does not mean we would have a problem-free life, no. It simply means we would have good lives spiritually – lives full of victory over sin, the devil and the world.

“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”

In these words, we realize that Mary knew what the Lord was capable of. And, sure enough, when the servants did what Jesus told them to do, the water was turned into the best wine ever! In fact, the wine was so sweet and rich that the ruler of the feast actually called over the bridegroom to ask him why he had saved such good wine for last!

If we did what Jesus told us to in any situation, we would get, not only the only meaningful results in our lives, but we would get the best ever! This is in our marriages, in our personal lives, in our relationships, in everything.

Where there is no peace, Jesus brings peace. Where there is no joy, Jesus brings unbounded joy.

As believers, we can know exactly what the Lord is telling us in each and every situation. Jesus is the master of detail and He gives us instructions to the smallest detail. The problem with us is that, unlike these servants in Cana, we do not do “whatsoever” He tells us. Much of the time we rely on our good sense of reasoning, like all the great philosophers have done. Nietzsche it was who declared, “God is dead”. Nietzsche was a famous philosopher and many people believed him. But in the Spirit, Nietzsche is unknown, and his philosophies count for nothing. The only thing that his philosophies accomplished was to make people to disobey Jesus, to their woe!

If we heed Jesus’ instructions, we will live. But we will not only live; we will live a rich life of peace, joy and satisfaction. The Psalmist said:

8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:8-11)

Notice verses 8 and 11:

“I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved… Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

This is our key to living a victorious life in the Spirit… setting the Lord before us, and heeding His every word. Our spiritual victory lies in our obedience to Christ.

[Below: A flock of long-tailed birds adorn a tree in Arusha]

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Godly Humility is Incredible Humility

27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?

28 And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance. Gen. 43:27-28

“Thy servant our father…”

I haven’t heard that lately. In fact, I have not heard that kind of language spoken anywhere, real time.

And I am wondering what, if these men could refer to their father as someone’s servant, what then could they say of themselves? Much lower than a servant, no doubt.

And this was not a scene from some screen shot. This was real. It was real life.

Notice it was not Joseph who referred to Jacob as a “servant”. It was his brothers. They referred to him as Joseph’s “servant”, even though at the time they did not know it was Joseph they were addressing. This was the way Godly men of old spoke of themselves.

Our spiritual fathers were men who were extremely rich in the Spirit. And the reason for this was because they were extremely humble.

Modern man is so ‘emancipated’ he has missed it in the Spirit. But we need to have the spirit of humility that these early men of God had.

We recall also Sarah, Abraham’s wife, whom the Bible informs us called her husband “lord” (1 Pet. 3:6). That’s a big “Wow!” there. That speaks of humility, great humility. In today’s ‘modern’ church, a wife may not necessarily use the word “lord” to address her husband, but thank God the life she is called to live is not about words. However, the word “lord” as used here has a very specific meaning. It means that the wife humbles herself to the extent the husband actually becomes her lord, or master.

A woman of the Spirit has no place in her heart for things like women’s emancipation, because emancipation is of the heart, and Christ has set her free to obey her husband. He has not set her free to seek ‘equal rights’ with her husband. Christ has set her free to obey her husband. Any other ‘freedom’ is not of Christ.

We could talk of many more Biblical figures with regard to incredible humility. Take David, for example. We could talk of David and Saul; of King David and Absalom his son; and of David and a man called Shimei. We do not have the time to talk about these things in detail here, but they show that David was a truly humble man.

As we already stated, with the Godly men and women of old, it came naturally to humble themselves. But what was the reason for this incredible humility?

It was because they knew God. They may not have been perfect, but these men and women knew God to an extent that would make us appear like little children with all the pride and selfishness we exhibit.

The modern believer may boast of many things, many accomplishments in the Spirit. But to have the incredible heart of humility that the men of old had! That’s the true calling of God.

I use the word “incredible” deliberately. Humility is a big challenge to the modern believer. I have seen many men of God, myself included, who draw the line concerning how far they can be challenged, provoked or defied.

But humility is of grace.

My prayer today that God may give me – give us all – a heart which is ready and willing to say with the great men of old, “Your servant…”

[Below: A wedding. In marriage, as with any relationship, humility is of absolute essentiality]

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Obedience in Hardship

8 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.

12 And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

14 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.

16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah. 1 Ki. 17:8-16

As with the Shunammite woman, this fair lady’s name is not mentioned. But she was equally great. Oh, to be great in God’s sight!

This widow woman was a Canaanite (Oba. 1:20). She was not an Israelite.

Notice it was the Lord who commanded her to sustain Elijah. A command is something that has to be obeyed. This Canaanite woman heard and obeyed God’s Word. This is what makes her so great. In other words, she heard the Word of the Lord in her spirit, and she obeyed it. By obeying God’s Word, this poor widow became a great woman of faith.

In Luke 4:26, Jesus also speaks of this woman:

“24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.” (Lk. 4:24-26)

Notice the reason Jesus says that Elijah was sent to this Canaanite woman was because she would receive and obey Elijah’s word, which was God’s Word. Even though there were many widows in Israel during the famine, yet none would accept God’s Word to do what this Canaanite widow did – to serve the servant of God their last meal in the face of a deadly famine.

During the time of this great famine, we read that Israelite women were boiling and eating their own children in order to preserve themselves (2 Ki. 6:28-29)! That speaks of character. It would not have been easy for Elijah to convince such a person to let him eat any food that they had prepared first. These people were faithless and desperate.

But God knew the Canaanite widow would obey Him in spite of her grim situation. So He sent Elijah to her.

True faith is obeying God in the face of difficult times, including persecution. I cringe when I think of the many times that I have failed to obey God in the face of just such situations. When I consider this poor, primitive Canaanite woman’s faith, I deeply abhor myself. I realize I am the least in the Kingdom of God. I repent, even this morning. May God have mercy on me.

It does not matter to God who we are or what we do. God is God, and He has commanded us to obey Him. He uses hardships and difficult situations to test our faith. Great faith is not when we are raising the dead. Great faith is when we are obeying God in the face of hardship and trouble.

The Bible says:

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

“Be thou faithful unto death”. That is God’s commandment to us.

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The Lesson of Absalom

25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.

26 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight. 2 Sam. 14:25-26

I probably ought to have labeled this post “The Danger of Celebrity Christianity”.

In my country, there is a man, a preacher of the gospel. He is tall, full-bodied and extremely handsome. He cuts his hair in a ‘Table Mountain’ style, which gives him an added macho look. He wears casual clothing. No suits, and no ties.

He has an appealing raspy drawl and, when he is on stage, his body motions and movements command the attention of everyone. The man is irresistible.

Many years ago, this man came to our town to preach in an open-air meeting, and all the women of the town, both saved and unsaved, flocked to see him. As he began preaching, his very posture had the women screaming and ululating wildly. The man loved it and we, too, in our simplicity, did. In our hearts, the man was an idol.

He went on to entertain us immensely. At the end of the 4 or 5-day meeting, the big open-air field could afford standing space only.

Sad to say, many of us came to learn later that this man was also one of the most notorious adulterers in the land. On this particular occasion, when he finally left our town, he left with one of the women he had ‘converted’ during his crusade.

The story of Absalom in the Old Testament is an analogy of our modern-day charismatic preachers. Absalom was a man of incredible handsomeness, and he used his deep charisma and beauty to his advantage in his attempt to dethrone King David, his father. The Bible says he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6).

In the same vein, today’s preachers use their charisma and material or physical attributes to dethrone God the Father from the hearts of men. They do so by drawing to themselves the attention of men.

The Bible further says that when Absalom set out on his diabolical mission, he conscripted to himself simple men who knew nothing of his intentions.

And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing.” (2 Sam. 15:11)

In the same manner, men of spiritual simplicity hearken to the call of our modern-age celebrity preachers. They applaud and celebrate them. They call them “mighty men of God”.

Today, you hear all over the place, “Man of God! Man of God!”

You hear also men being referred to as “The man of the hour”; or, “The one and only So-and-so”.

All these inferences actually come from the world. It is the devil who brings them into the church.

And the men of God to whom this attention is directed keep silent because they love men’s approval.

When He was here on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ reacted strongly to such approbations when they were directed at Him. Jesus would not impute or allow any glory to be imputed to Him.

One time, someone called Jesus “good”, but Jesus would have none of it.

“16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God…” (Mat. 19:16-17)

Jesus could quietly have let it pass. But Jesus would only ascribe glory to God. He did not want any attention drawn to Himself.

On another occasion, Jesus responded in the same manner to a woman who tried to draw attention to the glories of His worldly birth.

“27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Lk. 11:27-28)

Jesus used every opportunity to draw attention to and give glory to God the Father and to His will.

That is why the church needs to have the mindset of Christ again, as with the early church. In Philippians 2:5-8, God through the Apostle Paul appeals to us:

“5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”

What was this mind?

“6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Jesus humbled Himself, that He might become obedient to, and hence glorify God the Father.

We, too – preachers and laymen alike – need to humble ourselves in like manner to the end that God might be exalted. This requires the cross to work in our lives. The cross will break our pride and we shall become like Paul who, although he carried the greatest of all ministries, yet he could declare concerning himself, “… I be nothing” (2 Cor. 12:11).

[Let our lives be for nothing else but the exaltation of God]