Are You Hungry?

Living in Nigeria, a country that has had an unfair share of the prevalent terrorist activities which has changed the world dramatically, I had thought that Boko Haram is the greatest evil that has yet befallen my part of the world. Statistics say that Boko haram has killed about 20,000 people since inception about 7 years ago, and about 1.5 million have been displaced. Quite frankly, with the terror which their operations send across the nation anytime they strike, I thought they had killed 10 times more than they had in the number of years this menace had rocked my dear nation, Nigeria.

I was amazed to find out that hunger kills 100 times more than Boko Haram. On the hunger statistics page of World Food Programme, WFP’s website (http://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats), it is conspicuously written that “Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined”. They reeled off shocking statistics about hunger as follows:

  • Some 805 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth.
  • The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 13.5 percent of the population is undernourished.
  • Asia is the continent with the most hungry people—two thirds of the total. The percentage in southern Asia has fallen in recent years but in western Asia it has increased slightly.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. One person in four there is undernourished.
  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.
  • One out of six children—roughly 100 million—in developing countries is underweight.
  • One in four of the world’s children are stunted. In developing countries the proportion can rise to one in three.
  • If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.
  • WFP calculates that US$3.2 billion is needed per year to reach all 66 million hungry school-age children.

Poor nutrition or hunger, kills about 3.1 million people each year. That’s in exponential proportions to what terrorism does. We have a bigger crisis in the world than the ones we are informed of. And to think that $3.2 billion only is needed to reach all hungry school age children. I say “only”, because that’s just a small fraction of what America spent on pet food in year 2014 alone.[i] And some in the world are richer than that many times over.  What a world! If we are waiting for the famine which was predicted in Matthew 24 as characterizing the time of the end, we might be missing something.

While many die of hunger, some others are allergic to some kind of food, many others waste food and many more others spend a lot of money to feed pets. It’s an uneven world we live in.

Hunger is not always a bad thing, especially when food and water are available. It is bad when it kills because it is evidence that food, which can quench hunger, is not available. This perhaps is why Jesus said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6).

Unlike physical food, one doesn’t naturally feel hunger for righteousness or thirst for it. It is like the difference between being hungry and wanting food from a particular eatery. If one is really hungry, you don’t wait for food from miles away, you eat that which you can find close to you. Hunger and thirst for righteousness is deliberate; it is voluntary not involuntary like physical hunger for food. “No human agent can supply that which will satisfy the hunger and thirst of the soul. But Jesus says, “’Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.’ ‘I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.’ Revelation 3:20; John 6:35.”[ii] Jesus presents us with Himself, His Word, that alone which can bring proper satisfaction to the soul. He urges and pleads that we take it, He does not force it on anyone. Even though many do not see Christ as the food which their soul need, that alone can bring full satisfaction to man’s soul. As Jesus told the woman at the well “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water… Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:10,13,14).

Like the woman at the well, our world today craves for satisfaction, but we look for them in the wrong places. We seek for things that cannot satisfy. Money, fame, power, education, marriage, relationships etc. But sooner or later, we find out that the maxim “human wants are insatiable” is very true. Many have all these things but still feel a vacuum. Someone said there is a hole in the human heart which God-alone can fill. (a God-size hole). The greatest human need is satiable, man needs God. The Bible confidently posits that it can satisfy man’s greatest need; the Psalmist says “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4). Hunger and thirst after God. Seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all those things will be added unto you (cf. Matt. 6:25-33).

Ellen White wrote: Jesus did not convey the idea that merely one draft of the water of life would suffice the receiver. He who tastes of the love of Christ will continually long for more; but he seeks for nothing else. The riches, honors, and pleasures of the world do not attract him. The constant cry of his heart is, More of Thee. And He who reveals to the soul its necessity is waiting to satisfy its hunger and thirst. Every human resource and dependence will fail. The cisterns will be emptied, the pools become dry; but our Redeemer is an inexhaustible fountain. We may drink, and drink again, and ever find a fresh supply. He in whom Christ dwells has within himself the fountain of blessing,–“a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” From this source he may draw strength and grace sufficient for all his needs.[iii] If we sincerely thirst for Christ and hunger for Him, we will not perish, but shall have everlasting life, because He is ever willing to give Himself more than we are willing to ask of Him.

It is not enough to acknowledge that God exists. It is not enough to acknowledge that Christ came from God. What God wants is for such knowledge to translate to a desire for Him, a craving for Him, a realization that one is headed for doom without Him. A realization that leads to allowing the righteousness of Christ to imbue one’s life, such that such a life lives according to the directions of the Word of God, obeying His commands and doing His will.

Are you hungry? Seek Him and He will fill you. He says: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’ (Jer. 29:13, 14).

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[i] http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp

[ii] Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p.18

[iii] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 187

Let’s Take Inventory

Facebook created an app called “Year in review” with which users can view a pictorial representation of their activities through the year—for those who duplicate some of their real life events on facebook. Many of my facebook friends made use of the application to share their “year in reveiew”. Unknown to the creators of the application, the application wouldn’t go down well with some because it reminded them of some events that caused them some depression in the cause of the year. But hey! Life goes on. Some chapters are dark while others are bright. And we’re all hopeful that the future will bring brighter days, that’s why those who hang in there do so. As they say, when life gives you lemons, make a lemonade.

We don’t always have control over everything that happens to us in life, but in many cases, making right decisions could go a long way in determining whether we make lemonade with the lemons of life or whether the lemons of life squirts you in the eye. It is good to examine how we’ve faired with our lives in the past year, it doesn’t mean we should stop at brooding over bad choices or rejoicing over good choices, it means information from the past helps us to move forward, better equipped by our experiences. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle, it is traditionally believed that you must fall while learning and the bruises helps you gain balance.

When we look back at our lives, the past year, some wish they could re-write some stories. They wish they could have decided differently on some things, especially when the consequences have been unfavourable; were they favourable, whether the decisions are good or bad, they may repeat them in the year(s) ahead in which case, the consequence may turn out unfavourable. Thus, what should be our yardstick for measuring whether we have made good or bad decisions in the past year is not the consequence of our action but the righteousness of our actions.

It is good to take inventory of our time, money and talents. Our behaviours, jobs and business; our physical and spiritual health; and how well we have fared even in voluntary duties, because whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. Ellen White writes:

Another year has almost passed into eternity…. Let us review the record of the year that so soon will be past. What advancement have we made in Christian experience? Our work—have we so done it that it will bear the inspection of the Master, who has given to every man work according to his several ability? Will it be consumed as hay, wood, and stubble, unworthy of preservation? or will it stand the trial by fire? …

Is our earthly, temporal work done with a thoroughness, a fidelity, that will bear scrutiny? Are there those whom we have wronged who will testify against us in the day of God? If so, the record has passed up to heaven, and we shall meet it again. We are to work for the great Taskmaster’s eye, whether our painstaking efforts are seen and appreciated by men or not. No man, woman, nor child can acceptably serve God with neglectful, haphazard, sham work, whether it be secular or religious service. The true Christian will have an eye single to the glory of God in all things, encouraging his purposes and strengthening his principles with this thought, “I do this for Christ.”[i]

It is important to take inventory of our lives because when we do, we have the chance to examine our successes and failures. In the words of Jesus to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23 lies an important principle which we must adopt. Christ said to them “You pay tithes of mint and anise and cummins, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone”. Here we can find the principle that the things in which we have failed should not also have been left undone, but the good news is that the New Year presents us another chance to press on and not to justify our failure or be satisfied with our successes but to aim at doing better. The Apostle Paul said “I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14,15).

The Psalmist prays, “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Taking inventory of our lives in the past year or years is aimed at making us wiser and not headstrong or discouraged. We must make use of valuable information from therein in order to forge ahead by doing things differently and better.

When we take inventory, it should help us to know where to start off next year after learning from the mistakes of the past. After the death of Uzzah—the man who touched the ark of God and died—David retraced his steps. He said to the Levites “You are the heads of the father’s houses of the Levites, 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. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult him about the proper order” (1 Chronicles 15:12, 13). David realized that he did not do things after the proper order, and that was the cause of their failure, thus from the next verse, he started taking the appropriate steps. So should we as we move forward. Are there things in which we have failed, if you have not done it after the proper order, then, like David, God has presented you with another chance to do it right. He does not wish that any should perish but that all come to repentance.

When we take inventory, and we see our failure and successes and shortcomings, therein lies an opportunity to give thanks to God for a privilege to set things straight. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). We must give thanks to God for the things He has helped us to accomplish in the past years and for the opportunity of doing more. It’s a time of thanksgiving, we will do well not to leave that out.

As representatives of Christ, He wants us to advance and not remain stagnant, and we must not let any such opportunity pass us by. Ellen White writes:

Every provision has been made that we may attain a height of stature in Christ Jesus that will meet the divine standard. God is not pleased with His representatives if they are content to be dwarfs when they might grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ. He wants you to have height and breadth in Christian experience. He wants you to have great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, and lofty purposes of action. Every passing year should increase the soul’s yearning for purity and perfection of Christian character. And if this knowledge increases day by day, month by month, year by year, it will not be work consumed as hay, wood, and stubble; but it will be laying on the foundation stone, gold, silver, and precious stones—works that are not perishable, but which will stand the fires of the last day.[ii]

In attempting to make changes, let us remember the golden words of Jesus in John 15:5. He said “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without me, you can do nothing.

 

[i] Ellen G. White, Our High Calling, Washington D.C, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1961. P.369

[ii] Ibid

Beware Of Dogs

It is often said that in Nigeria, you are your own government since the government is mostly dysfunctional. You generate your own power, provide your own water, provide your own communication lines–many people patronize more than three companies at a time, since you can’t tell when which will be dysfunctional–and in Nigeria, you also provide your own security. So, many people keep dogs, not as pets, but as security watch dogs. So, it’s a common sight to see the sign “Beware of Dogs” on gated, wired and high fences.

 

It is a sign that tells you to be careful, because some of those dogs are trained to attack and bite. I personally regard such signs as gracious; this is because some people keep attack dogs at home without any warning sign and sometimes, you just bump into them, which may result in flight or injury or both.

 

Dogs are generally regarded as man’s best friend from the animal world. When trained, they understand language, eye communications, they live with man, guard him, hunt for him and are loyal to him. But no matter how good a dog gets, a dog is a dog.

 

Dogs come in different categories, some are so small, they can’t even attack while some are so big, they can cause severe wound and when infected can kill man. Hence, no matter how harmless you may think dogs are; beware of dogs. The sad story of a boy attacked by a neighbour’s dogs was in the news recently. “The dogs chewed the skin and exposed the victim’s skull during the attack…A resident said the people living in the house had warned Wesley about his dogs but he refused to listen”.[i] It is unknown to me whether the child survived the attack, the news has only intensified my dislike for keeping security dogs in private homes. Beware of dogs.

 

Beware of dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision. (Philippians 3:2). Paul here, under Divine inspiration, warns the Philippian believers to be wary of dogs. In the context of that section of Paul’s letter, dogs referred to those who come among the believers in order to introduce wrong teachings, especially those which place confidence on the flesh. Hence the warning: “Beware of dogs”. They are dogs because they act like your friend, claim to be part of the believers, but then they introduce their false teachings. Beware of dogs.

 

Paul admonishes in the next verse: “worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). But unfortunately, anyone who is discerning enough, would know that popular Christian teachings today places confidence in the flesh. Someone puts it thus:

 

Christianity is undergoing a paradigm shift of major proportions–a shift from faith to feelings, from fact to fantasy; and from reason to esoteric revelation.[ii]

 

Everyone is a prophet and is being ministered to by a spirit which is mostly claimed to be the Holy Spirit. And so, the word of God is not enough to reveal truth, but rather it is a function of the “spirit”. For example, I once told a Christian friend of mine that God was not pleased with alcohol intake based on some verses of the Bible; he said to me that if alcohol were wrong, he would know because his spirit would reject it that he is a very spiritual person. Another person, when confronted with the fact that the Biblical seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath is still binding today as God never pronounced anywhere in scripture that the day had been changed, but that man changed it; she said, if it were true, the “Holy Spirit” will tell her. The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible (see 1 Pet. 1:21) and what He has told us in scripture, some still expect to be told personally because such persons feel more special than to be directed by a mere book which any other “unspiritual” person can read.

 

Even though it appears as though such people are not putting confidence in the flesh but in the “spirit”, it reveals a sense of pride which does not want to submit to the teachings of the Holy Spirit through the Bible, but rather wants to “feel” like a “spiritual” man in the sense of one who can also be consulted as a source of truth instead of one who consults another source of truth–The Word of God. The Bible admonishes that “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Prov. 3:5; Romans 10:17). The Christian life is one which is characterised by humility and submission to the wisdom and the will of God not one which places confidence in self. It is one which recognizes that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)”

 

Beware of putting confidence in the flesh in believing that you are a god and within you is a “goodness” that can be attained. This is a deception of the enemy in order to lead men to put confidence in themselves instead of Christ. Don’t be a dog and beware of dogs.

 

Spiritual men like Jesus, James, Paul, Peter and all the apostles who have their writings as part of the new testament all depended on the scripture (Old Testament) as their guide for truth. The scripture guided them because the Spirit which inspired them was not in conflict with the old testament scripture.

 

Paul says beware of the “false circumcision” (Philippians 3:2); for circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?…circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:25, 26, 29). When one claims to be spiritual and a mouth piece of God and he boastfully breaks the law of God, beware of such “false circumcision”. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isa. 8:20)

 

Beware of dogs. Beware of blackmailers. There is a common song among Christians of my tribe which is translated in English to mean “if you cannot dance, you owe God a debt.” That cannot be substantiated by any teaching of the scripture, it is a blackmail with no consequence. And many of such blackmails exist while they prompt many to carry out religious obligation with a mind of bribing God. We fast, pray, sing, tithe, work in the church in order to bribe God. A christian ought to think carefully of why he/she is motivated to do things, if love for Christ is not the motivator, then it is a selfish act. Ellen White writes:

 

The shortness of time is frequently urged as an incentive for seeking righteousness and making Christ our friend. This should not be the great motive with us; for it savours of selfishness. Is it necessary that the terrors of the day of God should be held before us, that we may be compelled to right action through fear? It ought not to be so. Jesus is attractive. He is full of love, mercy, and compassion. He proposes to be our friend, to walk with us through all the rough pathways of life.[iii]

 

If love for Christ and an appreciation of His sacrifice on calvary is not enough to motivate your commitment, then all your works are meaningless. God would not have us put our confidence in the flesh because “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD your God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (Deut. 10:12). God requires us to do all these in submission to His words. Any form of righteousness which undermines the scripture and exalts a “spirit” above the plain teachings of the word of God is a heart of stone, and a heart of stone cannot please God but will rather be an “evil worker”. Thus, God says “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Eze. 36:26,27).

 

The spirit of God causes us to walk in the written statutes of God and not to find a way to walk contrary to it while crediting our disobedience to the same spirit. Paul says beware of dogs. This same spirit of self-righteousness is prevalent in Christendom today even though it is tagged “living in the spirit”, some may be voracious like a strange dog while some may be subtle like a neighbour’s dog, as long as they bite in the end, beware of dogs and be careful not to be a dog. The Bible says in the book of revelation that “Blessed are those who do His commandements…but outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Rev. 22:14,15). Commenting on this verse, Uriah Smith wrote: “Dog is the Bible symbol of a shameless and impudent man”. Don’t be a dog but “Beware of dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision.”[iv]

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[i] http://www.punchng.com/news/269120

[ii] Hank Hanegraaff, The Counterfeit Revival, Article ID:DP244-1, http://www.equip.org/articles/the-counterfeit-revival/

[iii] Ellen G. White, The Bible Echo, June 25, 1894 par. 7

[iv] Uriah Smith, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, Nashville TN, Southern Publishing Association, 1944

The God Called Survival

It is a common saying that in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies, there only are permanent interests. Politicians in Nigeria especially, are free to move from one political party to another if they think it can guarantee their survival either locally or nationally. Survival is the name of the game, and it’s not just politics, people will lick others’ feet, steal, kill, abandon principle, all for survival. Not just the survival of life but of interests, a lifestyle or status and the progression of it.

It is usually clear what one would never do until survival comes in competition with principle. I’ve seen men stay away from their activist friends and acquaintances because their friendship could stand in the way of their promotion at work or their career progression. We see in our world the continual neglect of child care by parents because they have to survive, so they have no time for their children. We see men who have been previously perceived as right thinking people change overnight on getting to the corridors of power. Survival has become a god we all now worship.

When does choosing become a dilemma? It does when one god or the other is on both sides—especially if the god of survival is on both sides. Other smaller gods easily give way to the god of survival. When a decision is to be made and the god of self desire competes with the god of survival, the choice is easy. For example, when a man who desires in his inwards parts to be honest is faced with the choice of dishonesty on one hand and honesty which may result in seizure of his means of livelihood on the other, the fleshly man, a high percentage of the time, will bow to the god of survival and keep his job. There are a few cases in the museums of history when this does not happen and it is a big deal; because it’s not the norm. On the flip side, some men who see dishonesty as the way forward may act honest a few times when they have a honest boss and their survival is at stake. When the natural man is in a dilemma, the god of survival is big enough to carpet any other god or God.

He is considered a fool who bows to any other god at the expense of the god of survival. Men may applaud you for bowing to the god of passion and lust, as long as you protect yourself in order to preserve your survival. You will be applauded, by popular opinion, for being a fraudster, a randy teacher or a thief in government, as long as you don’t do it at the expense of your career survival. When the warning “be careful” goes forth, we are simply saying, it’s ok if you’ve decided to continue doing wrong, just tread softly so as not to hurt the god of survival.

Many were surprised recently, when a state governor in Nigeria, whom they believed had done his best to provide physical infrastructure for the people of his state was voted out by the same people because they thought he had provided them physical infrastructure at the expense of “stomach infrastructure”—another name for the god of survival.

Man’s interests, career, business, life, lifestyle and status are inseparably tied with the god of survival, and the god of survival is worshipped through those mediums. If you find a proliferation in any profession, it is because the god of survival appears to be favouring that profession for that time. Think of the proliferation of pastoral ministry, hip-hop music, Nigerian politics and the likes. In the past, the pastoral ministry wasn’t a multi-billion dollar ministry as it is today, thus “the labourers were few”, but today, it is, and now “the labourers are plenty” but the field remains un-harvested. In my denomination, it is still not one of the highest paying jobs, so people might still call you foolish when you abandon a more lucrative career path for service in the ministry.

Even though it is evident in everyday life that the god of survival only offers temporary hope, men still worship it—at least they can enjoy it while it lasts. This hope is cut short by the loss of the mediums through which the god of survival is worshipped, the ultimate being the loss of life itself.

But Jesus said something revolutionary as recorded by Matthew, He said: Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28). Jesus here confronts man’s tendency to worship the god of survival and also points us to the supremacy of the Creator over the temporary actions of the god of survival. God’s dealings are permanent as opposed to the temporary nature of the dealings of the god of survival.

A few verses later, Jesus also challenges man’s tendency to sacrifice anything on the altar of family relevance or social/societal relevance and acceptance, all which are mediums of worship of the god of survival; he says: “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. ” Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:32-39).

Jesus recognizes that the god of survival is a major hindrance to committing to Him completely and thus He uses rather strong words in the above quoted passage. It is matter of life and death and He deals with it with such solemn words which cannot be overlooked. If anyone would come after Jesus, He cannot place his emotional, physical, social, or familial survival above love for Christ. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. (see Matt. 22:37)

Many have become enslaved by the god of survival such that they’d rather keep silent when the cause of God is at stake because speaking may set them against the god of survival.

We witness misinterpretations of scripture by religious people when it comes in competition with survival. When people prefer to keep silent rather than challenge some priests of the god of survival, even in the church, God is not pleased and He says:

“Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. “Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. “Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. “However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself.” (Ezekiel 3;17-21 NASB)

The fallen natural man really strongly considers survival as utmost to any other thing, but spiritual men of God who are totally sold out to God pledge thus:

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39)

They do not believe that the fires of Nebuchadnezzar, nor the threat of King Ahasuerus which was instigated by Haman, such things which are agents of the god of survival, would be able to alter their show of allegiance to the God who created them. (see Dan. 3:16; Esther 4:16). The threat of the Jewish religious leaders in collaboration with Roman kings and governors was not enough to barricade the spread of Christianity by the early Christians; rather, as Paul puts it “my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel”. (Philippians 1:12); simply put, the god of survival cannot stop the spread of the gospel through anyone who is sold out to God; whose whole existence seeks to please God. They say:

“for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:8)

So even though the god of survival is a prominent god in today’s world, it does not influence the decision making of the spiritual man who has committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Because they do not belong to the category of people “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and
whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
” (Philippans 3:19) Ellen White writes:

“Many who profess to be Christ’s followers have an anxious, troubled heart because they are afraid to trust themselves with God. They do not make a complete surrender to Him, for they shrink from the consequences that such a surrender may involve. Unless they do make this surrender they cannot find peace.

There are many whose hearts are aching under a load of care because they seek to reach the world’s standard. They have chosen its service, accepted its perplexities, adopted its customs. Thus their character is marred and their life made a weariness. The continual worry is wearing out the life forces. Our Lord desires them to lay aside this yoke of bondage. He invites them to accept His yoke; He says, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Worry is blind and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief. “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Matthew 11:30; Psalm 84:11.

Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing.”[i]

So, like Joshua, I say “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; (or whether the god of survival), but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”” [ii]

__________________________________________________________________________________________

[i] Ellen G. White, Help In Daily Living, p. 20,21

[ii] An adaptation of Joshua 24:15

Another Day, Another Chance

Everyone deserves a second chance. For as long as we live, we’ll need to either have it or give it. And every morning presents another chance at life; another chance to start afresh or continue with a refreshed mind after a night’s rest. Such is the gift of a new day—another chance.

A day has no twin in history, it is always new. Just like all men have eyes, nose and mouth, so does all days have 24 hours, but no two days are ever the same in terms of events, that is why each new day presents us a chance to live it. We choose to either live it wisely or otherwise.

Another day is another chance to live again, to love again, to forgive again, to work again, to think again, to try again, to laugh again, to play again, to sow again and to reap again. Another day is another chance to do the old again or try something new. Today is another chance for you, use it.

Without life, there is no new day; so the possibility of a new day is attached to the availability of life. When you sleep at night, the chance of having a new day depends on whether you wake up in the morning or not. And so goes the saying: when there is life, there is hope. There is hope for a chance at doing it better and winning at it—whatever it is.

Days become weeks, weeks become months and months become years, all these present an opportunity to start afresh, we want a better week than the last, a better month than the last and a better year than the last. But all these end for us differently one day. One day will be your last in this mortal body. The last chance to do it again or do it differently, you know not how close it is, but it is a reality. An old Pastor once told someone that he believes he’ll be here when the trumpet sounds and Christ returns, thus he will not die but will be translated into immortality; he died some years ago.

Whether you die or Christ meets you here alive, one day will be your last chance to have a rethink. The Apostle Peter says “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. ” because “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”. (2 Pet. 3:9; Heb. 9:27). So God, does not just give us second chances. As long as there is life, He has given you another chance. He defers judgment not because He is slack, but because He is giving us another chance to repent. Because when Christ shows up, there is no more chance to repent. Then He’ll say “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” (Rev. 22:11)

Even though Christ has not come today, the gospel of Jesus Christ is as urgent to each person as it will be on the last day of the present earth’s history because no one is promised tomorrow. Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that. (James 4:13-15). No one is promised tomorrow so “today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked me.” (Heb. 3:15).

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. (1 Cor. 6:2 NLT) because there is no repentance in the grave for after death one’s thoughts perish (cf. Psalm 146:4); if you can’t think, you can’t repent. Neither is there repentance after Christ’s second coming, if not, God wouldn’t have to exercise His longsuffering in giving us a chance to come to repentance.

This brings to question the teaching that there will be a secret rapture, after which some will be given a second chance to repent and purchase salvation with their own suffering and death instead of Christ’s. It is evident from scripture that the coming of Christ is far from being a secret; it will be visible to everyone (cf. Rev. 1:7), it will be deafeningly audible (cf. 1 Thess. 4:16) and it will be a worldwide event breaking all geographical boundaries, all the tribes of the earth will witness the event at the same time (cf. Matt. 24:31). It will be sudden as “a thief in the night” and it will also be loud, not secret, as “a thief in the night”. The text which the proponents of secret rapture hides under does not suggest secrecy. It reads:

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.” Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. (Matt. 24:36-41 emphasis supplied)

This passage, in fact, suggests a public knowledge of the events taking place. Christ was making a comparison between when He’ll return and the days of Noah. He said just as the people of the days of Noah knew that a flood was coming so will they know that Christ had come when He appears in the cloud. No statement in the passage suggests that the other person who was “left behind” will not see what took his or her partner away; in fact, the Bible says, they will see it and pray for death. “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:15-17).

The next thing which happens after the secret rapture according to its proponents is that there’ll be another chance for those who didn’t go during the secret event, to repent. This is very much in contrast to the overall biblical teaching of no repentance after the coming of Christ. A text in the Bible is interpreted as seven years of tribulation divided into two; the first half is claimed to represent a peaceful reign in which those Christians who have been left behind will continue evangelizing until the second half which begins the reign of the antichrist when they get to pay with their blood. This text does not point to events relating to the second coming of Christ, it rather points to Christ’s first coming. The text reads:

“And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering” (Dan. 9:27)

This one week of seven days is part of a 70-week prophecy which is a subset of a 2300 days prophecy which was shown unto Daniel. “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. ” (Dan. 8:14). In chapter nine of the book of Daniel, the angel tells Daniel that from that time, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city” (v.24).

“So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” (Dan. 9:25,26)

After 69 weeks (7 and 62 weeks as the text reads) which began when the decree went forth to rebuild Jerusalem in the time of Ezra and ran through the time of the Messiah(cf. Ezra 7:13-28; Luke 3:1), comes the final one week of the 70-week prophecy. So, the one week prophecy of verse 27 comes immediately after the 69-week which includes the ministry of the Messiah—Jesus Christ. It is not a time in the future at Christ’s second coming. It happened at Christ’s first coming.

One week represents seven days which represents seven years in apocalyptic prophecy. Historical facts reveal that Christ was baptized in 27 AD, he died and resurrected 3½ years after, in 31 AD when the Bible records that at Christ’s death, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:38) it was the day of Passover and the most holy place exclusive to priests alone was exposed, putting an end to “sacrifice and grain offerings as the Bible predicted”. The second half of 3½ years ended in 34 AD when Stephen was stoned to death. This marked the end of the confirmation of the covenant with the Jewish nation for one week, after which the gospel of Jesus Christ began to be preached to the non-Jewish nations. The Bible records that “A Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles… Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” (Rom. 8:1&4). This ended the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9:24 of which the one-week prophecy just described is a sub-set. Speaking of this, Ellen White writes:

The seventy weeks, or 490 years, especially allotted to the Jews, ended, as we have seen, in A.D. 34. At that time, through the action of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the nation sealed its rejection of the gospel by the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution of the followers of Christ. Then the message of salvation, no longer restricted to the chosen people, was given to the world. The disciples, forced by persecution to flee from Jerusalem, “went everywhere preaching the word.” “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.” Peter, divinely guided, opened the gospel to the centurion of Caesarea, the God-fearing Cornelius; and the ardent Paul, won to the faith of Christ, was commissioned to carry the glad tidings “far hence unto the Gentiles.” Acts 8:4, 5; 22:21.[i]

The prophecy of Daniel stretches through history and that one-week prophecy which is mistakingly put at the second coming of Christ by some, was fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear on the fact that God is giving us all the chances He can now, because at Christ’s second coming, He delivers judgment. “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.” (Matt. 25:31-33).

God is giving us thousands of chances to repent now and there comes the question: “how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” (Heb. 2:3,4 emphasis supplied).

God has not just given each one a second chance, every day, since you were conscious of yourself, is another chance. And if they’re more than two days already, God has given you more than a second chance; use it wisely today.

[i] Ellen G. White,The Great Controversy, p. 328

What Has Food Got To Do With It?

Ours is a generation of fast things. Fast cars, e-mail, aeroplanes and fast food; to easily name a few. We’ve learned to live life on the fast lane. It’s a new lifestyle, because it’s alien to even those who began life in their twenties about 30 years ago. Because some of them still find it hard to understand why you want to drive a car they couldn’t drive at your age. But things have changed, not many things are a big deal anymore. So this generation will not wait for you, we want it ready to be served.

So, we love fast food: highly processed restaurant foods that are prepared quickly or are available on demand.[i] Some fast foods have a reputation of being classy and fashionable while others are just tasteful and popular. Those two attributes, tastefulness and popularity, seem to be the common attributes of all kinds of fast food, be it moin-moin, suya or chicken and chips. So, some thrive on name—popularity—while not necessarily tasteful or healthy for consumption.

The healthfulness of fast food is least considered by its consumers which sometimes include me. We sometimes think about but overlook the health of animals cooked, the conditions under which they were reared, the manner in which they died, the kind of water with which the food was prepared, how stale they are, the health of the cook and what the seller cares about most, which mostly is profit; and that’s important because the motive in that case is hardly to improve the customer’s health. And we know that most of the diseases ravaging our world today have a link with what we eat; as suggested in the age-long expression “you are what you eat”. The point of attraction to fast food for many of the consumers is hardly any of the things earlier stated, it rather is the trendiness, tastefulness, sophistication as well as the aroma and appearance among others.

Food, many times is used by Bible writers as a metaphor for the Word of God. They sometimes called it milk, meat or bread (see 1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12, 13; 1 Pet. 2:2; John 6:51). And in the last days of Christ after His resurrection, when Peter was sober that he had denied Jesus and now Jesus wanted Him to prove his loyalty, the only way Jesus told Peter to prove his loyalty was to “feed My sheep” (John 2:15, 16, 17). The charge to feed Christ’s “lambs” and “sheep” was given to Peter three times; equal to the number of times which he denied Christ.

Any true messenger of God must show His love for God by feeding Christ’s sheep with the Word of God, unadulterated and undiluted “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4 NKJV). The Word of God is not to be given as fast food which may be half cooked and popularity driven, it rather is to be given following Paul’s counsel to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15 KJV).  A preacher worth listening to must be one who is not driven by the fast food mentality, but by the healthy home-made food mentality; one who digs into the Word in search of truth.

But ironically, a majority of those who sit in pews today are driven by the fast food mentality, therefore, fast food preachers are on the rise as predicted by Paul under inspiration that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Tim. 4:3, 4 NKJV). It is that time now and therefore those of us who do not prefer unhealthy fast food to the well prepared home-made food ought to take note of the very first sign which Jesus said would be, when His coming is close. Jesus said “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many… false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you beforehand. (Matt. 4:4 ,5,24,25 NKJV).

Many catch phrases fly around today as fast food which begs for probing into the kitchen of its cooks in order to find out how it was prepared or better still, take biblical counsel and “stay away from every kind of evil” (see 1 Thess. 5:22), because when compared with a proper study of the Word of God, such statements will be found wanting and all they’re out to do is to mislead and deceive. A former facebook friend of mine posted a fancy phrase on his status update recently which read “eternal life has nothing to do with eternal existence”; immediately I saw it, I knew this was unhealthy fast food from the kitchen of a cook that believed the doctrine of “people burning in hell without dying”; I tried to make my friend see that this was wrong biblically, I commented with a question and some Bible texts which could help us reason together; the result: he “unfriended” the heretic.

Knowing the kind of generation I live in, whenever I hear any group of words explaining a religious concept, I’d like to bring it to subjection to God’s Word and see whether it’s a healthy fast food, no matter how “highly placed” the author is because the old Prophet of 1 Kings 13 caused the death of the younger Prophet by misleading him to act contrary to the Word of God. And so should everyone who is serious about adhering to God’s Word. We can’t just tag along with every idea that sounds appealing; if they are found wanting after proper examination, they must be thrown out of the window.

Commenting on 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Ellen White has this to say:

No one is to put truth to the torture by cheap imaginings, by putting a forced, mystical construction upon the Word. Thus they are in danger of turning the truth of God into a lie. There are those who need in their hearts the touch of the divine Spirit. Then the message for this time will be their burden. They will not search for human tests, for something new and strange. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the test for this time. . . .There is among young men a burning desire to get hold of something new, even though it be of the cheapest quality. The Lord would not have the mind dwell on unprofitable nothings, seeking for what it will never find. He desires us to seek for a pure, clean soul, a soul washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. It is the white robe of Christ’s righteousness that gives the sinner admittance into the presence of the heavenly angels. Not the color of his hair, but his perfect obedience to all God’s commandments, opens to him the gates of the Holy City (emphasis supplied).[ii]

Jesus taught in parables in order to aid peoples understanding by relating the known to the unknown. He didn’t use “cheap imaginings”, neither did He mystify God’s Word, He taught the Word without lowering its value or standard. The Word of God does not need to be euphemised or embellished, it has power in itself. Therefore, seeking to present it with fancy ideas which are of themselves against the Spirit and letter of the Word is misleading and deceitful. “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12 NKJV).

Christians must be wary of every idea presented to them by philosophers who parade themselves as preachers of God’s Word in our day so that they do not fall a victim of unhealthy fast food or unhealthy home-made food as the case may be.

It is unhealthy fast food if it’s just a phrase that sounds good and the hearer doesn’t even bother to check with the Word before believing. It is unhealthy home-made food when the idea is presented in a long sermon or book which consists of many unhealthy fast food mixed together in order to present a grand theme or idea. The fact that a book is #1 or best selling does not mean that it has the approval of heaven.

We must be wary of anything that is found wanting by a proper study of the Word of God, because just as unhealthy food, whether fast or home-made, could lead to death, so could unhealthy spiritual food lead to eternal death. Peter in his second epistle wrote:

“Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Pet. 3:16-18 NKJV).

Many claim that it doesn’t matter what they eat since we’ll all die one day; but my mum—a nurse—reports the plea of many dying men for a second chance in which they’ll never taste that which is killing them anymore, especially alcohol. Peter, in the above quote reveals that the kind of spiritual food one consumes is a life and death issue, and he presents the antidote to this destruction as growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In order to be shielded from the myriad of errors that proceeds from many pulpits today, one must have a deep knowledge of the character and ways of the God in the scriptures by studying in order to find truth. Thus, when a proposition seem to contradict the real character and ways of God or when they blatantly or subtly negate the scriptures by placing cultural, contemporary or pragmatic considerations above the Word of God, then we must watch out, because such food might just be unhealthy for consumption.

A biblical principle that helps to deal with fast food in a balanced way is in Paul first letter to the Thessalonians. He wrote:

Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. (1 Thess. 5:20-22 NLT)

The text teaches that all fast food is not bad neither are all home-made food good. But one’s first reaction should not be rejection, neither should it be total trust. But bring them to a laboratory test, if they come out healthy, eat it, if they are confirmed unhealthy stay away from them; consumption of unhealthy food is never without consequences.

[i] Microsoft® Encarta® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

[ii] Ellen G. White, S.D.A Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p.920

Let There Be Light

No matter what changes in management or name happened to Nigeria’s electricity company in recent and not so recent times, the name is always NEPA to me. Until I begin to experience  uninterrupted power supply in Nigeria, it is N.E.P.A.

It has been argued that, could Nigeria have uninterrupted power supply, more than half of its unemployment problems will be solved; Olupohunda, in his newspaper opinion article addressing unemployment noted that:

Perhaps, the major cause of unemployment in our country today is lack of electricity. Widespread epileptic power supply means that major companies have to spend huge sums of money generating their own energy for production and other operations.

Poor electricity supply has also had negative effects on small businesses. It is the reason why manufacturing companies could not produce to capacity; it is the reason why major companies had packed up and relocated to Ghana and other African countries in recent years. It is the reason why our youths continue to roam the streets. The situation in moribund textile industries across the country provides a sad example of how unemployment has deepened over the years. Textile companies used to be a major source of employment. For more than two decades, textile companies gradually shut down production because government promoted the importation of foreign fabrics. Hundreds of textile companies were forced to lay off workers when they could not compete with the influx of foreign fabrics. Millions of jobs were lost. Several attempts to reverse the policy have failed. Since the advent of democracy, all the policies that should have helped the economy and provide jobs for our youths have not been successful. The power problem has not improved; corruption is still very rife. It is one major reason why Nigerian youths suffer so much deprivation.[i]

Another research conducted by some university professors in Nigeria also found a relationship between poor power supply and unemployment in Nigeria. “The study which covers the period of 1970 to 2005 discovers that power supply to the industrial sector was lower than the supply for residential consumption. The study also establishes that the major cause of unemployment in Nigeria can be traced to inadequate and unstable power supply to the industrial sector. The study advises the government and the policy makers to invest more in electricity power generation and ensures that the industrial sector is given a higher priority in the supply of electricity if the high unemployment rate is to be abated.”[ii]

The major cause of unrest, violence and insecurity of lives and property in Nigeria is the high rate of unemployment which has been tied to poor power supply. It is thus safe to say that more than half of Nigeria’s woes would be solved if there is light. The cry of many Nigerians who are not benefitting from the inadequate power supply is “Let There Be Light”.

Let there be light are the first words to be recorded as said by God in the Bible. The earth being “formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep” (se Gen. 1:1); God knew that the first thing the world needs in order for the earth to be out of that state of chaos is LIGHT!, just as Nigeria needs LIGHT in its chaotic situation.  Then the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep and God said “Let there be light and there was light.” (Gen. 1:4).

This sequence and order of things at creation brings to bare the process of Biblical inspiration as explained by Peter: But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Pet. 1:20, 21 NASB)

After the fall of man from Eden where direct communication existed between God and man, there was a communication gap [darkness and voidness] but God would speak His Word through His prophets through the agency of the Holy Spirit. The world has faced so much moral and physical degradation—then and now; the Word of God is the Light the world needs.

John, in His gospel introduced Jesus Christ as the Word and the light: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5 NASB). It corroborates what the Psalmist says: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path; The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. (Ps 119:105, 130 NASB).

There is crisis in our world today and people are seeking answers and solution. In the family, in the church, in the society and in the corporate world, There is a form of darkness producing disaster in every department of life. People killing people. Greed of a few leaving a majority in the world in poverty. An interest in the spiritual is on the increase, but people still need light.

In Christ was life, and the life was the Light of men. (see John 1:4). Christ placed some people in the world and said to them “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14). The life of Christ which was the light of men is to be seen reflected in these ones as a witness to the world that Jesus is alive. It’s Jesus saying to them I want to light up the world through you.

Paul describes it this way: For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. (2 Cor. 4:6, 7 NKJV). The light of God was to shine through earthen vessels [man made form earth or clay] so that the transforming power of God may be revealed.

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matt 5:14-16 NASB). God wants to work in His chosen people so that their good works will shine as light.

Inspiration says through Paul: so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. [Philippians 2:15, 16 NASB]

Not by more educational degrees, not by acquiring more money, not by technology shrewdness, not by [new] media awareness, not by fashion trendiness will this light shine. It is by holding fast the word of life that we can be the light of the world.

“True character is not shaped from without, and put on; it radiates from within. If we wish to direct others in the path of righteousness, the principles of righteousness must be enshrined in our own hearts. Our profession of faith may proclaim the theory of religion, but it is our practical piety that holds for the word of truth. The consistent life, the holy conversation, the unswerving integrity, the active, benevolent spirit, the godly example—these are the medium through which light is conveyed to the world.”[iii]

Let there be light. Let there be light means to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Every word. It’s as simple as a grand idea expressed in a song generally regarded as children’s song. Jesus loves me, this I know…How? For the Bible tells me so.

You can’t live by the Word, if you don’t believe the word. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”…“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  and how shall they preach, except they be sent? (Rom. 10:17, 14, 15)

  • Hear the Word, [you can’t give word you don’t have]
  • Believe the Word [you can’t believe it if you don’t hear it]
  • Live by the Word. [you can’t live by it if you don’t believe it] and
  • Share the Word [you can’t share if you don’t believe and live by the Word]

In hearing, one must be diligent: Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Prov. 2:2-6). Being diligent means being persistent and hard-working in doing something.

In hearing, one must also be teachable: At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. (Matt. 11:25). One must approach the study of the Word of God with a surrendered, teachable and prayerful spirit.

Ellen White writes: “There is much reading of the Bible that is without profit and in many cases a positive injury. When the word of God is opened without reverence and without prayer; when the thoughts and affections are not fixed upon God, or in harmony with His will, the mind is clouded with doubts; and in the very study of the Bible, skepticism strengthens. The enemy takes control of the thoughts, and he suggests interpretations that are not correct.”[iv]

In believing, one must accept the Bible as a unified ultimate truth. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. (Ps. 119:99). Who are these teachers? Human Teachers, Culture, Science, Education, Experience etc. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isa. 8:20). Many wait for science to prove the word of God right before they believe it while they blame the Nigerian president for waiting for the intervention of a 17 year old girl before he could believe what was right.

“Those who desire to know the truth have nothing to fear from the investigation of the word of God. But upon the threshold of investigation of the word of God, inquirers after truth should lay aside all prejudice, and hold in abeyance all preconceived opinion, and open the ear to hear the voice of God from His messenger. Cherished opinions, long-practiced customs and habits, are to be brought to the test of the Scriptures; and if the word of God opposes your views, then, for your soul’s sake, do not wrest the Scriptures.”[v]

In living by the word, one must be obedient. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25).

And one must be consistent as well; If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:31, 32). One must be consistent in living by the word in order for his/her light to shine. If you live according the word of God in relation to murder as a sin, you must also live according to the word of God in relation to lying as a sin or covetousness as a sin. Jesus summarizes this by saying to you to “Live by EVERY Word of God”.

In living by the word, one must also be Bold and confident. The apostles said: for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard… And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence (Acts 4:20, 29). And Paul says, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Rom. 1:16). The zeal to evangelize in the church today has dwindled because many are not sure anymore and thus cannot boldly proclaim what they are not sure of. But I dare say, any religion you are not sure of, is not worth practicing. We cannot disciple the powerful if we’re not bold like Jesus before Pilate, Paul before Agrippa, Festus, Felix, and Nero.

When we live by the word, we will be able to effuse the light which we are called to shine to the world. We will be able to show the world the proper culture and not be swayed by every wind of doctrine. (see Eph. 4:14). The world never respects those who can’t live out what they believe. Gay people and terrorists have the world’s attention, because they’re not ashamed of what they believe, even though they have believed a lie.

When we live by the world, we will be able to show the world what I call “primitive civility”. We will show the world that living like Jesus (primitive godliness) is the most civilized way to live. God seeks a people in the last days who will be representatives of true spirituality and true religion.

Let there be light.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;  nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (Matt. 5:14, 15)

Like men seek real unadulterated honey today, God, men and angels seek true and unadulterated biblical religion.

Let there be light.

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[i] Olupohunda, Youth unemployment: Why Okonjo-Iweala is wrong. http://www.punchng.com/opinion/youth-unemployment-why-okonjo-iweala-is-wrong/

[ii] E.O. George, Ph. D, J.E. Oseni, Ph. D, THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ELECTRICITY POWER AND UNEMPLOYMENT RATES IN NIGERIA,

[iii] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 307

[iv] Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p.111

[v] Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, March 25, 1902