And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV

The Gift of God

The book of Acts 2 gives us a very vivid picture of the coming of the promise of Jesus to his disciples as they continually waited as instructed. As it is recorded, “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in the same place.” The promises of God to us are not just pegged in our righteous living but being in the right place. The grace of God allows us to go through things because He is with us. Woe to us if we are found in the wrong places. Many of us who consider ourselves believers or followers of Jesus Christ will consider God as an option given to man when things seem to be going south and/or when redemption is needed. Unfortunately, we go to wrong places to “seek” help in times of need.

There is nothing that can ever happen anywhere on earth in the absence of a place. Things take place in a place and more so in places designed for such activities. Jesus instructed the disciples to wait for the promised helper in the Jerusalem. His instructions were specific. Now we know, that God is not limited to space or time, but in this, He was specific.  

There are several things we could consider but from the text we can glean the following.

  1. Each person received the gift of the Spirit. The bible records that “suddenly a sound like a violent rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.And divided tongues like fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.” The gift of God was not limited to certain class of individuals but to all who were in the room. We learn that as the room was filled so they did have individual experience of the same. I believe that it is very important for every child of God to have an individual experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is important for them to know Him in a personal level, in that, there are not helps in personal experiences with God. Our individual experiences should allow us to appreciate the oneness that we find in Him as Lord. At times it is shameful to see or hear believers separate from each because of a philosophical thought that fellow men emphasize upon. In actual fact, these differences even touch in the core belief of who Jesus actually is to mankind. These differences may be dresses of denominations, creeds, dressing, orientating of worship, how radical one may want to identify themselves, or even charisma![1]
  2. The gift given by God is for all mankind. What a wonderful thing it was. I suppose that if this was to be confined to the religious leaders of the day, we couldn’t  have had the liberty as God would have intended. Going by the what is available today, we see that congregations are “owned” by individuals and the poor flock are left at the mercies of the religious politicians. The bible records that they “were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” The Lord gives all individuals who chose to believe in Him an experience though individualized, but resonates with what all other believers. The experiences that believers have with the Lord is not individualized nor private but they give God glory in their essence. Believers are united by God Himself and their unity sealed by the gift of the spirit but the Lord allows their diversities blossom to glorify Him. When they come together, their presences does not only proof their unity in Christ but it’s a testimony to the power (Dumanis) residing within them. The gathering of the Christian community today is an indication of the unity that we see in Christ and the evidence of the power that resides in the lives of the believers. The common goal is to glorify God and the running call is to get as many as possible to hear the good news of salvation and come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  3. As they were being filled with the spirit of God, there was an amazing change that took place in them. They began to peak in other tongues. The expression given by Luke is not an indication of some strange tongue but an ability to speak that which was known albeit by the people who were right there. He records, “Now there were Jews residing in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd gathered and was in confusion, because each one was hearing them speaking in his own language. And they were astounded and astonished, saying, “Behold, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how do we hear, each one of us, in our own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and those residing in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya toward Cyrene, and the Romans who were in town, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own languages the great deeds of God!” And all were amazed and greatly perplexed, saying to one another, “What can this mean?”’ This was amazing. Theses guys were known to the residents and probably by visitors alike and they knew that there was no way that they could be speaking this tongue if there was no extraordinary assistance. They were local fishermen, people engaged in local business, lucrative as it was but didn’t really give them opportunity to merchandise abroad! Who taught them? What can this mean? We mustn’t think that our limitation is God’s limitation and the fact that God can do things that in the ordinary sense, may look impossible, we should be open to the ide that He can actually get our attention in a manner that we can understand really well.
  4. In as much as we would be happy to realize that God has come closer to us, we often still have the feeling that this could not be it. We doubt whether it is God who is calling us to Himself or to a certain purpose. The worst, in my opinion, is to catcall what we seem not to understand and more so to make others follow our evil thoughts. Luke records that, “But others jeered and said, “They are full of sweet new wine!”’ It’s my prayer that we will not be fooled into condemning what we don’t know or more so what we don’t have and secretly hoped to have as a gift from God.  

Works Cited

Lindholm, Charles, ed. The Anthropology of Religion Charisma: Esctasis and Instituitions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

[1] On Max weber’s discussion of charisma, Lindholm weighs in by adding that charisma is manifested as intense emotional loyalty to the leader beyond rationality and expressed as intoxicating state of dissociation and self-loss. (Lindholm 2013). 

I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge. Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day. I will go in the strength of the Lord God : I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come. Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!
Psalms 71:7‭-‬8‭, ‬16‭-‬19 KJV

Facing Opposition

The Book of Nehemiah teaches us so much in regards to leadership and our dependence on God irrespective of all that may come our way. apart from looking at the strategy of rebuilding the broken city, we can equally see the struggles that he went through in the hands of known enemies. The aggressor will always be one with some form of authority as it were, and as present-day believers, we can learn from these nuggets as we look at the fourth chapter of Nehemiah.

It is interesting the way the enemy tries to “size up the perceived prey” and asks the questions that always lingers in their minds which often reduced to what we see Sanballat asking his brothers. we will look at these questions and the attitudes behind them even as we ask the Lord to help us stay above our enemies.

“Then Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed.” You will notice that the enemies normally wait to hear things about you or is keen to keep up with what is happening in your life. Therefore, they will be ready to “hear” what is happening. not because they are ready to praise God with you but to ignite the anger and I may add hatred that is already in them towards you as a child of God. The enemy wants to maintain the status quo, in that just remain there and have no progress because you shouldn’t. he wants to define life for you so that he can be able to handle you while you are some point where he has the upper hand. everybody else can progress but you! That’s a lie from the devil child of God. you must and will grow better in this life! 

“He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria,” Another notable thing to not with the enemy is that they never operate alone. There always some people behind the scenes working closely with them to encourage or to assist in puffing pride. for the enemy to feel that he has achieved, he has to have the bragging rights but the question is, to who? who is this significant other that the enemy has to confide in and please? is it an individual? a group? a club? a society? and the list continues. What is the motivation behind this behaviour? it will please you to know that there is always someone or something behind the “bragging rights”.

He said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? The enemy will not want to admit that you are strong enough to do something by yourself. He wants to make you small in his eyes for his comfort and not for you. Now, this knowledge may excite you or dampen your spirit depending on who/what you believe in. Jesus tells us that we can do all things through Him irrespective of what may look like a fact! you may not be able to eat 30 kg of meat at one sitting as a Lion would but you can do it in a month! so when the enemy looks at what may be a disadvantage, remember that you have One who makes all things right!

“Will they restore their wall?” our ability to restore is a reality, and our resilience even in the advent of terror will defeat the evil one. The cannot have doubt on your ability to rebuild if you couldn’t. it would be useless and a waste of resources. That fact that you can come back and be restored to your original or intended self, the enemy will never be at peace with you. the challenge will be to have you in a state of mind that knows what it means to be restored. what did you lose that you need restoration in-order to take up what is rightfully yours? the truth is that God can restore you to Himself and you are able to be brought back but do you believe it can happen as your enemy does?

“Will they offer sacrifices?” The enemy was concerned with the object of worship. He must have been terrified that the God of Nehemiah would not be kind to him and his cronies and thus afraid that He would be worshipped again and favour the children of God and fight for them. There seems to be some knowledge in the hands of the enemy about the ability of our God and this makes them weary. The purpose, as we can see here, is to deflect our eyes from God to fear and submission to him.

Will they finish in a day? The enemy is very conscious of time. He knows what times means for him and all who work with him. He acknowledges that he can’t control it but he is well aware that you can plan within the time that God has for you to do exploits! He knows! What day are you in? can you plan with the day that you have? it’s important to have time limits in what you do so that you can focus knowing that time is not in your hand but in the one who has enabled you to do that which you ought to do. What time is it?

Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble —burned as they are?” Can they really come back to life? I thought we had finished them! Such are the thoughts of the enemy when your possibilities become a reality in their sight. when the enemy thought you are finished completely, the Lord can still bring you back. You must and should believe that you can do it, and for sure you will do it. The enemy thinks you can’t add up to anything because as far as he is concerned, all your faculties, sources, hopes, dreams, helps etc are done away with and the best explanation is that of a “sitting duck”. But when you start moving, one step at a time, then confusion begins to reign in the enemies camp.

“Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, ‘What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!’” Here we are introduced to a very important aspect in the lives of the people around our enemies but equally around us. they are “our advisors” who in this case are “evil advisors” We see that Sanballat had advisors who never brought him to the truth but continued to blind him on the realities on the ground even after he insinuated some doubt and his fears on their ability to rebuild and the reality of worshipping God again.

Mission of God

One of the greatest things I have learnt from the scriptures and teachers of the Bible (Especially NT Wright) is the fact that God (YHWH) is The God OF and ON a mission. as believers, we are to share this love of Christ that has been shade in our hearts to everyone alive. but ideally we are asked of the Lord to be committed to participating with God’s people in Gods desire to redeem the whole creation. In other words, He calls us to be partakers of the great commission of reaching out to the unreached but, it is from Him to us. 

Therefore, he beckons us to come and get to know him and he uses prophet Isaiah to unveil his proposal to all of humanity of His intention. the message of Isaiah 54 can be broken down into three aspects in terms of His proposal to us. for the purposes of this discussion, we will be looking at three themes which include;

  1.  God has come to give us hope
  2. God has come to restore us
  3. God has come to establish us in His righteousness.

 we live in a society that has no hope. we are being conditioned to believe what we see and what we can explain through science or otherwise. but in mind of the person whos interaction with civilization doesn’t date back too long, then we always have a conflict because what seems to come our way has explanations that make a lot of sense even if doesn’t look like. Hope, as given by the Lord is not as that given by fellow humans who could be having some ability to manipulate things here or there. this Hope, can’t be understood by mere manipulation and debates but by faith. This is what the Lord tells us through his servant Isaiah. Sin had marred our image of Him and it became detestable before the Lord. He couldn’t stand it but to move away but for a while. Now he is back. he has a solution to that problem that hindered good relations.

the greatest thing that ever happened to humanity is that the God who was offended has a solution to the problem that mad finds himself in. this is a relief! a big one. what if it was left to man to get a solution for Sin, what could have happened? it is important for us to always appreciate that we don’t know how bad we look like in sin. ideally, we may never really know what it means to be restored to the image that we marred.  What I believe we can come close to is the fact that His presence makes a difference even if we may not recognize due to the effect of Sin. He chose not to destroy us nor be angry and rebuke us. This makes my hair stand! Being Who He is, The Bible tells me that He never changes His mind or goes back against His word.

This is like no other. he even promises that even in this change is status, irrespective of what the people around me will do, they will not succeed. My hope is stayed in Him. In life, we always have people that we were having relations with and they wouldn’t be happy when we loose touch or even sworn enemies because of the change that Christ has brought in your life. the good news is that He has already taken care of that too. “they will gather”, He says “but not by Him”. Why should they waste time and energy to plan useless fights? one would ask. Actually, it even makes me wonder why they would gather when they know that the Lord would not listen to them nor heed to their prayers and fastings? this is to say, they may be so close you but they will not succeed, says the Lord.

He establishes us in his righteousness in that we bore what is His. In Him, it doesn’t matter what the opinion of another may be because He gives permanence and recognition of belonging. in belonging means that we have rights and as such the least we can do is to accept the mission of God to us. this is what He wants for us. Will you accept it?