All praise and glory to the Lord God who sent his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to save us from sin, hell and death. Thanks be unto Him who loved us even when we were still sinners. We pray that the Holy Spirit guides us and leads us into all truth. Grant that we in the example of Christ our Lord, be truly sensitive to the needs and situations of others. All this for the glory of God. Amen.
In the Holy Scriptures we come to know of instances when the servants and prophets of God gave spiritual hope to others in trouble. This is shown in both the Old and New Testaments. A person who believes in the Lord God must be ready to be attentive to those in suffering and pain or in trouble. We are to this without compromising on our belief in the teachings of the Bible nor falling prey to tricksters.
The example of Eli the priest of God at Shiloh
Hannah was barren and so didn’t have any children. She faced a lot of ridicule and humiliation from others. So when she prayed to the Lord God at the place of worship at Shiloh she was deep anguish and desperation. Eli initially thought she was drunk but on questioning her found that her pain was strong. So he said to her “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him” and then we read in 1 Samuel Chapter 1 that ‘And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord” ‘. There would be no prophet Samuel born unless Eli blessed Hannah in the name of the Lord God.
This was not the only time that Eli did good. We read in 1 Samuel 3 as to how Eli helped the child Samuel hear the voice of the Lord God which then helped Samuel eventually realize his calling from the Lord God to be his prophet unto the people of Israel. Again, there was no way Samuel would know he is to be God’s prophet unless Eli helped him to be attentive to the Lord God.
The example of the prophet Elijah and Widow of Zarephath
17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” (1 Kings 17:17-24)
If the prophet Elijah would have refused to pray for the dead son, then the widow of Zarephath would live in despair. But in truth, he had compassion on them and God heard his voice and the child came back to life again.
The example of the Apostles Peter and John with the Beggar at the temple gate
1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:1-10)
Though they didn’t have silver nor gold, the Apostles Peter and John had something precious. They had faith in the name of Jesus Christ. And by this faith, did Peter make the crippled beggar walk normally. They too acted with trust in the Lord so that they can bless this beggar.
What about your example in life?
From all the above examples you see one thing in common, the prophets, priests and apostles were spiritually sensitive to the needs and situations of others. They didn’t dwell on the ‘I will only pray’ approach to help others in trouble. They gave counsel, preached deliverance, gave healing and raised the dead besides interceding for others. Do not get into the stupidity of ‘prayer only’ when you see someone who needs rescue from danger be it hunger, sickness, poverty.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. (James 2:14-23)
Do not say that you don’t have any opportunity nor the time to care for others. If anyone insists on saying he doesn’t have time and opportunities to be spiritually sensitive to the needs of others, then he might as well add that he doesn’t have the desire and will power for that as well.
When you read the newspapers, do you read about crimes or someone in suffering due to grave illness? If yes, then do you then pray about such things? Or do you switch to the sports and entertainment pages which are at time full of the vain acts of vain people taking bribes and changing their spouses every few months? Do you pray against acts of unjust violence across the world? Or do you enjoy watching movies that glorify murder and robbery?
Suppose if you know of a relative or friend in need of a job, do you too start searching suitable jobs for them? Or do you spend time gossiping about them? If your church announces a time of prayer and fasting for a preacher who’s gone missing after entering into a nation hostile to the Gospel, do you actually care to do what is told? Or do you want to go to some amusement park which coincides with the time of intercession?
Not everyone reading this can pray and heal others instantly or gradually. Not everyone can raise the dead. But then does anything in the Bible say that you are not to ask for such gifts from Christ our Lord? If not, then do ask and ask in faith, hope and love till you receive. Don’t lose heart but pray. I’ve seen people getting healed after I pray for them and I give the whole credit to the Lord God for his mercy and power. I still am praying for the power to raise the dead. God only knows when I shall receive it but I will keep asking him in faith or expect some better gift for his glory alone.
In the Christian faith many people have certain gifts from God in the supernatural such as healing, deliverance and casting out demons. While some are yet to receive them. You might not have supernatural powers manifest as yet, but you do have the Word of God. Then if anyone needs scriptural counsel, are you willing to help out to whatever level you have learnt so far? Or are you suddenly after years of church going and Bible study, are going to say you don’t know the Bible? Even if that is your reality, I don’t judge you but encourage to get reading and studying the Bible with more sincerity that you ever had.
Resolve that you will be more spiritually sensitive to help others all for the glory of God. Pray that you won’t be discouraged by the ungrateful but will continue to fight the good fight against evil in the name of Jesus. Ask that the Holy Spirit leads you do all this in safety and without being deceived by anyone, and God will surely look at your faith and answer you in his time and way. Sincerity is the key in all this.
Christ be with you.
In my earlier post Being brave and smart to tackle danger (Part 1) we focused on knowing and asserting your rights. Today I want to show how to use the truth to your advantage, use your words wisely and keep your eyes open to tackle any attacks.
Let’s read Acts 23:1-11 which shows how the Apostle Paul at the Sanhedrin effectively used the above principles to keep himself out of danger:
1 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” 4 Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
When in faced with danger, do not cower in fear. Be like Paul, who kept his eyes and mind open to use the situation to his advantage. He didn’t have to lie but took advantage of the truth. He tackled the high priest Ananias who illegally tried to get Paul slapped. Paul didn’t use foul words but used clear logic that the high priest was trying to judge as per the law and yet himself was going against the methods of the law. Only later when Paul was told that Ananias was the high priest that he didn’t go ahead with rebuking him any further.
But Ananias was not the only person to be stopped. There were more. Paul must have understood that if he didn’t act in time something really bad will happen to him. Again like I mentioned in my earlier post, Paul did suffer martyrdom but that day was not day to be martyred.
Since Paul himself was trained in the ways of the Pharisees he could easily distinguish between the Pharisees and their rivals the Sadducees. He sensed a great opportunity to set things right. So he said aloud, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” Due to great divide between the Pharisees and the Sadducees on the reality of the resurrection with the result that some of Pharisees spoke in Paul’s favor. (This is one of the good things of the Pharisees unlike the Sadducees who deny angels, spirits and resurrection who are therefore vile little heretics)
As a matter of fact, Paul was in trial because he claimed Jesus as the Lord and also that Jesus rose from the dead (this is a teaching central to the Christian faith and any deviation from this is heresy). So Paul did NOT lie his way out of trouble. With some of the Pharisees now agree that there was no fault with Paul, it gradually resulted in a violent clash between the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Roman tribune then intervened by getting the soldiers to save Paul from this fighting. And of course, the Lord appreciated Paul and told him the he will get to testify in Rome for Christ as how he did in Jerusalem.
Now learning from Paul’s case you can apply this too in your life. Suppose, someone is trying to draw a gun on you and you don’t have a weapon. Then scream and say loudly ‘please don’t hurt me with your gun, I did no wrong’. This will either alert the people nearby to save you or dissuade the attacker or even give you a small time window to escape.
Suppose you are stuck in a very bad lawsuit in which you are wrongly targeted and suddenly you realize that there is an organization which helps out those in trouble like you, then reach out to them. Like in cases of international business disputes, you know very well that if the other countries court’s are biased against your nation then they won’t give you a fair hearing, then get in what are known as arbitrators to give you some justice. If you are under racial attacks, first get yourself out of danger and then reach to organizations that tackle racism (Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti Defamation League, Newham Monitoring Project, National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR) or whichever similar organization in your region). Just keep your eyes and mind open for any such individuals or groups which help out people in trouble.
Imagine you are an Aussie citizen roaming in South Africa and due to whatever reason, you are being chased by gun wielding thugs. And if you happen to see the Australian embassy near you, then don’t be a hero to stand cornered to fight the minions of debauchery, you simply get into the embassy and save your life. I’m sure the Aussie guards will be a great deterrent to your assailants. This tip should work for any citizen with his/her own country’s embassy normally.
If you are troubled by demons, do not play coy with your preacher and behave as if you are in pristine condition. Open your mind and be humble enough to at least get help in private from your church elders and it’s people trained in deliverance ministry. All you need to do is speak and say that you need help.
Appeal unto Christ Jesus when in danger by evil spirits. Don’t be a victim. Christ has authority over all of the powers of the Evil One. Take advantage of this truth.
Christ be with you!
P.S : Part 3 of this will be out soon. Pray for me.
One must know very well how to tackle danger to life and limb. It requires bravery and smartness to cope up with such situations. Most of all you need the grace of God to overcome them all.
Since this topic is quite vast I decided to break down in parts so that the critical points are not skimmed over and missed out. It won’t be a daily feature so that we don’t miss out on other things of the Bible. Now, to begin with lets focus today on knowing and asserting your rights. Now not just your earthly or civil rights, it also about exercising your rights as a believer in Christ. Let’s read Acts 22: 22-29 where the Apostle Paul took advantage of his rights to avoid getting flogged (whipped) by the Romans:
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.
If you notice in the above passage, Paul wouldn’t have escaped the flogging for preaching the Gospel unless he told the Roman centurion that he too was a Roman citizen. So without exercising his right to a fair trial he would have got harmed greatly by the Roman soldiers.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about avoiding martyrdom or acting like a coward in face of persecution and I know full well that Paul did suffer martyrdom later on in his life. He was brave in face of danger even then. However, he did what he did at the time of Acts 22 because his time to die had not yet come. Why must you die before the appointed time? Will getting harmed just for the sake of getting harmed truly give any glory to God?
Do you realize that you have a right to exist? Then a right to live in freedom and happiness? Some call these as human rights and this not wrong to say.
When faced with imminent danger you must exercise your rights. Don’t keep all quiet, get bruised up and then start pondering on your rights later. Sometimes there won’t be a later.
You have a right to protection by the police and also the military if needed. So if you are in danger of being harmed in any way by robbers, terrorists etc then please go ahead and invoke your right to be protected. Call them, text them or whatever other means you have them alerted so that they rush to your safety. Absolutely no hoaxes please!
Sometimes you need to invoke your right to self-defense. Depending on which country you live in there might be self defense laws like the Section 3(1) of Criminal Law Act 1967 or the Second Amendment. So do your homework to find what laws go out in your region and act accordingly. You might wonder what when do you need to actually act in self defense. Let me give you a situation. For instance there’s a madman on a shooting spree in your office and you know the police will be over there in 30 minutes but you are on 18th floor while the murderer is on the 4th floor of the building. Then for that half an hour, do whatever you can to be out of sight and out of range of the madman. If you can safely and effectively tackle him with some weapon or with your bare hands then do so without putting yourself or the innocent bystanders in danger. You will need to think on your feet in such situations. Don’t try to be a hero!
As a believer in Christ you too have rights. You are worth more than sparrows in the eyes of God. The Devil tries to steal your rights or sometimes keeps you ignorant of them. By doing this the Evil One tries to prevent you from living your life for God or if he can’t do that then just make you suffer a lot.
If shall cover a few of those rights. For instance, the Devil tries to keep away from you that you can cast out evil spirits in the name of Jesus. Remember that Jesus himself said this of those who believe; “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues” (Mark 16:17). Jesus was not referring to only the Apostles or pastors or miracle, he was referring to every who has the faith. The Devil is vary of this so he tries to put exorcism or purging out of demons as a myth or old-fashioned thinking. Sometimes he will even beguile preachers to come up with stupendous doctrines that will try to brain wash their flock that casting out evils spirits is either irrelevant or not their portion. And lots of people fall prey to such deception.
You have a right to pray for your healing. You have a right to ask for protection in face of danger from evils spirits, murderers, thieves etc. So you can also ask for protection against diseases. Such things are not just for you, alright. You can pray such things for your family, your co-workers, your local church and also for Christians who are being persecuted and face death for their faith in Christ. You have a right to stand in the gap for others before Christ. Now, these rights are just a small glimpse of your rights in the spiritual with Christ Jesus. I encourage you to be aware of all your rights whether civil, legal or spiritual and use them to keep away from harm for the glory of God.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
A person who claims to love the Lord God must not revel in pride. You might be the greatest guitarist of your city. You may be the best ballet dancer across continents. You might be the most gifted in physics and with due hard work stand a chance to win the Nobel prize too. Yet if you have pride you are missing out what true love is.
You must never get hyped up by the good things you do but commend all of it to God. Give glory to the Lord for every great thing you have achieved. You may have made all the right moves to be a great achiever or rich person but it is God due to which you still live and breathe.
Remember how the impious Herod was so filled with pride that received divine punishment for his sins when he was still alive. Let’s read Acts 12:20-24 which says that:
Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the word of God increased and multiplied.
A few scripture verses to remind you to get of your pride and be humble:
- Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. (Proverbs 3:34)
- Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
- Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
- Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:5-8,10)
Thanks for reading. Christ be with you!