WOUNDED HANDS

  1. Eloquent Wounds

One Bible verse has lately been peeking at me strangely from Zechariah 13:6; a scripture with many sobering echoes.  It started some days ago when the Spirit told me that it explained the sad circumstances of someone to whom He was sending me, at a place where I had been invited to say just a greeting.

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WITH WHOM YOU STAND SAYS WHO YOU ARE

Where you stand, or with whom you stand, often says who you are.  One New Testament verse recently made that sense to me; a reference to Judas who had come to the Garden of Gethsemane with soldiers and other enemies to arrest Jesus: “And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them” (John 18:5).

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CONFESSIONS FROM AN ANCIENT KING: HIS PRIVATE KEY TO PUBLIC SPLENDOUR

I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace.
Daniel 4:4.

  1. When Ancient Kings Speak…

People should listen when great kings speak, especially successful ancient kings who made their contributions to the wonders of their time.  Before us is the profound confession of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, famed in history also for his contribution of hanging gardens to the wonders of the ancient world.  Babylon was opulence beyond compare.

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A SPIRIT CALLED ‘THE DESTROYER’

There is a spirit sometimes called “The Destroyer,” that enters homes at night, when everyone is supposed to be peacefully sleep.  It enters to bring sudden deaths, and so cause great pains to homes in peaceful sleep.  Often, that spirit does not kill just one or two but slays in great numbers.

When obstinate Pharaoh would not let Israel get out of his captivity despite God’s repeated appeals, God had to “pass through” his land to unleash that spirit.  Meanwhile, God assured His people that He was not going to let the destroyer to come into your houses to smite you” (Exodus 12:23).  So, what smote the Egyptians in their numbers that night was The Destroyer, which usually operates in houses, enters to smite, enters houses that are in apparent peace, enters at unexpected times, and smites in numbers to cause national calamity.  Usually, the actions of that spirit are never unnoticed.

In one battle between Israel and Sennacherib the king of Assyria, God deployed that spirit, and 105,000 Assyrian soldiers died overnight.  That king, like Pharaoh, was forced to give up promptly and retreat (2 Kings 19:35-36).

The Destroyer is one of many spirits in God’s arsenals.  It is a spirit usually released upon stubborn nations, especially because of their stubborn ruler.  David identified that spirit of death as “the terror by night” (reads like ‘terrorists’ at night) and “the pestilence that walketh in darkness” (Psalm 91:5-6).  He had had his unforgettable brush with that spirit when he had conducted an ill-advised national census and 70,000 were suddenly killed (2 Samuel 24:15-16).  In all cases, the wicked kings lived to mourn their fate, at least for a while.  It was their innocent citizens that died suddenly.

When a ruler begins to boast against God, is proud, and would not hear good counsel, his people are in danger of this mass slayer … but may the Passover Blood distinguish between Goshen and Egypt when those nights come. Amen.

From The Preacher’s diary.
September 12, 2019.

DISCERNING THE ENEMY (Part 4 of 4)

  1.  The Religious Bait

When direct attack by swords and indirect attack through solicitation and outright blackmail had all failed, the enemies resorted to begin to speak the religious language of their target.  They knew that Nehemiah trusted in God, so they hired prophets to prophesy lies to intimidate and discredit him (Nehemiah 6:10-19).  How desperate an enemy can get!  Their apparent ‘invitation to church’ was part of the same grand plan, but Nehemiah was very sensitive and sensible – two important qualities combined.  Since when did those enemies become his spiritual advisers and private prophets?  Since when did they begin to care so much for his spiritual welfare?  How come that those prophets had suddenly begun to speak the same language as the enemies he knew?  He was sensitive and sensible.

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DISCERNING THE ENEMY (Part 3 of 4)

  1. For Us or Against Us?

While strategizing to take Jericho, General Joshua saw an armed stranger by the city wall and was quick to ask if he were a friend or a foe.  He asked, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” (Joshua 5:13).  In other words, alliances also define friends and foes.  Whom you stand with and whom you stand against tells where you stand.  They that are for you will not speak of you in the language of your foes.  Even when they disagree with what you do, they will distinguish the person from their act.

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DISCERNING THE ENEMY (Part 2 of 4)

  1. The Dagger and the Kiss

If your enemy cannot kill you with a dagger, they will try it with a kiss. Whichever way, you shall have been dead in the end.  If they cannot get you at the bloody battlefront, they might seek you out on a cherry party floor.  If they cannot get you by a poisoned arrow, they could still send their death by a poisoned apple.  Watch out.  The battlefield is no less the arena of conflicts than the bedroom and the party floor.  Samson did not fall on the battlefield but in the bedroom which was no less a battlefield. He was down and out all the same, no matter the means by which it was achieved at last.

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DISCERNING THE ENEMY (Part 1 of 4)

  1. When Radars Fail to Function Well…

In the ongoing war between Israel and Gaza, Israel has had to conduct a sad funeral for some of its own citizens killed in error by its own soldiers who had been searching for those same citizens but mistook them for the enemy when they found them.  Those were Israeli abductees who had managed to escape from their terrorist captors and had been running towards their would-have-been saviours who shot them dead, and regretted later.

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PROUD AND STUBBORN…

But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands.

Nehemiah 9:16, New Living Translation

  1. The Two Sisters

Pride and stubbornness are twin sisters.  They often go together.  Where you find pride, you are sure to find her sister too, and where you find stubbornness, pride would usually not be far.  They often go together, and they usually would not stoop for any on the way, unless it serves their vanity well.  Their backs are elegant and stiff.  Not even for common peace would they easily bend.  Peace on their terms or trouble for everyone, until their back is broken, suddenly, as the wisest man once warned (Proverbs 29:1).

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JARA

In the market culture of Nigeria and certain parts of Africa, a buyer usually receives a bonus, commensurate to the amount of purchase.  Retailed foodstuff, particularly grains such as rice, salt, groundnut, and beans, are usually sold in standard measures of “cups,” “bowls,” “basins” and “bags,” described by different terminologies in the different language cultures.  In certain parts of Nigeria, the term for describing that bonus is jara.  For example, if you bought a standard “bowl” of rice, the seller could scoop you an extra handful of rice as jara.  If you bought two or three “bowls” of rice, you could get two handfuls.  It was not a compulsory part of the bargain, but it was the expectation of every buyer and the responsibility of every seller to give good jara.  Besides, it was an important incentive for retaining customers.

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