By Pastor I.O.Odewale

Text: 1 Samuel 15:1-23

Obedience is not obedience when it is not full obedience. Partial obedience is not obedience at all in our walk with God. He demands full obedience from us. Our obedience to His word is the proof that we love and believe Him. We should also remember that our disobedience will be punished. This happened to King Saul as read in the text quoted above.

Saul the first king of Israel was sent by God to attack Amalek and completely destroy the land without sparing any man or woman or animal. Saul went as the Lord commanded him through the mouth of Samuel. But instead of totally destroying the Amalekites Saul and the people spared Agag king of Amalek and the best sheep, the oxen, the fatlings the lambs and all that was good and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. However, they utterly destroyed everything that was worthless and despised. This grieved the mind of God.

We must understand that God has reasons for whatever He commands us to do and we cannot claim to be wiser than God. In all cases, what He commands us to do is always to our advantage. The reason why God commanded Saul to utterly destroy Amalek and not allow any life to live was because the Amalakites were idolatrous people who God wanted to remove from the land of Canaan. If they were spared they could entice the people of God into idolatry. Secondly, all they had were accursed. The people of God are not allowed to bring accursed things into their midst lest they themselves become accursed. Remember that God is not under any obligation to explain what He does or what He is doing to us. All that we need to do is to obey His word.

Before this incident Saul had followed God uprightly and had always obeyed His commands. What happened to him now that he failed to carry out God’s command?  This is what God said about him: ‘I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments’ (v.10). Many of us are guilty of partial or total disobedience to the word of God at one point or the other despite our resolve to be obedient to His word. The reasons why Saul fell short of God’s expectation could be found in any of us:

  1. Taking God for granted
  2. Taking advice from wrong sources
  3. Fear of man
  4. Failure to seek God and His strength
  5. Greed and covetousness

Christians must be aware of their position as children of God and the responsibilities attached to it. Just as no one will be pleased with a disobedient child so God will not be pleased with us when we disobey Him. We cannot take God for granted by thinking that He will condone partial obedience to His word. Saul did this at the expense of his kingdom and relationship with God.

As God’s children we must attach great importance to His word knowing that He magnifies His word above His name. The Psalmist says, ‘Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You’ (Ps.119:11). God’s word takes precedent over the advice of the wisest counsellor. We cannot set aside God’s word to do what pleases us or what our friends advise us as Saul did.

It is not impossible that Saul feared his commanders and bent to their determination to swoop on the spoil of the war despite God’s instruction to the contrary. We should remember that God has not given us the spirit of fear but the spirit of boldness and of love and of a sound mind (2Tim.1:7).

Perhaps Saul did not give himself to prayer in which he could seek God’s guidance and strength in the face of temptation. Children of God should be prayerful and watchful so that they do not fall into temptation.

Greed and covetousness could have played their part in making Saul to fall into the sin of disobedience to the word of God. We should be careful not to let the lust for this world’s material things make us to forfeit our relationship with God.

God as well as Samuel was grieved with the disobedience of Saul. When Samuel confronted him for what he did he explained:

‘But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal’ (v.21).

In reply Samuel gave a sublime and a thought-provoking statement in the Old Testament:

‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams (v.22).

Then he went on to pronounce God’s judgement on him:

‘For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king’ (v.23).

We should be very careful not to go against the word of God because He will not overlook it.

Let us consider some conditions to be met for total obedience to God’s word:

  1. We should tremble at the word of God (Isa.66:2).
  2. We must remember that God cannot make a mistake (2Sam.22:31).
  3. We must remember that God is all-seeing and all-knowing (Ps.139:1-2).
  4. We must allow God to always have His way knowing fully that God’s ways and thoughts are different and higher than our ways (Isa.55:8-9).
  5. We must be ready at all times to please God and not ourselves (Acts 5:29)
  6. We need to surround yourselves with God-fearing people (Heb.10:25; 2Cor.6:14).
  7. We must be sure that we understand God’s perfect will and be ready to do it (Ro.12:2; Eph.5:17).

As we think about theses things and put them into practice, they would help us in obedient walk with God. Our utmost desire should be to please God at all times.

‘Children are a blessing from God. Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them. He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.’ Ps. 127:3-5.
It is clear that God gives us children so that we can be used to help shape their future.

What qualities should we have as good mothers? 

1. Pray – As Christians, one of the first things we need to do about anything is to pray and hand the situation over to our God. Pray before conception, during conception and throughout the life/lives of your children. Pray with him/her/them about big issues or small issues. Job1:5 – Job would get up early and offer offering to purify his children. It is important that we sacrifice some time each day to ask God to forgive our children, to help them grow, to protect them and help them please Him.

2. Be in the right church – It is important that you provide the right environment for your child / children to have good foundation on which to build on for life. They should be in a church that preaches the word and has good Sunday school that will teach them the word of God.                                       

3. Be the right mother. For the children to be good citizens and serve the community as good Christians we as mothers must be the right people. We have to be born again, Spirit filled, say the right things and behave in the right way. Children recognize very quickly when you do not do the things you should do and when you do the things you should not do. When you do make mistakes then it is important that you set the situation right. In Gen26:7- 11 we find Isaac lying to the men in Gerar that Rebecca was his sister. Where did he learn this? He must have known about his father’s action Gen.12:10-13 and Gen.20:1-5. What king of example are you setting for your children? {Though the examples mentioned above show fathers who set bad examples, the same can apply to mothers too}

4. Discipline your children – Those who save the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love them care enough to discipline them.Ps.13:23

5. Talk about God. Tell them stories of what God has done for your grandmother, mother and yourself in the past.
In Ex10:2 God told Moses that his miraculous experiences should be retold to his descendants

6. Help them to find and fulfil God’s purpose for their lives 1Chro.22:7-10.   

Pastor I.O.Odewale

Memory Verse: ‘…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ – Romans 10:9-10.

In the first part of this article, our focus was centred on confession as the confessing of sins and offences. In this second part we want to discuss confession as a declaration or a statement of one’s religious beliefs.

It is a common practice in all Christian denomination to have a comprehensive document that contains their articles of faith or beliefs. New converts are sometimes required to memorize these beliefs and recite them publicly during the inauguration of new members in the church or the denomination concerned. In some churches the recitation of the Creed (beliefs of the church) every Sunday during worship is made compulsory. It becomes an institutionalized aspect of the worship. There is no doubt that when a person has a strong belief on something he is always willing to confess and defend it publicly.

Today, many Christians shy away from making a public confession of their faith when it is required of them to do so. Could this be due to the fear of persecution or lack of conviction in what they pretend to believe? The truth is that some of us are too modest in their approach to Christianity to engage in public confession of their faith lest they offend the people of other faiths. But Jesus told His followers past and present: ‘… I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God (Lk.12:8-9). When a Christian keeps silent when the name of Jesus is being maligned, he has denied the Saviour who died to save him.
When Jesus said that He would confess those who confess Him in the presence of the angels of heaven, what is the significance of this? The clue to this statement is found in what He told His disciples about the gathering of the elect at the end of time: ‘And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Mt.24:31). Thus, those who Jesus confesses before His angels will be marked down as the elect of God when they come to gather the elect from the surface of the earth. Those He denies that He ever knew will also be marked down by the angels and they will never make the mistake to gather them with the elect; but they will be reserved for everlasting fire.

There could be no doubt that the lack of conviction in what they believe and the fear of persecution drive many Christians away from a public confession of their faith. We have already mentioned the fear of not wanting to hurt other people’s feeling especially those of other faiths. But this fear also emanates from their inadequate knowledge of what their faith consists of. When a Christian is ignorant of the basic doctrines of his faith, what confession can he make if it is demanded of him? The problem is that there are many nominal Christians, or call them, church-goers around who make church-going a routine or who just go there for other reasons than to know the Holy Scriptures which are able to make them wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2Tim.3:15). Some don’t even have a bible and those who have, do not form the habit of reading them. What kind of confession of Christ or their faith can such people make when they are faced with the situation where they have to defend their faith? No one can defend effectively what he does not know. In fact, the fear of what to say has shut up the mouths of many Christians when they should speak openly and defend the faith they have in Christ.

The fear of persecution is another bugbear that drives away many Christians from witnessing openly for Christ. But such people forget the blessing Jesus promised those who are persecuted because of the gospel. He told His followers: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you’ (Mt.5:10-12). Also Jesus told them: ‘Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt.10:27-28). And we should remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ (2Tim.1:7).
This brings us to another reason mentioned above that prevents us from confessing Christ openly; this is lack of conviction in our beliefs. Many Christians have not recognised the special nature or appeal of their religion in comparison with other religions. Where a Christian believes that every religion leads to God and every way leads to the same destination, that is, the kingdom of God, he has not seen the difference between his religion (Christianity) and other religions. It also means that such a Christian is not convinced about the claims of his religion over other religions and as such he cannot speak categorically in its support. Jesus told His disciples: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (Jn.14:6). This is one of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. It is the reason for following Jesus. Until one is convinced about his religion he cannot confess it openly and much more, be ready to suffer or die for it. We could see the boldness and the zeal with which the early apostles preached the resurrection of Jesus and how many of them suffered for it. On occasions Peter told the feared Jewish religious authorities who asked them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men. And we are His (Christ’s) witnesses to these things (i.e. the resurrection of Jesus, His teaching and miracles), and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him. (Acts 5:29,32).

Remember that it is only the Holy Spirit that brings conviction to a believer after he has heard the word of God (Jn.16:8-11). It is Him who anoints the word of God into his heart and in so doing convicts him of his sins and convinces him of the righteousness and the truth of the word of God. The Holy Spirit works in tandem with the word of God. Until we dig deep into the word of God and we are born again into the family of God and filled with the Holy Spirit, we will not have the boldness to witness for Christ or confess Him openly; and we will have nothing to confess about our faith.
We deny Jesus in many ways. When we fail to champion His cause because we fear opposition, we deny Him. When we fail to defend Him when His name is being maligned and blasphemed, we deny Him. When we hide our Christian identity, we deny Him. But when we champion His cause in the midst of opposition, when we defend Him (in a peaceful way of course) when people try to ridicule Him, when we correct the misconceptions people have about Him and we preach His word boldly, and when we own up publicly that we are Christians and openly display our Christian identity, then, we have confessed our faith in Christ. According to His word, He, in return, will confess us before His angels in heaven.

It is good to take stock of our Christian life. Are you afraid to confess Jesus Christ openly? Have you been hiding your identity as a Christian? If your answer is ‘Yes’, know that you are not yet a Christian. You will need to go back to the cross of Christ, dip yourself in the pool of blood that flowed down from His veins, carry your cross and begin to follow Him. May the truth of this message transform your Christian life. Amen.

Pastor I.O Odewale

Memory Verse: ‘He who covers his sins will not prosper; but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy’ – Proverbs 28:13.

What is confession? The dictionary defines it as: confessing of offences or sins; declaration of one’s beliefs; statement of one’s principles etc.

In this article which will be in two parts we shall be looking at the first two definitions as they relate to our Christian calling. Thus the first part will deal with the confessing of our sins and offences.
The bible says: ‘If we say that we have no sins, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn.1:8-9). There is no doubt that we are not perfect. We sin every day in what we do or say or think. Apostle James wrote: ‘For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body’ (Jas.3:2). This means that we are all sinners. But when we come to Jesus and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Saviour our sins are forgiven and we become sinners-saved. However, before we can have our sins forgiven we must confess them. To whom should we confess our sins, to the pastor, the priest or to God? John has given us the answer when he wrote that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The ‘He’ referred to here is God who is able to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. No priest or pastor can do this. It is only Him (God) who can cleanse us from all unrighteousness through the shed blood on the cross of Calvary. Although some priests claim to be able to forgive sins through church confession on the basis of John 20:23; Matthew 16:19; 18:18, it is only God who can forgive sins and cleanse from all unrighteousness. Apostle Paul also wrote: ‘….for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Ro.3:23-24). Our justification and redemption were purchased by the precious blood of the Son of God and have been given to us freely by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

When we have received Jesus Christ through faith and we have been born again God sees us as righteous because of the righteousness that has been imputed to us. Apostle Paul wrote: ‘But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (1Cor.1:30; 2Cor.5:21). In God’s reckoning we are righteous but we still sin occasionally. But the moment we confess our sins to God and forsake them, He forgives us and restores us as His righteous children. Confession without repentance or forsaking our sins is not a true confession. Many go through a circle of confession over a sin because they have not repented of it. When we find ourselves breaking into the same sin again and again we must seek the help of the Holy Spirit to be able to repent so as to overcome the particular sin. Apostle John wrote: ‘No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God (1Jn.3:9 NIV). This confirms the point that a Christian could commit a sin but he should not continue to commit the same sin. He must confess it to God and forsake it. True repentance breaks the circle of sin. What sin has taken over the control of your life? Confess it to God today and ask the Holy Spirit to help you forsake it. We must take necessary precautions not to allow sin to have dominion over us. The writer of Hebrews warned us to lay aside the sin which easily ensnares us. Read Hebrews 12:1-2.

Confession should be accompanied by repentance. Also confession of our sins should be made to God. However, when we wrong each other we should confess the offence to one another and ask for forgiveness from one another. This is why Apostle James wrote: ’Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed’ (Jas.5:16). Jesus told His followers: ‘For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ (Mt.614-15).

The book of Proverbs writes: ‘He who covers his sins will not prosper but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy’ (Pr.28:13). Some Christians are told, ‘Just claim that thing you need in Jesus’ name and confess you have received it, and you will have it.’ This bold demonstration of faith in Christ Jesus may work if there is no sin to confess and be forgiven. Sin stands between us and our blessing from God. ‘He who covers his sins will not prosper but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy,’
Let us always confess our sins to God and to anyone we have wronged; forsake them and ask for forgiveness from God and from one another. This is the will of God for us as His children. As we do these things we will enjoy God’s favour and that of other people.

Memory Verse: ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’ – John 8:32.

Our study series titled Knowing the Truth are aimed at explaining doctrinal matters that are difficult to understand or often misunderstood. Much as we try to avoid threading on contentious issues, we do not shy away from discussing what the bible says about topics that are often misconstrued or misinterpreted. The objective of these studies is to give us in-depth knowledge of the word of God such that as Apostle Paul said: ‘…We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive’ (Eph.4:14) and we will be ‘rightly dividing the word of truth’ (2Tim.2:15).

In this study we shall discuss the issues of child baptism, priesthood of all believers, the worship of angels, Sabbaths, the bible concept of sainthood and the Day of the Lord.

Child Baptism: This practice that is found in some churches does not seem to have a biblical base. The requirements for baptism are clearly set out in the word of God and in accordance with the practices recorded in the New Testament bible. Let us refer to the bible on this matter.
1. In Mark’s gospel we read: ‘He who believes and is baptised will be saved’ (Mk.16:16).
2.  In his first sermon after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, Peter told his audience: ‘Repent and let everyone of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall received the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:38).
3. As Philip preached concerning the kingdom of God in Samaria, those who believed were baptised (Acts 8:9-13).
4. After Philip the Evangelist preached to the Ethiopian eunuch along the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, when they came across water, he asked Philip why he should not be baptised since there was water for the purpose. This is what he said: ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptised?’ Then Philip told him: ‘If you believe with your heart, you may’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.’ So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptised him.
5. There was the case of the Philippian jailer who immediately he believed was baptised with members of his family by Paul (Acts 16:30-33).
6. Cornelius and members of his family and his friends were baptised by Peter after they had heard the word of God preached to them and believed (Acts.10:44-48).
7. Apostle Paul wrote: ‘If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Rom.10:9).
8. John the Baptist preached that people should repent. Those who confessed and repented of their sins were baptised (Mt.3:4-9).
9. The command to make disciples of all the nations as recorded in Matthew 28:19, requires that the gospel be preached and believed before a candidate is baptised. True Christian belief must certainly include confession and repentance.

From the above references we could see that the requirements for baptism are: belief in Christ, confession of sins, and repentance. These requirements can only be met by adults and not babies and children who cannot understand these things even when they are preached to them.

But child dedication and the laying on of hands to bless children are recorded practices in the bible (Lk.2:22-24; Mt.19:13-15).
This is not to condemn those who practice child baptism but to enlighten us about the biblical stand on this so that we don’t feel condemned if we fail to practice it.
The purpose of baptism in Christian religion is clearly explained by Apostle Paul. You may read Romans 6:1-5.

Priesthood of all believers: This is a contentious topic in which people toe different lines. Some people are against women ordination because of what Apostle Paul wrote in one of his letters: ‘Let women learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence’ (1Tim.2:11-12). However, many theologians argued that Apostle Paul gave this command because it was the custom of many women to ask their husband questions on things they did not understand during sermons in the early church, thus making the whole meeting rowdy. Paul had to find a way of stopping this rowdiness. In the ministry of Paul several women were involved like Phoebe (Rm.16:1), Aquilla (Rm.16:3), Eurodia and Syntyche (Phil.4:2). Some of them might have been ordained deacons or pastors or bishops. There can be no doubt that most of them were evangelists. However, Apostle John wrote that the risen Christ has made all believers (including men and women) kings and priests to His God and Father (Rev.1:6; 5:10 NKJV). Apostle Peter, in his own writing made a similar statement (1Pe.2:5). We should not quarrel with those who hold a different view from the one expressed here. We have been warned not to engage in any argument on contentious matters (2Tim.2:24-25).

Worship of Angels: This is forbidden by the word of God (Col.2:18). Even a true angel of God will not allow humans to worship him (Rev.19:10; 22:8-9). It is only God who should be worshipped. He is worthy of our worship.
Sabbath: Christians are not under any obligation to observe the Sabbath. It is a covenant between God and the Children of Israel (Exod.31:12-17).In fact, there are more than one Sabbaths which God commanded the Israelites to observe. We are warned by Apostle Paul about this (Col.2:16-17). It is necessary to explain further that when a Christian decides to observe it, he is going on the side of the Law. In this case, he is obliged to obey all the other laws of Moses, failing which, he has become a law-breaker (Rom.10:5). And the bible says that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified (Rom.3:28). The purpose of this exposition is not to condemn Christians who keep the Sabbath but to understand what the bible says concerning it and not for us to feel guilty if we do not observe it.

The bible concept of Sainthood: The word ‘saint’ is used as a generic term for all who by baptism have entered into the Christian covenant (see Acts 9:13, 32, 41; Rom.1:7; 1Cor.1:2; Phil.1:1). St Paul used this title freely in his letters. This means that we have living saints and saints who have died. It is not after death that the title of sainthood should be conferred on a Christian. The word ‘saint’ is a translation from a Greek word that means holy. Holy means: to be separated for sacred purposes. It is consecration of one’s life for God’s use. Christians have their sins forgiven through the expiatory death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His holiness has been imputed to them (1Cor.1:30; 2Cor.5:21). This is the stand of the bible. Just as the apostles of Christ were called saints, so, every Christian has the right to be called a saint.

The Day of the Lord: Every day is the day of the Lord but since Jesus Christ rose up from death on the first day of the week, called Sunday according to the Roman calendar, that day became a special day for Christians. It is on this day that they meet to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus. It became a holy day for Christians of all generations.

 Pastor I.O.Odewale

Superstition and idolatrous practices in the Church
Memory Verse: ‘Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it’ – Dt.12:32.

There are some age-long traditions in the church that have no scriptural basis. Just because no one has scrutinized them to find out if they form part of the divine revelation, they have persisted to be regarded as sacrosanct. Some of these traditions and practices lose their appeal when exposed to the searchlight of the word of God. We may be surprised to find some of them to be just superstitions or subtle overture to idolatry.

In this essay, I want to direct our attention to a few of them with the hope of setting the records right. This is not an attempt to criticise any church, but to free Christians from the burden and oppression of religion. Jesus said; ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’ (Jn.8:32). Apostle Paul wrote: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast’ (Eph.2:8-9). We are also cautioned not to add or remove from the word of God (Dt.12:32).

The Sign of the Cross:
The sign of the cross has been with us for a long time. But it does not seem to have any basis from the word of God. It is not recorded anywhere in the bible as a sign that represents God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Some of us feel that our prayers will not be complete until we make the sign of the cross. This is the work of religion and it has practically nothing to add to our prayers before God will answer them. When we pray we should have faith in the grace and mercy of God to answer our prayers. He is a faithful God and has told us to ask in faith in His Son’s name, and we shall have whatever we ask from Him (Mk.11:23-24; Jn.14:13-14).
We are not sure of the origin of this practice but it might have originated from the time of serious Christian persecutions when Christians devised different signs of recognising each other. The ‘fish’ and the ‘sign of the cross’ became Christian identification marks.
The sign of the cross has nothing to add or reduce from the operation of grace in the life of a Christian.  It is used more like a confidence or ego booster than the means of grace.  It has no place in the scheme of salvation. It is by the blood of Jesus that we have right standing with God and are accepted in the beloved.

Finding God’s guidance through random or chance selection of a verse from the bible:
This is done by opening the bible randomly (at times) with closed eyes and fixing one’s guidance on the first verse that catches the eyes. The danger about this is that God does not act haphazardly. He may reveal His plan through the normal reading of His word. There was the story of a man who sought God’s guidance this way. As he opened his bible his eyes became fixed on Luke 12:20 where it reads: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This night your soul will be required of you…… ‘”. How do you think that person would feel? Definitely, he would not be happy. But this was not God’s perfect will for him. It is not God’s will for His children to be unhappy. This is divination and a wrong use of the bible. We make a fool of ourselves when we seek the counsel of God that way. However, the bible is very clear on how we can seek God’s guidance. I will just speak briefly on it here.
We need to know that God is sovereign and does not work according to a set pattern. He deals with each person differently. Sometimes God reveal His will to us through opportunities, circumstances, the advice of friends, the wish of parents; through evaluation of one’s own abilities, personal inclination, needs of the day and through conscience.
He guides us by His word through verses that speak loudly to us as we study the bible. This may not happen by randomly opening the bible with eyes closed with the intention of wanting it to speak to you as you fix your attention on the first verse that catches your eye. It doesn’t work like that. It could be counter-productive.
God can guide us through the inner conviction that is given by the Spirit of God (Ro.8:16).
He guides us by dreams and visions (Acts 16:9-10)

Using the Bible as a protection charm:
Some people use the bible as a means of protection. They put it under their pillow when they sleep, thinking that it will keep them away from bad dreams and the attack of the enemy. Some carry it in their cars thinking that it will protect them from road accidents. Some write verses of the bible on their doors or on the windscreens of their cars as a sure means of protection.
The bible as a book has no power of its own. It is the word of God in it that has power and this power will not be manifested until we have the right faith in God’s word and are obedient to His commands. The word of God is to be believed, read and digested, and applied to our life’s situations. The Psalmist wrote: ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You’ (Ps.119:11,105). God told Joshua; ‘This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success’ (Jos.1:8).
We can see that God laid emphasis on our reading, meditating and living His word in our daily lives. Well, there is nothing wrong in writing the word of God out for the purpose of evangelism or for the sake of remembering it. But the word of God should never be used as a charm or talisman. This is idolatry. The Jews once made an idol of the temple in Jerusalem by putting their faith and trust in the temple rather than in the God of the temple. For this reason God warned them and eventually removed the temple from its place when they refused to repent (Jer.7:1-15).

Wearing the cross or carrying it about for protection:
The cross is the symbol of Christianity. It reminds us of the prize that Jesus paid for our redemption and salvation when He died for our sins on the cross so that we might live and be reconciled to God. It is the symbol of death to self, of sacrifice, of victory over death and a new life in Christ Jesus. Since the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the cross has assumed a more dignified usage. Apart from being a symbol of Christianity, it has become a fanciful object adorned with gold and other precious metals and stones.
But out of ignorance some people have idolized the cross. They wear and carry it on them as protection over evil spirits. Some even use it to exorcize evil spirit as could be watched in films. Let me just say here that the only thing the devil fears is the name of Jesus. And anyone who wants to use the name of Jesus for that purpose must be a true believer (Mk.16:17-18). Remember the case of the seven sons of Sceva who were trying to exorcize evil spirit ‘in the name Jesus whom Paul preached’ (Acts 19:11-17).  Let me just add that the cross has no power of its own except that of the One (Jesus Christ) who was nailed to it. But Jesus is no more on the cross; He is now seated on the throne of God His Father. I am amazed when I see people carrying the cross with the image of Jesus nailed to cross as if their own Jesus is still on the cross. I always say that my own Jesus is alive and He lives for ever more! And because He lives, those who believe in Him will live. It is idolatry to concede any special powers to the cross.

The use of candles, incense and holy water:
We need to understand that some of the religious practices of the Old Testament (OT) were the shadow and the type of the One that was coming (Heb.8:1-5).  Since Jesus Christ, who was the reality came, we no longer need the shadow and the type. The candle light put on the altar in the OT church (temple) was just the symbol of the presence of Jesus Christ who is the light of the world (Jn.9:5). The incense represented His royal priesthood (Heb.9:11). It also represented the prayer of the saints that ascended to the throne of God through the mediation of our Chief High Priest (Rev.5:8).  Since Jesus now lives in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit we no longer need to represent Him by any symbol.
The holy water represented the Holy Spirit that God would pour on all believers for the washing of regeneration (Tit.3:4-5). The Holy Spirit is now physically in the Church and we no longer need any object to represent Him.
When people place their faith in the power of incense and holy water to heal and set free and not in the power of God, it means that they have made those things their gods. When we attribute the power of God to incense or holy water, we are giving the glory that is due to God to inanimate objects. But God will not allow His glory to be given to others (Isa.42:8). Today a number of Christians put unnecessary importance on incense and holy water instead of trusting in the all sufficient and inexhaustible grace of God in Christ Jesus. This is idolatry.
The hold the spirit of religion has on some people is irresistible. But Jesus said, you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Note that the use of candles or incense or the ‘so-called’ holy water cannot force the hand of God to do anything. He is a sovereign God who works according to the counsel of His will. There is nothing we can contribute or add to what Christ has already achieved for us on the cross of Calvary. It is only because of Him that we have access to the throne of grace and can ask the Father whatever we need. And anything we ask in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, we receive from Him (Jn.15:16).

Repetition of sacred words like the Hindu or Buddhist mantra:
It is the custom among some Christians to shout such words as ‘Hallelujah’ or ‘Amen’ a number of times. They believe that when they shout these words 3,7,21 or more times their prayers would be heard or their worship would become acceptable to God. There is nothing wrong in praising or worshipping God in the way we like but we should be careful of formalism in which our worship or praise is reduced to empty rituals and the flesh is gratified while the spirit is absent (Isa.29:13). We have a God whose ears are not dull to hear us and whose hands are not short to save (Isa.59:1-2). As long as we walk closely with Him and obey His commands, He will always answer us when we call and enhance our worship and praise with His presence.

We need to understand that the devil has a way of counterfeiting good things. This is what he has done with this practice mentioned above. He has secretly brought numerology cult into our system of worship whereby worshippers not only repeat sacred words but are made to bow down a number of times in different directions as they repeat them. This, at best could be described as the works of religion, but it has the trappings of idolatry. We must be careful to follow the tradition handed over to us by the early Christians and not introduce innovations of dubious origin. Numerology is an ancient science which is devoted to the study of occult significance of numbers.  The bible has warned us about seeking after esoteric knowledge except what has been revealed to us – ‘`The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law’ (Dt.29:29). We must remember that there are some secret things of heaven that has not been explained to us. When Apostle Paul was caught up into Paradise he said that he heard what he described as ‘inexpressible words, which is not lawful for a man to utter’ (2Cor.12:4). It does mean that there are some inexpressible words or usages even in the bible that we cannot understand. The fact that the angels in the vision of prophet Isaiah repeated the word ‘holy’ three times (Isa.6:3) does not mean that we should idolize ‘3’ as a sacred number. This is paganism. Yes, numbers like ‘3’, ‘7’.and ‘12’ are used repeatedly in the bible but there is no explanation anywhere as to their significance. I believe that Jesus would have revealed the importance of using these ‘special numbers’, these ‘sacred words’ and the different ‘places people should face while praying’ to His disciples when He taught them how to pray (Mt.6:7-13) if it was necessary. We should follow the teaching of our Master on all matters and the traditions of the early apostles in our Christian activities and worship rather than relying on the doctrines of men (Eph.2:19-22). You shall know the truth and the truth we set you free. Amen.

By Pastor I.O.Odewale

Topic: Grace and work in the scheme of Salvation
Memory Work: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast’ (Rm.2:8-9).

Many of us Christians do not understand the relationship between grace and work in the scheme of salvation. Many still believe that it is our good works that will facilitate our smooth passage to the kingdom of God.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, apart from teaching the virtue of humility and discouraging pride in religious matters, is a veiled appraisal of grace and work in the economy of salvation.
In the parable two men went up to the temple to pray, one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Remember that the Pharisees were strict observers of the Laws of Moses and were regarded as holy men. But the tax collectors were looked down upon as sinners – one, because they collected taxes for their pagan overlords, Romans and two, because they were never honest in this business.
According to the parable, the Pharisee stood up and prayed thus with himself, ‘God I thank you that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers or as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess’ (Lk.18:11-12).

Let’s hear what the bible says about the tax collector: “And the tax collector standing from afar off, could not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Lk.18:13).
The Lord Jesus in conclusion said, ‘I tell you, this man (i.e. the tax collector) went down to his house justified rather than the other (i.e. the Pharisee)’ (Lk.18:14).

Note: to be justified is to be free from condemnation.
We are not told that the Pharisee was justified.
While the tax collector humbled himself. We read that he could not even raise his eyes to heaven because he thought he was unworthy before the most holy God. Rather he entrusted himself to the grace of a merciful God who justifies the ungodly through faith in Him (Rm.4:3). But the Pharisee trusted in his works of religion and he did not go to his home justified. Grace humbles but works lead to boasting and pride.

Now, what is grace? Grace is unmerited favour that God bestowed to us in His Son Jesus Christ (Jn.1:17). This is expressed strongly in our redemption, forgiveness of sin and salvation. Our salvation from the beginning to the end is by grace (Jn.3:16). Our Christian life from the beginning to the end is dependent on grace (Jn.6:44; Rm.8:29-30). The gift of the Holy Spirit and His gifts to the church are all by grace (Jn.1:16)..
God’s grace compensates for human weakness. Paul wrote: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2Co.12:8-9).

What are referred to works in Christian parlance? They are religious obligations like church offerings, tithes, alms-giving, evangelism, preaching, teaching, charity works etc, and rituals like baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, fasting, observation of holy days and church festivals etc.
Can all these works save anyone? But the bible says: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast’ (Rm.2:8-9). See also Titus 3:4-7.

Where then is the place of work in the scheme of salvation, after all, James said that faith without work is dead (Jas.2:20)? Christian works or call it, good works are the product of salvation. When by grace you have been drawn to Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit, and you have received Him as your Lord and Saviour you are saved. It is then you will be empowered to do good works. Thus your good works are as a result of your salvation. Apostle Paul wrote about himself: ‘…….by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them (the other apostles) – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me’ (1 Co.15:10). He wrote to the Philippians: ‘….work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure’ (Phil.2:12-13). What Paul is saying here is that now that the Philippians were saved, they should to show the effect of their salvation by good works that God would will in them and give them the enablement to perform.

Jesus said: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears fruit, for without Me you can do nothing’ (Jn.15:5). Without being saved we cannot bear any good fruits and neither can we do any good works. Apart from Christ, all our good works are like filthy rags (Isa.64:6).

In conclusion we must understand that our good works cannot take us to heaven but our faith in the finished work of Christ on Calvary. In faith we should accept the salvation that He has purchased for us through His blood. It is then that we can do any good works. However, our works for God will be rewarded in full when we appear before the judgement seat of Christ (2 Co. 5:10)

By Pastor I.O.Odewale

‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ – Jn.8:32.

Topic: Does prayer on the hill or on the plain make any difference?
Texts: 1 Kings 20:23-30; Jn.4:19-24.

There was war between Syria and Samaria in which the king of Syria gathered a large army through which he hoped to defeat the small army of Israel. But on the day of the battle his proud army was completely routed by Israel. The Syrians then said that the God of Israel was the God of the hills and not the God of the valleys and that was why they were defeated. Then they planned another attack in a valley thinking that they would defeat Israel this time around. But the Lord said to the king of Israel, ”Because the Syrians have said, ‘The Lord is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys, therefore, I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord’” (1 Kgs.20:28)  Israel again defeated them hands down.

The almighty God, who fills heaven and earth, cannot be limited. He is God omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. The Syrians insulted God by limiting Him to the hills. Even today many of us limit God to the hills or to a particular local church when He says I am the God who fills heaven and earth (Jer.23:24). The whole earth belongs to Him and His presence is everywhere (Ps.24:1; 139:7-12).
The Patriarch Abraham knew this. In his journeys through the desert to the place where God was going to give him, at every place where God appeared to him or where he pitched his camp, he erected an altar to the Lord and worshipped Him there (Gen.12:6-8). He did not have to look for a mountain to meet with God and worship Him there.

Moses was called by God to meet Him on Mount Sinai where He gave Him the Ten Commandments but the Children of Israel were not allowed to come near the mountain so that they would not die (Ex.19:20, 23). Yet they saw the glory of God and had a mountain-top experience with Him (Ex.19:16-19). Thus, we can have a mountain-top experience with God any place we choose or consecrate to meet with the Lord.

We read that Jesus often went to a solitary place to commune with His Father in order to be alone with Him. The place He often chose for such communion was the desert or on a mountain or in a garden-park. When we realise that Jesus, during His earthly ministry, was often trailed by a great multitude who wanted to listen to His teaching or receive healing from Him and when we know that Jesus would not send away anyone who came to Him without attending to their problems, we can appreciate the pressure on Him and His time and why He often moved to lonely places to meet with His Father. These meetings often took place early in the morning before day-break or late in the evening after sun-set. These were the times when He could be free from pressure from the crowd.

Today, many churches organise camp-meetings, weekend retreats and ocean-liner cruises for prayer-meetings and evangelism. But added to these is the practice of organising special prayers on mountains and hills by certain Christian sects. These sects believe that certain prayers need to be said in these places before God could answer them. This belief has affected the prayer life of many Christians that they can no longer tarry in prayer by themselves or wait patiently for God to answer their prayers. This is a worrying trend that needs to be addressed through an in-depth teaching of the word of God. Jesus said, ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’.
We need to understand that we have a God who answers prayer (Ps.65:2) and the scripture cannot be broken (Jn.10:35).

Jesus told us in His word, ‘For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says. Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them’ (Mk.11:22-24).
These statements raise two important issues. The first is that we can pray to God on our own without depending on anyone else to pray for us. Secondly, that we need faith to ask and receive from God.

The reasons we may not receive an answer to our prayers are mentioned in the bible:
1. If we have any doubt in our heart (Mk.11:23; Jas.1:6)
2. If there is sin in our heart (Ps.66:18)
3. If we don’t abide in Christ and His word does not abide in us (Jn.15:7)
4. If we do not ask according to His will (1 Jn.5:14-15)
5. If we don’t keep His commandments and do things that are pleasing in His sight (1 Jn.3:22).
Except for the above reasons, God is always ready to answer our prayers when we pray in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. However, we must know that God cannot be pressurised to answer our prayers by our whim or caprice (Isa.55:8-9). He does His own thing at His own time; when it will give us maximum satisfaction and when His name will be glorified.

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us to be importunate in prayer (Lk.11:9-10; 18:1-7). He told us: ‘Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened.’  We are not told how many times we should ask or knock, or how long we should seek before we find. Importunity in prayer is not a sin and neither is it a sign of faithlessness. Rather it is a sign of great faith in God and of absolute trust in His mercy and grace.

There is nothing wrong in choosing or consecrating a particular place as a place of prayer or a place of meeting with God. But what is unacceptable is to limit the power of God to answer prayer to a particular place. This is not scriptural.
God is not limited by space or distance. He will always hear the prayer of a contrite and broken heart wherever he calls upon His name.

We should not idolize a particular place as the only place where God will answer our prayers like the pagans who choose certain groves, shady trees, hills and mountains as the only places where they could meet or pray to their gods. These were ‘high places’ referred to in the bible which some reformers like Kings Hezekiah and Josiah ordered to be removed, and made the temple in Jerusalem the right place to worship Jehovah (2Kgs.18:4,22; 2Ch31:1; 2Ch.34:3). We should not encourage the return of the ‘high-places’ in our own time.

When the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well asked Him the right place to worship, whether on the mountain where they worshipped in Samaria or at the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus told her, ‘the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’ (Jn.4:22-24). Wherever the Lord puts His name is a hallowed ground. If those who choose to pray for people on mountains and hills are true worshippers who worship the Father in spirit and in truth, then, they constitute no danger to the body of Christ. But we have to be discerning in accepting any religious innovation.

The tradition of the early church as found in the Acts of the Apostles should be our model in this generation. The early Apostles promised to give themselves ‘continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word’ (Acts 6:4) but there is no mention that any of their prayer sessions took place on any ‘sacred hill or mountain’. The bible recorded: ‘So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house….praising God and having favour with all the people’ (Acts 2:46). ‘And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch’ (Acts 5:22). The apostles did their works mostly in the temple or in Jewish synagogues.

There is nothing special about praying on the mountains and hills. God will always answer your prayers if you have faith in Him. Have faith in God. Prophet Jeremiah wrote: ‘Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; truly, in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel’ (Jer.3:23).

From the Pastor’s Desk

‘They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony’ (Revelation 12:11)

One of the most formidable weapons that God has made available for our spiritual warfare against the devil and his minion of demons is the blood of the Lamb. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. His blood is still available and has divine power to cleanse a sinner of his sins (1 Jn.1:7; Rev.7:14), protect (Ex.12:13, save (Rm.5:9) and overcome all the forces of Satan (Rm.12:11).

The devil is afraid of this blood because each time it is mentioned, it means to him the re-enactment of Christ’s victory over him over two thousand years ago at the cross. The saints of every age have used the blood of Jesus effectively in their warfare against the forces of darkness. This blood guarantees our victory every time. Do you want to have power to overcome the forces of Satan? Of course, the powerful blood of Jesus is available to you if you give your life completely to Him.

By Pastor I.O.Odewale

‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ – Jn.8:32

To know Jesus is to know the truth because He is the personification of the Truth. He Himself told His disciples: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ He came to the world to tell us the truth, show us the truth and to set us free from ignorance and the deceit of the devil. You may ask, why? It is because he wanted to reconcile us to God so that we may be saved from internal judgement for our sins. When Jesus departed this world He deposited the truth in His holy church and this is why Apostle Paul describes the church of the Living God as the pillar and ground of the truth (1.Tim.3:15). Take note: Paul is talking about the universal church here. Any local church that qualifies to be called the church of the Living God should be the pillar and ground of the truth. This clarification is necessary because not every local church we see on the street is the church of the Living God. There are visible churches of Satan and the synagogues of the devil in our midst today
Before the coming of Jesus Christ into the world ancient philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and others spent much of their time debating on what is truth. The result of their works has influenced our modern thinking that dismisses the existence of an absolute truth and upholds that all truths are relative. Just like Shakespeare averred; ‘nothing is good or bad, thinking makes it so.’ But Jesus came to tell us the absolute truth about God, about the world, about heaven, about Himself, about man and his destiny.

In this and the following messages we shall discuss topical issues that will deepen our knowledge of the truth of the bible.

In today’s message we shall take time to examine the phenomenon of prophecy in the church. Other words used in connection with prophecy are soothsaying and divination. The last two are often associated with demonic powers. This is why God told Moses that no soothsayers or diviners should be found among the Children of Israel or the people of God (Dt.18:14).
Prophecy is the telling of future events through revelation from God. However, we need to know that every prophecy must conform to the pattern we find in the bible and it must be in line with the word of God. This is because all the revelations of God are contained in the book God has given us which is the bible. God who knows the end from the beginning has spoken about our situations, circumstances and things that could happen to man right from creation to eternity. Thus, the bible could say, ‘Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.’ (Ps.119:89). The greatest Prophet, the Lord Jesus, has spoken and revealed the mind of God to the world and especially to those who care to know and follow Him.

Judging from what we have in the Old Testament, prophecy is meant to teach the testimonies of God, encourage the people of God to keep His commands, correct or warn them of the consequences of sin and call people to repentance whenever they sin. All the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament from Isaiah to Malachi follow this trend in their prophecies. We find them moving from place to place declaring the word of God to people. There were occasions when God might ask a prophet to go and pronounce judgement on a nation or an individual for their sins but if they repented He might forgive them like in the case of Nineveh when God sent Jonah to this city of the Assyrians. However, there were some prophets like Samuel who were called seers who people used to approach to give them God’s direction on personal matters like when Saul approached Samuel about his father’s missing donkeys (1 Sam.9:18-20; 10:1-10).

Apostle Paul wrote about prophecy as a spiritual gift. He told the Corinthians that anyone who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men (1 Cor.14:3). This should be the role of prophecy in this our New Testament era. It must be aimed at edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

To edify means to lift up in the faith, to benefit spiritually and to improve morally.
To exhort is to encourage and to admonish earnestly.
But this is not the type of prophesy we come across today in many of the so-called evangelical and charismatic churches. Most of the prophecies that are given are far from edifying or encouraging.
In what ways can a prophecy that speaks of imminent death or sickness or accident or attack by witches and wizards edify or exhort an individual member of that church?
But this is the kind of prophecies that is forced down the throats of ‘prophecy-mongers’ among us.
At the beginning of every New Year, the pages of both local and national newspapers are full of such sickening prophecies that do nothing but send fear in the minds of the people.

Examine all personal prophecies in the bible from Genesis to Revelation you will discover that there is not one that does not exhort or edify except when God sent judgement for a sin committed.
Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: ‘Brethren, do not be children in understanding………….but be mature’ (1 Cor.14:20). We should no more be babes but mature men and women in the Lord.

The truth is absent in a church where visions of death and accidents are bandied or where fear or suspicion is instilled in the minds of people.
A prophet who claims to know everything about you and your future must be receiving inspiration from or working in close union with demons and fallen angels.

God deals with individuals on ‘one-to-one’ basis and He is not under obligation to disclose the secrets of your life to anyone else.
There could be times when God may reveal a sin in the life of another person to one of His servants for the purpose of interceding for him or warning him or bringing him to repentance as in the case of King David when God sent Nathan to him to confront him when he committed adultery with Bathsheba the wife of Uriah (2 Sam.12:1-15).
However, the prophecy from God must come to a hundred percent fulfilment, failing which the prophecy is not from God (Dt.18:21-22).

There are many false prophets, soothsayers and diviners in the church today.
They feed on the ignorance of people to deceive them and put them under their control. This is nothing short of witchcraft in the church.
What sorts of people fall victims to these agents of the devil?
They are men and women who are not sure of their relationship with God or who don’t know their position in Christ.
By position, we are children of God and we have access to our Father through the blood that was shed and through the name of Jesus Christ.

We have been raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph.2:6) and Jesus has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Mt.28:20).
If you have faith in God and in His promises for you, you will know that His protection for you is sure and His thoughts for you are the thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer.29:11)
When you have surrendered your life to God and you are walking in His counsel, you can always hear from Him because you are already a prophet of God.

God in His mercy has instituted special ways of speaking to His children. First of all, He speaks to us through His word. As you read and meditate on His word, a verse of the bible could fly off from the page you are reading to engage your attention. This could be God speaking to you about something, or an answer to a problem that has worried your mind or could be a new direction that God is giving you. The Spirit will anoint it to your heart and you will know clearly that it is God speaking to you (Jn. 16:13).

He speaks to us through the word of wisdom (1 Cor.12:8). This is a Spiritual gift from God. It operates in a situation when a crucial decision has to be made in a time of stress or difficult problem. God may send a revelation through a servant as was the case when King Hezekiah was besieged by a powerful confederation of his foes. As he was praying with his people about the crisis, God gave him direction through Jahaziel on whom the Spirit of God fell (2 Chr.20:14-18).
God also speaks to His children through the word of knowledge (1 Cor.12:8). An example can be found in 2 kings 6:8-12 where Prophet Elisha told the king of Israel the movements of the Syrian army that was engaged in war with Israel.
He also speaks through the advice of His anointed servants; through visions and dreams. But in all cases all these must be in line with the word of God. The word of God is the yardstick with which we measure the truth of God.

From all these we can know indeed that we are our own prophets and we don’t need to run after any so-called prophets we are not sure of.
When we realise that our life and our future are in the hands of God who loves us and who is able to guide and protect us, why do we worry about what lies ahead of us? As long as we believe in the faithfulness of our loving Father God we can trust Him to see us through our lives. God says, ‘Say to the righteous, it shall be well with him (Isa.3:10). As long as we are in Christ, it will be well with us.

We should trust in His promises to us because He is a God who does not lie and can deliver what He promises (Num.23:19; Isa. 55:10-12; 2 Cor.1:20).

Why some of us may not hear from Him is because of our pre-occupation with worldly things and our insensitiveness to the Spirit of God. Let us walk closely with Him, obey Him and be completely surrendered to Him. Let us study his word to know more of Him. Our knowledge of Him will shield us from believing false prophecies and from following false prophets.
If anyone invites you to a church that specialises in soothsaying and divination, REJECT the invitation.