Category: Book releases

Books authored by Andrew C. Phiri

Turning the Corner: From Shadows to Reality

This new book is a result of requests coming from regular listeners of our weekly radio broadcast that the teaching series on Law and Grace be put in book form and if possible be translated in Zambian local languages. Among other things the book delves into the following controversial topics:

  • Some passages of Scripture contain prophecies which indicate that the Sabbath and animal sacrifices will be taking place in the Millennium (See Isaiah 66:22-23 and Ezekiel chapters 43 to 44); How does that reconcile with the Christian belief of looking at those practices as shadows which got fulfilled in Christ (Hebrews 10:1, Colossians 2:16-17)?
  • What is the New Covenant of Grace? Does it entail doing away with the Law or it still requires keeping the requirements of the Law?
  • Scripturally which day is the right day of worship – Saturday or Sunday? If Christ did away with the Sabbath, why did He tell His disciples to pray regarding the Great Tribulation that “your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matthew 24:20)?
  • Which day did Saint John refer to when he said “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10); Was it a Saturday or Sunday?
  • How did the transition occur from Saturday to Sunday as a day of Christian worship? Is it true that it is the Roman Emperor, Constantine, who introduced Sunday worship?

The book will be available (both in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon) on 2nd September 2020. We hope to purchase copies from Amazon for free distribution to people who cannot afford to pay for the printing and shipment costs, however, we can only do that when resources are available.

John Mark Louse: A light to Karamoja

Available in e-book (Kindle) and paperback formats

This is a story of a Karamojong warrior turned Christian. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him out of a light and spoke saying, “I have chosen you to be a light to your people. You are going to begin this ministry here in Teso, and you will continue with it even up to Karamoja and other lands.” Today we are witnesses of a great ministry that shook that primitive region of Uganda. Dead people were raised to life and incurable diseases got miraculously healed, but above all, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was preached in its purity, undented with denominational dogma or theology. Once again we have had the opportunity to see that God reveals Himself in simplicity. Brother John Mark Louse went to be with the Lord on February 26, 2015. He was 60 years old. He was survived by his wife and 12 children. This book presents to you a story of his life and some sermons he preached. It is our hope that through reading this testimony your heart will be stirred to earnestly contend for the Faith that was once delivered to the saints.

Although he left to be with the Lord, his influence and legacy was not interred with his bones. It will live long in our memory, as a witness, that an Apostle came our way”  – In Foreword by Bro. JAMES VEREMU

Introduction by Bro. ISAAC WONYIMA

Epilogue & Testimony by Bro. RICHARD GAN

Mystery of His Will

Why did God step out of Eternity into Time? Why did he further give us his Son? Why didn’t he just remain ‘alone’ in Eternity? Some people go further to suggest that had God left things as they were (i.e. without creating the world) there would have never been evil and all the sufferings we go through! So, what really was God’s will or intention for all the drama we see in this world? Let us go on this intriguing journey of faith and behold the unfolding mystery of his will!

Notes on Daniel: Rise of Constantine and demise of the Tetrarchy

Note: This is a continuation of the series “Notes on Daniel“. To see preceding notes go to the “Sermons” button above, click and locate “Notes on Daniel“.

In 303 AD (the year the Edict Against the Christians was issued), after visiting Rome, the health of Diocletian broke down. He could not continue ruling. On 1st May, 305 AD he stepped down from power. He retired to his large spacious home in Dalmatia. He encouraged his deputy to also step down to let their two caesares rise to the rank of augustus. The joint abdication thus led to Constantius and Galerius becoming augusti for  the western and eastern parts of the empire respectively. At this time it seemed obvious that Constantine, the son of Constantius who had been a right-hand man of Galerius and for which it had become certain that he was being groomed for rulership, would be appointed  caesar. However, the unexpected happened: Galerius considered  Constantine to be too ambitious and so bypassed him to appoint his nephew, Maximinus, as the new caesar in the eastern empire. Galerius went further to influence the outcome of who would become caesar in the west. He conspired to install a man called Severus instead of Maxentius, the son of Maximian the former augustus.

The maneuvers of Galerius were a dangerous plot which soon turned disastrous. The following year, in 306 AD, Constantius died and a power struggle ensued: the army proclaimed Constantine as their new augustus but Galerius promoted Caesar Severus of the West to the rank of augustus.

Down in the south Maxentius was declared emperor. This Maxentius also had North Africa under his control. It is important to note that these regions under the control of Maxentius supplied the Roman Empire with grain, a staple food, and thus the usurper controlled a  region which was crucial for the food security of the empire.

Emperor Severus marched with the army to go and fight Maxentius. This army had previously been led by Maximian, Maxentius’ father. Maxentius managed to win the hearts of the commanders and soldiers and turned them against emperor Severus who got arrested and was forced to abdicate.

In 308 AD Diocletian and Maximian called for an emergency meeting at Carnuntum, a Roman fortress on River Danube, during which it was decided that Licinius be appointed as the new augustus of the West and Constantine be recognized as his caesar. Galerius remained as augustus and Maximinus as his caesar in the east. Maxentius was deemed an illegitimate ruler.

The council at Carnuntum did not produce the desired results: Constantine and Maximinus could not accept Licinius as their senior. The following year, in 309 AD, both Constantine and Maximinus had to be recognized as augusti. The empire now had four augusti!

Power struggles and civil wars continued in the coming years. However, with time, Constantine was rising to take over the whole empire. In 312 AD Constantine invaded Italy. The first battle was fought at Turin and Constantine had a resounding win against Maxentius’ forces. Another victory followed at Verona. The crucial struggle would occur on the Milvian Bridge over River Tiber.

The battle of the Milvian Bridge

This was not an ordinary battle; it changed the course of world history! According to Eusebius of Caesarea, an eye-witness historian of the 4th century,  On 27th October, 312 AD, the day before the battle Constantine saw a vision of a cross in the sky and underneath it the words, “in hoc signo vinces” which means “in this sign, prevail”. Awaking from the vision Constantine needed no further explanation. The next morning he ordered the painting of the cross on the soldiers’ shields,   to march into the war as Christian soldiers.

Maxentius and his army sabotaged the Milvian bridge to hinder their foes from crossing over. In case of defeat, they made a temporal bridge of boats which they could use to run over and retreat to Rome. However, in the heat of the battle which ensued, Maxentius and his army fled over the temporary bridge but which collapsed causing many, including Maxentius, to drown! The body of Maxentius was retrieved from the river and beheaded.

River Tiber

After the battle of the Milvian Bridge Constantine committed himself to giving liberty to the Christians. He met with Emperor Licinius to confirm important political arrangements.

Artistic portrayal of the Battle of Milvian Bridge (Image created in 1666)

He believed that the Christian God had caused his victory. Britannica Encyclopedia notes:

Shortly after the defeat of Maxentius, Constantine met Licinius at Mediolanum (modern Milan) to confirm a number of political and dynastic arrangements. A product of this meeting has become known as the Edict of Milan, which extended toleration to the Christians and restored any personal and corporate property that had been confiscated during the persecution (Matthews and Nicol, 2019).

Constantine went further to do more than what was in the Edict of Milan. He became so devout to the cause of the Christian religion that he built Christians many structures and raised bishops to positions of power in society.

By 313 he had already donated to the bishop of Rome the imperial property of the Lateran, where a new cathedral, the Basilica Constantiniana (now San Giovanni in Laterano), soon rose. The church of St. Sebastian was also probably begun at this time, and it was in these early years of his reign that Constantine began issuing laws conveying upon the church and its clergy fiscal and legal privileges and immunities from civic burdens. As he said in a letter of 313 to the proconsul of Africa, the Christian clergy should not be distracted by secular offices from their religious duties “…for when they are free to render supreme service to the Divinity, it is evident that they confer great benefit upon the affairs of state” (ibid).

This was a big turn in history! By the year 313 AD the tetrarchy system was no more as there were only two rulers in the empire – Augustus Constantine in the West and Augustus Licinius in the East. In 324 AD a war broke out between the two halves of the empire in which Constantine emerged victorious. Constantine reunited the empire and established himself as the sole ruler.

Next: Rise of Papal Rome


Matthews, J.F.  and Nicol, D.M. ( 2019). Constantine I. Britannica Encylopedia [Online]. Available from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Constantine-I-Roman-emperor#ref22045 [Accessed May 6, 2019].

Mystery of His Will 8: UNDER ONE HEAD

There was a time when everything in creation revolved around the perfect will of God. Both the course of nature and human beings lived by God’s established laws. At that time everything was right and healthy. It was man, the only creature endowed with free will and given the privilege to rule over everything else on the planet, who in trying to venture out of the perfect will of the creator threw everything out of balance!

Through time the population of the world grew. As the moral compass of man became more ossified, wickedness increased. “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen.6:5). Almost all human beings had become vessels of evil and hence placed themselves on the path to death. God decided to bring everything to a halt. A flood was sent to destroy everything except righteous Noah and his family.

From the three children of Noah the world started being repopulated. Although evil still persisted in children of disobedience, the Lord God started a work among a people that came to be known as Israelites. Their eyes were opened to see the way that leads to life – “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc.12:13).

God made a covenant with the Israelites:  they were not to pollute themselves with the vain practices of other races. They were thus forbidden to get mixed up with the customs and traditions of other nations. God was doing an important work in them which would ultimately become a light to other nations. Various ordinances were given to Israelites to teach them obedience. In the fullness of time, Christ came to fulfil all what those practices of the law had pointed to.

When the Lord Jesus paid the price of redemption all authority was given to him by the Father. When he resurrected he gathered all saints who had been held captive by death in Sheol unto himself. From being captives of death they were now held by the power of life: “When he ascended up on high he led captivity captive” and ascended to heaven with those Old Testament saints (Eph.4:8, Mat.27:52-53). The whole family of heaven was thus gathered in Christ and became named after him.

The Lord commanded his disciples saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mat.28:18). All those on Earth who die to themselves and rise in the newness of life to live by his will, signified  by water baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Act.2:38), also become part of the family and are hence also gathered into Christ.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross he paid the price for redeeming the world. By that price the “power” which Satan had boasted of by saying “[it was] delivered unto me” (Luk.4:6) was now to be given back to the Redeemer, the “second man” or the “last Adam” which is the Lord Jesus Christ.  By paying that price, all things – both the world of Gentiles and Jews – shall be restored. Like the Lord Jesus had proclaimed before his death, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die” (Joh.12:32).

Good news to the Gentiles

Now, it was unthinkable that one day Gentiles, the ‘unclean animals’, would be cleansed from their vanities. Apostle Peter was shocked when he saw that vision of unclean animals being offered to him to eat. “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” he answered. But the vision spoke about a people that had never been part of the faith of the Jews. A people who were dirty with pagan beliefs and practices but now God would cleanse and graft them into the family tree.

When Peter was led to speak to a Gentile gathering he interpreted his vision to the people saying, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: he is Lord of all” (Act.10:34-36). Yes, even among the Gentiles there are those who would surrender and live by his will and hence call him Lord!

What Peter experienced had been signified in the time of Noah when both clean and unclean animals were gathered as one into the ark of safety. It was strange and unthinkable but through time Hebrew prophets had actually hinted to it (Gen.12:3, Isa.60:1,65:1-2, Psa.86:9-10, Rev.10:7).

As the Gospel of the resurrection of Christ spread in Israel the unexpected happened. Jews rejected the message of Salvation upon which Paul declared, “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves” (Act.28:28-29). Sad as this was, it was the working of God. He had determined a period of time during which he would only deal with the Gentiles – “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom.11:25).

The ultimate objective of this mystery of God is to bring everything under the headship of Christ: “And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached  their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Eph.1:9-10, NIV). All that would come under this headship are those who willingly do so after perceiving the vanity of the world and the joy of living by his will. Yes, “that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye [the Gentiles] also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye [the Gentiles]  believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph.1:10-13).

Notice that “trust” or “faith” in God’s counsel stands at the centre of this mystery plan of God! It is important to know that the fall in Eden was caused by a desire to veer away from the perfect counsel of God. Veering away from the creator’s wisdom, which is the way of the  Tree of Life (read Pro.3:18), has been responsible for all the troubles of the world, and the only way healing will come to the nations of the world is by getting restored to (and eating of) that tree. That healing will occur during the millennial reign of Christ. The counsel of his Word, through his chosen kings around the world, will heal the world of all the turmoil it has gone through. “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb”, apostle John narrated his vision,  “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev.22:1-2).

Dearly beloved, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecc.12:13-14). Amen.

End of the series

Mystery of His Will 7: THE OPENING OF EYES

In the eighth chapter of Mark we read about a large crowd of people which had gathered to hear the Lord Jesus but had hungered and there was no food to eat. The Lord felt compassion. “They have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat…if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way” he said (v.2). When the disciples heard what the Lord said, they reasoned and answered back as carnal men of the world: “from whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?” (v.4). The eyes of the disciples could only see the few number of loaves and fish available. Spiritually they were blind to what the power of God could do.

The Lord gave thanks for the food and a miracle occurred. Not only was everyone fed but there were baskets of left-over food! Notice what happened next:

The Lord entered a ship and with his disciples they went to another place. When they reached a place called Dalmanutha some Pharisees came forth and began to question him, asking him to perform a sign. These were carnal men. Did they think God’s power of signs could be wrought for mere amusement? Remember God multiplied the fish and bread because there was a need and the Lord felt compassion for the people. Well, the Lord left them and entered in the ship again to proceed to another place. Surely, where there is unbelief Jesus has no business or work to do there!

Now as they proceeded with the journey “the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one load” (v.14). How did the disciples handle this situation of hunger again? Did they learn anything from what had happened in the meetings they were from? Did they remember what the power of God had done?

Remembering the Works of God

The psalmist said, “I will remember the works of the Lord” (Psa.77:11). There is power in remembering testimonies. It can ignite your faith and let God move you to higher heights in the exploits of faith! But this was not so with the disciples. As they reasoned about the lack of bread in the ship the Lord said something: “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod” (v.15). Did the disciples understand that statement? No. Their minds were so occupied with the lack of bread and fish that when they heard the words of the Lord they thought the Lord was referring to their present worry of bread: “And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread” (v.16). When the Lord knew about their reasonings he rebuked them for being blind: “And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? … Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?” (v.17-18). The Lord went further to remind them about the miracle of food which had multiplied. He asked how much food had remained after the 4000 people were fed:  “how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?” (Mar.8:19-20).

It is always a great challenge to try to lead a person or people who are carnal because they can only live and reason as men of the world. They can never look heavenward when in trouble; they can only look up to systems of man to sustain them. Let us look at the event that happened next as the Lord travelled to illustrate more on faith in God.

Be steadfast! 

God can only make a person receive sight if he or she has a desire or intent to see. Like the psalmist prayed, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. I am a stranger in the earth, hide not thy commandments from me” (Psa.119:18). Yes, God can only draw near to us when we first express a desire to draw near to him (Jam.4:8). Where there is steadfastness, focus, or intent, God reveals himself more. Where there is no steadfastness, focus, or intent, people will only have scanty ideas about God, his Word or his counsel. The voice of God will be too faint for them to hear. The revelation of his Word or doctrine will be too foggy for them to see distinctly.

When a person develops a closer walk with God he or she will experience the privilege of   knowing God’s counsel over things that happen around him or that may happen in other people’s lives. God can then use such a person to minister or to pray for persons in need. Remember how God revealed to Abraham about what he was about to do to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen.18:17-19).

When the Lord arrived in Bethsaida we read that, “they [brought] a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him” (v.22). Did this blind man have a desire and the faith to get healed or he only moved along with “they” who brought him to Jesus, hoping that maybe something could happen to him? Well, the people who may have sought the Lord Jesus may have had the desire and the faith for the healing of the blind man but it was important for him to believe too! However, in our journey of faith, God can use people to help us get to a place where we can see. The good thing about this blind man is that he was willing to be led: “And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town”(v.23a).

When the Lord touched the eyes of the blind man something happened: “he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought” (v.23b). The poor man looked up and said “I see men as trees walking”. Although he didn’t see perfectly what had happened to his eyes must have amazed him and ignited his faith! He now had a personal experience of what the power of God could do.

When the Lord put his hands upon him again and made him to look up the Scripture says, “he was restored and saw every man clearly” (v.25). That is how it is worded in the King James Version Bible, but let us see a little interesting detail in other versions. In the New American Standard it says, “again he laid his hands upon his eyes, and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly”. In the Numeric English New Testament it says, “again he laid hands upon his eyes and he looked steadfastly and was restored, and saw all things clearly”. The Amplified version puts it this way: “he put his hands on his eyes again, and the man looked intently…and he was restored, and saw everything distinctly”.

The words “steadfastly” or “intently” makes a big difference for what we want to illustrate in this message. With what had happened to his once dead eyes when the Lord first touched him, when he was touched the second time the man certainly had a higher expectation and no wonder he was steadfast as he looked intently, hoping to now see clearly.

See, there are many people with a distant relationship with God. They can skip prayer meetings and that doesn’t bother them much. The only time they pray much is when they are in a church gathering; they simply have no personal walk with God. Although such a person may believe the truth of the word they received, what they have is a casual relationship with God. God may have done something in their lives but yet they have never lived in a manner that glorifies God. They are like those lepers who had desired healing from the Lord (Luk.17:12-19). When he commanded them to go and show themselves to the priests, as they went one of them noticed that he had been cleansed. He turned back and excitedly went to praise the Lord. “Were there not ten cleansed? But were are the nine?” the Lord asked.

It is important to know that the true body of Christ around the world consists of people who are steadfast in their walk with God. “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Act.2:42).

His Word, a lamp onto our feet

Living life as a spiritually blind person is a dangerous thing. One gropes in the dark wherein evil spirits lurk privily waiting on whom to devour. But when the Lord opens a person’s eyes, he or she will begin to walk in the knowledge provided by the lamp of God’s Word. Like the psalmist the person can testify saying, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa.119:105).

In this dark world there are so many paths that will call for your attention. If you are blind you will find yourself on any path that seems appealing. And the way of any path that is not of God is false and ultimately leads to death.  Like the Scripture admonishes us, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pro.16:25). It is only when you are guided by the light of God that you will find yourself on the way of truth which leads to life. For born again children of God the light of God opens their eyes to the revelation of his Word and his will for their lives.

When our eyes get opened to his Word, we realize how far away we were from the truth of Scriptures, or how we would have been in danger had we made a certain decision.

Testimony of seeing hidden truth of Scripture

One day after praying I sat on a sofa which was near a door. There was a dog leaning against the door. It was crying. In a moment I went into a trance in which the cry of the dog turned into a voice that I could hear clearly. It was a speech of complaining. Few moments later my normal sense of hearing returned and there it was again, the normal cry of the dog! Many years passed and I kept this bizarre experience to myself, wondering what it meant.

One day a Jehovah Witness challenged me concerning the speaking of the serpent recorded in the third chapter of Genesis. The person said that the serpent was not a talking-animal. He reasoned that it was able to talk with Eve because it got possessed by Satan. He argued that the serpent talked in the same manner a donkey once spoke to Balaam. What the man explained seemed logical and making good sense but not when your eyes are opened to the truth of Scripture. I tried to reason with the person to show him that Genesis 3 opens with words that introduce the serpent as the most intelligent beast that was in the Garden of Eden. All my words were to no avail. But, what about the man’s belief that the donkey of Balaam had spoken? Is that true?

One day whilst preaching on the Serpent-seed doctrine, like a torch lighting up a dark room and bringing to light all that was obscure, my eyes got opened to see what happened to Balaam’s donkey and I  understood the  purpose of the experience I had of hearing a dog talk.

We read in Numbers 22:28-30 that “the LORD opened the mouth of the ass…and the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.” Just how did the Lord open the mouth of the ass? Did it really speak as humans normally do? Not so! Believe it or not, if you were with Balaam on that day, all you would have heard would be the normal cry of the poor animal! But Balaam, to whom the message of the donkey was directed, heard it speak as clear as human speech! The experience I had with the dog was no different from what Balaam experienced. If there would have been another person with me by the door side, they would have only heard the cry of the dog! That is what happened one day when God spoke to the Lord Jesus; others only heard a roll of a thunder but he heard the voice of God’s words clearly (Joh.12:28-29).

Testimony of God’s protection

In Job 33:14 we read that “God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.” Yes, we often don’t perceive what God is trying to speak to us because of the worldly noise that often clusters our minds. A mind of a person can be so congested with voices of cares of this life that God’s voice only becomes a blurry shadowy thought in his mind. At a time when the Spirit would want them to pray a person may start doing something else. That prayer could have been an intercession for someone in need, or for your own safety.

One day, around 02:00 AM I was in deep sleep when a hand touched me on a shoulder to wake me up. I got up and got scared of what happened. I looked at my wife and she was sound asleep. I didn’t bother to wake her up to tell her what had happened. I could still feel the impact of the heavy hand on my shoulder. The house was all quite and it seemed everything was fine. But the strange feeling on my heart lingered. Without thinking over it, I got up and quietly went straight to the other empty bedroom. Without turning on the lights I opened the door and right in front of the window was a burglar who was trying to break into the house!

The heavy-set man, covered in a black head-sock, was so immersed in what he was doing that he didn’t see me standing and looking straight at him. Again without giving it a thought I raised my hand and spoke out loud, “What are you doing there?” The man shook in fear and staggered from the window and ran away. It is because of such moments that I have come to believe that there are so many things that happen without our knowledge but yet God is always there to protect us from harm. An experience like this one I had may never occur again but it strengthened my faith to know that even when I am so deeply unconscious, God is there!

I hope we can see the danger of not perceiving what God is speaking. It is important to know that God may give a dream, vision, or word of knowledge in order to keep us away from our will, which often is blind and leads to destruction. Here are the words of Elihu, a man who was sent by God to speak to Job: “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword” (Job 33:15-17).

Seeking God’s counsel

One day we had a strange case during a prayer meeting. A brother who used to fellowship in our congregation but had never shown up at church for some years showed up. He came with a strange prayer request. He said he was now a mental patient and would often become violent. He narrated how many times he had been admitted at a mental institution. This was a shock to all of us as we never expected such to happen to a believer. However, in a church there can be people we may regard as believers but yet they are just a face in the crowd and not yet truly converted. The man pleaded for prayer and we could see his desperation. We prayed for him but nothing happened. After some days he showed up again and complained that he still experienced the terrible episodes of losing his mind. We prayed but again nothing happened!

It was about the fourth time when the man came during an evening prayer meeting. I requested him to stand in the centre and I asked other believers to be quite as I prayed:  “Lord, we have prayed all we know how to and yet this man isn’t getting delivered. Please open our eyes that we may see why the evil spirit is still following him. Speak to us Lord, by vision or dream. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.”

I dismissed the gathering after the short prayer and I kept wondering if the Lord would be merciful to open our eyes concerning the man’s situation. That night one sister had a dream. In the dream some people appeared to her asking, “Why do you want to help this man. He stole our things!” The sister then saw electrical appliances, radios, and other stolen goods. The following day she narrated the dream to me. It sounded odd but the man had to be told the dream.

I remember the evening he came home to hear the dream the sister had. He seemed comfortable as he sat in the sofa until the dream was narrated. I can’t forget the sight of his shivering cheeks as he struggled to explain his predicament. “But pastor, if I reveal this to the person I stole from I will be arrested…what can I do?” A family member had further confirmed that the man had stolen electrical goods from a certain shop. The shop owner consulted a witchdoctor and that is how the evil spell was cast upon him! That evening I told him that what to do next was all up to him. We didn’t see him for some time, for about two or three years, until one day when he showed up at home looking so happy. He testified how he cried and agonised to God in repentance, had made things right, and that’s how the madness left him. He was now spending much of his time on the streets sharing the Gospel. Now think about how we would have still kept on casting the evil spirit out of the man to no avail had our eyes not been opened to see what the devils were holding on to. Dear friend, spiritual warfare requires that you see and know what you are fighting! And sometimes to know the will of the Lord may require that you pray and fast.

Seeking God through fasting

We read about how Daniel once fasted for 21 days after which an angel came to speak to him. Surprisingly, the angel told him that the answer to his prayer had been granted the first day he had begun his fast; the angel had been held up from reaching Daniel in time because of a warfare that had occurred with evil angels. Dearly beloved, we may not understand everything about how the spiritual world operates but one lesson should be clear to us when we read about Daniel’s vision: as human beings we live in the flesh and may not know forces which are warring against us. There may be need for us to get away from the noisy busy world and sit still to seek the Lord in prayer.

There are times when one just has to fast to seek God’s will over a matter. Remember when the disciples failed to cast out a demon and he told them that “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Mat.17:21). Now let us understand this: we fast not because we want God to feel sorry for our hungry stomachs but because we want to cast down “imaginations” and bring “every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor.10:3-5). We fast to keep our minds away from the noisy thoughts of the cares of this world which often hinder us from grasping what God may want us to hear. We fast to subdue our flesh. Many times our spirits may be willing to be in the presence of God but the flesh which often prefers pleasure may be standing in the way (Mat.26:41).

Continued in Part 8

Mystery of His Will 6: THE BLIND CAN SEE!

One day the disciples of Jesus saw a blind man and asked the Lord a question: “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents,  that he was born blind?” (Joh.9:2). In answering he talked about light: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (v.5). Why did the Lord talk about light when the disciples only asked about blindness? Well, it was for the simple reason that sight actually depends on light!

One can have a perfectly healthy eye but in the absence of light he won’t be able to see. To be able to see an object, light has to fall on it and then get reflected into the eye. Inside the ball of the eye, on the Retina, are cells which receive the image of the object. The image is formed by patterns of reflected light. So, an object can be right in front of you but if light doesn’t fall on it you won’t be able to see it! That is why no matter how close an object can be to your face, if there is completely no light you won’t be able to see it. However, note again that you can be in a place with enough light but if there is nothing in you to receive the light, you won’t be able to see. Being able to see is thus dependent on two things – the light falling on what you have to see and having a place in you to receive the light.

As in the natural so it is in the spirit. We come into this world enclothed in a body of flesh. The body helps us to relate with the physical world through its five senses – sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing.  But there is a consciousness within us that makes us aware of another reality which lies beyond the physical world. Some people have had glances into that spiritual world through visions or trances. But for most of the time, and for most of us, with our spirits trapped in matter, our experience of the world is similar to that of a prisoner who is locked up in a jail cell and whose perception of the external environment is only through a tiny window. This makes us strangers in our own world!

Try walking around with your eyes firmly closed. You will realize that fear, rather than sadness, will be your dominant feeling. You will soon become a stranger even in a place that you are already familiar with. You will suddenly wonder whether you are about to hit on a wall or trip and fall. Well did the Psalmist pray saying, “Open thou mine eyes…I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me” because in the Hebrew text the word for “stranger” is gare, derived from goor which means “fear” or “afraid”! (Psa.119:18-19).

Now ours is a world of foolish strangers! I once narrated this story to our church congregation:

Captured onto an aircraft you have been taken to an unknown destination. After a long flight you are dropped on a foreign land. You pull off the hood and notice different people busy doing different activities. Some are in suits and walking with briefcases into some corporate building. You see others playing football by a pitch. And a good number of others are in restaurants eating food. Which activity would you join?

“Football” answered one young man. I straightway told him that his answer was foolish: “Of all things is that what you could do? Wouldn’t it be wise for you to first ask Why you are in that place?” Sadly, the same foolishness characterizes much of our society. We found ourselves in this big busy world. More babies are getting born everyday and grow up into this frenzy. Many people cannot pause and ask themselves this simple (but yet very important) question: Why am I here?

Like a man who buys a pen and diary from a stationary shop and immediately begins to write his stories in it, human beings find themselves equipped with the ink of life and are writing their stories on the pages of time. But if anyone dares to look closely, it’s not a stationary shop we are in but an examination room! In this examination room of the world we didn’t buy the book we are writing in; it was handed down to us. And although one may feel free to write what they wish, it is important to know that the book comes with a question paper that must be answered. Ignoring the pertinent questions in the paper is doing so at your own peril!   Like in all academic examinations of this world, answers to the questions of life are not determined at our time of answering them but were already determined before we received the paper!  Blessed are those who receive the mind and counsel of God because their lives write a story which was already established in the Book of Life. They know the foolishness of writing your own story when neither the ink nor the pages of time are yours. In this the Lord Jesus was the perfect example – “when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” (Heb.10:5-7, ESV).

Anyone who does not know the will of God is blind. He or she is full of anxiety and fear. He or she is writing a life-story with closed eyes and is groping in the dark! Such a person has reduced the purpose of life to the pursuit of food, career, and pleasure. His or her life is “a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanish away” (Jam.4:14). But the wise “ought to say, ‘If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that’” (Jam.4:15).  Yes, as a believer in the will of God you have rest and should not give place to fear. The scripture admonishes you to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phi.4:6-7, ESV).

Is there hope for the blind? 

The blind can see when the power of God quickens them to receive the Light. When a child of God is quickened by the Spirit of God they are born again. This spiritual birth process has something that happens which is similar to what occurs in the natural process:  scientists have observed a flash of light that sparks when a sperm meets an egg and conception occurs! Surely, there is a light of life that flashes in our souls when we get born-again. That is “the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (Joh.1:9).

Now, the light of God that reflects into the soul of a person can never come from a creed or a motivational talk! God’s light can only fall upon his Word to be reflected into a man’s soul (Psa.119:19). The revealed Word of God is full of life and it is that life that can give true knowledge to mankind in this dark world – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (Joh.1:1, 4).

Continued in Part 7

Mystery of His Will 5: WITHOUT MONEY AND WITHOUT PRICE

We all don’t want to lose things of value. And often, the higher the value of something the more willing we get to pay a higher price for it.

Price is what we pay to get what we need or want. When a seller is setting up a price for something a number of things are considered. For example, how much does it cost to acquire, manufacture, or ship the product? Now, we all know that everything we possess or use, whether in our homes or offices or elsewhere, was acquired at a price. In the world of business they say “there is no free lunch”! That means it is impossible to get anything for nothing. But the prophet Isaiah has something different to tell us:

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David” (Isa.55:1-3).

How can we buy something without money and without price? In our world something without price means it is cheap. However, that is not so with the ‘commodity’ Isaiah is inviting us to buy; it is without price because its value is too high for any price in this world! Yes, there is one thing that money cannot buy – life! Isaiah 55:1-3 is actually an invitation to receive life. This can be seen in the third verse of the chapter – “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live”. In this we see that a soul can either be alive or dead!

We have a body. In it is a soul which constitutes our thoughts, awareness, and consciousness. All these characteristics of the soul exist by the power of the spirit of life which came from God – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Gen.2:7).

To continue living man was to live by the wise counsel of God; partaking of the forbidden tree would result into death (Gen.2:17).

Death

Man began his existence in the presence of God. Getting detached from that presence would result into death! It is important to note here that a thing is sustained by the substance from which it was made. As long as something is attached to the substance or place of its origin, it will continue living. In the beginning God caused plants to come forth from the soil. The soil was the origin of the plants and so as long as a plant is attached to the soil it will continue living; its leaves and flowers will continue looking beautiful. But when a plant is removed from the soil it gets detached from its origin and it won’t be long before it dies. Similarly, when God was creating fish he brought it forth from the water. Water is the place of origin for the fish and so it will continue having life as long as it is in the water. If you remove a fish from water, whether it’s a great and strong fish like a shark or whale, it will die! Now when God was creating man, he first made him in his image as a spirit being before placing him into a body of dust (Gen.1:26, 2:7). Man was created in the presence of God and was filled with the spirit of life. That spirit of life is what made the soul become conscious as a “living soul”. The soul in turn related to the physical world through the five senses of the flesh that was formed from the ground.

Physical death occurs when the soul, together with the spirit of life in it, leaves the body. When that happens the body cannot respond to anything because consciousness or awareness has gone out with the soul.

The death of the body can be caused by the piercing of a sword. However, the sharp edges of a sword can only sever the soul from the body. But there is another kind of death which occurs when the spirit of life leaves the soul! If life leaves the soul all awareness of existence will cease and that would simply mean becoming non-existent! This kind of death can only be caused by God because his sword is sharper than any sword – “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit” (Heb.4:12). And so, “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat.10:28).That is the fate of all “children of disobedience”. They will burn in the Lake of Fire until they extinguish out of existence!

The lake of cleansing fire

Why will God burn souls in hell-fire? Will it be for them to just feel pain? What kind of fire will this be for it to be able to burn spiritual beings like fallen angels as well as human beings?

It is beyond the comprehension of our minds to fathom what exactly will characterize hell-fire, but one thing we know is that God uses fire for cleansing. Souls in the Lake of Fire will comprise people who had been ‘loaned’ the pure spirit of life but which they contaminated, so to speak, with their corrupt lifestyle. Before that life returns to God, the soul that held it will have to pass through fire. The fire will burn the vain soul until the pure spirit of life is severed from it! “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev.20:14-15). When the spirit of life would have departed from all wicked souls and angels of darkness Evil would have been annihilated.

A greater loss 

I hope we can all see that the greater loss to be feared in life isn’t that of property or even of the body of flesh during the First Death, but the loss of one’s soul which will occur to children of disobedience in the Second Death! Like the Lord Jesus admonished, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mat.16:26). “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev.20:6).

Surely nothing can be given in exchange of the soul because the life that makes it to exist is too valuable for any price we know of. It is without price! One can only buy it with his own soul using the ‘currency’ of  free will. Such a decision is made possible by consciousness which in turn is caused by the spirit of life.

That our creator’s will is what is right for us should be plain truth, but why is it that many people fail to perceive this? How do  people afford to live through life, everyday beholding God’s wonders in nature and the universe, but yet still remaining blind to his purpose? In foolishness man even prefers to believe that a signal caught in space, which can exhibit a designed arrangement, would signify an intelligent source, but yet shunning the wisdom of extending the same logic to the question of why the DNA molecule in living organisms in every way functions like designed computer code!

Many people have failed to perceive the truth because they are blind and have chosen to follow the counsel of fellow blind people. Didn’t the Lord warn us that “if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Mat. 15:14)? But well, the good news is that the blind can see!

Continued in Part 6